bing cherries
Photo: USDA Agricultural
Research Service / 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, and always has.

Isle of Lost

Or, homonymically: I love Lost.

And I'm not alone. Even though the show has seen its ratings drop considerably over the last few years, the die-hard fans are more committed than Hurley (yes, that's a mental-hospital pun). You can still find viewers like my mother, who watch purely for the wild television entertainment week after week — when they're not waiting month after month, ever since Lost switched over to a no-repeat season that runs from January to May, going 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 Lost's producers to journalists and Comic-Con crowds, interactive multimedia games, and more. You might even find viewers like me, who are somewhere in-between.

The Internet is a big place, as vast as it is virtual. For a long time, including during the first few seasons of Lost, I didn't have regular access to it; I just watched Lost on TV. During the gap between the first and second halves of Season 3, however, I picked up Nikki Stafford's Finding 'Lost' — a captivating read even though it "only" covered the previous two seasons — and once I plowed through her next book, covering said third season, I knew that when I could I'd be visiting Nikki's blog, Nik at Nite.

Now that I'm zipping along the Web as often as our spotty wi-fi lets me, I can confirm that if one isn't reasonably disciplined one could spend not just hours but probably days on Lostpedia alone, never mind the jungle of other blogs and fansites. Should you be interested in sharing theories with other Lost watchers and prefer, like me, to have a home base, I recommend Nikki's blog for the witty and engaging episode recaps that she posts each Wednesday night and the tantalizing discussions which ensue (and in addition to those for Season 5, which is only a month old, you'll find all her posts on Season 4, which should encourage you to pick up her books). When there's a notable video created by fans or the producers — like this one from last summer's San Diego Comic-Con featuring the Dharma scientist sometimes known as Marvin Candle — or a particularly insightful article somewhere else, you can rest assured someone will offer the link. Okay, I follow geek journalist Jeff Jensen's top-notch analysis and speculation at Entertainment Weekly's Totally 'Lost' hub, too, but that's it, promise.

Hopefully, I'll post my thoughts about this season to date right here in the near future, but I didn't want to wait any longer before giving a shout-out to one of my favorite new diversions (even though, ironically, thanks to a bad Internet connection this is the first week I haven't posted at Nik at Nite since the season began, the same reason this dispatch is getting cut short). For those of us who have found Lost and stayed with it, things are really heating up, and it's great being able to chew on it with friends old or new.

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.

All you need is a desire to stimulate the economy by spending $15.99 for just "32 pages of action" plus endpapers and lovely covers — 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

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

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

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 SF, 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 the cover and occasional black-&-white interior art of Dave McKean. 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.

Oscars Stanzas

So Entertainment Weekly is holding an Oscars poetry contest.

Really. You're supposed to be able to enter it at EW's PopWatch blog, where you can also read the poem from a 16-year-old reader that launched the challenge, but so far there isn't a link for that. I just sent mine by E-mail. [Update: Still no word from Entertainment Weekly on the winner several months years later.]

Oscar statuette

A Free Verse
On the Oscars

I liked Dave Letterman
Call me crazy
He's certainly better than
Some we've had host
But I realize that most
Want someone squarer
Star power of Jim Carrey
Temperament of Jim Lehrer


a portrait of the author in profile
Photo: BSL © 2009.

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 start rolling out more content, so it's time for a proper introduction.

The name "Blam"? I was signing my art "B. Lamken" way back in 7th grade when a friend began 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, or any of the other usages found on Wikipedia, is intended or implied. You can totally call me "Brian" if you prefer.