Thanksgiving With the Kranzes

If you haven’t seen this brilliant, note-perfect piece of space-related Thanksgiving levity, today is your lucky day! Watch! Enjoy! Heck, even if you have seen it, how better to get into the Thanksgiving spirit!

“For Hate’s Sake” — Angry Birds Fanfic

If you haven’t played the Angry Birds game, you’re missing out. It’s very fun, and rather addictive. That said, it strikes me as the Moby Dick of the modern generation; a tale of an obsession with vengeance so deep that it no longer considers the cost.

From hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.

“We die.”

Red Breast and I watched as Yellow Wing was flung toward the fortifications; the horror that we had once felt now replaced by a dull, shell-shocked emotional aching.

The canaries had proven during the conflict to be the bravest of us all, or at least the most dedicated. Not content with the momentum imparted by the terrible catapult, Yellow Wing mustered the last of his strength, driving himself with all the velocity he could find faster and harder into the walls protecting the pigs. There was a crashing, a shattering, of wood and glass and stone — and bone — and with that, Yellow Wing was gone. His life had been exchanged for that of the mother pig, helmeted and protected deep in the protective structure with her baby before our attack had begun. Earlier sortees had claimed the life of her husband and torn down the walls that were to keep them safe.

And now, it was but Red Breast and I, and the piglet that remained alive in the shattered ruins, protected now not by the walls that had been erected to keep him safe, but by the debris that had fallen during the attack, landing in such a way not to crush him but to shelter him.

The two of us, and a baby pig. Our leaders would say that it was only fair; the life of their young in exchange for ours, the eggs that they had stolen from us that had launched this conflict. But the truth was, it had long since stopped being about the eggs, we had paid a far higher price in our own eggs than they ever had taken from us. My own beloved had dropped three of our eggs, three of our unborn children, on the pigs, using them to knock down walls, to kill our porcine foes, before she finally sacrificed herself bringing down a fort. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

The general said that she chose to give her life because she thought it was the only way to take down the wall. I suspect she could no longer go own killing her own children for the sake of this war; a war she, like so many of us, fought not out of belief in the cause but purely out of loyalty.

This was no longer a war.

This was genocide.

The pigs’ initial attack had been repaid in their blood and our own a hundred times over, and yet still we persisted. The pigs had stopped fighting back, and had turned purely to defense, and yet still we persisted. We killed, and continued to kill, and died in the process. Our generals sent teams that were poorly equipped for the tasks they were given; blue birds died en masse bringing down walls that would have been simple for one blackbird to take down. But the generals didn’t care; they were far more interested in haste, in fighting a war on a hundred fronts than they were in our lives. If they could have shed enough of our own blood to drown our enemies in it, they would have, and gleefully. They would not be content until either all of the pigs were dead, or until we were.

“We die,” Red Breast repeated in empty monotone, as he climbed into the dreadful catapult himself. He launched himself toward the rubble, and toward the piglet hidden inside.

I heard the sick thud and snap of his neck breaking as he hit the wall, splintering it with the force of impact.

As the dust settled, I surveyed the results. The piglet was still alive. Red Breast was dead.

But with his death, he had shattered the last of the debris that protected the baby pig, leaving him exposed.

A child. An orphan. An innocent. A child, not unlike the eggs that had been stolen to start this conflict.

My squadron was eliminated. It was only me. I could leave. Go home. I’d lost my beloved, our children, but I could go home with my life. And in doing so, refuse to take the life of the innocent child before me.

I loaded myself into the catapult.

“Aye, we die.

“But we take pigs with us.”

Only Life

It’s been a while since I’ve written just a general “what’s going on in life” post, but I’ve written enough topic-specific posts about different things that I thought I should do a catch-all catch-up post.

My brother Jonathan came in fourth place in the election. He was only slightly behind the third place candidate, but both of them were well behind the two candidates who made it into the run-off. He had a pretty decent lead over the bottom four candidates, however. It was, of course, disappointing that things didn’t go better, but he did a good job making a name for himself, and he ran a respectable campaign. The other candidates took him seriously as a contender, and he received some notable endorsements. I don’t know what he has planned for the future, but I think he built up some political capital this summer should he choose to use it.

For the first time in months, we had to cancel an improv show Tuesday night, because only one person showed up. We told him he can use his ticket for a future show, and, as a bonus, used him as a test-market for trying out a new game that we’ll probably bring back out in a couple of weeks. I’ll be in a show tomorrow night at Kenny Mango’s Coffee Shop in Madison (Buy tickets here and save!) and will be playing in the show at Sam & Greg’s next Tuesday. Come check us out!

The mission trip to Costa Rica that I wrote about a while back has been indefinitely postponed.

The deadline for the shuttle book I’m co-authoring has been postponed, but not indefinitely.

I got my Arlo & Janis strip in the mail last week, and it’s awesome.

Heather’s NASA blog has finished its initial pilot phase, and, rather than going into normal operations, is instead going into a second pilot phase in which we test a version with even more awesomeness.

I’ve still only taken my kayak out once. Sad, really. Of course, the weather is getting to a point where it should be more agreeable to do so soon. Probably not this weekend, though.

I’ve worked at Marshall for eight years, as of a week ago today.

OK, I guess that’s enough.

Rock And Robbin’

More strips at

Snakes Like Jazz

I have a Google alert said to notify me when new articles are posted that include my name, so I was kind of surprised yesterday to learn in this article informed me that there’s another David Hitt in the area of nearby Decatur, AL. And then I read the story, which was even better:

OAKVILLE— A 9½-foot python stretched along a country road in Lawrence County has folks wondering about their fate if they had met the creepy creature before it met its fate.
Shelby Scott Hembree lives nearby. She saw the snake when she stopped late Wednesday afternoon to assist a neighbor, David Hitt. She thought his pickup was having mechanical trouble.

“Come look what we found,” he and his passenger, Donald Miller hollered.

Let me just point out for the record that I would watch every episode of a television series about the author of Blue Like Jazz and I driving around the country in a pick-up truck looking for snakes.

This Is A Test

Working with Photoshop CS5 -- new feature: Sha...

Image by Sebastian Anthony via Flickr

So I’ve switched over to a different editor format for my blog, and added some new features, and so I’m writing this post purely for the sake of trying them out (for myself) and demonstrating them (for you, my readers, who probably don’t care).

I don’t really have a whole lot to say at this point, but you have to write so much before the new features start working. For example, after that sentence, there’s a button that will let me make the word “editor” in the first paragraph a link to the “editor” article on Wikipedia, and the words “new features” a link to, well, something.

I can also automatically insert pictures that said new features believe relate to the post, but apparently I can only insert one picture at a time.

Also, when it let me link to Wikipedia, it gave me a choice of multiple places I could link it to. That’s kinda neat.

It automatically suggests tags for the post, and gave me a list of related articles that I can add to the post.

There’s a feature that allows me to declare this post “super-awesome,” but I have no idea what that means.

Also, I now have a feature to add a “more” cut to the post.

Continue reading

“Sardines and Crackers”

Those who know me well know two facts about me, both of which are relevant to today’s post:

1) I don’t have a lot of favorites. I don’t have a favorite color or book or ice cream or song.

2) I take comic strips very seriously for a thirty-something. (May come from writing one. [If sporadically.])

So, with those two facts in mind, it means something then when I say that Arlo and Janis is my favorite comic strip.

If you’re not familiar with Jimmy Johnson’s Arlo and Janis, you can read each day’s new strip at, and you can read selected classics at Johnson’s official Arlo and Janis page.

It’s hard for me to describe exactly why I love Arlo and Janis so much. It’s funny, which helps a lot. But it’s real. I identify with it, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. It’s real in the sense that (much to Johnson’s initial disappointment) there are no talking animals. There are no dinosaurs or wizards. Just a couple and their son and cat, and the world they live in. But it’s also real in the sense that the couple and their world are completely believable. Johnson captures an emotional tapestry of marriage and work and life and adulthood (an early theme of the strip that continues even as the characters gradually age) that resonates.

And I love it because I want to be Arlo Day when I (kind of) grow up. I want to enjoy life and be silly and love deeply and unabashedly sensually and I want to pine after time on a sail boat. I want to live, and be unashamed of wanting that life to be fun, even if it also has to be all responsible. Yes, the strip is about adulthood, but Arlo embodies the C.S. Lewis quote, “When I became a man, I put away childish things including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

Which brings us to this:

Arlo and Janis Sardines and Crackers comic strip

"Sardines and Crackers" -- Click for larger version

While Arlo and Janis is my favorite comic, I’ll be the first to admit that’s not my favorite individual strip. It’s a decent Arlo strip, but I’m not a sardines and crackers kinda guy, and I’m generally hit-or-miss on the cat strips.

So why am I posting it?

Because it’s mine.

Jimmy Johnson sold a batch of original artwork on eBay, and I bought one. Specifically, that one.

Like I said, it wasn’t my favorite of the batch, but it was the one that I was able to get using the Buy It Now feature, meaning I picked it up for less than the ones that are being auctioned go for. It was still a decent chunk of change for a comic strip, but I just got some birthday money and some improv show checks, so what better way to spend money for my birthday and for being funny than by indulging on a humorous birthday gift for myself, right?

He posted twelve strips yesterday, five of which were bought outright, and the remainder are still available for auction. I had a friend help me try to buy my favorite of the batch, but couldn’t get it before someone submitted a bit, ending the Buy It Now option. With two and a half days left in the auction, it’s already up to a hundred dollars more than I paid for mine. Even having bought one, there are a couple more I’m keeping an eye on, but I imagine they’ll exceed my price range before they’re sold.

Which, I will also point out, means that my purchase was a good investment, in an art collector sense. ‘Cause that’s totally why I did it. (I wish now I’d used that logic a while back to buy Johnson’s one now-out-of-print collection, Arlo and Janis: Bop ‘Till You Drop.I bought a copy a few years ago for my friend Lain at what seemed then like a pretty high price for a comic strip collection, but which was less than a fifth of what you would now pay on Amazon. I kinda wish now I’d bought a second copy for myself at that price.)

Point being, I’m rather happy. I’ve been a fan of the strip for 18 years, and I’m excited about having a greater connection to it.

Somehow, I think Arlo would understand.

Dying Is Easy; Comic Strips Are Hard

Dear The Huntsville Times,

You’ve no doubt heard by now that on October 3, the final strip of Cathy Guisewite’s comic “Cathy” will be published.

I would like to encourage you to make the most of the opportunity that this presents.

Looking at your daily edition comics page, one finds that there are 19 comics strip you publish (including the not-technically-a-strip single-panel Dennis The Menace).

The top strip on the page is Peanuts, which has been re-runs since the death of its creator, Charles Schulz. (Though, ironically, few if any of those re-runs have featured Rerun.)

Located near Peanuts on the page is For Better or For Worse, which has also been in re-runs since the retirement of its creator, Lynn Johnston.

Further, of the remaining 17 strips, I believe another six have continued beyond the death or retirement of their creators, with new writers rehashing the same jokes told over the last few decades — in the case of Blondie, the last eight decades, as of next month.

To your credit, it deserves mention that, I believe, three of the four comics The Times runs daily in locations other than the comics page are all fresh strips created by contemporary writers.

I encourage you to use the vacancy that Cathy creates to publish another deserving contemporary strip.

While living in Indianola, Miss., I had the opportunity to become friends with cartoonist Mark Pett, who actually published two syndicated cartoons, and to hear about the challenges faced by those trying to break in to the market. It’s unfortunate to me that so much current talent goes to waste in favor of cartoons written years ago.

Personally, I would endorse Jimmy Johnson’s Arlo & Janis, the best comic strip currently being written, but I’m not dead set on that.

I will say, however, if somehow this works out like Peanuts and FBOFW and ends up with Cathy re-runs continuing to take up space on the comics page, no offense, but I will cancel my subscription. I believe firmly in newspapers (the best e-reader out there), I believe firmly in subscribing to newspapers, and have encouraged fellow newspaper alums to continue subscribing to to their local papers even if they don’t read them just to support the industry. But if the industry is so moribund as to make a decision like that, it probably deserves to die. Just sayin’

Thank you for your consideration,


We Are The Space Robots

OK, so, first — start this video, just for the audio. You’re not gonna watch it, you just need the music playing.

Then, while that’s playing, turn the sound off on this video and play it:

Just sayin’.

From The Cheap Seats

I got to do something rather rare for me last night. I have played in or hosted every Face2Face Improv show at Sam & Greg’s Pizzeria and Gelato Shop in downtown Huntsville save one for the last three months, and the one I wasn’t in was because I was otherwise obligated that night.

Last night, however, I took the night off and just watched the show. I haven’t been able to just watch a show there since shortly after we started playing at the venue, and I was curious to see what it looked like. Your perspective’s a bit different in the wings than from in the audience.

And it looked great. We’ve been really working hard to try to do two things at the Sam & Greg’s venue — build up an audience and streamline the show to be perfect for that unique venue. Last night, it was great seeing how well we’ve done both. We had a great crowd; we had to move tables and bring in extra seats, and even so, had to cut off sales at some point. And the show itself was amazing. The team of Eugene Banks hosting Meghan Kenny, Steve Lambing and Fred Sayers did an incredible job. It was a great, hilarious, entertaining show.

After watching that, I’m really looking forward to stepping back in as host next week. It’ll be Meghan’s last show before going back to college for the fall, so I’m expanding the cast from three to four so that we can play some games we haven’t been able to play at Sam & Greg’s. Should be a lot of fun.

And, by the way, we’ll be doing a special show on Saturday at the “Acting Up!” Academy of Dramatic Arts on Whitesburg in Huntsville this week; I’ll be hosting that two-hour show as well, which will feature at least one out-of-town special guest artist and some more experimentation with short-form improv.

Come check us out!!

For those that haven’t seen Face2Face before, we’re a comedy improv troupe. We make up scenes on the spot, based on suggestions from the audience. (And for the more timid in the crowd, we don’t bring anyone on stage or force anyone to do anything; you’re more than welcome to just sit back and enjoy the show.) We do a family friendly show of live entertainment. If you’ve ever seen the old ABC show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” we’re kinda like that. Only better.

I can’t embed them here, but there are videos of some of my work with the troupe on Facebook that should be publicly visible. Ticket information for shows is here.


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