Sunday, May 31, 2009

Target misses the ... well

Max Fleischer's Superman cartoons from the early 1940s are classics in the superhero animation field, in fact probably being the best big screen adaptation of the comics field until 1978's Superman: The Movie.

The realistic rotoscoped animation and stylized framing came soon after Fleischer's 1939 adaptation of Gulliver's Travels, also an early animated classic are a visual treat. Superman battles such adversaries as Japanese saboteurs, mummies and various underworld baddies in a series of tense pulp-like adventures geared toward the adult viewer -- complete with damsels in distress, high tension and fairly intense action scenes.

In fact, the back of the recent DVD release of the 17 cartoons includes a prominent disclaimer stating that: "Superman: The Max Fleischer Cartoon Collection is intended for the adult collector and is not suitable for children."

So where does the Target in Colma, Calif., keep the DVDs?
Right next to the Sesame Street and Richard Scary videos.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Florida is hot

No posts lately, mainly because I've been on vacation in Florida for a week, with no Internet access other than my iPhone, which is difficult to type long sequences with. In fact, I am using said device right now to post from the Tampa International Airport. I'll put up a blog post with some details of my great time when I return to California. Cheers!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sotomayor on short list for the Court

Every once in a while I try to post something here, thinking I'm the only one that it's occurred to, that I'm the only one who remembered some obscure fact.

So it happened last week when I heard that US Supreme Court Justice David Souter (above right) would soon be retiring. Among the names discussed as a possible replacement was US Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor. The New York jurist would click just about every important demographic box that Barack Obama wants -- she's Latina, a woman and my attorney wife says the Second Court of Appeals, on which Sotomayor presides, is fairly liberal in reputation.

When I heard that Sotomayor's name was on Obama's short list, I remembered one more thing: she basically ended the devastating baseball strike of 1994-1995.

Sotomayor (pictured at right) issued an injunction stating that owners over-reached in unilaterally eliminating the then-current free agency and arbitration systems in 1995 -- a statement that led to the players going back to work under the previous contract until a new one could be negotiated later that year. An article in the New York Times soon after pointed out Sotomayor as a rising star in the judical world, and for some reason it stuck with me and I immediately recognized her name when i heard it over the air on NPR.

I also remembered her role in ending the baseball strike, and was surprised that none of the media outlets I'd seen had listed that among her accomplishments. In fact, I though maybe I had mis-remembered until I double-checked online. So I got the idea for this blog entry thinking I'd have a big scoop -- until I decided to check online and saw that it's been covered ad nauseam (such as here and here).

Ah well. Anyway, I know next-to-nothing about Sotomayor's views on First Amendment rights, abortion, the Equal Protection Clause, etc. But I do know she helped bring back baseball in a time when I needed it -- when I had moved to a new city and started a new life, but needed something familiar to latch onto. For that, Sotomayor will forever have my gratitude.

(Update: Tuesday, May 26, 2009, 8:53 a.m. -- AP is reporting Obama has picked Sotomayor for the Court. Did I call it, or what?)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Attack of the zombie ants

In the latest episode of "Science gone mad (but in a cool way):"

The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reported Monday that a new strategy is being used to combat that all-too common Texas pest, the fire ant -- turning them into zombies whose heads fall off.

Apparently, fire ants are "The mean bastards of the ant world," and cause huge amounts of carnage. As stated in an Associated Press story, "The biting, territorial fire ants cost the Texas economy about $1 billion annually by damaging electrical equipment, according to a Texas A&M study. They can also threaten young calves."

Scientists are combating the six-legged red scourge by introducing phorid flies, natives of South America. Per the Star-Telegram: "The flies "dive-bomb" the fire ants and lay eggs. The maggot that hatches inside the ant eats away at the brain, and the ant starts exhibiting what some might say is zombie-like behavior."

With no brain, the ant wanders aimlessly for about two weeks, at which point the maggot emerges as a fly, then looks for new ants to lay eggs on.

Sounds good, but is anyone worried that this might take on echoes of The Simpsons episode "Bart the Mother," where some imported lizards, to the delight of the public, eliminate Springfield's pigeon problem, but then become a nuisance themselves? Principal Skinner comes up with a plan to then bring in lizard-eating snakes, then snake-eating gorillas to take care of them, and then "winter will take care of the rest."