Archive for May, 2010

7 Reasons LeBron James Could Join the Houston Rockets

Monday, May 31st, 2010

With another Cleveland Cavaliers season ending in disappointment and LeBron James a free agent, there’s no end to the speculation as to where he’ll end up. Stay in Cleveland? Join the Bulls? Go to New York? Join the Clippers? (No, seriously, some are suggesting that.) The LeBron James Free Agency Saga has been considered from just about every possible angle (including its impact on Jews; oy vey, it’s enough to drive you meshugga).

Just about the only thing these prognostications have in common is that they all agree (if only by omission) that King James is not coming to the Houston Rockets. There are many times when the conventional wisdom is correct, and it does indeed seem unlikely that the Rockets are at the top of James’ list. However, with many pundits banding about the word “impossible” in relation the Rockets snagging King James, I have to disagree. Unlikely? Yes. Very. But not impossible. After all, if you had told someone at the beginning of this season that Daryl Morey would trade a battered T-Mac, Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey and a bag of doorknobs for: A.) A 20 point scorer (Kevin Martin), B.) the 8th pick of the 2009 draft (Jordan Hill), C.) Semi-protected rights to swap picks with New York in the 2011 Draft, and D.) New York’s semi-protected 2012 1st round draft pick, they would have called you crazy.

Because unreasonable optimism is the province of bloggers and hometown sports columnists, here are 7 reasons why the Houston Rockets might indeed be able to sign LeBron James:

  1. Yao Ming: The Rockets should (fingers crossed) have Yao Ming back next season. If he can retain his former form (a big if) and stay healthy (even bigger), then the Rockets will have no worse than the second best center in the NBA. Having a great center on his team (Shaq no longer qualifies) would help prevent other teams from double- and triple-teaming James every time he touches the ball. Yao is also a presence at the defensive end and is (unlike Shaq) a free-throw shooting machine. Outside of Orlando’s Dwight Howard, no other potential teammate in the entire NBA has as much potential to provide a complimentary insider scorer.
  2. No State Income Tax: Anywhere James is going to go, he’s going to sign a max contract deal, say somewhere around $16.8 million. That means he would rake in the same amount no matter which team he signs with, right? Wrong. Texas has no state income tax, and Houston has no city income tax, while the unfortunate denizens of New York City have to suffer under both. First, New York State has a top income tax rate of 8.97%. But wait, that’s not all! New York City has its own income tax on top of the state income tax! I believe James would qualify as a “Resident Head of Household,” which means his city tax rate would be “$2,047 plus 3.648% of excess over $60,000″. King James would have to cough up over two millions dollars a year (or, to be precise, $2,119,682 ($1,506,960 in state income tax, and $612,722 in city income tax, assuming my calculations are correct) for the privilege of playing in New York City rather than Houston. Many New York apologists will say that moving there would earn him more money than he would lose due to greater endorsement possibilities from playing in the country’s largest media market. But that leads to my next point:
  3. Moving to New York does little to raise his national profile; moving to Houston does lots to raise his international profile: New York is indeed the country’s largest media market, but so what? James is already the most important basketball player in the country. Sure, moving to NYC might sell a few more jerseys in the five boroughs, but the rest of the country regards New York City not with the awe so many of its own residents seem to have deluded themselves into thinking is their birthright, but with indifference or outright hostility. His existing fans may buy his Knicks jersey, but no one West of the Hudson who wasn’t already a LeBron James fanatic is going to care. But a move to Houston would raise his international profile tremendously by pairing him with the only basketball player bigger than James on the international scene: Yao Ming. Moving to New York might net him another 10 million fans; moving to Houston might potentially net him another billion. How many more shoes do you think Nike could sell in China if James teamed up with Ming? That’s the long-term play that makes the most sense for both James and the NBA.
  4. Houston has lots of pieces for a sign-and-trade: One reason so many think it’s impossible for the Rockets to sign James is their lack of cap space. While true, it overlooks the possibility of Houston performing a sign-and-trade with Cleveland if James decided he would look swell in Rocket Red. (And let’s face it: He would look swell.) And Morey has assembled a lot of valuable pieces to trade with. How does 3 first round picks (including the one from New York) over the next two years, Jordan Hill and/or Trevor Ariza sound? That would give the Cavs a chance to build a pretty nice foundation for the future instead of letting James walk for nada.
  5. Solid Teammates: In addition to being all-around solid guys who are (mostly) willing to play defense, take a look at the monster scoring averages Houston would have with LeBron James and a healthy Yao Ming:
    • LeBron James: 29.7 ppg

    • Yao Ming: 19.7 ppg (based on his 2008-2009 season)
    • Kevin Martin: 21.3 ppg
    • Aaron Brooks: 19.6 ppg
    • Luis Scola: 16.2 ppg

    So, that’s 106.5 points per game without any scoring from the bench! The Rockets should just roll over the opposition! They should-

    “Basketball does not work that way!”

    What, you’re saying that I’m confusing fantasy basketball statistics with real basketball? OK, fine. Everyone’s average will probably come down to give King James enough shots to hit his near-30. Still, when Luis Scola at 15 points a game is your least productive scorer, these Rockets would be a nightmare to defend. Any one of of them is capable of making you pay for double-teaming James or Yao. And you can’t double-team both, or Brooks and Martin are going to kill you from the 3-point line. That starting five would automatically be the best team in the NBA (and significantly younger than the Celtics). And keep in mind that Brooks and Martin’s 20 point averages for the 2009-2010 season were compiled without a Yao or LeBron to keep defenses from keying on them. And they still won 42 games. Add LeBron James to the Knicks and they’re a playoff team. Add LeBron James to the Rockets and they’re automatically a championship favorite.

  6. Rick Adelman: Just about every player Adelman has ever coached says they loved playing for him. (T-Mac is about the only player I can think of dissenting from that opinion, and think we all know where the fault lies there.) Adelman even received nothing but praise from the volatile Ron Artest, who was a model citizen off the court for his year in Houston. (On the court Adelman could never dissuade Artest from his questionable shot selection, but that’s the Lakers’ problem now…) Also keep in mind that Adelman’s last losing season was with the Golden State Warriors in 1997, he lead the Rockets on a 22-game winning streak (the NBA’s second longest), even though half those games were without Yao, in 2008, and his woefully undermanned Rockets still took the Lakers to seven games in the Western Conference Semifinals last year. The man can coach, and he might be just the man to elevate James’ already lofty game even higher.
  7. The Daryl Morey Factor: Just as you should never, ever underestimate the heart of a champion, you should never underestimate the wiliest GM in the league. I’m going to leave it to real Rockets bloggers like The Dream Shake and Red 94 to go into all the details of just how much smarter Morey seems to be than every other GM in the NBA. But what if Morey has just been playing possum all along? What if all the Chris Bosh talk has been a carefully constructed smokescreen to obscure the fact that Morey has a cunning and elaborate scheme to land James? And if he had to, I’m betting Morey could clear sufficient cap space to land James in short order (remember those draft picks). How? If I knew that, I’d be running an NBA club or breaking the bank at Vegas rather than writing a blog.

So there you have it: Seven logical reason why LeBron James might indeed end up with the Houston Rockets. Likely? No. But not beyond the realm of possibility.

Neal Barrett Jr.’s Author Emeritus Party

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Since Austin’s own Neal Barrett, Jr. was named SFWA Author Emeritus for the 2009 Nebula Awards, FACT threw a party at Casa Siros to celebrate the occasion, with luminaries coming from as far away as Nacogdoches (Joe R. his ownself) to pay homage.


Susan Wade, William Browning Spencer (occluded), Neal Barrett, Jr. (holding up the art SFWA had commissioned, featuring himself and three of his characters), Don Webb


Susan Wade, William Browning Spencer, Neal Barrett, Jr., Don Webb


Susan Wade, William Browning Spencer, Neal Barrett, Jr., Don Webb


Neal Barrett, Jr. holding up the SFWA Author Emeritus, which is a kaleidoscope. (“Kaleidoscope” is also the name of an awesome Ray Bradbury story from The Illustrated Man.)


The back of Joe R. Lansdale’s head, Ruth Barrett, someone whose name I should remember, and Scott Cupp


A closer (albeit oblique) view of said painting; I took a straight-on picture, but the flash reflection on the glass made it impossible to see.


Neal iz 2 kewl 4 this skewl!


More of the same. Less of the sane.


Just a few of Casa Siros’ vast array of Glowing Gizmos.


Three excellent authors who have had their books published by St. Martin’s. Also, three authors who are not on The New York Times Bestsellers List. These two facts may be related.


Neal cuts the cake, while Carol is just slightly too slow to avoid being incriminated with the rest of us.


Joe R. Lansdale, William Browning Spencer, Don Webb, and Neal Barrett, Jr. Susan Wade would be in this picture, had she not been eaten by a Grue.


FACT party attendees. Just after this picture, one of their number was ritually chosen by lot to be stoned to death.


Joe R. Lansdale and William Browning Spencer, in the last known photo of them before being horribly devoured by Pixar characters.


“Walk towards the light….walk towards the light…”

Suck It Rob Enderle

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Today Apple’s market capitalization passed Microsoft’s.

From the mid-1990s death spiral to King of the Tech World following the return of Steve Jobs is perhaps the most impressive business turn-around story…well, possibly ever.

In light of that, let’s take a moment to reflect on the awesome prognostication skills of one Rob Enderle, head of “The Enderle Group.” (Presumably he has a cat.) If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Enedrle’s work, he is the man who has predicted the demise of Apple more frequently than any other pundit. Let us sample the fruits of Mr. Enderle’s unparalleled insight, shall we?

  • “Apple has about 24 months to get its act together and position itself for the post-Longhorn world of Linux and Windows. If it doesn’t offer solutions that will play on those platforms the way iTunes currently does on Windows, it will probably become a footnote by the end of the decade.” – Rob Enderle, MacNewsWorld, May 13, 2004

  • “I also asked which companies would be dead. The panel agreed that it would be Apple, Sun and Novell.” – Rob Enderle, TechNewsWorld, November 24, 2003
  • “”The biggest long-term problem with moving to an Apple platform is that the company is in decline, which means you might have to migrate again at some point to another platform.” – Rob Enderle, TechNewsWorld, October 6, 2003

Which such startling powers of prophecy, Mr. Enderle is wasting his time as a tech pundit. He should be using his extraordinary powers in Las Vegas, where I’m sure he would soon amass a fortune the likes of which this world has never seen…

Frustrating Apple Mail 3.6/RR.com Problem

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

I have a technical problem I am unable to fix on my own.

For some reason, Apple Mail (I’m on “Version 3.6 (936)”) has intermittently not sent email to some recipients from my lperson1@austin.rr.com account, a problem that started (I think) in late March. For a while I thought it might be rr.com’s fault, despite going through 2 layers of their generally unhelpful technical support, since they didn’t get down to the level of the Connection Doctor, didn’t seem to know how to do anything except follow their script, and said they couldn’t escalate me any further. (Thanks a lot, Time Warner.) However, I recently installed Thunderbird (which, I need to add, pretty much sucks) to isolate the problem, and it seems to send out the exact same messages fine, while the ones sent via Apple Mail never reach my email account, despite the settings for both being identical. The problem is especially frustrating, because the recipients it fail to send mail to tend to be the ones I communicate with most.

The problem in brief, along with the troubleshooting steps taken to resolve it:

  1. I’m on Mac OS X 10.5.8, and all my system software is up to date.

  2. I’m using normal SMTP over Port 25.
  3. I send an e-mail message to multiple recipients. None receive it.
  4. It still shows up in my Sent mail folder like all other mail.
  5. Emails to common recipients seem to fail more frequently than email to more occasional correspondents.
  6. I receive all my email just fine.
  7. I have not changed anything on my Linksys router or my cable modem. I have power cycled each at least once, and the iMac generally twice a day.
  8. I can send mail messages from the RR.com web interface just fine.
  9. I used to be able to send email to my gmail account just fine even after the problem started, but even that has been failing lately.
  10. It was working just fine April 16-17, then started malfunctioning again.
  11. I have a lot of email in my Inbox, and more saved in various other folders. As in over 10,000 messages, over 1,000 of which (usually some sort of notification) remain unread. But my Mail folder under Library takes up less than 2 GB, which doesn’t strike me as an inconceivable amount.

Here’s a Connection Doctor transcript of a message that didn’t go through (taking out line breaks between to make the code tag work properly, and omitting a couple of signature URLs for the same reason):


CONNECTED Mar 30 17:47:54.616 [kCFStreamSocketSecurityLevelNone] -- host:smtp-server.austin.rr.com -- port:25 -- socket:0x29233210 -- thread:0x291318a0
READ Mar 30 17:47:54.668 [kCFStreamSocketSecurityLevelNone] -- host:smtp-server.austin.rr.com -- port:25 -- socket:0x29233210 -- thread:0x291318a0
220 Welcome Road Runner. WARNING: *** FOR AUTHORIZED USE ONLY! ***
WROTE Mar 30 17:47:54.713 [kCFStreamSocketSecurityLevelNone] -- host:smtp-server.austin.rr.com -- port:25 -- socket:0x29233210 -- thread:0x291318a0
EHLO [192.168.1.101]
READ Mar 30 17:47:54.768 [kCFStreamSocketSecurityLevelNone] -- host:smtp-server.austin.rr.com -- port:25 -- socket:0x29233210 -- thread:0x291318a0
250-hrndva-omtalb.mail.rr.com says EHLO to 70.114.129.203:49710
250-8BITMIME
250-ENHANCEDSTATUSCODES
250 PIPELINING
WROTE Mar 30 17:47:54.773 [kCFStreamSocketSecurityLevelNone] -- host:smtp-server.austin.rr.com -- port:25 -- socket:0x29233210 -- thread:0x291318a0
MAIL FROM:
READ Mar 30 17:47:54.827 [kCFStreamSocketSecurityLevelNone] -- host:smtp-server.austin.rr.com -- port:25 -- socket:0x29233210 -- thread:0x291318a0
250 MAIL FROM accepted
WROTE Mar 30 17:47:54.829 [kCFStreamSocketSecurityLevelNone] -- host:smtp-server.austin.rr.com -- port:25 -- socket:0x29233210 -- thread:0x291318a0
RCPT TO:
READ Mar 30 17:47:54.925 [kCFStreamSocketSecurityLevelNone] -- host:smtp-server.austin.rr.com -- port:25 -- socket:0x29233210 -- thread:0x291318a0
250 RCPT TO accepted

WROTE Mar 30 17:47:54.929 [kCFStreamSocketSecurityLevelNone] -- host:smtp-server.austin.rr.com -- port:25 -- socket:0x29233210 -- thread:0x291318a0
RCPT TO:
READ Mar 30 17:47:54.982 [kCFStreamSocketSecurityLevelNone] -- host:smtp-server.austin.rr.com -- port:25 -- socket:0x29233210 -- thread:0x291318a0
250 RCPT TO accepted
WROTE Mar 30 17:47:54.985 [kCFStreamSocketSecurityLevelNone] -- host:smtp-server.austin.rr.com -- port:25 -- socket:0x29233210 -- thread:0x291318a0
DATA
READ Mar 30 17:47:55.039 [kCFStreamSocketSecurityLevelNone] -- host:smtp-server.austin.rr.com -- port:25 -- socket:0x29233210 -- thread:0x291318a0
354 continue. finished with "\r\n.\r\n"
WROTE Mar 30 17:47:55.043 [kCFStreamSocketSecurityLevelNone] -- host:smtp-server.austin.rr.com -- port:25 -- socket:0x29233210 -- thread:0x291318a0
Message-Id:
From: Lawrence Person
To: Dwight Brown
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Mime-Version: 1.0 (Apple Message framework v936)
Subject: Test 3/30 547PM
Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2010 17:47:54 -0500
Cc: lawrenceperson@gmail.com
X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.936)
My guess it's still not working properly...
Lawrence Person
lperson1@austin.rr.com
.
READ Mar 30 17:47:55.097 [kCFStreamSocketSecurityLevelNone] -- host:smtp-server.austin.rr.com -- port:25 -- socket:0x29233210 -- thread:0x291318a0
250 OK 34/6E-03525-0AF72BB4

The intermittent (but ever-more-frequent) nature of the problem makes it hard to track down where the failure is occurring. (I'm wondeirng if some secret address cache has filled up and needs to be purged, but if so I don't know where it is.) The Apple help files don't cover it, and Google searches don't turn up my specific problem, at least that I can tell.

So, does anyone have any suggestions as to what is wrong, and how I go about fixing the problem? I would very much prefer to use Apple Mail rather than switching completely to Gmail.

Updated 5/25: An email specialist tells me that the relay information indicates it was successfully passed on to rr.com, and therefore is, in fact, their fault. I may have to fire their incompetent asses and go with AT&T instead.

StarCraft II Due July 27 (or How I’ll Spend My Summer Vacation)

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

While I wasn’t looking, Blizzard announced the drop date for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. You know, the game I (and about ten million other people) have been waiting for for three years.

It may come as a shock to some readers that I play video games, since I haven’t talked about it much here. That’s because: A.) I’ve been busy, B.) I don’t have a dedicated gaming console, and C.) there hasn’t been a “must-have” title that runs on my home machine (a 24″ Core-2 duo iMac) for a while. (I avoid MMORPGs because I know what huge timesinks those would be, and I prefer not to see my writing productivity drop to zero.)

But the Warcraft and Starcraft RTS games are among the ones that I played fairly fervently in their previous installments. Also, Blizzard’s commitment to quality control means that they’ve avoided releasing half-backed “shove it out the door” games the way many other developers have.

So I expect that I will spend a significant portion of the summer killing Protoss and Zerg.

Casual gamers may not be aware of just how big StarCraft is in South Korea. How big? “Professional leagues competing in custom-built arenas for spectators” big.

There are two versions of the game being sold: a regular edition going for $59.99 (the standard price-point for A-list titles these days), and a collector’s edition. The collector’s edition has a pretty nifty array of special features:

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Collector’s Edition Features:

  • The Art of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, a 176-page book featuring artwork from the game

  • An exclusive 2GB USB flash drive replica of Jim Raynor’s dog tag, which comes preloaded with the original StarCraft and the StarCraft: Brood War expansion set
  • A behind-the-scenes DVD containing over an hour of developer interviews, cinematics with director’s commentary, and more
  • The official StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty soundtrack CD, containing 14 epic tracks from the game along with exclusive bonus tracks
  • StarCraft comic book issue #0, a prequel to the comic series
  • A World of Warcraft mini Thor in-game pet that can be applied to all World of Warcraft characters on a single Battle.net account
  • Exclusive Battle.net downloadable content, including special portraits for your Battle.net profile, decals to customize your units in-game, and a visually unique version of the terran Thor unit

I can see that being tempting, especially if you play WoW. (I don’t; see above.) Unfortunately, the current price for the collector’s edition is more than a little breathtaking: $299. Now, I’ve bought more expensive books before, but not many (I’m guessing about 20 or so), and they tend to hold their value better than a collectible video game box. (I’m not an expert, but looking at eBay, I didn’t see any “collectors” editions selling for more than cover price, and certainly none over a few years old.)

And Blizzard: You might want to update that FAQ.

Books Read: Paul Di Filippo’s Fractal Paisleys

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Paul Di Filippo
Fractal Paisleys
Four Walls Eight Windows, 1997.

I like both Paul and his work, but these stories are so wacky that you probably should read them betwixt other works; read one after another, they seem both too odd and a bit too similar. Overall Strange Trades is the most balanced and interesting of his collections (at least among those I’ve read), followed by Ribofunk and The Steampunk Trilogy.

I have many of Paul’s works available over on the Lame Excuse Books page.

The Science of Iron Man, and Other Disquisitions on Comic Book-to-Movie Adaptations

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

So Howard Waldrop and I reviewed Iron Man 2 over at Locus Online. (Executive Summary for the tl;dr crowd: If you liked the first one, you’ll like the second one.) But one point I touch on, albeit briefly, is the question of just how far you’re willing to embrace the looser standards of scientific plausibility used in comic books in a movie that is (technically, ostensibly) science fiction. And frequently “looser” means “non-existent.” (Read the review for thoughts on Tony Stark’s DIY basement particle accelerator.)

The ground-rule of just about any genre work, and certainly speculative fiction, is internal consistency, i.e., the story must play by the rules, and make sense according to, the work’s own internal frame of reference. If it’s a work of science fiction, you can’t just have someone breath in vacuum just because it’s convenient for your plot, you have to provide some sort of mechanism by which they breathe so as not to violate the contract with the reader that the internal consistency requirements of science fiction will be maintained.

In most superhero comics (warning: unlike Howard, I haven’t read every damn comic in the world in my youth, so pardon me if my gross generalizations are gross and general), the scientific plausibility starts out a bit more loosely defined than in your average SF (or fantasy, or horror) story, and gets looser still as time goes on and our hero goes up against an ever-expanding array of villains with ever-more exotic powers. (Never mind the ever-expanding implausibility of that many super-powered individuals running around, the vast majority of whom seem to prefer fighting crime or each other rather than getting immensely rich or setting up their own countries.)

So one superhero is implausible enough. But then you get to something like the Marvelverse, where every possible combination of overpowered individual (Mutants! Aliens! Gods! Demons!) possessing every possible superpower (Magic! Time-travel! Teleportation! Mind-reading! Super-strength! Super-healing! Super-speed!) exist cheek-by-jowl with each other, then where are you allowed to draw the line on plausibility? “I can buy a super-smart billionaire genius building a tiny fusion reactor out of scrap, but living in the same world as a Norse god? Whoa, stop the ride, I have to step off.”

This is why the most successful of the modern comic-book adaptations (Iron Man and Spider-Man both come to mind) work so hard to establish their protagonist’s connection to every-day life (even if, in Tony Stark’s case, that life is pretty freaking rarefied), because without that grounding, viewers are hard-pressed to buy the comic book elements that would seem patently absurd in a realistic movie or novel. It’s also why comic book universes tend to have a giant retcon every now and then to trim the most unlikely branches off that universe (Crisis on Infinite Earths, anyone?).

Granted, the Hollywood standards of plausibility in the average science fiction film, and the average action film (the two genres superhero films drink most deeply from) has been steadily slipping, to the extent they were ever present at all. (Though I should point out that I’m excluding deliberately insane, over the top films like Crank 2 that make no effort to be realistic.) But the race for ever-more-insane set pieces to sate ever-more-jaded tastes must eventually reach the point of diminishing returns; if everything is possible, then nothing is interesting. Which is why superheroes are driven as much by their constraints as by their powers.

Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne are the most interesting subjects for movies because they have no traditional superpowers, owing their status to supreme intelligence, personal training, technological prowess and unlimited bank accounts. By contrast, Superman is the least interesting superhero, being able to do essentially anything he wants. And the Christopher Reeve Superman where he goes back in time (because, you know, Superman simply wasn’t powerful enough already) brings up the question: Why do we care whether Superman wins or loses, since he can always go back in time whenever he wants to undo the outcome?

By these standards, a tiny fusion reactor built out of scrap only slightly strains credibility, while a prism that bends particle beams (rather than light) gets fundamental physics so fundamentally wrong that it shatters it. I also think that you have to take a movie’s basic premise as a given. Now, I find it perfectly acceptable to draw your own line of personal disbelief at, or well before, miniature fusion reactors. But if so, why would you see any Iron Man movie in the first place?

Note: The Locus site is suffering from the side effects of switching to Word Press as their blog engine, so the review may not be available, or the have the link for it show up on the front page, at any given moment.

The Houston Texans are the Youngest Team in the NFL

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Here’s an interesting breakdown of the average “adjusted” age (i.e., one that gives more weight to starters than backups, etc.) of every team in the NFL. The Texans, with an average age of 25.9 years, were the youngest team in the league. (The New England Patriots, at an average age of 28.7 years, were the oldest.) Breaking it down further, the Texans defense, at at an average age of 25.3, were the youngest defense in the league. (The Pittsburgh Steelers, at an average age of 29.2 years, just edged out the Denver Broncos (28.9) as the oldest defense.) On Offense, the Texans were the fifth youngest team, with an average age of 26.5, just slightly older than Philadelphia, Miami (both 26.1), Tampa Bay (26.2) and St. Louis (26.4). (The Patriots offense, at an average age of 29.7, more than a year older than runner-up Minnesota (28.6, probably due to a hefty assist from the Favre Factor) were the clear winners of the the NFL’s Get Off My Lawn Trophy.)

What does all this mean? Probably not a whole lot. But all other things being equal, it’s better to be young than old, and the Texans should (presumably) have a bit more headroom for getting better.

Presumably.

Iron Man 2

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Since Iron Man 2 opens this weekend, and Howard Waldrop and I will be reviewing it for Locus Online, here’s our review of the original Iron Man.

Nightmare-Inducing Communist Playground Sculptures

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Ah, Communism! The political system of the deadly controlling the deluded and disillusioned. As the system decayed, Communism would frequently produce funhouse-mirror versions of Western goods, virtually identical except the communist versions were produced by people who didn’t care and couldn’t be fired and thus sucked liked a Communist vacuum cleaner didn’t. Take, for example, these nightmare-inducing playground sculptures from Dark Roasted Blend (and here’s pages 2 and 3). Though a few of their examples come from outside the Eastern Bloc, the vast majority hail from a land forgotten by taste, talent, and personal injury lawyers.

Well, this certainly isn’t going to encourage your children to visit the doctor:

Here’s some first class Nightmare Fuel:

No way would this sculpture be put up in a Western park without some kind of fence. “Child impaled on modern art sculpture, details at ten.”

“Mommy, can I play on the giant tarantula? Please? Pleaaaseeee?

Though they seem singularly unsuited for children, some of them are decent art sculptures in their own right. I really dig the Nightmare Bears:

This is the sort of thing Posadas would do if he were an Eastern European sculptor:

And this leather Cthulhu is awesome:

(And I’d just liked to point out that “Leather Cthulhu” is a good name for a rock band.)