Four More

More posters added to the shop!

Green T (It's good for you):

Another Peeps poster for you aspiring MCs out there (you know who you are):

Orange & Green Snap, Crackle & Pop:

And another Peeps, titled "Damn Right I Know I'm Fine":

If you know anybody who might be interested, send them my way. Tuff Industries™: Blowing minds since '09.


Play Tuff

More posters for the shop:

Mr. T in blue:

Snap, Crackle, Pop in red & blue:

And the latest in the My Peeps series: "I Just Peed A Little":

More on the way. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go geek out on Lost.


My Crew Is 2 Live

If you are going to, as the kids these days say, "roll with my krew," there are certain things you must "be down with." Certain things are just non-negotiable if we're going to be "homies," as it were. In most relationships, these things are discovered gradually, but we have no time for that. I have no time for that. I am a busy person with many important things to attend to. These buffalo wings aren't going to eat themselves. We live in the digital age and things have to happen fastfastfast, so I have prepared this short list of things you must know if you're going to pal around with a "baller" like me.

* The first two B-52's albums, The B-52's and Wild Planet, are two of the greatest collections of pop music ever produced by man or beast.

* When I say "Let's dance," you had better dance. If that means we throw down in the middle of the supermarket, right next to the Pop Tarts and oatmeals, then so be it.

* You cannot convince me that Muppets are not real. Don't even try. They are real. End of story.

* If you fall it's comedy. If I fall, it's tragedy. Don't mix them up.

* If we are out and about and we should happen to see the people responsible for the Steve Martin Pink Panther movies - up to and including Mr. Martin himself - you are bound by duty to join me in beating them senseless. America demands it.

* Yes, I do want to read your manuscript, but only if it involves an insurance salesman facing down against zombie cyborg panda bears in a postapocalyptic wasteland that uncannily resembles central Wyoming, circa 1973. Also, it must include at least one usage of the phrase, "heaving bosoms."

* DO NOT, under any circumstance, talk during Lost unless it's to say "Holy crap, this show is insane." If you are on fire, it will have to wait until the commercial. Show some class.

* It is considered impolite to giggle when I say "Fo shizzle."

* Never forget that Bruce Lee wins in any game of "Who Would Win In A Fight?"

* When we are riding two on a bike, I call "perma-dibs" on the handlebars. It makes me feel like I'm being chauffeured around.

* I only listen to "Freedom Rock," and I require it to be "turn[ed] up, man" at all times.

* My favorite color is orange, my favorite food is buffalo wings, my favorite Monkee is Mike and my favorite animal is an animal with the head of a dolphin, the body of a lion, the tail of a dragon, the front legs of a sasquatch and the hind legs of a certified public accountant. It also has a unicorn's horn. I call this animal "Mortimer." "Mort" for short.

* That last part rhymed. You should probably laugh right now.

* If you happen to interrupt me while non-ironically enjoying Hanson's "Mmmbop" you must swear by all that is good, holy and pure in this world or the next to never tell anyone. Not a soul. Not even if a judge deposes you. If you must risk perjury and subsequent imprisonment in order to take my secret to the grave and possibly beyond, so be it. Otherwise I will cry. A lot.

* It wouldn't hurt if you referred to me by my DJ name every now and the: DJ Mad Fresh Funky Skillz Ice Cube Vanilla Frosting Rappinghood the Illest Fo Shizzle. Try it. Just once? See, that wasn't so hard, was it?

And it's "Fresh Funky Skillz," not "Funky Fresh Skillz." I'll let it slide this time, but next time ... well, let's not think about that, right?


Setting Up Shop On the Information Superhighway

Okay, so one of my New Year's goals was to open an Etsy shop. And I have busted that goal like a Sponge Bob piƱata at an eight-year-old's birthday party. And just look at the goodies that poured out of the gash in ol' Squarepants' head. The shop is called Tuff Industries and it's sort of the reason this place has been a little quiet lately.

So come on in to the factory and take a look at how the magic gets made. See the barely-oiled machines whir and clank, their gears and blades spinning at borderline unsafe speeds. Hear the crack of the supervisor's whip, refusing to let the workers stop or slow, unwilling to let the tin lunch boxes full of longing, despair and regret be opened until quotas are met and products produced. Smell the industriousness. Smells nice, right? Like old baseball mitts your granddad's aftershave and the broken dreams of children forced to work in grossly unsafe conditions.

All this exists for one purpose: to bring you the best in ridiculous posters and other products (but just posters for now).

So far, I have three (I know, lots, right?!) posters listed, with a metric buttload more to come, once Chinese New Year wraps up. This first one's titled No Mo Jibba Jabba and it features my personal hero, Mister T. I pity the fool who doesn't have this hanging on their wall.

And then there's this puppy, Snap, Crackle & Pop (disclaimer: not an actual puppy) for the vinyl lover in your life:

Then there's this guy, the first in a series I've entitled My Peeps. This guy's "The Party Boss," and he really wants you to start the party. Like, right now. Or you're freaking fired.

Keep checking back for more additions and maybe something special to celebrate the grand opening of the Tuff Industries Factory Of Industrial Tuffness and for the love of Pete, tell your friends! Eat our industriousness, Recession!


Death By Hot Pockets / Killer Dishwashers

So, Lost is back and it's as amazing/insane as ever. It's totally insanezing. I mean, this episode was just nuts, with Damon and Carlton finally coming out of the closet and saying, "It's time we just admitted it: this is a totally crazy sci-fi/genre show. Deal with it, America." And that's awesome.

Anyway, some of you may not have seen the episode (cough, Ben, cough) so I can't really discuss the more excellent parts just yet, so I will engage in my other favorite Lost-related activity: theorizing about what the heck is going to happen next. So, what follows are my Lost theories, based on order of probably validity:

10. Everyone on the island is dead and only Haley Joel Osment can see them.

9. Hurley shot J.R. and it was all a dream.

8. Kate has "man parts" and is also Darth Sidious.

7. The mystery of the numbers will be revealed: they are the combination to Al Capone's other secret vault. Geraldo opens it to find Capone's extensive collection of women's wigs. Season six consists of him trying each of them on.

6. The island is actually the Land Before Time and in the last episode all the castaways are eaten by giant bloodthirsty cartoon dinosaurs.

5. Sayid shot JFK and it was not a dream.

4. Through a series of flashbacks, we will learn that Locke is the smoke monster's dad.

3. Walt is half-dolphin. What this means for the show is unknown.

2. The cast captures Widmore and unmasks him to find that he is Old Man Jenkins and he's trying to keep people off of his island and he would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those pesky castaways.

1. The Dharma Intitiative killed Laura Palmer.

How about you? You got any theories? Leave 'em below.


Today Was the Day, But Only For the First Time

So today was the Inauguration, Fringe was new and pretty bad-A, tomorrow's the season five premiere of Lost, Scott Pilgrim volume five is out in like two weeks and DC just solicits this:

Written by Grant Morrison
Art and cover by Cameron Stewart

In 2008 alone, superstar writer Grant Morrison killed Batman, put the entire DC Universe through its Final Crisis and concluded the unanimously beloved All-Star Superman. But what does a writer who’s written every significant superhero do when he can create any superhero he wants? The answer, of course, is Seaguy! Morrison (The Invisibles) rejoins original Seaguy artist Cameron Stewart (Seven Soldiers) in an all-new adventure starring the cult-favorite character!

In Seaguy’s cartoon future world, everyone is a superhero and no one dies. It’s absolutely perfect ... or is it? In this follow-up to the cult 2004 miniseries, Seaguy resurfaces with a sinister new partner, a hatred of the sea and a rebel restlessness he can’t explain. Why are Doc Hero and his ex-archenemy Silvan Niltoid, the Alien from Planet Earth, whispering strange equations? Why is Death so useless? And can that really be the ghost of Chubby Da Choona mumbling uncanny warnings and dire prophecies of ultimate catastrophe?

When the grotesque powers lurking behind the corporation known as Mickey Eye and the Happy Group attempt to erase Seaguy’s entire existence, can he possibly get it together in time to save a world so far gone it can’t even imagine the horror lying in wait? Find out here in Morrison’s own personal reframing of the Super Hero concept for the 21st century.

On sale April 1 • 1 of 3 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • MATURE READERS

I'm not sure how this day can get any better. Can you think of anything that doesn't involve bacon?


It's like Being Reincarnated In The Civil War In Babylon

Watched Masked & Anonymous tonight, the 2003 Bob Dylan movie starring, well, everybody. And it's fantastic.

But then again, the deck is stacked when you discuss Dylan with me, as there is no way I can approach the man impartially, though not for the reason you're thinking of. I mean, sure, I'm named after the guy and was brought up listening to everything from "Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues" to "Spanish Harlem Incident" to "Idiot Wind." And I'm sure that has something to do with my appreciation for his work; it certainly doesn't hurt. But my love for the man is from a more unexpected source.

See, there are a few things, a few watershed moments in my life that, well, that screwed me up beyond repair. The first was a childhood obsession with Star Wars and comic books, but it progressed to discovering the Beatniks and Kerouac, Kurt Vonnegut, Woody Allen, Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, Philip K. Dick, Grant Morrison and Jack Kirby. But sitting in the middle of this, between the Fantastic Four and The Dharma Bums, holding court with midgets and cops and million other washed-up old criminals sits Tarantula, a mess of a book that changed my life. It quite literally blew my 15 year old mind.

Wait, no. Not literally, I guess, as my mind was not literally exploded. It just felt like it. "It figuratively blew my mind"? Yeah, that's the one. Doesn't sound as impressive though, does it?

So yeah, Bob Dylan has a soft spot in the cluttered ruins of my heart, so if I say things like "Masked & Anonymous is a great pre-apocalyptic fable full of sly social commentary, heavy symbolism and an incredible cast," or "It's I'm Not There's evil, inbred twin," you'll have to bear with me, it's just the hyperbole speaking. When I say stuff like "It's like David Lynch directing a script by Philip K. Dick and Woody Guthrie" or "It's resonant, heavy, ridiculous and highly recommended," or "Hey, Cheech is in it," just know that I can't help myself.

I yam what I yam.


I Am Down With Mr. T & Mr. T Is Down With Me

You should just download this. Trust me, you will not regret it. It will change your life. Hopefully for the better, but that's not really guaranteed. But it will be changed. Your life, that is. That part *is* guaranteed. Or yr money back.

So just download it, okay? Mister T commands it. And you don't want to break one of Mr. T's commandments. He will smite you. You will be smitten. And then you will die. And nobody wants that.


Making Magnificent Mixxes the Macintosh Way

( or ) Making Magnificent Mixxes the Macintosh Way

So here's my tutorial on tagging, packaging and uploading a mixtape. Unfortunately for you PC people out there (I'm looking at you, John Hodgman), I'm a Mac zombie, so all my instructions are for that OS. I have submitted a request to IT (aka: my cousin, Ben, the engineering student) for a PC tutorial, and that should be up sometime soon. In the mean time, all you Mac people can follow along to make your very own awesome mixtape. It's as easy as pie which is apparently easy, though I've never made one. Are pies easy? I've heard that Earth girls are, but what about pies?

Anyway, here's how I make the magic happen. There's most assuredly a more elegant way of doing it, as I have a tendency to do things the hard way, but this is the method I've cooked up over the last year and it works for me, so, yeah.

You get what you pay for, people.

What you'll need:
* A kickin' playlist
* An iPod or some sort of iDevice
* iTunes
* A program to get your music from your iPod to your computer like iPodDisk (which I haven't used, but it's free) or Senuti (which is great but I guess is no longer free)
* Album artwork of some sort (optional, but come on, just do it)

What to do:
Take your beautiful, perfect playlist and pull it onto your iPod. You'll have to have it set to "Manually manage music and videos" to do this.

Okay, now that it's on there, you can edit the tags without worrying about totally jacking your music library. You essentially made a copy of those tracks when you moved it to your iPod.

Next, select all the songs in your playlist (Command + A). Get the info on them (Command + I). iTunes is gonna freak and ask you if you really want to change the info for different items, unless you've already disabled this feature. Just say "yes." Now, here's how I set up my mixxes:

Artist: Leave blank
Year: 2009
Album Artist: Mixtapery
Track Number: Just put in the last number (for me, the magic number is 20)
Album: Input title
Disc Number: 1 of 1
Grouping: Leave it blank AND click the box next to it. This will overwrite any other grouping tag the individual file may have and solve some possible formatting issues.
BPM: Leave blank
Composer: Leave blank
Artwork: Pull your artwork into here. Tip: You can just pull the file in from Finder.
Comments: Leave blank AND click the button.
Genre: Mixtapery (I do this so because I have a Smart Playlist of mixxes in my library, plus it makes finding mixxes easier)
Rating: Leave blank AND click button

This next part is important: Find "Part Of A Compilation" and click Yes (if you're using iTunes 8, go to the Options tab and pull down Yes). This makes it so all your artists on the mix are in one place rather than having 20 artists tagged for the album. Keeps yr iTunes nice & tidy.

Click OK.

Okay, so that's done. But there's one part that's left. See, the tracks still have their track numbers from all of the albums they came from instead of the order you so meticulously crafted. Let's fix that.

Select ONLY the first song in your playlist. Get its info (Command + I). Change the Track Number to 1. Press Next in the bottom right corner. Continue updating the track numbers in order until you hit the end. Click OK. Perfect. Give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it.

Okay, we're almost there. Now take that playlist and move it back into your library using whatever program you need to. Now, select the album from your library, not the playlist. It will be listed under Compilations if you're set up that way, or just search the album title. Go to View > Options (Command + J) and turn on "Kind." This will tell you which of your files are formatted as MPEG (MP3s) and which are AAC (Apple's encoding method). I like all my files to have the same file kind, which for me is AAC. It sounds fine and takes up less space.

Select the "Kind" column to separate the AAC from the MPEG. Select the MPEG files and control-click them. Select "Create AAC Version" from the menu (or "Convert to AAC" if you're using an older version). Let iTunes work its magic. WARNING! DO NOT re-rip your AAC files to AAC. They will sound crappy and your mix will be ruined. Ruined!

Once they're all converted, delete your MPEGs and move them to the trash. You don't need them.

Now we're ready to zip this up and upload it. Go to Finder > Wherever you have your iTunes library > Compilations and scroll for your album title. Once you find the folder, select it, control-click it and select "Create Archive of ...". Let your computer work it's magic.

Once I do this, I remove any spaces in the file name so as to eliminate any PC/Mac issues. Keeps your paths tidy, people.

Now you have a zipped file that you can upload to Mediafire or MegaUpload or wherever you choose.

Post the link on your blog and/or e-mail the link to me. I will include it in my Monthly Mixtape Brigade round-up post as well as including it in the Monthly Mixtape Brigade Master List, accessible by clicking on the icon in the sidebar.

Last step: Party.

And there it is. Hope this helps. Leave any ?s in the comments section.


Lisa Librarian

I've already gone on & on about Cleveland's libraries, but I'm gonna keep going. I stopped in at the city and county libraries tonight (I know, I'm crazy, but it's fun) and left with a bunch more stuff than I planned on. Here's the books I left with:

Books • From L to R:

All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, vol. 1 - Total car crash curiosity here, folks. I just want to see how mangled the bodies are because I'm a sick sick sick human being. Reading anything Frank Miller wrote after the first volume of Sin City is like eating a Double Whopper: I know I'll regret it, but still I must ingest it.

Tales From the Farm - Eddie Argos of Art Brut wrote a very favorable piece about this in his Pow! To the People column a while back, so that's good enough for me.

Have You Seen... - I had no idea this book was going to be this gigantic when I put it on hold. It's flippin' massive, innit? you could kill an intruder with it, if you can lift it over your head, that is. And if you can, you'll get a certificate signed by President Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger because you passed the Presidential Physical Fitness exam. Also, I think you get to be the next King Of England. Lucky!

Bone, Vol. 8: Treasure Hunters - The latest Scholastic Graphix reprint of the classic indie comics series. In color! It's sort of like Lord Of the Rings, only cuter. Recommended, especially if you have kids.

Limits Of Power - Saw the author talking about this book on Bill Moyer's Now on PBS. Yeah, I just name-dropped PBS on all y'all. I'm like all cultured and whatnot.

Phoenix, vol. 2: the Future - I just read the first volume of this series and, well, it's manga. And I'm not a huge manga guy. I've read and enjoyed like three manga series: Yousuba&!, Planetes and Akira. But this is a multi-generational tale about life and mortality and all that stuff, told by a guy who just knows how to work the medium of the comic book like a champion (Astro Boy creator Osamu Tezuka). It's a little weird, but still, the scope and playfulness of the series have me sticking with it at least through this volume. We'll see how it goes from there.

Movies • From L to R:

Paycheck - I just really loved this Philip K. Dick story when I read it and thought it would make a pretty excellent movie. I'm sure this is not a pretty excellent movie, but it's worth a look, right? John Woo, Uma, B.Aff and Aaron Eckhart in a sci-fi action film? Yeah, I'll watch it.

Solaris - Soderberg and Clooney doing brainy sci-fi. I'll bite.

Melinda & Melinda - So I can cross it off my list of "Woody Allen Movies I Have Yet To See." I'm sure it's a travesty, but I don't care. I love Woody Allen. Even bad Woody Allen is better than 90% of anything else.

Straw Dogs - Which I thought was Marathon Man when I picked it up, but this is 70's Dustin Hoffman being directed by king of violence, Sam Peckinpah, so no worries.

Masked & Anonymous - Written and directed by Bob Dylan. Starring Jeff Bridges, Luke Wilson and John Goodman. Um, written and directed by Bob Dylan? So yeah, I'm pretty much curious at the very least.

1408 - Any movie is made better by the inclusion of a Cusack. That's just a law of the universe, people.

There Will Be Blood - Any movie with Daniel Day Lewis is bound to be a good time. The guy is just flat-out hilarious.


So, what did you get the last time you were at the library? Do share...


Ghost Rider's Mixtapes Include Nothing But Southern Rock

So, Ghost Rider, you saw that I'm starting a Monthly Mixtape Brigade, right?

Are you in?

I know! This is going to be so awesome, right?

It's so easy to get in, too. All people have to do is drop a comment so I know they're in, make a mix (preferably one a month, but whatevs), post it to their blog and throw a link in their sidebar. It couldn't be easier, right?

But guess what? Only three people have responded so far.

I know, sad, right?