Monday, February 22, 2010

Holy Crap!

We beat Canada!

In Canada.
Even though they out shot us 45-22, because US Goalie Ryan Miller is THE MAN, we won!

(psst...look for Fox News to proclaim this as a vindication of our current corporate healthcare system versus Canada's government-run paradigm. I'll send the link when it comes out).

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Children's Books - Part 2

Back by popular demand - it's the Slimbo's Shelf Children's Books Review. My kids are seven and five now and I feel as though I've read every single kids' book nine times over. Trust me, I'm an expert. Let's dig in:

Good - Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka, Tommy dePaolo. Jamie is the laziest man in all of Ireland - and that's saying a lot. When his wife Eileen takes off for a spell, Jamie turns his home into a complete mess, only to have a mysterious beast, the Pooka, come clean it every night. This is a fun one to read, especially if you can pull off a decent Irish brogue. Just try and tell your kids at the end that not all Irishmen are lazy drunks.

Good - Ramona the Pest, by Beverly Cleary. Ramona is wonderful at expressing the strain between childhood wonders and the reality of everyday banalities. It's also refreshing for children to be exposed to a true working-class family who don't live in that world of McMansions and mega-SUV's that seems to dominate children's media of today. The Ramona series came from the late 60's into the 70's - back when entertainment for children was a lot more comfortable with socio-economic realism.

AWFUL - Barbie & the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I'll sum this one up real quick. In a fit of extreme originality, this story presents a king whose wife has died. He has twelve daughters. Oh, and when Barbie takes this thing over, they're all anorexic. Anyway, the daughters are trying to fend off an evil lady who's trying to muscle in and become the new queen (woo - more originality!). All the while, each day some schnook cobbler comes by the castle to repair the royal ballet shoes. One of the princesses falls in love with this guy. The cobbler gets the girl. Right.

AWESOME - Pippi Longstocking - This edition is illustrated by Lauren Child of Charlie and Lola fame. These are the original stories of the mischievous legendary Swedish girl of super-human strength. Pippi is insane and dedicated to chaos. Good fun.

GOOD - The Mitten - a Ukrainian Folk Tale, by Jan Brett. Beautifully illustrated. Boy gets mitten; boy loses mitten. Half the animal kingdom tries to crawl into the mitten for warmth. Boy finds and goes home with stretched out mitten. Boy now in Gulag.

BAD - Arthur's Reading Race. So Arthur can read. Great. So what does he do with this new found skill? This pretentious egghead condescendingly challenges his little sister, DW to a reading race. Distracted by the enchanting sound of his own voice, Arthur has something bad happen to him at the end of the story. And that was fine by me.

BAD - the Little Critter series, Mercer Mayer. What the hell are these animals? Ground hogs? Ferrets? And why do they always look stoned? Do they grow their own weed or do they buy it? For some good Mercer Mayer, check out the Where Are You Frog stories?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Everyone's been aching to just hand over the gold to Canada in this Olympics. But I say don't count out Big Blue.

Now granted, Canada's team is essentially the best of the best of the NHL. But I still like Team USA. It's a bunch of scrappy young guys. And thirty years ago (eeh! was it really that long ago?), a scrappy bunch of underdogs shook the world.

I love Olympic Hockey - nothing's better than seeing the game played on that big ice. In 1992, I was in my sophomore year at Syracuse. My roommate and I bunkered into our dorm room for all the hockey games. Ted Donatti & Company got close, just short of a bronze. But I think of that great series every time I see USA hit the ice.

I'd also like to add that Team USA's sweater is awesome. Finally a traditional look!


Friday, February 12, 2010

No Apologies Needed

Marvel Comics (to whom we owe the above image), has come under fire for a recent edition of Captain America. In this allegedly controversial issue, Cap and his sidekick, the African-American hero, Falcon, were on a rooftop surveying a street protest as part of an effort to monitor white supremest groups. So when Marvel laid the spread illustrating this protest, they essentially portrayed a scene closely aligned to the Teabagging Love-In's of 2009: that street-theater manufactured outrage at government spending that has mysteriously only surfaced after we inaugurated an African American President.

Marvel Comics is a cultural icon for which I have the utmost respect. During WWII, Marvel used its comics as a conduit to vent an anti-nazi energies, often from the pens of Jewish artists. Into the 50's, 60's, and 70's - comics experienced an exultant commercial success. As the nation lived under the omnipresent specter of nuclear annihilation, Marvel responded with a host of heroes intent of thwarting the efforts of villains who sought control and power through the splitting of the atom.

In the 1980's, I started to collect and obsess about comic books. In this new era, there was a new villain. In the 40's it was Nazis. Afterwards, it was nukes. Now the dangers were greed and corporations. The specter of Armageddon was replaced with the snowballing threat of uncontrolled, unregulated pollution. Additionally, the wildly popular Mutant series spoke to the issues of homophobia, anti-immigration and cultural acceptance.

When 9/11 came to us, Marvel Comics was one of the first artistic responses I can remember. In Amazing Spider-Man Vol.2#36, 'Stand Tall', not only did Marvel pay tribute to those who lost their lives and those who toiled in the disaster area, but it also laid a poignant condemnation of Faldwell and Robertson's Taliban-like decree that the City of New York brought 9/11 upon itself. In the mid-2000's, an interesting series called Civil War, pitted heroes against one another in an interesting and unbiased metaphor for the complex moral dilemmas brought on by the Patriot Act.

Marvel Comics should stand tall now. They've done nothing wrong. They've never bowed to intolerance before and shouldn't now. I say Marvel should stay the course and artistically take on issues like this as they have always done so well in the past.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Syracuse - Connecticut 1991

Earlier tonight, third-ranked Syracuse defeated Connecticut in a close one at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY. Watching this game with my son, I was suddenly transported back 19 years ago.

In January of 1991, Syracuse and UConn took a regular season game at the Carrier Dome into overtime. I was sitting in the seats behind the Southern hoop, maybe twenty five rows up. Just before the opening tip-off of overtime, an announcement was made that the Allied assault on Bahgdad had begun.

I was a freshmen, 18 years old. The enormity of the moment seized all 30,000 in attendance and the Dome became deathly silent. Then, slowly at first, the "USA" chant began. It was the first time I'd ever heard that chant, that pro-wrestling-like mantra that has since marked us as a nation of hubristic blundering. But that night, I suppose there was someting innoncent about it.

Half the students left the game and went back to their dorm rooms to begin their months-long obsession with CNN. It was to be America's first puff of the destructive narcotic of 24hr cable news. I stayed to watch the rest of the game. Sure, we were at war. Sure Israel might jump in and rupture the tenuous Arab Alliance. Sure, I'd soon be attending draft information sessions in my dorm. Sure all that shit was going to hit the fan - but that night - Cuse had to take UConn down. And we did. Just like we did tonight.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A team by any other name...

There's a wonderful NY Jets blog called Just End The Season (J.E.T.S. - get it?). That's made me realize that I really should be deciphering what the hidden meaning is behind all my favorite teams. Let's break them down:

New York Mets (not too original here):

The New York Giants:

Ah, the woeful New York Islanders:
Russian (or)

And who could forget my alma mater, Syracuse:

Submit your own!