An M and E Mail

When my niece E was quite little, she used to love a book on Louis Pasteur at my mother's house that her husband had either from his days as a teacher or from his own kids' childhoods. It referred to germs as "the invisible enemies" — but E kept calling them "the invisible anemones" (without realizing, of course, either her mistake or the fact that there were actually such things as anemones).

E and her younger sister M are older now, eight and six respectively, yet still delighted by books and still coming out with terribly funny things.

"Let's pretend we are in the olden days," my sister J overheard E saying to M recently. "Pretend it is 1980!" ("And no," J added, "she did not mean 1880; I asked.")

Chuck Still Not Up

Photo from Chuck 3.20 © 2011 Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Last year on this very date I praised NBC's Chuck for its volley of satisfying finales, none of which ultimately stood as a swan song.

Season Two concluded by both wrapping up the current narrative satisfactorily and nodding towards the future. Chuck's original 13-episode order for Season Three did the same. And the following episode a month later — the first of an additional 6 that rounded out the season — served as a lovely coda, with the actual Season Three finale making for a fine farewell too. I felt back then that, while I've enjoyed Chuck, it would have been all right with me had the show bowed out after any one of those treats.

Missing Links

Trio of truncated Peanuts strips © 1967 Universal Feature Syndicate.

I linked to Garfield Minus Garfield two years ago this month in a post called "Losing It". More recent, along the lines of that phenomenon, is a variation on Peanuts that stops each strip after the first three panels. To quote the intro to its Tumblr feed: "Charles Schulz's Peanuts comics often conceal the existential despair of their world with a closing joke at the characters' expense. With the last panel omitted, despair pervades all."

Ducks Uncovered

I'm about to call a moratorium on posts sparked by anything new, because there's so much in the pipeline. The 11 o'clock edition of Action News tonight, however, ran a story that just screams to be blogged on both for what it said and for what it left out.

Logo © 2011 Google. 

The main thing that I was surprised anchor Jim Gardner didn't mention during the story was that today was the birthday of John James Audubon — which I'll admit I only knew thanks to the day's Google logo.

Matzah and Miscellany

We have fewer than 36 hours left in the annual effort of unleavened endurance that is Passover, but it's still worth sharing a delightful snack idea.

The festival commemorating the Jews' exodus from Egypt is a strange one in that we're asked to honor the trials of our ancestors by eating certain foods during the ritual seder meal — as well as by depriving ourselves of normal bread products for the following week — but at the same time we celebrate our freedom by literally treating ourselves like royalty at that same meal.

So I don't feel too bad about indulging in Nutella and peanut butter on matzah.

Image © 2010 Ferrero USA.

Nutella is a creamy hazelnut-cocoa spread. As I've mentioned here before, I love hazelnuts and their flavor, especially with coffee or chocolate (or both). I also love the salty-and-sweet combination you get from chocolate-covered pretzels or chocolate and peanut butter. When I need to satisfy the craving for a little dessert, a spoonful of one part Nutella and one part peanut butter, washed down with some milk, really hits the spot. I have no idea how I never thought to spread the divine mixture on matzah ere now.

Fringe Thinking:
Good Morning, Good Morning

And the end of Fringe Season Three, including what may be the final showdown in the series' Two-Worlds War, begins.

I'm not sure how much there is to say about the events of...

... that won't be rendered moot by next Friday. So while I can't help but ask a few burning questions, I won't really try to answer them, either, instead sticking to some random reactions and tangential tidbits. Here they are in the order of their prompts throughout the episode.

Fringe Thinking: Mind Games

"Mind Games" it is, since "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" felt both a little too on the nose and not really descriptive of ...

Like my first actual "Fringe Thinking" post said, I'm going to attempt to blog weekly on Fringe, quite possibly my favorite TV experience of the moment. I sure hope that subsequent posts are more prompt than this dispatch; my oft-cited online problems and innately unpredictable abilities mean no guarantees, although I suspect that having gotten a new overview of the show out of the way will help. Now, better late than never, I offer my thoughts on one of the most intriguing and most disappointing installments of this excellent series to date.

Dairy Ado

Cover to Birds of Prey #35 © 2001 DC Comics. 

I've loved Phil Noto's art since first seeing it on Birds of Prey shortly before my forced hiatus from comics. His clean lines, stunning color choices, and cool design sense are right up my alley.

By contrast, I've been unmoved if not flat-out turned off by Greg Horn's work since first seeing it wherever I first saw it — Elektra covers spring to mind. It has an antiseptic quality, d
espite his general technical accomplishment, and the porn/stripper vibe that permeates the posing women for which he's (in)famous makes me want to break out the actual antiseptic. 

Given all that, I probably shouldn't have been surprised to arrive at Comics Alliance's post of a Noto sketch done for writers Gail Simone and Marjorie Liu. Yet I was. I was pleasantly surprised by the Alex Toth echoes in Noto's illustration, from the expert blacks to the look of the inscription. And I was unpleasantly surprised by just how distasteful the Horn piece to which it responded turned out to be.

Fringe Thinking:
Across the Universe

Promo shot © 2010 Fox Broadcasting and/or Warner Bros. Entertainment.

I'd been planning to write up the last three Fringe episodes of this season, which reportedly form one continued story, both to quell persistent requests from friends and as practice for potentially weekly reviews come autumn now that Fox has seen fit to renew the show. A few things (LSD not being one them) conspired to convince me that it was a good idea to start early with last night's episode. The usual roadblocks worked mightily to disabuse me of that notion, but too late, so here's some background to save us all from recap fatigue in future chapter-specific editions.


Art © 2011 Evan Dorkin. Hulk ® Marvel Characters.

I just realized that the post title means nothing if your only Hulk experience is with the late-'70s TV series, in which his scientist side was named David Banner. A round of the opening theme to the very first Hulk cartoon from a decade earlier should set you straight.

My Other Saturday Notes

I don't expect brilliance from Saturday Night Live these days. But it's not impossible, so I still hope for it. A genius moment and genuine belly laugh may come from the old standby of celebrity impersonations or from something utterly bizarre like that French dance sketch that first popped up in October — even from a rare recurring character who somehow stays hysterically funny, like Bill Hader's Stefon

Photo: Mary Ellen Matthews for NBCUniversal Media © 2011

With few exceptions, in fact, the weirder SNL gets anymore, the better. That's not to say that weird is always good, but that the good is almost always a result of weird, be it Zach Galiafinakis' out-of-nowhere Annie number from last month, the non sequitur "lost" Vincent Price TV specials, or the stranger SNL Digital Short installments.

Table Talk

I'm dipping into my store of delightful stories about the next generation to keep
content flowing here while preparing some longer posts. The following exchange occurred at dinnertime a year ago. Ishmael was not yet three.

Ishmael: "Where's Daddy?"

Mommy: "At work."

Ishmael: "No, Daddy is in the shower."

Mommy: "Good guess! But he's at work."

Kindred Posts: An M and E MailWhat I SaidI before Zzzzz

E Mail

Here's a story that my sister sent along last year about her daughter E, who is now
eight but was seven at the time.

E was having one of those days — woke up on the wrong side of the bed, just mad at
the world. At one point she went to her room only to come back downstairs with her hair tied in a low, tight ponytail, dressed all in black, and proclaim, "My new favorite color is black. My new favorite place to go is nowhere."

Then E said that she wanted to call Mom-Mom, because her job is to help people
with their feelings, so all was not lost.

Kindred Posts: An M and E MailBedtimes and BroomsticksThe 'Works

Saturday Night's All Right for Typing

I hadn't planned on reviewing Saturday Night Live in brief or at length anytime soon. But as long as I was pausing my VCR (yes, really) to read the quick-scrolling text from this week's Fox & Friends sketch, I figured I might as well transcribe it to share on the blog before heading to bed. And of course that led to me typing up thoughts on the show in general. 

Here's what zipped along the screen under the guise of what the fact-checkers had to say, centered and carriage-returned just as it aired, in case you're interested; the text is copyright 2011 NBC Studios. My critical musings won't get posted until "tomorrow" at the earliest, once they've been finished and proofread — [update] likely in a separate post since this one's probably got as much traffic as it's going to get (which has been a lot) within the first day or so.

What I Said

I've been remiss in sharing stories about the kids in my family, even though my sister has sent along a passel of awesome anecdotes with her permission to post them.

As regular readers may recall, for privacy purposes I only refer to my nieces by their first initials, E and M, but I call my nephew Ishmael because his initial happens to be the same as a personal pronoun that I have now used three times in this sentence alone. Me talking about "I" could be confusing.

Ishmael is heading towards four years old, adorable, and big. His likes include Toy Story, superheroes, his mommy's lap, building things, and knocking things down. His dislikes include being told what to do.

Ape Rule

DC Comics has a tradition of gorilla covers that was over a quarter-century strong by the time the cover below caught my 5-year-old fancy.

You'll find a gallery of sixty such covers, first published on this blog back in 2009, in all its four-color primate glory below — or, if you're coming at this post from the main page or a label search, after the proverbial "jump" — followed by an explanation of why it was gone for so long and why it's back up now.