Monday, December 27, 2010

Rubik's Magic Solution in 17 Steps!

Following the notoriety of Rubik's Cube and the lesser success of Rubik's Snake, Matchbox released Rubik's Magic, an eight-tile puzzle. While I never succeeded in solving Rubik's Cube (I didn't have the patience to learn the technique, plus I prefered to solve it by myself), I was somewhat adept at the lesser puzzles of the age, such as Pyramix and The Missing Link.

The puzzle consists of eight tiles, joined by filament hinges which run along the diagonal grooves. On the initial side, shown above, one sees three unlinked rings. On the other side, shown on the right, are the tiles which create the solved, linked-ring image.

I think I fiddled around with this puzzle for about a month before I solved it. Some more expirementation followed, and I was able to create a solution in seventeen steps.

Below is my solution, scanned from the original sketch I made back in 1986 or so, when I was in high school.

The actual links may be hard to see, but should be clear enough. If I could find my original Rubik's Magic (I own all three variations), I would simply do a photo montage. Instead, the illustrations might need a bit of decoding themselves. I think you can click on the image to enlarge...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Trespassing While Sitting Still

So there I was, commoding with Mother Nature, when I notice the toilet tank is running.

"How would I react if something bit me on the ass while I was on the toilet?" I thought.

Being a New Yorker, I immediately thought: Aligators In The Sewers. Perhaps a small Cayman? And what if it was slightly radioactive? Would I become LEG8R™, superhero?

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Secret Identity

The FantASStic Sphincter Man!
AKA "Perry Neeum"

Unfortunately, my trusted sidekick, Tushie, was tragically murdered by my arch-nemesis, Public Enema #1. He took us by surprise.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Trespassing Through Antarctica

Okay... the Fourth of July is generally considered one of the hottest days of the year in New York City (probably because everyone is out and about, perception is reality, so the legend gets imprinted over the fact).

Thus, I got to wondering one day, what if ice was denser than water? That is, what if ice SANK when if froze, not float?

(And we'll ignore the other FOURTEEN versions of crystalline water, and concentrate on
Ice Ih, your typical crystalline ice found all over the planet.)

So, first, a few facts.
Ice has a density of 0.917 g/cm³. As the temperature drops, the density increases. Liquid water has a density of about 0.997 g/cm³ at room temperature. These numbers are for your average everyday existence. Pressure can affect melting and freezing points.

So, as we learn at an early age, ice floats. By floating, it insulates lakes and other bodies of water, and thus allows life to thrive. (Since water is most dense at 4°C, this cold water sinks to the bottom, leaving warmer water above, covered by the much colder frozen water.)
If ice sinks, then lakes, ponds, and rivers would "silt up", freezing everything within the water. While this would have a very negative effect upon life, it could be argued that perhaps the organisms within this frozen ecosystem would adapt, just as frogs adapt to dry seasons and the Pompeii Worm adapt to extreme temperatures near hydrothermal vents.

As for oceans, there's a different system involved. Most scuba divers know that the weight of water creates water pressure. The deeper one dives, the greater the mass of water above the diver, which creates a greater pressure. Divers must carefully regulate their bodies to the change in pressure (much like an airline passenger), and the current deep sea diving is 1,010 feet. Regelation, using pressure to change the melting point, might not affect the ice, as this "heavy ice" I postulated might not expand upon freezing. If it does, than each atmosphere of pressure lowers the melting point 0.0072 °C. The deepest depth visited by humans has a pressure about one thousand times that of sea level, so the freezing point would be about -7°C. Of course, the salinity of the water would also lower the freezing point (which is why we salt sidewalks in the winter time). So the ice would sink, then hit the regelation zone, and become liquid. So, there might be a thick layer of frozen ice at the poles, then a zone beneath that ice where the water remains liquid (but under high pressure and low temperature). What type of ecosystem would exist here? Would the boundary of ice pack and open water differ than it does now?

Given the increased density of ice, how much more of Antarctica would be sunk beneath sea level?

A small density increase would be negligible during the winter... electrical wires, tree branches, and roofs would still collapse under the weight, but p
erhaps a little bit more. (Engineering could mitigate this in man-made structures.)

If glaciers are denser, they would move more quickly via
basal sliding. (The pressure of the glacier melts the ice at the bottom, allowing the glacier to slide.)

Okay... enough trespassing for today. Hope this cooled you off!
(If you need more cooling, or just an excuse to stay inside, visit
the Official Snowflake Bentley Web Site. Wilson A. "Snowflake" Bentley photographed some 5,000 snowflakes via microscope, and all snowflake images on this post are from that website.)

Friday, July 2, 2010

If I Only Had A Brane...

Okay... I saw this word, "brane", and wondered what it meant.

Eventually, my searching lead me here.

Wikipedia does a pretty decent job of explaining stuff, so when I read this:

In string theory, D-branes are a class of extended objects upon which open strings can end with Dirichlet boundary conditions, after which they are named. D-branes were discovered by Dai, Leigh and Polchinski, and independently by Horava in 1989. In 1995, Polchinski identified D-branes with black p-brane solutions of supergravity, a discovery that triggered the Second Superstring Revolution and led to both holographic and M-theory dualities.

I immediately got the feeling that sometime in the near future, this would make perfect sense to the average citizen. Sort of how the equation "x + 2 = 8" can be simplified into first-grade math as "+2=8".

But then, the average citizen doesn't even know how to define zero-, one-, and two-dimensional space. (Dot, line, polygon)

And I must admit... this looks pretty darn cool. What if our brain (HA! no pun intended) worked like this?

I wonder how many surfaces this has?

Is this your brain after drinking from a Klein bottle?

Or perhaps the instant explosion from an atomic bomb? Or maybe the instance of the Big Bang?

Or maybe God's bubble gum right after it popped?

Me, I just wonder... if you can extrapolate a circle, line, point, and various other conic sections from a cone (as well as a triangle!), what sort of 4-D shape can a cone be extrapolated from?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

ALA Sunday: More Digital Comics?

Did your parents save all your artwork, from when you were very little?

Sophie Crumb's parents did. So this Fall, W.W. Norton will be publishing Sophie Crumb: Evolution of a Crazy Artist.

Starting at age 2 1/2, this book showcases her development all the way up to last year. Lots of personal history as well, so this will generate lots of press!

What else... Supposedly OverDrive, one of the leading companies providing digital books to libraries and retailers, has signed an agreement with Marvel and Tokyopop. (I heard this secondhand, that OverDrive announced this at their luncheon today.) Now, I've seen that they've offered ebook versions of some of Marvel's and Tpop's titles since April 2010. Searching the web, I see certain issues available via public libraries. OverDrive requires an account to see the entire selection of titles, so I can't see much beyond the link above. It seems that the content is available, but only for lending, not for direct sale. Perhaps today's announcement will change that. Or maybe this is just a re-iteration of what they are already doing. I see single issues from Marvel, not graphic novels, although Marvel could easily bundle them together. I wonder how much they charge the libraries?

Oh, and the scope? According to OverDrive, they serve TEN THOUSAND libraries.
And they already work with HarperCollins, Hachette, Random House, Simon & Schuster...
Stone Arch Books GNs since November 2008.
Classical Comics

A selection from last summer...

GREAT FARKING ZARQON! The graphic novel of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe! (The Queens Public Library has 151 titles under "Comic and Graphic Books"... including The Ray Bradbury Chronicles (just the modern stuff, not the EC stories)!)

Hmmm... published by childrensElibrary, a division of ibooks, which, if memory serves, was purchased by Simon & Schuster at bankruptcy? Which raises the question... if Overdrive charges a library to carry a digital file of a defunct company, where does the money go? To the original copyright holders? The creators? The copyright still exists, but do the original contract rights still exist? Or does OverDrive restrict access to the actual file? Or does that copy "sold" to the library still continue to exist just like a paper copy does?

210 titles at the Los Angeles Public Library. Faeries' Landing is one of the Tokyopop titles.

Barnes & Noble does have a business relationship with OverDrive, so it is possible that might start selling titles as they become available. OverDrive's files are in Adobe PDF eBook format, which is readable on the nook, but not the Kindle or iPad (but readable on Macs and PCs).

Of course, if sold on the nook, the image would be in black-and-white. Might the suggested retail price be less than that of the iPad app from ComiXology? Resolution and size might not be a problem, especially if it's a digest-sized book, or if one can enlarge the image. Yes, a bit unwieldy, but Plastic Logic will be selling the larger QUE ProReader e-reader via B&N which will have a larger magazine-size screen and handle more digital formats than the nook.

Developing, as they say.

Not much else in the way of surprises. Of course, OverDrive is a pretty big surprise!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Brain Does Not Wander...

My brain does not wander… it trespasses.

On the subway, one hears, “If you have been the victim of unwanted sexual contact, please notify a police officer or MTA employee.”

So I got to thinking, what is lawful sexual contact? Can you do it on the subway? Should I ask those sitting next to me before I engage in lawful sexual contact? Is it okay if I take pictures of others engaged in lawful sexual contact? Is it unlawful if they ask for money? Or play music?

Friday, June 25, 2010

ALA Friday Night Lite

Okay... there was a "preview" of the exhibit floor, from 5:15 (opened late) to 8 PM.

First, there was a buffet (YES, an actual spread of food), but I had just eaten lunch, so I just grabbed a can of Coke.

Trina Robbins has a new book out with Lerner, so I took a quick detour to their booth. Just arrived (due out in August), she writes middle school detective story titled "The Drained Brains Caper", illustrated by Tyler Page. Then's there's the second volume of Colleen AF Venable's Guinea PIg, Pet Shop Private Eye, titled "And Then There Were Gnomes"!

Scholastic caught me off guard with Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer teaming up again for "The Odious Ogre", a picture book. I've never been a fan, haven't read the book, but the film of The Phantom Tollbooth, directed by Chuck Jones, actually put me to sleep. Now, The Dot and The Line... that is one of the ultimate nerd romances ever written! I first saw the Oscar-winning short, and then years later found the original hardcover. (It's since been reprinted.)

Then I ventured to the graphic novel pavilion, and eventually wound up at the Drink and Draw. Free wine, five artists drawing crazy suggestions from the audience (a person, a place, a situation). The three challenges:
  1. Sarah Palin, cooking a bundt cake, at the Grand Canyon
  2. Albert Einstein, doing the long jump, on the Moon
  3. A dwarf, performing heart surgery, in the middle of a road
One drawing was raffled off, the others will be auctioned off by ALA.

Oh, and some BIG news. The Dabel Brothers have a new business, titled Sea Lion Books. Three initial authors: L. A. Banks, Richelle Mead, and...
(let me but it up in lights so you won't miss it...)


Yeah, my jaw dropped. That's a BIG name, an author who writes regular literary fiction, not some author known for genre work. Then they showed the book cover:

The Alchemist

Yes. THAT book. A book which has been been in print since 1987, and still sells tremendously (currently #316 among all books on A book translated into 67 languages, and which has sold over 41 million copies worldwide.

Not much information available, although it is scheduled for November, 2010.

I'll let others discuss the Dabel's previous publishing history. This graphic novel is being published via HarperOne, which has the rights to the prose novel. The other two books seem to be under the Sea-Lion name, with an EAN prefix of

No listing yet in Books In Print, but here are the first five EANs from Sea-Lion:

978-0-9828186-0-2 Shadow Walker by L. A. Banks
978-0-9828186-1-9 (nothing in Google)
978-0-9828186-2-6 (nothing in Google)
978-0-9828186-3-3 (nothing in Google)
978-0-9828186-4-0 Storm Born by Richelle Meade

Very interesting... and this is just Friday evening!

ALA Friday

So, I’m on my way to Washington, DC, for the annual conference of the American Library Association. It’s already started, and runs until Tuesday.

This year, there will be an actual Graphic Novel pavilion on the exhibit floor.
If you’ve attended a comic-con, this would be where all the publishers and dealers would be located. ALA actually offers a variety of passes. I could spend $300 to get the full package, which includes various panels and such, or I could spend $25 just for the exhibits hall. Since I’m a stealth librarian (cataloging books and what-not for Barnes & Noble), I opted for this pass.

Like I said, the GN pavilion is on the exhibits floor, it’s a mini comic-con within the bigger librarian conference.
Lots of publishers promoting graphic novels, lots of librarians seducing other librarians with graphic novels, and everyone having a grand time.

I’ll be staying at the AYH youth hostel, where I used to live and work.
Dormitory beds, bath down the hall, but it’s super cheap, has free wi-fi, a kitchen, and is a short walk from the convention center. North of the convention center is a Giant Foods store (once considered massive, now just a regular grocery store) so I’ll probably dine there instead of partaking of the overpriced dining options.

Oh, and unlike a regular comic-con, there will be lots of free books handed out!
Librarians are on the front lines of advocacy. We’re kind of like bloggers without blogs. People ask us what’s good, and we recommend what’s good. If we really like something, we give it an award, which is a Seal of Approval for books, which publishers love.

What was the last good free book I read?
It was a book set in middle school. A weird kid makes an origami Yoga finger puppet. Other kids start asking Yoda for advice, advice which turns out to be really good. It’s a fun book, teaches a soft lesson, and even includes easy, do-it-yourself origami Yoda instructions! (Advice not included.)

(Sorry, I’ll try and find the exact title information later.
No wi-fi on the hoi polloi Boston-DC trains, only on Acela.

Here it is: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger.]

That’s all for now.
Just left Wilmington. Four more stops.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What I've Been Up To...

I haven't posted anything lately, so I thought I should at least try for once-a-month posting...

A few months ago (April) I somehow discovered Yahoo Answers.

Being a librarian, and living with a Boy Scout complex, I immediately began to help people by researching answers online.

My profile can be found here which includes the various answers I've posted.

I'm proud of my 1600 points, but I have been slacking a bit lately... usually I answer a few at work while I wait for my computer to process files, or I spend a few hours on the weekend helping people.

The mathematics questions are the most fun, as they are more of a puzzle than a question. I try to be vague... instead of just giving the answer, I show how to solve it. Sometimes, my answer usually just gives the first step, then "solve for x".

A LOT of questions get repeated... some are nothing more than simple self-esteem or dating questions. Some sections tend to attract trolls and other extremes of human behavior, but that's the Internet for you... One can rate each answer with an UP/DOWN vote, and Yahoo does sometimes pull offensive questions (sometimes while I'm answering them!) so it there is some remedy.

The interface is quite easy to use... I recommend the site.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Take a minute. Can you remember any great books you read in school? Not the required reading, like Johnny Tremain or The Red Badge of Courage. Stuff you checked out of the library because a friend liked it, or a librarian recommended it. How many of those titles would you recommend now to a child, or would read again if you could find the time?

Judy Blume? Donald Sobol? Beverly Cleary? J. K. Rowling? C. S. Lewis? Ellen Raskin? Shel Silverstein? Isaac Asimov? James Marshall? Jolly Roger Bradfield?

Via Robot6, the School Advocacy Wiki has commissioned artwork to publicize the proposed cuts to California school libraries, and to fight to keep school districts from cutting positions across the state (and country, as other states face similar cuts).

There is some good news, at least in Fremont, as funds have been found to restore cuts next year, but that article already has proven how devastating these cuts are to students and literacy. (Half a million fewer books checked out system-wide.)

Full disclosure: I'm a librarian. I am an uncle who actively encourages my nieces and nephews to read. Reading is the foundation of all education, it's ACTIVE learning. Every student who visits a library is looking for something to read. Let me make this clear:

Children are visiting school libraries to read. 

They are not sitting in desks, listening to a teacher teach. They are not taking tests, or writing reports, or filling out worksheets, stuff which every student finds boring but necessary. They are seeking books and information. They are exploring worlds, feeding their imaginations, and, even though they do not realize it, are learning. By themselves.

School budgets are difficult to manage. How does a school board cut any budget, when the investment in students is so important? Even before the current economic mess, teachers were buying school supplies from their own pocket. I just feel that cutting library budgets, especially staff positions, should be one of the last items to be cut in any year.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

In Review: Free Comic Book Day 2010

Since there are so many different titles, and because many comics shop limit the number of comics you can have, I have created the following review of every single comic book offered on Free Comic Book Day.

The images below, used for review purposes, appear on the official Free Comic Book Day website. Many publishers offer previews there as well.

Many thanks to all the publishers and retailers who support this great day! I personally read a lot of comics, but there's a lot I cannot read, or just plain ignore. Even the stuff I wasn't too keen on, I still appreciate, as it has broadened my knowledge base!

And a big THANK YOU to Joe Field of FLYING COLORS Comics & Other Cool Stuff, for coming up with such a crazy idea! You are a Seducer of the Innocent Par Excellance!

So lets start with the Golden sponsors, titles which were sent out to every participating store.

Creative Team: (W/A) Dan Parent.

The Pembrooke private beach is closed for the summer due to an oil spill (perfect timing!), so Cheryl Blossom is forced to slum at the public Riverdale Beach. She soon becomes jealous of The Archies, and decides to form her own band, “Blossom”, with disastrous results!

Doctor Solar/Magnus FCBD 2010 EDITION
Creative Team: (W) Jim Shooter (A) Dennis Calero, Various (C) Raymond Swanland.

Dark Horse relaunches Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom, and Magnus, Robot Fighter with Jim Shooter in control. Doctor Solar offers an early story of Doctor Solar, right after he gains his powers, and his first “crime-fighting”. Magnus is caught in a strange robotic love nest, setting up future storylines. Both series debut this summer, but I’ve never been a big fan of either character. We’ll see if Dark Horse and Jim Shooter can revive these characters once again.

Creative Team: (W) Bryan Talbot, Doug TenNapel, Alexander Grecian, Derek McCulloch, Ted McKeever (A) Camilla d'Errico, Doug TenNapel, Christian Ward, Anthony Peruzzo, Ted McKeever (C) Mike and Laura Allred

An all-star cast, previewing an original hardcover graphic novel. Lots of good stuff, including a very weird Rumplestiltskin from Doug TenNapel. It’s fairy tales, but probably suited for older kids who will get the satire and humor.

(And I love the "Kid Friendly" logo!)

Creative Team: (W) Larry Hama (A) TBD.
Publisher: IDW Publishing

I was never a fan of G.I.Joe, the comic, although I did watch the cartoon regularly. This issue seems to continue the storyline from the original Marvel Comic, and has Cobra Commander initiating a very Machiavellian scheme, which will continue in an ongoing series. This issue features COBRA, and intrigues me enough that I will read the collected trade. Larry Hama knows how to write, and this is like Steve Ditko and Stan Lee returning to write Amazing Spider-Man #38½.

Creative Team: (W) Matt Fraction (A/C) John Romita, Jr.

A nice moral tale, involving Tony Stark and some misused tech. My suspension of disbelief was tested by the plot (billionaires create a gated community by terraforming the Moon), but this is a Marvel comic, so I just let that slide for the sake of storytelling. That the Moon has been colonized since 2005, but not mentioned in other titles? Sure. Okay. There’s some nice dialogue between Iron Man and Thor, lots of collateral damage, and a good ending. This is the sort of done-in-one story Marvel perfected in the 1960s, and is perfect for a lazy summer afternoon.

Creative Team: (W/A) David Petersen, TBD.
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment

A flip book with Fraggle Rock. The Mouse Guard story serves as an introduction to the third story arc, Spring 1153. Narrated by a journal entry, this story serves as an introduction to this ambitious series. Fraggle Rock, a new series from Archaia, presents two stories. The first, starring Boober Fraggle, uses a beautiful painted style to tell an important lesson. The second story, featuring Red, uses a rough pencil style to teach a lesson about Art. (Was it rushed for publication? Or done deliberately to comment on the story?) All ages.

(Not final cover)
KiZOIC Presents: Shrek & The Penguins Of Madagascar FCBD 2010 Edition
Creative Team: various
(Publisher: Ape Entertainment

This is a flip book, shared with The Penguins of Madagascar. I wish I could show you the final covers… the Penguins have a stark simplicity drawn by Antonio Campo, and the Shrek cover is riot of Shrek, Donkey, Puss, Fiona, all a flight on Dragon. All of the stories are fun, and if you’ve got kids, or know of them, this is a great title, especially with the new movie out this summer. KiZoic is the young reader imprint for Ape Entertainment.

YOW! The John Stanley Library FCBD 2010 Edition
Creative Team: (W/A) John Stanley.
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Nancy visits Oona Goosepimple! Tubby grows a mustache! Judy Junior manipulates Jimmy Fuzzi. Nancy is chased by that ruffian Spike! Melvin Monster brings home a pet that takes a liking to Baddy! And… pulled from obscurity, Choo Choo Charlie (love my Good & Plenty) must rid his train of the squeebles. Lots of fun stories, mostly for younger readers.

(Not final cover)
Creative Team: (W) Jesse Blaze Snider (A/C) Nathan Watson.
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

This issue reprints the first issue of “The Return of Buzz Lightyear”. Andy’s grandmother mistakenly sends him a second Buzz Lightyear action figure. Before Andy can return the duplicate to the toy store for a refund, it gains freedom and challenges Buzz (AKA “Sally”) to a duel.

Creative Team: (W) James Robinson (A) Eddy Barrows, Ruy José (C) J.G. Jones.
Publisher: DC COMICS

The cover has been changed, it is now a more iconic image drawn by the interior artists. This is a prelude to DC’s next Big Event, as they hope to repeat the success of last year’s Blackest Night prelude. The issue has two stories: Superman on New Krypton, and Lois Lane on Earth. The first story recaps What Has Gone Before, as Superman confronts General Zod. The second story, by Sterling Gates, features one-page pin-ups that introduce the major players of the upcoming saga.

Creative Team: (W) Ian Flynn (A) James Fry, Jim Amash

Yup. A comic book about a video game character, one that has been published for over 200+ issues. This issue seems to be set between story arcs, showcasing Sonic, his nemesis Dr. Robotnik, and a unique challenge. The backstory is explained, the main characters are introduced to new readers, and enough action is shown to make this a good read. I wouldn’t read more, but for fans of the character, this series seems to be rich with storytelling.

Creative Team: (W) David Wohl, JT Krul, David Schwartz, Vince Hernandez (A) Joe Benitez, Scott Clark, Marcus To, Eduardo Francisco, Alex Konat (C) Michael Turner, Peter Steigerwald, Various
Publisher: ASPEN MLT

I am familiar with Aspen, but have never read a regular issue from the publisher. This issue works as an introduction to various titles, using Fathom as a framing sequence to give brief exposure to other Aspen titles. Mindfield, a series of telepathic CIA agents fighting terrorism, looks intriguing. Soulfire, set in a future where Magic has returned to reality, does not entice me to read more. Executive Assistant: Iris, a story of a bodyguard/secretary/assassin, shows promise. Dellec intrigues, if only for the two-page spread. No idea what the series is about, but it looks cool. The issue ends with a pin-up of Lady Mechnika. It should be an advertisement, since it appears to premiere in Fall 2010, but there is no text, aside from the title and the creator’s name, Joe Benitez. Looks interesting, but I have no idea why I should read this.

Creative Team: (W/A) Steve Mannion, Various

Fearless Dawn…full of craziness. Only eight pages are reprinted from the first issue, so I hope it makes more sense. (Nazis in Manitoba?) It looks like fun, but I’d have to look more to be certain. Enter the Bladeviper has a Heavy Metal vibe, nice art, but it seems like I’ve seen this story before. Black Powder… is what happens when writers try to draw. This is 3-D modeling software with a Photoshop filter (or wayward Wacom drawing). It’s the uncanny valley between the realistic artwork of Alex Ross and photographic Fumetti. Unfortunately, the writing doesn’t overcome the limitations of the artwork. Farmhouse will be an original graphic novel about an art studio for psychiatric patients. This is also available as a preview on the iphone from Comixology. The preview is confusing, and I wouldn’t give it a future look. Eeek! Is the most interesting part of this sampler, channeling horror stories from the Seventies. Jason Paulos writes and draws in a variety of styles, and I’ll give it a longer look when the paperback is released in October. Warlash: Zombie Mutant Genesis seems to be Batman vs. Zombies, and doesn’t make me want to read more. Undead Evil is a wordless preview, but the artwork is AMAZING. Will the story be of equal quality?

Creative Team: (W) CW Cooke, Dan Rafter (A) Various (C) Vinnie Tartamella

Perhaps the strangest flip-book of them all, but not too surprising, since it’s from Bluewater. On one side, noted novelist S.E. Hinton adapts her juvenile novel, The Puppy Sister. Most readers know Hinton from reading “The Outsiders”, and this is quite different. According to Wikipedia, this puppy will eventually transform into a young girl. Hmm… maybe this does fit in with Lady Gaga… The other half of the book is devoted to Bluewater’s new “Fame” series. Lady Gaga gets the usual Bluewater treatment, told by a personal narrator. The other preview… Taylor Swift. Aside from the Grammys, this is probably the only place you’ll see them together, especially with a cameo by Ellen Degeneres. The cover you see is the best art in this issue.

Creative Team: (W/A) Matt Groening, Various

Chuck Dixon writes about Krusty giving up show biz and getting a job at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Sergio Aragonés chronicles Maggie’s scheme to stay up late. Tony Digerolamo chronicles Homer trying, in vain, to cool off. And, Because You Demanded It, Ian Boothby shows us what happens when Bartman, Stretch Dude, and the Cupcake Kid team-up to overthrow Evil Bart.

Creative Team: (W) Mark Waid (A) Peter Krause (C) John Cassaday
Publisher: BOOM! STUDIOS

Boom! presents their second FCBD title, and this is actually two issues in one, as this issue contains a flip-book of Incorruptible #1. This is a no-brainer, given that Incorruptible tells the tale of a villain who reforms after seeing the havoc created by The Plutonian in Irredeemable. Irredeemable shows what happens when a superhero becomes evil and amoral.

Creative Team: (W) Landry Walker, Art Baltazar, Franco, Sholly Fisch (A) Eric Jones, Art Baltazar, Mike Norton, Dario Brizuela (C) Baltazar
Publisher: DC COMICS

The second free issue this year from DC Comics, featuring teasers for Billy Batson & The Magic of Shazam #17 (June) and Tiny Titans #31 (August). The Brave and the Bold has a complete story featuring Batman and the Martian Manhunter. Super Friends has two activity pages, and Johnny DC features this month’s titles on the last page. The Shazam story features the delightful artwork of Mike Norton, who draws THE. BEST. COWS. Cows in drag, but that’s not the actual joke! (Props to Art Baltazar and Franco for taking a cliché and twisting it into something fun!) My only criticism? This should have been DC’s Gold title, available to all stores. This is a Johnny DC title, but the stories inside will appeal to all. (Tiny Titans is full of canonical in-jokes, but still fun for everyone.)

This issue is the smaller 6x9 format, which works well for this material.

(Not final art)
Creative Team: (W/A) Various

The cover features Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel. I’ve not read Austen or Grahame-Smith, yet the writing seems fun enough, and the art is simple yet detailed. I especially enjoy that the Bennet sisters seem more “manly” than the English gentlemen! The Talisman, adapted from Stephen King and Peter Straub’s novel, introduces us to the story, but it doesn’t entice me to read more. Dean Koontz’ Odd Is on Our Side is presented in landscape format, due to the manga format. Odd can see the spirits of the dead, as shown here in an eight-page preview. The Last Airbender Prequel: Zuko’s Story, gets a preview, but doesn’t interest me. Of course, I’m not the target audience, no almost nothing about the movie or anime, but I like a good story, and this doesn’t interest me. (Sorry, Dave.)

(Not final cover)
Creative Team: (W) Kevin Smith (A) Jonathan Lau, Ariel Padilla, Aaron Campbell (C) Alex Ross
This issue presents short previews of Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet, Green Hornet Year One, The Green Hornet Strikes!, Kato Origins: Way of the Ninja, and Kevin Smith’s Kato. (What, no Green Hornet Babies?) Not interesting enough for me to purchase, but the historical themes are interesting.

Creative Team: (W/A) Jim Woodring

Yes. Jim Woodring. Definitely not the sort of thing I would give anyone under the age of thirteen, but a wonderful introduction into Jim Woodring’s storytelling. Fantagraphics does an excellent job of introducing Jim Woodring’s distinct vision, which I was familiar with, but had never read. Would I read more? Yes, but I wouldn’t pay to. It’s a unique and personal work of art, but way too strange for my tastes.


Gemstone features one of their few remaining properties: The Overstreet Guides. This is actually a decent introduction to collecting and selling comics, giving a good introduction to the various aspects of the hobby. My favorite part? The comparison of prices from the First Edition (1970) and the Fortieth Edition (2010). Showcase #4, the first appearance of the Silver Age Flash? $12 then, $48,000 now. (Of course, if you had $12 back in 1975, you could buy twenty-four copies of Giant Size X-Men #1.)


A flip-book, the other side features Blondie on the cover. A nice, glossy comic featuring IDW’s comic-strip reprints. The best part of this comic? The two-page ad for “Genius Illustrated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth”, coming in October! Yes, IDW would have to feature Toth to top the comics reprinted inside: X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan, Rip Kirby, Li’l Abner, Archie, Polly and Her Pals (color Sundays!), and Blondie! The strips are printed vertically, meaning each page features two daily strips, enlarged to an eye-popping ten-inches across! (Check out Al Williamson’s amazing artwork!)

These archival books are not cheap, but this issue features the amazing quality found in each volume. I’ve already purchased a few, and will buy more.

(Not final art)
Creative Team: (W) Ron Marz (A) Top Cow's Finest (C) Stjepan Sejic

Top Cow (Image) presents a preview to their next Big Event. I’m not a regular reader, only a bit familiar with some of the characters, but I like the concept. Each character has at least one artifact (like the Witchblade) and an unknown mastermind seeks to gather these artifacts to initiate a cataclysm. Ron Marz writes the 13-issue series, which also feature back-up origin features. In this issue, we are introduced to The Magdalena, descended from Christ, and wielding the Spear of Destiny. I’ll keep an eye on this, out of curiosity.

Creative Team: (W/A/C) Thomas F. Zahler

Thom Zahler once again publishes a new regular issue as a Free Comic Book Day comic.

The series, a romantic comedy of a superhero and his fiancé, concludes with this issue, as Mark Spencer, a mild-mannered accountant also known as The Crusader, enjoys his honeymoon with his wife, Abby. As with previous issues, the story centers on the romance, with excellent characterization and witty dialogue. Had I not discovered this series years ago, (as well as the incredible FCBD issue from last year), I would be eager to read the earlier issues.

Creative Team: (W) Paul Tobin (A) Craig Rousseau (C) Ed McGuinness

The second Marvel comic is “Great For All Ages” (it says so on the cover, so it must be true), and I agree. Written by Paul Tobin, this story features Iron Man and Nova battling the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes. Igor is the star of this story, and he doesn’t have a single line! The Super Hero Squad Show has a backup story featuring the Hulk versus a robot, which is kind of fun.

Creative Team: (W/A) Ben Edlund
Publisher: NEC PRESS

Once again, New England Comics reprints the nigh-invulnerable Tick. It’s been a while since I read this issue, and though the humor is a bit unusual, it’s still a lot of fun. Plus, it’s got ninjas.

Creative Team: (W/A) Chris Schweizer, Matthew Loux, Ray Fawkes
Publisher: ONI PRESS

This issue features three of Oni’s characters for younger readers. While Possessions, Salt Water Taffy, and Crogan Adventures are technically graphic novels, not comics, this is still a great introduction to some fun stories. I was not familiar with Possessions, featuring a mischievous spirit named Gurgazon, but the story has enough charm and interesting ideas that I’ll read more and probably give it to my niece. Salt Water Taffy features Jack and Benny, two brothers spending a summer vacation in a very unique Maine town. Fun storytelling, amazing artwork, recommended for all.

Creative Team: (W) Cullen Bunn (A/C) Brian Hurtt
Publisher: ONI PRESS

The first issue of a new series, a supernatural western centered on a cursed six-shooter. We meet the various protagonists, and end with a great cliffhanger! While I won’t be adding this to my weekly purchases, the story is worth a future look. If you like Preacher, but want a title you can let your younger sibling read, then try this title.

Creative Team: (W/A) Various

A hefty 48-page glossy issue, featuring some interesting stories. Driver for the Dead has a nice introduction, although the main character and the plot of the story aren’t made clear in the pages shown. Time Bomb is centered around a sub-terranean Nazi city, a doomsday weapon, and time travel back to World War II. Palmiotti and Gray write, Gulacy draws, so this should be worth reading further. However, the preview is not appropriate for children. After Dark has beautiful artwork, but the preview does not entice me to read further. After Dark has a great “Heavy Metal” feel to the story, set in a future Earth ravaged by war and dominated by an alien species. Not my cuppa, but worth a further look, especially in a collected edition.

Creative Team: (W) Brian Clevinger, Various (A) Scott Wegener, Various
Publisher: RED 5 COMICS

Atomic Robo hunts for giant birds in the Amazon, to humorous results. Neozoic shows us a world where dinosaurs never became extinct, and Box 13 teases us with a mystery based on MKULTRA. Box 13 appears to be an original graphic novel. Neozoic has been collected as a graphic novel, and Atomic Robo has had impressive sales on the Diamond Top 300 GN list. Atomic Robo seems to be a bit like Hellboy, but with a different attitude. Neozoic and Box 13 are worthy of a longer read, but I wouldn’t buy the books.

(Not final cover)
Creative Team: (Writer) Edmund Shern ,Brandon Jerwa, Andrew Dabb, Tony Lee (A) Puppeteer Lee, Zid, Leah Liu, Zhaoweiyi (C) Puppeteer Lee
Publisher: STORM LION

Storm Lion is a publisher from Singapore which has published comics with Radical Comics. The first story, Devolution, presents a futuristic military state patrolled by mechas. There’s a dark secret revealed in the last panel, making this an intriguing story. This is followed by advertising for Nebulous, The Deserter, Ghost Moon, Brinkman, and Titan Rain. Nicely done, worthy of more attention.


This is a flip-book, the other cover features Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. This issue recaps an ongoing series, The Stuff of Legend, based on toys which seek their boy who has been kidnapped by the Boogeyman. Once crossing over into The Dark, they become “real”, as seen on the cover. The artwork suits the story, and the characters are distinct and unique. I would not seek out the trade collections, but would read more if given the opportunity. The other half of the book introduces a paranormal adventure due to be published this winter. Interesting premise, but it doesn’t interest me. After this, there are three one-page comics from Webcomics Online. Super Fogeys, featuring geriatric superheroes, seems funny enough to warrant a web browsing. Pinkerton Park seems to be another comic strip of whacky animal characters, and Legend of Bill takes a humorous look at barbarian adventuring. Bill has an ongoing story online, unusual for a humorous strip, but the four strips featured here are single gags. Again, these are free comics EVERYDAY, just visit the website featured at the bottom of each page.

Creative: (W/A) Andy Runton, James Kochalka, Christian Slade

A delightful sampler of Top Shelf’s kid-friendly (but really all-ages) titles. Owly flies a kite, Johnny Boo does something, and Sprout has a food-inspired nightmare. James Kochalka’s story is the only one with actual words, but his deft dialogue actually presents one of the best stories of all the FCBD offerings this year. If you can, grab an extra copy for the kid next door, young relatives, or students who don’t like to read.

(Technically, all of these characters appear in books, not comics, but I hope more publishers follow Top Shelf’s example.)


I’m not a HeroClix player, but these are nice little action figures. Generally speaking, War Machine is Iron Man’s backup. He/It will be featured in the movie which debuts next week.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Evolution of Allure - The MIT Press

While at work, I discovered the following:

The Evolution of Allure - The MIT Press

"From the Medici Venus to Vitruvius, Leonardo, Dürer, and the phone-sex goddesses of D-Cup Superstars, Hersey's lively, erotically charged text shows that the formulas set forth by the Greek sculptor Polykleitos have established a Western canon of human gestures and proportions and may have influenced human evolution."

"Hersey concludes with an excursus on the current hyperdevelopment, in both sexes, of breasts and muscles, as exemplified in the likes of body builders, Batman, and the Incredible Hulk."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscars, Part 3

11 PM... shoulda been done by now.

Documentary Feature. The Cove... something's up... banner? heh... ABC cut the text message ad!

Another unknown... Film editing: Hurt Locker.

Promo for Hurt Locker

Quentin Tarantino and ??? Foreign Language Film: Argentina. The Secret In Their Eyes.

Promo for Avatar.

Best Actor. Wow... nice set! What's with the testimonials? Zzzz... too long Michelle....

Jeff Bridges. Crazy Heart.

Best Actress. [fifteen minutes later] Sandra Bullock Time is 11:50.

Barbra Streisand! Looking pretty good. Best Director. Hurt Locker. Kathryn Bigelow.

Tom Hanks. Best Picture. Hurt Locker. Six total. It might be the lowest grossing BP on record.

And that's a wrap.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscars Part 3

10 PM.... one hour to go...
HEY ABC! Program the Oscars like the Super Bowl! Pregame. Red carpet 6:30-6:30. Oscars from 7:30 to 11 ET. Move Barbara Walters to the week before. Two or three specials, maybe some specials on special effects. handicapping the major categories.

Avatar for art direction.

Hey, Phylis Diller is presenting! Oh, excuse me... Sarah Jessica Parker. Costume design. Ironic since Ms. Parker doesn't have great fashion sense. Young Victoria wins, and the winner upstages her with a classy glamourous look!

Precious promo. What's on her dress, Is that the underwire for the dress, on the outside?

Orchestra... Best Score? Heh... funny film.

Nice dress. Horror appreciation. Wow... they hit eveything!

Nice intro to Sound. Hurt Locker for both editing and mixing.

Nice dress whoever she is.

Tech awards promo

Glorious Basterd promo.

Speeding things up? No frills no noms for Cinematography. Avatar. Wow. The cinematography was in a computer!

Best Score? Nope.. In Memoriam. Roy Disney? Horton Foote? Quite a loss... So much talent. Yet it is all cuaght on film, in front and behind. I hope there is a webpage at the Academy with bios. So often we don't know those behind the camera.

Who's the hipster with J-Lo? Best score. Break damcing to Sherlock Holmes? Hurt Locker? Shades of Saving Private Ryan! Fantastic Mr. Fox... Up.... oh man... I'm on the floor! Avatar. Nice staging. well, the audience liked it.

Up wins. What are the pins the Pixar folks are wearing?

Two unknowns... visual effects. Avatar. easy pick.

Up in the Air promo.

Oscars, Part 2

What's with the sunglasses? Is that Robert Downey Jr.? Screenplay... nicely presented.
original: Hurt Locker

The mike melts into the floor! Nice!

Who's with Matthew Broderick? Molly Ringwald? Nice appreciation of John Hughes. Woulda been classy to segue into the Memoriam feature.

Up Best Picture promo.


Whoa... some dresses! Short Film? Animated: Logorama... not a surprise.
short documentary: Music by Prudence. Man... that's what it's all about. Biggest night of hos life, and he's enjoying it! And Prudence is there!
Live Action Short: New Tenants

Heh... Ben Stiller. Makeup... of course. Star Trek. (thought so)

serious man promo

Bathroom break.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Push. Cool. He's overcome... Saphire is there too. Nice.

Queen Latifah? What's this? Governor Awards. Will that be broadcast?

Robin Williams. BSActress. Mo'nique. It seems that the color line has been erased at the Oscars.

An Education promo.


Ready for My Long Shot

Nice opening with the nomines... escorted off by their seat warmers. Holy... Neil Patrick Harris! Steve Martin becoming Jack Benny? And Steve Baldwin looks squished.... bad tailor? Knocking em dead in the aisles!

Heh... Avatar jokes.

No lectern!

BSActor... on screen captions would be nice... Inglorious Basterds.

Blind Side commercial. and regular commercial. what goes on in the auditorium while TV goes to commercial?

An ipad commercial? Why?

Nice Sonata ad.

And we're back. Who's the blonde with Steve Carell?

Oh man! Best Animated Feature! Nicely done. No surprize. Up.

Oscar... kinda looks like The Gimp when the face is in shadow.

Original Song... nicely done... show is moving quickly. Miley Cyrus forgot to put on her top. upset... no Disney win. Crazy Heart.

Ten Best Pics... difficult to fit all in. District 9 is next.

And commercials and bathroom.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Superfriends Got Nothing on Da Bronx!

Wow. The Hall of Justice is a new building, composed mostly of glass. A large atrium greets visitors as they wait in line for the security scanners.

The Jury Assembly room, located on the First Floor, is a cathedral to Justice. Skylights offer some natural lighting, and large padded seating, backed by a veneered wood (fancy plywood), give the room a graceful yet serious ambience. Almost no noise is heard as we wait for the clerks to make their appearance on the dias.

While I waited in line, I saw a juror wearing her card like a convention attendee. The date on her card? December 21, 2009. I wonder what the longest juried case is on record, and what percentage of jurors are not selected?

More later.

This Looks Like A Job For...

Today, I am on my way to the Hall of Justice. No, not the one in Metropolis with Superman and Wonder Dog. The one in the Bronx. As a registered voter, I have once again been summoned to serve. I have no opinion against jury duty. It is only required once every four years in the Bronx, and, like taxes, is a requirement necessary to keep a democracy functioning.

I do not know what type of case I might be called for, if I am found suitable. I probably will not blog about it, lest someone misplace their anger and frustration.

Last time, I read Tom Wolfe's "Streamline Baby" collection of essays while I waited. This time, Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals. I'm sure he's written one or two Discworld novels about the Justice System, but this is his latest.

See you soon...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV : Post-Game

E-Trade first class... okay
Chevy... ZZZZ
Campbell's Chunky... okay
Pace Picante... good
Flo TV... good.
Toyota... repeat, okay
Ford Escape... okay
Intel... Equates their new chip with email, wi-fi, Atari 2600, excellent
Sun Life... good
Walmart... good
Hyundai luxury... good
Crazies... interesting ad, movie is dime-a-dozen but told interestingly?
(and nothing else of interest...)

Super Bowl XLIV : Fourth Quarter

Vizio... effective
Emerald/Pop Secret... weird but effective
NFL Draft... repeat, but effective
Undercover Boss... repeat, more effective as solo ad. Premise is presented effectively.
Dante's Inferno... effective. Looks great.
Budweiser... obligatory Clydesdale ad, not that great.
Honda Crosstour... good.
Denny's... okay
CBS promos... good
Audi eco-police... excellent
Taco Bell... effective
Doritos Tim... HA!
Bud Light Book Club... women drinking Bud Light with a book club? Okay.
Hyundai Sonata... seen at pre-game, good
E-Trade babies... not that good.
Skechers Shape-up... repeat, blah
Go Daddy... good, drives web traffic
Denny's Birthday... effective
CBS 5-D... good
Mentalist... good.

Super Bowl : Third Quarter

Prince of Persia... looks good
Motorola... heh. Who's the model?
Volkswagen punchbuggy... Effective, nice use of celebrities!
Denny's... interesting.
CBS... How I met your mother... Where does the number go?
Michelob Ultra... good use of Lance Armstrong Brilliance using the Griswolds!
Bridgestone... good
KGB... funny and effective
Coca Cola... Serenghetti. Memorable.
E-Trade babies... memorable, cute.
Census 2010... good
Google... WOW. Telling a story with typing and a simple sound track. One of the best.
Kia Sorento... fun. good message
Roundup... okay
Bud Select 55... good
NFL thank you... good
Toyota apology... good
Metro PCS... offensive? not that good.
Ford Edge (local ad?)... okay

Super Bowl XLIV : Halftime

Flo TV... remixed video, very effective
HBO The Pacific... neutral.
Acura ZDX... is the woman turned on by a car?
NY Lottery (local ad)... guy playing in a lottery ball bin to promote Powerball and MegaMillions, effective.
(What's with the PSP displays during the halftime report? Sell that space to Flo TV or a mobile carrier.)
CSI:NY... interesting.
Amazing Race... feh
NFL Network... excellent
(Who dat playing? / The Who. / Who? / Yes. / Who's the band? / Yes. / Yes is playing? / No, The Who is. / Who's the band? / No, Who is the Who. The Band's not playing tonight. / Then the Who's playing? / Exactly.
CBS promos... zzzz...
CBS News... good blink you miss it
Backup Plan... huh?
Ford Fusion... okay
Prudential S.O.S... okay
American Airlines... good, keeps attention
Honda... It's All-American. So much for Lee Iococa and Chrysler...

Super Bowl XLIV : Second Quarter

Budweiser... interesting.
Shutter Island... intriguing!
CBS Heart PSA... effective, well done
Late Night... Holy &@$!!! Epic!
Career Builder... freaky ads tonight... eh.
Dockers... more freaks on parade. feh.
Hyundai... Brett Favre... effective
Bud Light Lost... okay
Dove Men... William Tell Overture kept your attention, effective
Dodge Charger... Well done. Where's this going? Good payout.
Papa John's... nice
CSI: Miami... in space? I'd watch.
Alice in Wonderland... it's now a blockbuster? Loses geek cred with this trailer. Blech. Should have maintained mystery.
Dr. Pepper Little Kiss... Cool.
NFL Full Contact... Groundhog Day, effective
Universal Harry Potter... nice teaser for fans.
FloTV... good intro... effective
Intel... ??? nice logo ending with the employees

Super Bowl XLIV : Second Quarter

Budweiser... interesting.
Shutter Island... intriguing!
CBS Heart PSA... effective, well done
Late Night... Holy &@$!!! Epic!
Career Builder... freaky ads tonight... eh.
Dockers... more freaks on parade. feh.
Hyundai... Brett Favre... effective
Bud Light Lost... okay
Dove Men... William Tell Overture kept your attention, effective
Dodge Charger... Well done. Where's this going? Good payout.
Papa John's... nice
CSI: Miami... in space? I'd watch.
Alice in Wonderland... it's now a blockbuster? Loses geek cred with this trailer. Blech. Should have maintained mystery.
Dr. Pepper Little Kiss... Cool.
NFL Full Contact... Groundhog Day, effective
Universal Harry Potter... nice teaser for fans.
FloTV... good intro... effective
Intel... ??? nice logo ending with the employees

Super Bowl XLIV : Second Quarter

Budweiser... interesting.
Shutter Island... intriguing!
CBS Heart PSA... effective, well done
Late Night... Holy &@$!!! Epic!
Career Builder... freaky ads tonight... eh.
Dockers... more freaks on parade. feh.
Hyundai... Brett Favre... effective
Bud Light Lost... okay
Dove Men... William Tell Overture kept your attention, effective
Dodge Charger... Well done. Where's this going? Good payout.
Papa John's... nice
CSI: Miami... in space? I'd watch.
Alice in Wonderland... it's now a blockbuster? Loses geek cred with this trailer. Blech. Should have maintained mystery.
Dr. Pepper Little Kiss... Cool.
NFL Full Contact... Groundhog Day, effective
Universal Harry Potter... nice teaser for fans.
FloTV... good intro... effective
Intel... ??? nice logo ending with the employees

Super Bowl XLIV : First Quarter

Bud Light...first ad... house of Bud feh.
Snickers! five stars
Tim Lebow... eh... lots of controversy... no big deal. smart of CBS to put it early.
Boost Mobile... Bears... cool. three stars.
Sonata zzzz
Dotitos... ???? why's the collar do that?
Robin Hood... doesn't sell me
Doitos Jalen... eh.
Bud Light Asteroid... good
CSI... ignoring most network ads, but well executed.
Coca Cola Simpsons... okay
Go Daddy... nice logo placement. Otherwise, eh. Who was masseuse?
Doritos funeral. eh.
Bud light party... good
Beaver Monster... memorable.
Wolfman... feh
Bridgestone Shamu... great ending!
Sketchers... money wasted excellent
CBS Network of the decade... yeah, right.

Super Bowl XLIV : Pre Game

Macdonald's... Hahha... good, but better if you saw the original. Sonata Hyundai ad is simple but effective.

Nice having the Hall of Fame class at the coin toss. Is the toss unbalanced, 13 in a row?

Players should be more reverent during the National Anthem.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Shrouded In Mystery

9 Chickweed Lane

9 Chickweed Lane is my favorite comic strip currently being published! (Click on the comic above to view the entire strip.)

The daily strips tell an ongoing story, mostly about romance, with the occasional surreality thrown in to keep things interesting. The Sundays, as seen above, are one-shot strips, and are nice little vignettes.

So, I could not resist posting the above strip. I wonder if it's for sale?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I Don't Think So

I left the house at 5:15 AM to catch a 7 AM bus to Boston. As I turned the corner onto the local Main Street, a car pulls up along side me and yells, "Taxi! Taxi!"

Now this is a common occurance in my neighborhood, especially around the subway station. I was taking the train to the bus, so I replied, "Subway. Subway".

The taxi driver repeated his call of "Taxi! Taxi!", so I replied, "Two dollar taxi!" (Yeah, it's now $2.50, but it doesn't roll off the tongue as nicely.)

So the taxi drives on as I continue walking to the local deli for breakfast. That's when I get a good look at the taxi.

It's a red minivan with residential plates. Not a sedan, not a van, a MINIVAN.

So, Strike One: you aren't licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, and you're probably not paying any taxes or fees as a taxi driver.

Strike Two: You want me to get into a strange car driven by a strange man at 5:30 in the morning? Folks... there's a lot of stuff I never learned in school, or forgot because of the cheerleader sitting in the desk next to mine, but I do remember this: NEVER EVER GET IN A STRANGE CAR WITH SOMEONE YOU DO NOT KNOW. Not if they offer you candy, or say there's an emergency, not even if they are sweeter and curvier than a chocolate Easter bunny.

And Strike Three: You want me to get in an unlicensed cab, at 5 AM, in New York City, driven by some strange guy who probably isn't wearing his safety belt, AND you want me to pay for it?

I don't think so.