Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wildlife alert!

Cincinnati's turkeys are in imminent danger, now that station WKRP is on the air for real.

What's the problem, you ask? Can't the turkeys just fly away to safety? No, that's the point...turkeys can't fly!!!!!

Can't Be, Officer, This Thing Won't Even Do Warp 2. . .

You know, when the Romulans can't destroy you with their plasma weapon, then they'll just nickel and dime you to death with traffic tickets (scroll down to the item slugged "The City of Romulus")...

(H/T Dustbury)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holy Crap, Batman!

For everyone who ever thought that the George Clooney outing as the Caped Crusader, Batman and Robin, would be the dumbest Batman story ever told, longtime Batman writer Grant Morrison would like to prove you wrong. By the way, if you don't want this story spoiled -- even though I think it's got high enough levels of silly-toxin to be spoil-proof -- don't read on past the gap.

OK, still here? Well, according to this story, Bruce Wayne will lay down his cape and cowl, and thus "die" as Batman, after being shot by his father, Dr. Thomas Wayne. Yup, you know, the Thomas Wayne whose death when Bruce was nine caused the young man to develop an obsessive thirst for justice. That same thirst drove him to his double life as Batman. See, ol' Tom apparently faked his death and, well, who cares because this is beyond dumb, even when we consider we are not dealing with the most logically coherent of media, the comic book.

Of course, since we're talking about a comic book character, chances are good he'll come back. After all, Bruce Wayne has handed off his cape and cowl before, when he was badly injured by the criminal Bane in the Knightfall storyline. In the end, this is likely to be another so-called "stunt" story, like Knightfall or the Death of Superman tale from 1992. And again, in comic books as in soap operas, death is only temporary, so all of the "end of Bruce Wayne as Batman" talk coming from the publisher is very likely a lot of hooey.

But, whether it's "killed" or killed, the idea that Thomas Wayne is behind this ranks very high on the dumb-o-meter. Next we'll find out that Martha Wayne, Bruce's mom, didn't die either, and she sent herself forward in time to become Selina Kyle, the Catwoman. On the other hand, forget I said that. Morrison may go back to writing the title someday and it now seems likely he wouldn't understand it's a joke.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Maybe This Is Why We Call Them Hoseheads...

Another day, another Canadian university does something dumb.

Carleton University, in Ottawa, takes part a yearly charity fundraiser among Canadian colleges and universities called Shinearama. Up until this year, one of the benficiaries of Shinearama was the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. But because one of Carleton University's students learned that cystic fibrosis affects only white males, he moved at a student government meeting that Carleton drop the CCFF as a beneficiary.

Of course, cystic fibrosis affects people of both genders, and while it generally is more prevalent among people of Caucasian origin, that genetic classification includes folks from the Middle East, India and South America as well.

Members of the student association now want to reconsider their vote. If it wasn't for the fact that worthy charity that does a lot of good will lose out on money if they don't, I would be happy to have this group of maple-leaf mouth breathers stuck with the results of their decision. After all, they want to reconsider their action because they've learned CF can affect people other than white males, not because the idea that withholding donations to a charity because you want to play identity politics with who has the disease qualifies as an "idea" in only the loosest of fashions.

Ironies drench this little amorality play -- the student government president said that the real reason everyone voted the way they did was because the association would like to rotate its donations among several charities. I think she's got a future in politics. And the young man who brought the motion is a science student. I would submit that Carleton University be sure to stamp his diploma with the letters "B.S." as is traditional for students earning undergraduate degrees in the sciences. But I think it'll be obvious that in his case, those letters will revert to their more common meaning...

(H/T Erin O'Connor)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rough indeed

Rough Weather is Robert B. Parker 36th novel featuring the tough as nails, tender on the inside private eye Spenser, who is as quick with wits and tongue as he is with fists and gun.

It opens with more excitement than Parker's put in a Spenser book in years, as Spenser and his ladylove Susan Silverman attend a ritzy wedding on an exclusive island. Spenser has been hired as a sort of bodyguard, and it's good that he is, because the wedding is interrupted by an elaborate kidnapping. The chief kidnapper is Spenser's nemesis Rugar, the Gray Man who once shot Spenser and nearly killed him.

Spenser has to use both his wits and his fists in order to make sure he's not dispatched by the Gray Man's thugs and also to get Susan out of harm's way. The sequence packs as much action as some of Parker's best work, recalling similar sequences from the series high points from the mid-70s through mid-80s. The "rough weather" of the title refers to the storm that keeps the kidnappers stranded on the island overnight, forcing Spenser to take on the kidnappers armed with little more than his bare hands. But then the motif, like the story, tension, action and most of the energy are abandoned as soon as the kidnappers leave the island and Spenser goes about trying to find the kidnapped bride and bring Rugar, the murderer of the groom, to justice.

Frankly, the rest of the book may be the laziest work Parker's ever turned out. It's little more than a series of one-on-ones with different people who might or might not be involved in the crime, divvied up by Spenser's encounters with some of his usual circle of legal and less-than-legal acquaintances. Any slight chance it has of hanging together as a narrative that leads somewhere is destroyed by the ending, a twist of events that's thin enough to make tissue paper look like Kevlar. It's nowhere near as bad as the absolutely awful finish of Hundred Dollar Baby, but coming on the heels of such a promising opening, it can seem almost worse.

Parker's published a couple of youth novels and a handful of westerns over the last few years and the move to new fields seems to have given him some new energy. It could be that the new arenas bring him some more creativity while he's more or less going through the motions with Spenser and his other two law-enforcement characters, Paradise, MA, police chief Jesse Stone and lady PI Sunny Randall. Whatever the reason, Rough Weather is about a quarter of a good book stuck inside three quarters of a mediocre one, pushed past its sell-by date with a stinker of an ending. We can all hope for some better sailing next time...

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends...

It's not the size of the gift that counts...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Something to talk about...

A college in Canada has hired students to hang around student dining halls and either start conversations about social justice issues or intervene in conversations that seem to cross certain lines.

No, really, they have.

Among the issues that these "dialogue facilitators" will raise are those concerned with things like race, gender, social class, ability, and so on. As I recall, I had numerous conversations about gender and ability when I was seated at table with my fellow students. And those conversations were often - ahem - facilitated by observations of certain other students who happened to be walking by the table where I and my dialogue group were seated. Those students who facilitated our conversation did not, I believe, require any special training to spark our discussions and usually were able to complete their task using whatever gifts God had blessed them with -- gifts for which we often gave fervent thanks, as well.

The story quotes one person who applied to be a facilitator, a 46-year-old Master of Divinity student, as saying he hoped it would be a way to connect with many different students. First off, I have to say that he would not have passed our facilitator screening process. We had standards, after all, and we upheld them.

Secondly, I have to wonder how well this idea was thought through. It's been a little over three years since I worked at a college, so students may have changed drastically. But the idea of having some dude their dad's age show up at their table when they were eating and try to start a conversation about social justice should have been a non-starter to anyone with any sense. Further, these facilitators will live in student housing. So what you've got is a grind who not only blathers about their pet issue at dinner, they can keep yammering at you when you go back to your dorm.

I'm not knocking the idea of a dialogue facilitator -- in fact, I wish we had some around back when I was in college. Believe me, several of us could have used someone to facilitate our lame attempts at dialogue with some of those other students we had observed so closely.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Location, location, location...

Sometime in the past, I must have bought or signed up for something that earned me a free Newsweek subscription. I don't know what it was, and I'd have been happy to have been told a free subscription was part of the deal, so I could have chosen a magazine I might read.

Well, hey, you might say. It's free, so why not read it anyway? You used to subscribe to Newsweek, about 20 years ago. Well, I would read it anyway, except that when I walk back from my mailbox to my house, I walk right past the trash can and the logical action presents itself. I apologize to the trees that died so Newsweek could print its cheap, smeary ink on the glossy tissue paper that makes up its pages and then toss the issue and the credit card offers that are its fit company right into the ol' bin.

But hold up, hoss, you might say. This is one of the major weekly news magazines of the country, and you're a former media type yourself. You recognize the value of being an informed citizen and how that information shapes your vote, your support of policies and your ability to act on your citizenly responsibilities. You know the value of the First Amendment to your nation and how important its founders believed it to be. You sure you want to just trash all that in so cavalier a manner?

Yup. I'm sure.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quantum or so Less...

In Casino Royale, filmmakers reinvented James Bond, casting Daniel Craig as the agent still on his way to earning his double-O status. Craig brought high-energy ruthlessness to the role and the franchise dropped the gadgetry and slickness that had eventually suffocated Pierce Brosnan's turn as the world's best-known double-nought secret agent.

Craig returns in Quantum of Solace, a film that has Bond pursuing leads to the murder of his girlfriend Vesper Lynd. On the way, he has another rooftop chase, deals with another pasty-faced lank-haired Eurotrash villain and kills some people. Imagine, if you like, that the interminable and pointless Texas Hold 'Em game of Casino Royale was made into an entire movie with chase scenes and varied locations, and you've got an inkling of what Quantum of Solace is like.

Craig himself squints, grimaces, kicks, punches, slices and shoots. He doesn't do a single thing in this movie that couldn't have been done by fellow Brit and action movie star Jason Statham. But that's OK, because in the hands of director Mark Forster and co-screenwriter Paul Haggis, James Bond doesn't do anything that couldn't have been done by Jason Bourne.

Forster apparently thinks Matt Damon is really cool, because he borrows not only the queasy unsteady-cam look and blip-quick scene cuts of the Bourne films, but also their balcony-jumping and explosive fight sequences. Haggis continues to write screenplays that are but lightly burdened with ideas. Lightly burdened with his own ideas, anyway -- Quantum features a straight-up theft from an earlier Bond pic that ought to earn a fine, if not community service (Suggestion: Haggis be ordered to spend one thousand hours not writing).

When Casino Royale came out, the general reaction seemed to be that Craig brought a style to Bond that the series had lacked since Sean Connery. That's an understandable view, coming as it did on the heels of Brosnan's awful Bond finale, Die Another Day. But Brosnan himself started out well, finally taking the role he'd had to turn down when someone finally realized Roger Moore looked more likely to throw out a hip than a judo chop. In between Moore and Brosnan, Timothy Dalton's two entries showed some intriguing promise, but Dalton's supposed distaste for the typecasting the role may have brought him led him to turn another direction. Playing Rhett Butler in the TV miniseries Scarlett, for one, which may prove there are worse things than typecasting.

But it'll take a third outing to see if Craig actually does something with the iconic superspy, and if the grim-and-gritty re-imagining of James Bond offered up in the more recent films can satisfy series fans who may not have liked the gadget overload of Die Another Day and its ilk, but who still like their world-saving done with some cool style...

P.S. The Jack White/Alicia Keys "Another Way to Die" opening credits theme is among the lamer and more unpleasant theme offerings of the series. As long as there's an Octopussy soundtrack with "All Time High" on it, though, "AWtD" doesn't have to worry about being the worst of the lot.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Meet the new boss...

...same as the old boss.

"I'll tip my hat to the new constitution, take a bow for the new revolution, smile and grin at the change all around me, pick up my guitar and play -- and just like yesterday -- I'll get on my knees and pray we don't get fooled again."

Uh-oh, Frodo

I don't think we need a retinal scan to recognize this picture from NASA as the Eye of Sauron, which does not bode well for those foolish enough to have looked upon it directly:
"The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth, and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable."

One can only hope that "Hubble Space Telescope" doesn't come out "palantír" when you translate it into in Elvish.

Alternatively, this could be The Mote in God's Eye, in which case I for one welcome our new three-armed, furry Motie overlords...

Friday, November 14, 2008


The pictures obtained by mixing some of the highest of high-tech, high-speed photography with the silliest of things -- like popping a water balloon -- are often darn cool.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What a day!

First of all, Nov. 11 is when we honor military veterans, so if you know a vet, take time to say thanks or show some other gesture of appreciation.

A couple of days ago, the United States Marine Corps celebrated its birthday. Although I never served and my father was in the Navy, I have four Marine uncles, three living and one standing the long watch, so happy birthday, Marines.

Ninety years ago today, hostilities stopped in World War I, allowing a whole bunch of guys to live a lot longer. Some of them as long as this guy, who sounds like he's tried to make the most of his years.

Nineteen years ago Sunday, Berliners started taking hammers and mallets to the hated wall built to keep those crazy East Germans from leaving their worker's paradise and make it easier to shoot them when they tried anyway.

November has some cruddy weather and, every few years or so, an excuse for people to act like idiots. But it must have hired a great PR firm, because it also has some really cool events to mark during that time, too.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Soap Noir

A few months ago, I did a quickie critique of Harlan Coben's The Woods. Coben's best known books feature sports-agent Myron Bolitar, who seems to have a number of clients that require more from their agent than tough contract negotiations. Bolitar then solves their problems with more than a dash of playing the superhero.

With Hold Tight, Coben revisits the little suburban New Jersey area he opened up in The Woods, even showing us some of the same people, although this time in more minor roles. In The Woods, Coben wove together so many different threads that it was kind of amazing you didn't realize how ridiculous they all were until after you finished the book, a testament to his storytelling skill. Unfortunately for Hold Tight, now you know where to look. And because of the large cast of characters, the depth Coben was able to give to his protagonists in the earlier book is mostly absent here -- they're all interchangeable suburbanite forty-somethings who confusingly threaten to turn into each other while we're watching them. In order to give them any dimension at all within the confines of his story, Coben has to commit the novelist's cardinal sin and tell us about the people instead of showing us.

Coben, himself a forty-something suburbanite with kids, starts with parents trying to learn why their son is moody and withdrawn and installing some spyware on his computer. Other families -- some intact, some not -- drift in and out of the story, each of them having their own Special Situation and Deep Dark Secret that's known only to them, lurking behind the Perfect Suburban Facade. Think Raymond Chandler meets Desperate Housewives, only ignore the fact that Desperate Housewives would make Chandler throw up. Although he might think about dallying for awhile with Dana Delany.

Then the son disappears, and the plot begins. The only problem is that, as we read along, we get the feeling that we're further ahead than the characters are. At least once I said, "Hey, Harlan, isn't it time for you to pay off on that foreshadowing you did about a hundred pages ago," and lo and behold, said foreshadowing paid off right about then.

The other downer is Coben's steps into another of the suspense novel's most tired and seamy cliches, the killer's conversations with his tearful victims as he prepares to torture and murder them. He rarely does this sort of thing, for good reason, because it's generally a sign of the weakest of thrillers, novels about which airport bookstores say, "Um, no. We have standards."

So although I like Coben, and although a good 90 percent of the stuff that trees die for is worse than this decidedly low point of his catalog, I will be happy to set my copy of Hold Tight free to roam in our little town's public library.

She's the Boss

Military science fiction is a lot more crowded with lead female characters than you might think. Elizabeth Moon's Heris Serrano and Esmay Suiza try to straighten tangled political webs in the Familias Regnant universe. David Weber's Honor Harrington kicks behinds and takes names as she rises in rank through the Royal Navy of the Star Kingdom of Manticore and foils the plots of the evil Republic of Haven. Tanya Huff's tough as nails Confederation Marine Sgt. Torin Kerr knows the way to keep more of her people alive is to make more of the enemy dead and so she goes about that task with businesslike efficiency.

Over the course of six books now, Mike Shepherd has fashioned a place in that corps for his wealthy heiress/princess/United Sentients Naval Lieutenant Kristine Longknife. The most recent entry, Kris Longknife: Intrepid, finds Lt. Longknife, her Jill-of-all-trades (including assassination and espionage) maid Abby, her bodyguard Jack and her increasingly sentient personal computer Nelly part of a crew pretending to be a merchant ship in the far reaches of inhabited space. Their mission is to lure pirates to attack the seemingly helpless vessel and get summarily blasted for their pains by its powerful hidden weaponry.

But Kris has a knack for finding more trouble than she actually signed up for, so she and her crew, along with a company of United Sentients Marines, find a couple of more things on their to-do list. After they help a planet of farmers tackle an invading mercenary force, Kris has to take some big risks to save a man who's been one of her family's biggest enemies.

Over the course of the series, Shepherd has found a good mix of dry wit and action to keep his story humming, and toned down some of the comic elements from the initial Kris Longknife: Mutineer, which was broad enough to skew close to satire. Shepherd uses the same setting as he did for his Longknife family trilogy (written under his given name, Mike Moscoe), but lightens the tone a good deal.

Kris Longknife's most obvious counterpart is Weber's Honor Harrington. But where Weber has come down with a serious case of bestseller's bloat, Shepherd seems to be steering his heroine's ship using an editor to pilot him much more swiftly and cleanly through his stories. Although Kris & Co.'s humor and confidence in the face of danger is appealing, they don't reek to excess of sang-froid the way Harrington and her cast have in the last four or five of their adventures.

According to the book titles, we've learned that Kristine Longknife is a Mutineer and a Deserter, as well as that she's Defiant, Resolute, Audacious and now Intrepid. Here's hoping Shepherd keeps adding adjectives to her resumé for several years to come.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Crystal Ball

So here's my prognosticizing for the next four years.

Ever since Franklin Roosevelt, US presidents have been closely observed for the accomplishments of their first 100 days. And there's also the idea of the honeymoon period, in which the folks who yesterday thought this fellow's the biggest twerp walking now find some of his good qualities. Which they forget soon enough, or at least claim they were fooled.

President Obama will have a honeymoon period, and he may even have a "Hundred Days." But this honeymoon, too, will end, and badly. For one, much of the hopes and dreams hung on him present impossible challenges. He's not going to reverse global warming, whose existence is an open question anyway. The pledges of a different kind of politics will run smack into the regular old politics and will either get creamed or show themselves as not so new and different after all.

He won't be able to solve the nation's current credit and economic crisis -- for one, his government will be saddled with actually paying for the $700 billion bailout package just approved, and that won't leave a ton of money laying around. For another, he supports taxation policies that will not encourage economic growth. To be fair, a President McCain would probably not have actually fixed things, but might have waited them out without doing anything to make them worse.

Although he's capable of an inspirational speech, Obama has a short track record of executive experience, and even that short record isn't stellar. He directed the Chicago schools' Annenberg Challenge, and wound up spending $160 million on some pilot schools that ended up not all that different from the rest of the schools in Chicago. In his party's Congressional leadership, he's saddled with two of the least of modern politics' lesser lights in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. These two, confronted with a President whose popularity ratings are among the lowest on record, couldn't get anything done except drive their own numbers lower than his. Obama will not be helped by their inabilities.

If the economic crisis limps along in its current "I'm not dead yet!" mode, then voter anger at the economic situation might stay somewhat banked. If it gets worse, then 2010 may find us in a "Throw the bums out!" mood similar to 1994, raising the possibility that President Obama will faces at least one house of Congress under the management of the other party. Whatever he's been able to do up until that time will dry to a trickle as his opponents do their best to get their own work done and weaken Obama prior to 2012. Also, at about that time, he will begin to see the signs of a serious primary challenge from within his own party, by which I mean Hillary Clinton. Obama's ineffectiveness in office will probably convince her to do what she wants to do anyway, which is pull alongside him, fire a broadside and send him under the political waves. Clinton has said she doesn't intend to run again, but if you believe that, then you believed Obama would accept public financing when he said he would.

If she does run and she starts in 2010, then she has two years of being able to work the Democratic party with the idea that while the fellow they've elected may not be a bad man, he's not a very good wizard, and the GOP is not going to make the mistake again of nominating someone who sometimes seemed only vaguely Republican. She won't go after him unless she thinks he's weak enough to beat, which she may or may not misjudge. Obama's weakness plus a possibly resurgent GOP, combined with the Clinton organization and what I believe is almost certain to be a record of indifferent achievement unmatched since Jimmy Carter, will leave Obama very vulnerable within his own party.

Clinton may not run, but I think she will. Obama may survive the primary challenge, but if he does he will be even more weakened and have the pleasure of facing any one of several strong GOP nominees. When George Bush won in 2004, many of my fellow Democrats who supported Kerry did things like take pictures of themselves saying "I'm sorry" and put it on a website to let the world know how badly they thought we messed up. Because they spent so much time in that mode, they wound up with an untested nominee who will go off like a stinkbomb once he actually begins to work at the job.

Republicans won't do that. They'll sleep off the hangovers on Nov. 5, lament some on Nov. 6 and go to work on 2010 and 2012 by Nov. 7. Governor Sarah Palin, this time with six years of running her state on her resume instead of two, might show up again. Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana will also have six years of gubernatorial experience if he decides it's time to file. If his handling of this summer's hurricane problems is any indicator, he's going to have a pretty good track record to run on. If Mitt Romney decides to try again, his business experience will give him a whole lot of credibility when he talks economics, and, as I said earlier, Obama's policies are unlikely to fix the economic mess we're in now.

Whichever GOP nominee finishes first will have as a central campaign theme, "We told you so." Palin, obviously, could hammer that home hardest, but it'll be available for all, including, I imagine, Senator Clinton. I do not think Obama will win a second term, but if he somehow manages to do so, he will likely face a Congress with even larger GOP numbers, if not outright control. If that is the case, the indifferent achievement record of his first term is probably going to seem Jeffersonian compared with his second.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Boo! at the box office

According to this story, the Friday night Halloween holiday dampened the weekend box office.

Maybe. We might also consider that most of the stuff released in the last couple of weeks is swill no one wants to see. And in some cases, recycled swill no one wants to see. High School Musical 3 and Saw V, I'm talking to you. I hope I got those sequel numbers right, but truthfully, if I didn't, who would notice? Sure, it would be great to think that the world's karma is burdened by only three Saw movies, but the downside is that it would mean there have been five High School Musicals. And you know what it means if you're still in high school after five years. You're a teacher and no one wants to make a musical about you. Putting up With Snotty Little Know-It-Alls and Their Enabling Parents in Order to Make a Difference in the Lives of a Handful of Decent Kids is just not going to get good buzz.

The last time Halloween kept viewers from the box office, as I remember, was when it was re-made by Rob Zombie, who insists on trying to convince people he's a worse movie-maker than he is a musician (Hint: It's a tie). Well, it kept me away from the box-office, anyway.

Seriously -- the two major new releases were a blink-and-you-miss-it horror film called The Haunting of Molly Hartley and a film whose existence subtracts gray-matter cells from the earth quicker than brain-eating zombies, Zack and Miri Make a (Word I Won't Use Because I Don't Want to Show up on Those Google Searches). Zack and Miri is rated R, which in my way of thinking means that it wouldn't be doing boffo biz with the trick-or-treat set anyway. Maybe it opened worse than The Love Guru (according to Box Office Mojo) because it stunk and everyone except the "OMG! Clerks is the best film since someone ever had the idea of celluloid and Kevin Smith is awesome and dude, that movie is my life!" crowd didn't want to spend 102 minutes watching a remake of The Sure Thing with 100% more crudeness and 100% less John Cusack? Just a thought.

As for the PG-13 Molly Hartley (and the rest of the motley crew onscreen this week), how hard a decision is this: Walk around the neighborhood and score free candy or head off to the cineplex where you pay twice your monthly allowance for a box of same that's half air and a small drink?

Anyway, the new Bond film opens in a couple of weeks, which should be enough to drag my behind into the theater again.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


While the cancellation of King of the Hill in this story is bad news, there's worse news at the end: The renewal of the awful American Dad. Now, I personally do not believe the rumor that "Seth MacFarlane" is the animation creator equivalent of Alan Smithee, because there is a real person named Seth MacFarlane and he, for some reason best known only to him, takes credit for both American Dad and the slightly less repulsive and every now and then microscopically funnier Family Guy. So it makes no sense to suggest that there's a real person who created two animated shows and was so ashamed of the results that he asked for a pseudonym to be used instead of his real name. Despite how much sense it would make to be ashamed of those two shows, that is.

It's a little early for a KotH post-mortem, but I'll have to list "Reborn to Be Wild" as one of my favorite episodes -- of that or any other show, come to think of it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This leaves me flat

So, as many of you may have read, a man in Japan has created a petition allowing him to marry his favorite cartoon character.

The man, Taichi Takashita, says he really likes the two-dimensional world and would prefer to live in it. Since the technology for such a transfer doesn't exist, he wants to be able to be legally married to the two-dimensional character of his choosing. Insert your favorite Hugh Hefner girlfriend joke here.

Now, while I am a fan of the four-color medium and pick up about three or four books a month, I can see many problems with this plan. Some are serious. This guy would like to be married to someone who doesn't really exist, and while there are plenty of folks who wake up after a few years and wonder who the heck is that aging wreck next to them and what happened to the handsome hunk/hot babe they pledged their forevers to, we like people to stop having imaginary friends (or spouses) after about the age of seven or eight. After that we call them "the voices in your head" and we ask that you see a doctor. We also like societies to take marriage a little more seriously than that, unless we live in Hollywood or are Brad Pitt. In the latter case, we find we don't have to take marriage seriously, because we are, after all, Brad Pitt.

Mr. Takashita hasn't ever read Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, in which he points out that two-dimensional beings would face a distinct problem when it comes to the ingestion of nourishment and elimination of waste products. To wit, any kind of digestive system that resembles the one we poor old 3-D dolts have -- stuff comes in one end and goes out another -- would leave a 2-D creature in two separate pieces. Therefore, a 2-D creature would have to be able to convert 100 percent of its food into fuel for the body, which is something I think I remember my physics class saying was impossible. Or it would have to have the waste leave by the same route it used to come in, which would make the invention of 2-D mouthwash an absolute priority and render those 2-D romantic dinners with the pen-and-ink honey of your choice somewhat less romantic.

I'm not familiar with which character Mr. Takashita wishes to wed, but my experience with comic books leaves me wondering if volunteering to be the spouse of one is such a good idea. To be honest, the only super-female I whose steady fella I remember is Wonder Woman's Steve Trevor, and he got killed. Twice. One version of Supergirl got stuck with Lex Luthor for a beau, and that doesn't seem to be a healthy relationship, since Luthor was actually a clone of himself pretending to be his own son. It ended badly when Supergirl found out Lex had cloned a hundred or so of her, giving himself a host of interchangeable svelte blonde lovelies. Insert your second favorite Hugh Hefner girlfriend joke here. Black Canary had Green Arrow, who was a hero in his own right, but who I think died once himself, or at least seemed to.

Things go worse for you if you're a gal with an eye on your favorite member of the colored longjohn set. Superhero girlfriends have a very high and somewhat grisly mortality rate. Plus, it takes the bum some sixty years to marry you, after he's spent most of that time pretending to be someone else (the less said the better, about how you're so dumb you can't recognize him just because he has glasses on. Insert your third favorite Hugh Hefner girlfriend joke here).

Of course, all of these things will, it seems in Mr. Takashita's opinion, be dealt with someday by advancing technology. But I'm going to stake out my position here in defense of the third dimension, no matter who may decide to abandon their relationships with me because of it. You see, I happen to think we're just not complete without that third D, which stands for depth. Width and height are crucial to existence as well, we know, even if a lot of us would like to have a little less of the former and more of the latter. But depth is what makes the whole thing go, adding that crucial third aspect that makes our existence worthwhile.

Because the abandonment of the third dimension would mean a loss of a number of aspects I, speaking as a guy who has a fondness for female-type persons, find highly interesting. If you know what I mean. And I think you do.