Cervical Cancer is for Pussies.

Monkey in the tree
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Rollman.
Couple weeks ago, Ms. A found a painful lump in her pelvis. It was a swollen lymph node because her body was trying to fight off cancerous lesions on her cervix. It was early stage and malignant.

She went to the doctor and they froze off the lesions and some surround tissue. The biopsy came back positive but it also showed that they got all the harmful cells. She's still in some pain as her body recovers from the activity of fighting off and the procedure to remove it.

Her family has a history (like so many of ours do) and she's already had some skin work done. Currently other than some pain, she's doing well, but this discovery means she'll need to up her check ups to several a year to make sure that if anything starts coming back they can get to it quickly. It's good that they did this time and her prognosis is quite good, nearly excellent.

Still, it was a big scare and it came on the heels of her dad's wedding. Shortly after the procedure we drove 14 hours round trip to Odessa which of course didn't help her recovery. Seen the picture above, she also insisted that she climb a tree to help hang decorations. We had to kick her out of the tree and finish them without her, about which she wasn't happy. Turns out, Ms. A doesn't like people taking care of her so we have to duct tape her to a chair and tell her to shut up and relax.

Drinking helps.

Other than that, we're all good. My non-broken finger makes me feel like a whiny baby so I'm probably not going to mention any more injuries or ailments. My tombstone will say, "I told you fuckers I was sick."

That's all, carry on.


Brick Depression

I've been going through my Lego sets at home, wanting to dust them off and put them all back together. My ideal home would have an office in which would live a computer, a drawing table and plenty of shelf space for all my sets. I have friends with similar "offices" containing scads of comic book related merchandise and I'm a touch jealous that I can't do the same. Having moved four times in ten years really isn't conducive to having a large group of display items. (BTW, "isn't" was not in Firefox's dictionary. Go Mozilla.)

Recently there's been a lot of internet hullabaloo over the newest Death Star set. Years ago you could get a Death Star II, but fans were not impressed over the playability and felt they were paying a lot for a big ball of pieces. The new set actually reminds me more of the kinds of toys you'd get where different areas have different scenes; something Star Wars toys used to have - maybe they still do. And at $399, it's almost worth considering if you're a nut like me.

What gets me the most about all the Star Wars sets is that there seems to be a small percentage of sets being remade. I've seen at least five sets being completely redone and in almost all those cases, the newer set is both more expensive and better designed. This leaves the average dabbler with the same feeling a movie buffs gets when purchasing a DVD only to have the Special Edition DVD come out later with more features.

I want to get back into buying these. Of all the things I've done in my life, Lego sets have been around the longest. They predate my marriage, my children, most of my friends and even the places I've called home. Some of the Futron sets I have are more than 20 years old. I don't play many video games and I've given up on comic books so I rationalize that this collector mentality is ok because of that, but it really isn't. I'm torn. On the one had, buying, assembling and displaying Lego sets makes me very happy. Of all the things in my life, it's always been there and likely always will. The little plastic blocks will always snap together the same way. They will always come in little plastic bags and the instructions will always be simple yet compulsively rewarding.

However, in the days when gas is $4.09 a gallon and milk is $2.50 for a half gallon and my kids require more and more food and an ever changing closet full of clothes, it becomes harder and harder to justify the cost of the obsession let alone the space required. And so the bricks sit in their trash and Ziploc bags out in the garage, the boxes remained flattened and dusty and the joy I once had as a child smolders in a quiet part of my soul. I keep telling myself that I'll one day go back and get all the sets I want and complete the myriad space series, but if the Star Wars sets don't stop remaking themselves, I'll be doing it forever.

I've got one set rebuilt and sitting on top of a book shelf in the front room and I feel rather guilty about it, like somehow it's a sign to people that I have an unhealthy addiction or mental disability. I love my Lego sets, but I'm not about to let that impact my family in anyway. I want my kids to love Lego and maybe start their own collection. It doesn't even have to be Lego, it could be stamps or cars or rocks or books. Collecting is a very personal thing and I feel slightly off when even considering bringing my 100 sets back into the light of day.

I suppose one day I'll retire and spend my time in a side room, disposing of my social security checks into other collectors' coffers so I can live out my remaining days being a 9 year old. It's not a bad thing to hope for, really.

Carry on.


Review - Charlie Jade 1.1 "The Big Bang"

“While on the hunt for the killer of an unidentified woman, an explosion from a covert desert operation propels Detective Charlie Jade into a strange parallel universe.”

That’s from Sci-Fi.com’s episode guide. It’s a good thing that they put it up there. I went to the site looking for the episode title and get some more facts and I came away with more knowledge of the show than I had after watching it.

Click here for the full review.

The Casting Game - Robotech

With news that Empire Strikes Back screenwriter Lawrence Kasden has been pegged to pen the live action adaptation of the anime Robotech, I immediately begin on of my favorite pastimes of casting movies.

Now, these are just preliminary, I'm sure given some more thought I'd find better alternatives. I just found out about this news a few days ago. Also, I'm pretty sure this is a Toby McGuire vehicle and he'll be playing the part of Rick Hunter, but whatever. Here are my choices.

Rick Hunter - Emile Hirsch

Hot off the success (and yeah, I said success) of Speed Racer, Hirsch would be a natural. As with most stars appearing in this movie, age will be a factor, but at 23 he could get away with playing a 19 year old Hunter.

The only downside is the only role left after this would be Lance from Voltron.

Lynn Minmei - Charice Pempengco

Minmei's story in Robotech is one I'm sure most fans could do without. She's a flightly love interest of Rick's early on but is shown most of the time as a braty child. However, her music is what eventually changes the alien Zentradi into thinking that war is not everything.

Charice's voice is amazing, if you've never heard her sing, check it out. At 16, she may be a bit young for Hirsch, but that's not stopped Holywood before.

Lisa Hayes - Christa Miller

Yes, I'll change my mind on this later. I have a bad habit of casting people from different time periods rather than the present. Plus I just saw Miller in The Andromeda Strain and her acting wasn't great. She's a good comedic actress which might not fit the buttoned up Hayes very well.

Also, she's 20 years too old for the part. I was going off looks can you tell?

Roy Fokker - Neal McDonough

I would cast McDonough in anything. Whatever show he's in, he commands the scene. Boomtown was a sadly overlooked show and Medical Investigations was actually a decent show. He's got the smile and the charm but with just the edge of mystery Roy has in the show. As Rick's "big brother" Roy was always more than he let on and more than he'd allow Rick to see.

Commander Gloval - Rade Serbedzija

Rade is one of those actors you've seen in everything, or you think you've seen in everything. As far as I can find, he's only bee in a handful of movies and TV shows in the states, but it seems like he's been everywhere.

Playing Henry Gloval wouldn't be much of a stretch. Rade is a Croatian born actor constantly playing Russians. Gloval was originally and Italian in the Japanese series but became Russian in the American show. Natural fit.

Claudia Grant - Khandi Alexander

If for no other reason than to not have Halle Berry or Jada Pinkett Smith play another black woman character, I think Khandi was wonderful on News Radio and she was one of the better parts of CSI: Miami. This one might change again, Khandi is 50 and I'm sure Claudia is the same age as Lisa, around 24.

Max Sterling - Daniel Radcliffe

Max was always my favorite character. He was quiet and a little nerdy but mysterious and apparently pretty handsome. Plus he was the best fighter pilot in the fleet. I like him the same way I like Wedge Antilles; he's the unsung hero of the underdogs who quietly does his job with more skill than everyone else.

And honestly, I'd like to see Radcliffe not playing another kid with glasses. While Max may be emo, he's also very sure of himself, something Racliffe could probably pull off.

Myria (Sterling) - Kate Beckinsale

All I know is Myria is a hot, bad-ass fighter pilot. She marries Max because he's the better pilot and his doting after her eventually melts her heart and she sides with the Earth forces. It's a pivotal story moment and the offspring of the two becomes the protagonist for the next story.

I'm sure you could come up with several bad ass chicks, but after seeing Underworld, my money is on Beckinsale.

Breetai - Clive Owen

I don't know how Mr. Owen will appreciate being blue (or for that matter how any of these people will handle green hair) but Owen's got that dark, brooding look that commands respect. He played Arthur for frak's sake!

Ben Dixon - Seth Rogan

Every anime show has a team. It's usually in odd numbers and they're usually involved in some sort of robot forming or conjuring. Robotech didn't have any of that, but they did have the three buddies Rick, Max and Ben. Ben was the guy (same as Hunk in Voltron and probably countless other shows) that was the big loveable doofus. He likely had some skills but it was always overshadowed by his gruff nature, his imposing size and his affable grin. Sounds just like Rogan.

There are undoubtedly more characters needing to be involved. Kyle, the bridge girls, Dolza, Breetai's second in command and Khyron (who I think Matthew Fox would be perfect for, he nailed Racer X.) My brother also got involved and here's his list.

Rick-Tobey Macquire (duh he owns the property for that reason)
Roy - Mathew "Allright!Allright!Allright! Mcconaughey
Gloval- Come on man! Ian Mcshane
Lisa- Lili Sobeiski
Claudia-Parminder Nagra (ER, Bend it like Beckham)
Max- Topher grace
Ben- I actually agree with you Seth rogen or Jason Segal (How I met your MOther)
Minmei- Ziyi Zhang (Crouching Tiger/House of Flying Daggers
Breetai-Micheal Ironsides (he bearly needs makeup!)
Myria-Megan Fox (Transformers)
Exador- Hugo Weaving
Dolza (Robert Logia again..bearly needs make up)

I'll have to look some of those up. Some I can see being very good. Ian Mcshane for one. Not sure I'd put Topher Grace in anything. He's always going to be Eric Foreman to me.

But there you go, that's the game. I probably spent too much time on it, but it's always fun to speculate. What will likely happen is it'll be McGuire and about 2 or 3 other big names and the rest will be actors coming off lesser known TV shows or indie movies. They'll butcher the story so it'll only be Robotech because it'll have Veritechs and the SDF-1. They won't zap a whole island into space and the Zentradi probably won't be giant sized. I don't know. On paper it sounds like a good story to adapt, but it's so big that anything they do will have to be a large story. The Macross Saga alone would be worth a trilogy, not to mention the Southern Cross and Invid Masters stories.

I'm intrigued why McGuire has the rights to this. It makes me appreciate him as a geek now more than anything. Robotech was such a big influence on my childhood that I can't help but feeling a little worried about this, more so than the comic book movies or Star Wars prequels.

Carry on.



(Warning: This post may contain spoilers.)

Last week a friend sent me a link to AICN saying if you think you're geek enough to see WALL-E early, send us an email. I sent links to all my robot drawings and was thusly picked. Me and a couple hundred other geeks and film nerds - and my daughter - got to see an early screening of the movie at the Alamo Drafthouse.

Harry Knowles of AICN gave a little intro after all the hilariously dated commercials and movie trailers and in it he stated that next to the Disney family and Pixar family (and a few small magazines) we were the first public audience to see the movie. LMA was more excited about this than I was. She thought we were there to see Kung Fu Panda.

She orders a bowl of popcorn and a coke and I order a cider and a burger and we begin our viewing. The thing I like about screenings is the lack of pre-movie junk. No previews, no commercials - it's quite refreshing. I see a lot of previews online so I don't feel I miss much.

It starts with a Pixar short, as all Pixar movies do. The one before WALL-E is called Presto and I'm not going to tell you anything about it other than it is quite hysterical.

The camera pans back through Disneyland, the lamp jumps on the I and we're ready to roll.

A catchy if not older show tune like piece begins as we approach Earth. Earth is surrounded by and covered in junk, so much junk the world is brown. There are no green things growing on this Earth. A side bit of a commercial plays by the company Buy 'n' Large (BnL) about how we've trashed this planet, but don't worry. We'll board these giant ships and leave behind the robots to clean it up, then we'll come back. Well the only one left is little WALL-E. Actually, they're all called WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth Class) but you begin to see he's the only one working. And little WALL-E has been working hard. It's not apparent what city we're in, but the stacks of trash he's been building tower has high as the surrounding skyscrapers.

The next few minutes are a joyous and charming look at every day life for WALL-E who appears as more of a curious 10 year old than an industrious robot. He collects things, he watches old movies and he has a pet cockroach. During one of his outings, he finds a plant growing in a refrigerator. A large space craft lands and dispatches a sleek little scout robot (EVE) and she begins looking for something. She (because it's obviously a she) is beautiful but deadly as WALL-E is quick to find out. But his centuries of watching musicals has made him yearn for companionship and he immediately falls for EVE. She follows him around a bit after it's obvious her search is finding nothing. WALL-E show her his little home and all his things. When he shows her the plant, her light turns green and she takes the plant into her storage compartment shortly before shutting down. A distraught WALL-E does what any loving person would do with a comatose partner; watch after her, show her things, take her places. It's depressingly sweet.

Eventually the big ship comes back and takes EVE. WALL-E clings to the ship and is whisked away to a larger ship waiting some light years away. At first all we see on the ship are robots, all sorts of them. They're mostly faceless, they follow lines on the floor but we begin to detect personalities and right off the bat, WALL-E's interaction with them changes them somehow. We also see the first humans since the commercial at the beginning of the film.

(Side note, the commercial and subsequent communiques with the President or Ruler-of-Earth are all done with live actors, something I hadn't seen Pixar do before. I'm not sure why they did it.)

The humans we see are fat sloths. Life on board a solitary cruise liner run by eager-to-please, all-things-taken-care-of robots has made humans soft and lazy. They all float around on hover-chairs, consuming all meals in liquid form, all wearing the same clothes and all talking to other people via video chat with screens mere inches from their face. It's not pretty and I don't think it's meant to be.

It was hard to ignore messages in WALL-E and that would be my only critique. Every Pixar movie has a theme. Most are non-confrontational and fall into the realm of "it's good to have friends." WALL-E's main theme is it's a love story. There are side bits that I suppose you could take away if you were a cynical bastard; we're trashing the planet, we're turning into fat, lazy, careless wastes, we're depending too much on machines. But those are just side events to tell the love story of WALL-E and EVE.

Things go wrong on the ship and we find out that even though EVE has found a plant and humans can return to Earth, there are some robots that have been programmed to keep them in space. A classified directive shows the Earth president saying the planet is toxic and to never come back. There's a lot of running around, a lot of robot humor, some crazy robots get loose from the repair bay, or robot loony bin, and finally the plant is put into the right place and the ship heads for Earth. But not before WALL-E is...

Well, you'll just have to see it to find out.

Pixar made me tear up with Nemo and Cars and Monsters, Inc. and they've done it again with WALL-E. Whatever they're doing, they're doing it right. There's so many little bits of humor and so many touching moments that you could watch this a dozen times and still be surprised. It's easily one of my favorite Pixar movies and very likely one of my top 10 movies of all time (my time, not since, you know, movie history.)

And if you don't get the joke in the theater, here it is. When WALL-E charges up with his solar panels and he reaches full charge, the sound he makes is the chime of a Mac booting up.


I give it a five out of five, as Chip would say, it's a movie I'd pay full price for.


Happy Father's Day

Backyard Softball
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Rollman.
To all you dad's out there, I hope you have a great day with your children. I hope they made you breakfast, brought you coffee, let you sleep in, let you watch the TV you wanted to watch and will behave for you when you go to dinner tonight.

I hope you older dads are proud of your grown up kids. I hope they're proud of you and you can share a nice moment remembering what it was like when you were small and unruly. I hope you can share stories of times when you'd poop in the bathtub, eat bugs, swear for the first time, blow things up with firecrackers and how you tortured your siblings.

For you new dads, I hope you can find a way to enjoy this time. The first couple years are scary and it's hard to find the rewards, but keep in mind you're their rock. They'll grow around you and soon enough will think and act on their own. Be happy for the little things and do what you can to help your kids become good people. Not everyone is a scientist or world leader, but everyone can be a good person and it takes good dads to start them on the right path.

Happy Father's Day. Hope you liked your ties.


Happy Friday the 13th

So not a lot going on lately, but I thought I'd at least try to get something important down here.

I've started doing some reviews for Television Zombies. I like the style of site they have going. It's a good podcast and they've been really upbeat about asking for call ins and emails and contributions. Seeing as the two things I seem to be doing lately are writing things online and watching TV, it was an easy transition to writing about things I like that other people can read. TVZ posts reviews and news about Sci-Fi TV shows and their podcast is very entertaining and usually full of good information. I've had many "Oh, I didn't know that!" moments listening to them. If you're a fan of sci-fi TV (Lost, Doctor Who, BSG, etc) you should definitely check them out.

Yesterday I won tickets to a Father's Day screening of Wall*E at the Alamo Drafthouse here in Austin. (AICN) A friend sent a link to the contest asking people to email reasons why you're geek enough to get these tickets. I emailed links to my Flickr robot sets and I think that probably did it. So for Father's Day I get to take LMA to see a movie about robots. How cool is that?

Someone in the comments suggested I create an account at RedBubble and make some shirts. I've done so and put up my favorite Zombie/Groundhog design. That's all for now as I want to do some new designs rather than post up all the old crap I've done. There was a Boing Boing post about an online store called Atomic Tarantula and they've got some great designs, but the shirts were $32 dollars. I made the comment that these are great ideas for me to use to make my own shirts on Zazzle for myself and someone (Will of the unknown email) suggested RedBubble and that they'd buy an "1138" shirt. So now I feel obligated, but a little sneaky knowing I'd have to change the design just a bit. But, that may be a new line of designs; sci-fi. Maybe TVZ would like to go in on it with me. I know Chris Piers (of the TVZ group) is also a graphic designer and illustrator and one of the other contributors is another Penciljack dude, seems like a good idea.

I've been doing some sketches lately. Just ballpoint pen on index cards. My finger still hurts and I'm going to figure out how to make myself call the doctor to get it looked at, but I need to draw again. I tried left-handed and while it worked ok, I don't want to have to relearn AND get these ideas out at the same time. A little bit of pain for the art.

I haven't talked much about the political landscape in a while. I just haven't felt the motivation. There are issues I still feel strongly about but just not enough to dedicate to a full post or series of discussions. Most of the people I know feel the same way so even we don't talk about it much. Hard to debate things when everyone agrees. Thought I think Scott and I would probably go a few rounds. We grew up together but different lives since then have made us different people and while I have liberal tendencies (gay marriage, pro choice, immigration reform, socialize medicine) I don't like big government. It's not that I don't think people aren't capable of running a democracy or republic, I just don't think it's worked so well lately. I don't want the gov't controlling everything, but I feel there are some things that should be handled at the federal level, some at the state, and some things shouldn't be handled at all. I think a major problem is no one at the private sector level is actively involved any more and we're just sheep being lead around; disagreeing with everything, but not taking a stand on it. (With exception, of course. Most of the folks I know are active in even local elections and campaigns. It's the rest I'm worried about.)

So that's the news for Lake Woebegone, where the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the children are above average.

Carry on.


Mystery Tales #40 - The Lost Comic

In episode 11 of Lost’s fourth season, “Cabin Fever,” Richard Alpert comes to a young John Locke with the Dali Llama test. First thing’s first — Richard is perpetually 45 years old. The only change in his appearance that I’ve seen to date is the length of his hair when he first met Benry Gailinus.

Richard produces several items for consideration; some everyday, some rather nefarious. He asks John to pick which ones are “his.” After some consideration, John picks a compass or watch, a small vial of sand, a Book of Laws and a worn knife. Richard is disturbed and leaves suddenly. I-I-I-I want the knife….pleeease.

What Locke didn’t pick up was the Mystery Tales #40. Comic books seem to play a small but fan teasing role on Lost. The first sighting being the Spanish translated Green Lantern and Flash “Faster Friends” issue in which Walt sees a polar bear. Because of that tie-in, seeing another comic book at such a pivotal moment sent fanboys into a lather trying to figure out if it had any meaning...

(For the rest, head over to Television Zombies.)


Where've you been?

Why, I've been on Twitter, doing nearly nothing.

Seriously. The most creative thing I've done in the past month is write a review of Andromeda Strain for Television Zombies. Haven't drawn, haven't written or lettered anything. Stopped playing video games about two weeks ago. Don't know, just have no drive. Must be the heat.

Couple weeks ago I damaged my finger. I'm not sure if it's broken but what I know from fingers is that even if it was, there's little a doctor can do outside of what I've already done which is just to tape it to another finger and wear a splint.

It only hurts if I bump it against things.

The big news this last week, my car had problems and LMA is officially not a first grader.

My little Kia Sportage had its alternator go south. The shop by my house (Three Points Auto in Pflugerville, good guys) wanted more than I could afford to fix it. So Ms. A helped out and found a part for cheap and a guy on Craigslist to put it in for $50. I love the internet about as much as I loathe cars.

I've not had bad luck with cars. In fact, I've always had cars that ran fairly well for a lot of years while I did very little work on them. I know I could be better to this car what with the oil changes and tune ups and what not, midyear resolution. If I can't afford an alternator, I won't be able to afford a new car.

Work's been busier and busier. A lot of the little side projects I could do while at work in between working I've not been able to do, which means trying to do them at home and that just doesn't happen. Another midyear resolution would be to use my downtime better. Right now I read news articles online, read books and watch my three shows. Doesn't seem like a lot during the week, but I don't know where else my 5-6 hours a night go.

And yes, LMA is officially on summer break. She got her precious snowflake award at school (Most Awesome Writer) as well as one of only 10 kids in first grade (about 70 kids I suppose) to reach the Green Level. Don't ask me, I don't know what that means. I think she read a lot and they recognized her for it.

I'm getting excited for Hulk and Dark Knight and Hancock. Still having a hard time coping with Indiana Jones, but I'm sure Batman will help ease the pain.

That's all for now, sorry it wasn't Life o' Riley.

Carry on.