RIP Pete Burns

Pete will always be known as the lead singer/mascot for the band Dead or Alive with their hits “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record),” “Lover Come Back To Me,” “I Wanna Be Your Toy,” “Brand New Lover” and “Something In My House.” I recall their third album had those two latter songs which then were played ad nauseum during my Freshman year at Marquette.

After the band’s popularity in America fizzled out with the Nineties, Pete became more famous for being someone who couldn’t stop with plastic surgery. In his defense, he didn’t keep going until he was hideous.

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Jack Chick is officially dead…

…but his brain and heart died decades ago.

Most of you all are probably asking who this turdburglar was and why am I speaking ill of the dead. Well, he was the primary person behind these incredibly ignorant and hateful comics known as Chick Tracts. They contained “cautionary” tales about the dangers of D&D which helped fuel the anti-D&D demon worship idiocy; incredibly inaccurate about Islam, Catholicism, the Mormons, Communism, Fascism, Freemasons and homosexuals. Then again, hateful “Christians” like him aren’t concerned about pesky things, you know, facts and reality. Fear not, he found a way to offend everybody like Trump if you look these “comics” over enough.

However, his trash was ripe for even better parodies like this one on Rap, Cthulhu and a rebuttal against creationist bullshit.

At least one good death occurred in 2016. I make no apologies for this post since I have been a longtime D&D player and often annoyed by Chick’s ilk.


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Happy 100th birthday to Bob Kane

Bob is most famous for being the primary creator of Batman. Since he’s dead and many other claims have come to light involving Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson, I think there’s an asterisk by Bob’s name. I don’t particularly care. People tend to remember only one or two names when it comes to such intellectual properties. To me, Bob was the guy who got the ball rolling and dozens of other talented people took the Dark Knight to the next level. It’s the same way with D&D, Star Trek and finally through Disney, Star Wars.

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Weird Al Yankovic


I’m finally getting off my duff on the Weird One’s birthday (he’s 57 today) after seeing him in concert for the third this July…and having my brief FaceTime with him.

This Summer we saw him again on a second take for the Mandatory Fun tour. Last year it was at the ACL Moody Theater and then at Bass Hall. The shows were relatively similar but who cares! Weird Al and his band for 30-plus years are incredibly talented. I love all the costume changes with segues of media showing all his cameos or pop-culture references he’s permeated into. In many ways, he is the champion to millions, especially unpopular kids like me listening to his earlier albums back in North Dakota with my friends Jon, Mike, Paul and Jason. When I had my own block of time to be on Marquette’s “radio station” WMUR, I would even squeeze in a song of his every month. “Such a Groovy Guy” comes to mind along with “Fat” when that a new release. I was still a true fan since Weird Al had fallen out of favor with the masses by the late Eighties.

This is definitely going into my "nerd tomb."

This is definitely going into my “nerd tomb.”

Highlights of this tour: He kicks off with “Tacky” and has his path from the green room to the stage timed out for the song’s duration. Walking and singing at the same time is quite a feat. The first time we went to this show, we were in the fourth row so Somara was one of his “victims” he hit on for “Wanna B Ur Lovr” and it was on the big screen for all our friends to witness. What I loved almost as much was when our neighbors tried to record the moment and he put his hand over the lens of their phone. Yeah people, be in the moment, stop trying to be a cinematographer.

So after waiting 34 years to meet him (I first saw him on MTV for the video “Ricky” in 1982), what did I have to say? I wanted tell him how wonderful he was to that little girl on his team when he was on Family Double Dare in 1988. He knew all the answers to the questions but he’d whisper them into her ear and let her tell them to the audience. He was like, “Oh yeah, that show hosted by Marc Summers.” I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with meeting him too. Here’s a guy with rabid fans who probably want to spill their life stories on him yet he just embraces it like a pro. I think he is in that minority of celebrities with his head on straight and knows how much he is adored especially when his fame ebbed for a while. I’m just grateful he didn’t give up.

How did we meet him? Well, these days if you look really carefully when buying concert tickets, some shows offer VIP stuff. With Weird al, make sure you get the meet n’ greet too. I made this mistake in 2015.

Hot damn! I also found a link to the episode of Family Double Dare he appeared on against Lou Ferigno. The picture quality is poor but check it out. If you ever have to take the physical challenge, you want Al in your corner! Meanwhile, despite all the sadness of 2016, Al is cheering us up by being the band leader for Comedy Bang Bang‘s last season and is starring in a new cartoon on Disney XD.

Happy Birthday Al!

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Rest in Peace Tiki


Our friends Tom and Alaire gave us the sad news Friday about their Burmese Boss Tiki needing to be put to sleep. The poor guy was having heart trouble and he was starting to suffer from pneumonia, something cats have difficulty getting through unlike humans.

Although Tiki wasn’t our cat, he was an extension of our cat family through cat sitting plus he generally liked everybody. Besides being about nine pounds of raw muscle, Tiki was rather fearless and some days demanding. He had this low, distinctive voice he used like radar to find you when he was hungry or he wanted to go outside. Woe to those he found sleeping, Tiki would stand near your head and let himself be heard. He also had a very audible purr to let you know he was cool.

Enjoying the sunshine on the deck.

Enjoying the sunshine on the deck.

When Shadow passed on, Tiki became the Lowrys’ alpha cat. Despite being half Angel and Jack’s size, Tiki took whatever food he wanted, groomed them and got first dibs on a sleeping spot. Although on the latter, cats tend to have their own preferences, I’ve rarely seen cats fight over anywhere except for a spot on the humans’ bed.

There are so many stories I would like to tell about Tiki yet I will probably go with his few escapes he pulled off on us. One thing I’ll give to his credit, Tiki usually thought scaring the crap out of Somara and me was a game unlike the other cats (they tend to howl back things like “You’re not my parents!” and stay away). His favorite tactic was to go under the deck where Somara hated to go, spiderwebs and it was dark. However, we’d have to do it, cut Tiki off from at least two possible exits. He would like to stay close, lure you into a false opportunity to grab him and then dart ten feet away. Eventually we’d outwit him. One evening, I told Somara to relax and take turns waiting by the screen door because it was raining and I knew wasn’t keen on getting wet. Panned out, he slowly came by within about 20 minutes of his escape.

Farewell Tiki. You were a great cat friend and we’ll always remember your unique voice and easy-going nature as the picture below showed.

Showing off his clownish side.

Showing off his clownish side.

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RIP Steve Dillon

One of the UK artists/writers DC brought to America in the late Eighties/early Nineties, Dillon made his US debut on Vertigo titles like Animal Man and Hellblazer. Being from the UK, obviously he started out on 2000 AD titles like Judge Dredd too.

Afterwards, he worked on the book he’s most famous for Preacher which is a TV show now on AMC. For me, he provided the hilarious art to an out-of-print book I actually have called How to be a Superhero, definitely not for children.

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RIP Kevin Meaney

Poor guy was found dead at his house in New York state yesterday. Kevin was only 60.

Meaney was a frequent stand-up comedian on late-night TV during the late Eighties and he had the starring role to the televised version of Uncle Buck which didn’t last.

For me, he was the voice of Filburt’s mother-in-law on Rocko’s Modern Life and his memorable catchphrase…”That isn’t right!” For example, what’s that guy at Jack in the Box doing? He’s in the back of the kitchen making Jack Sauce! That isn’t right! Ahh!

I’m glad many people have poured out their condolences for him. In many ways, he paved the way for numerous contemporaries like Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford and to some extent, the rather blunt David Cross.

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Retro King of the Hill vidaya game intro

For my player character, I would go with Cotton. He’s tough because he killed fiddy men in the Big War.

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Barenaked Ladies machine


The new(er) Pinballz has this machine which is also the name of BNL’s latest album. I do recommend Silverball even if you hated their earlier work, BNL has evolved unlike Coldplay. I don’t think the game actually works. The field is rather vacant and there’s no place to display the score. Still cool though.

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Italian #43: Giovanni Schiaparelli

This year, my tribute to famous Italians has been heavy on the Science side, namely Astronomy but Dr. Schiaparelli is relevant due to the joint ESA-Russia Schiaparelli mission to Mars. Today is the day the probe makes its attempt to land in an atmosphere that’s one percent the density of ours…parachutes aren’t much use, gotta’ depend on those rocket boosters.

As for Giovanni Schiaparelli, his greatest contribution to Astronomy was the naming of Mars’ “seas” and “continents” in the 1870s. His usage of the Italian word canali (which means “channels”) was misinterpreted by the American Astronomer Lowell for canals and led to the silliness about Mars being inhabited. The “canals” are really an atmospheric thing because we have yet to find liquid water on our neighbor.

Besides Mars, he also studied binary stars (pretty good for 19th Century technology) and proved comets are often tied to meteor showers.

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