a bunch of bing cherries glistening wet
Photo courtesy USDA ARS taken by Peggy Greb.

My grandfather doesn't get excited about food much anymore, and if he does he's usually soon disappointed. And while my grandmother points out anytime a meal is underwhelming that she doesn't live to eat, but eats to live, I can't help but recall how we kids used to get awakened practically every morning during a visit to their condo in Florida with, "You'd better get up if you want some good sun! Where would you like to have dinner tonight?"

Dinner usually involved trying to make an early-bird special if the restaurant was anything even approximating fine dining. They might fit a stereotype, but as far as I'm concerned if you grew up struggling through the Great Depression, have made a comfortable living, and can mingle your enjoyments of a good meal, a good deal, and family, you're more than entitled to that satisfaction.

Grandmom does love her ice cream, though.

Lost in Thought

promo title card for the show 'Lost' depicting the name in large capital letters, with a city skyline visible inside them, rising up from a misty, craggy island in the middle of the ocean with a dark, cloudy sky as backdrop, all tinted a turquoise hue

I'm not alone in being driven to enjoyable distraction by ABC's Lost.

Even though the show has seen ratings drop considerably over the last few years, its die-hard fans are more committed than Hurley. (Mental-hospital pun; I think he'd approve.) You can still find viewers like my mother, tuning in purely for the wild television entertainment week after week — or waiting month after month, since Lost switched over to a no-repeat season that runs from January to May and goes dark the rest of the year. You'll also find viewers who suffuse cyberspace, reading and often participating in discussions that dissect and speculate upon every nuance of each episode, the DVD extras, pronouncements from the show's producers to journalists and Comic-Con audiences, interactive multimedia games, etc. You might even find other viewers like me, who are somewhere in-between.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

[Update: The last part of this post has been taken down since some Web content disappeared.] 

I can't believe I haven't done a pure link-blogging post yet.

Have you ever wondered what The Captain & Tennille's "Love Will Keep Us Together" would sound like in Spanish, sung by Toni herself? Wonder no more!

More audio fun: (1) Go to a a certain page my cousin and I discovered the other day at Merriam-Webster's online dictionary. (2) Click on the red speaker next to the defined word. (3) Keep the pop-up window on your desktop and click "hear it again" whenever it's useful in conversation at the office or at home — or just for your own amusement.

Dark Knight Delight

If you have young Batman fans in your family, or are one yourself of any age, the Viking/Penguin Young Readers Group release Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight [ISBN 978-0-67006-255-3] is a perfect gift.

cover to 'Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight', with text: '32 Pages of Action!' 'Written & Illustrated by Ralph Cosentino' / Batman swinging above rooftops on rope that trails off top right corner of book cover

At $15.99 it's rather a slight read for the price — the length of a single issue at the cost
of a graphic novel in comics terms — but that's par for the course in the wider market of children's books. I think you'll find it worth the splurge whether you want to display it as a handsome collectible or read it over and over to your kids.


Nearly every week, the Late Show with David Letterman website runs a Top Ten contest. You don't come up with a whole list of 10, just submit as many individual entries as you like on the week's theme, and ten winning entries are chosen (imagine that). They don't get read on the show, merely posted on the site, and at least nowadays each winner gets a T-shirt.

I had a pretty good streak going a few years ago, when the prize was a Late Show mousepad, so after a couple of mousepads I asked for maybe a T-shirt instead; I got one and it was clearly a reject, with the logo starting to the left of my right nipple and ending up under my left arm somewhere.

You can read the most recent winners and enter the latest contest by clicking "Enter Top Ten Contest" (imagine that) in the Top Ten area on this page. I usually come up with at least a half-dozen between the ones I think are really funny and the kind I think they'll go for based on past winners, but this week the subject is pretty narrow. I wouldn't even be posting these if I didn't think the last one was inspired. You're welcome to leave your own efforts here in replies, but if you want a shot at the T-shirt or just the satisfaction of winning don't forget to enter the contest yourself. And now...

My Top Three Signs Christian Bale is Your Valentine

3. All your little candy hearts have swear words

2. During dinner he curses out the waiter for "walking into my shot"

1. Next time Adam West insists, "I'm f---ing Batman," you think, "That makes two of us!"

A Curious Case
of Bedrooms and Buttons

Coraline, a wide-eyed girl with blue hair, crawling through a strange tunnel lit in blues and purples
Coraline movie still © 2009 Laika Entertainment.

Friday the 13th — I'd say that's an appropriate day to talk about Coraline.

The movie, directed and written for the screen by Henry Selick, is infectious, and certain set pieces are spectacular. Depending on how audiences react to the darker aspects, it's sure to become either a cult or mass favorite. But very early on I got that familiar twinge of kinda wishing I hadn't read the book.

Written by Neil Gaiman, and the winner of a Hugo among other awards given to science-fiction, horror, or fantasy works, Coraline the book was good. The "problem" is that, as prose fiction will do, it calls heavily upon the reader's imagination to illustrate Coraline's worlds, aided — this part is key — by Dave McKean's cover and occasional black-&-white interior art. Gaiman and McKean broke into the American comics market together over 20 years ago with Black Orchid for DC, and McKean produced covers for Gaiman's landmark series The Sandman. The pair also began collaborating on such children's books as The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish long before Gaiman was Neil Gaiman, Bestselling Author of American Gods. More to the point, the duo made the film MirrorMask, which I now really want to see, because while I didn't remember much about Coraline the book in great detail I quite clearly remembered McKean's illustrations. And while their mood was reflected in posters I've seen, they weren't the basis for the look of Coraline the movie; not a complaint, but still inevitable baggage.


Hi. I'm Blam. Welcome to my blog.

I still haven't solved the problems mentioned in my first post, but I'd like to begin rolling out more content, so it's time for a proper introduction.

a portrait of the author in profile — male with dark hair, glasses, mustache and goatee, wearing a plaid shirt, hand resting on his chin as if in thought
Photo: BSL © 2009.

The name "Blam"? I was signing my art "B. Lamken" way back in 7th grade when a friend took to calling me "Blamken". It caught on big (even with teachers), sticking through college and beyond, finally getting shorted to just "Blam". No similarity to the sound effect made by guns and bombs in comics intended nor implied. You can totally call me "Brian" or even "Mr. Lamken" if you prefer.