Nailed it

Another toe-rific comic

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You may recall that on Thanksgiving, I stepped on and broke July's toenail. That led to emergency surgery the following week to remove the nail. I challenged Christmas to bring me something worse. Me and my big mouth.

Following surgery, July's toe hasn't healed well. It has swollen to roughly the size of a pinball. When the doctor tells you that the best case scenario is a "very bad infection," you know you've got trouble.

So far, she's seen two different vets and been given three different antibiotics. A cutting from the original surgery has been sent to the lab for a biopsy in case there is an underlying tumor. The results of that test and her response to the antibiotics will determine whether she needs another surgery to remove more of the toe. Whether any of that happens before 2016 is still kind of up in the air. Victoria's biopsy this summer took 2 weeks, and that was when no one was on holiday.

Vet bills for the past 30 days come to $672 and counting. I've spent all my holiday money on July, and I can't even say she's enjoying it. On the up-side, there's more room in your stocking for goodies after you start cutting your toes off.

Congratulations, Christmas, for rising to the challenge I set for you. You're on deck, New Year's. Bring it on.

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I was notified over Christmas dinner that Uga IX, aka Russ, died this week at the age of 11. What can you say to that? I settled for "Please pass the deviled eggs."

Why was it that whenever Mark Richt had a bad year, an Uga died? In 2009, Uga VII died after losses to Oklahoma State, LSU, Tennessee, and Florida. After the 2010 season, which Georgia finished 6-7, Uga VIII died of cancer. Despite wining nine games (with a bowl game still to go), 2015 was so disappointing, we said goodbye to both Richt and Uga IX.

(To be clear, Richt is still alive. At least I think he still is. No one said otherwise during dinner.)

Let's hope this tragic trend ends with Kirby Smart. May Uga X's reign be long and fruitful.

I'll have more to say about old dogs on Monday. In the meantime, I'm going to Florida. If it's going to be 80 degrees in December, I might as well be at the beach.

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We're running out of month here, so let's knock out the final movies watched in November:

178. (925.) Stronger Than Desire (1939)
The bored wife of a famous but potentially unfaithful lawyer has a dalliance with a married con-man who then tries to blackmail her. The con man ends up dead. The movie really wants you to think the murderer is the wife, but if you've ever heard of the Hays Code, you know that's not really going to happen. Worse than the final "twist" is how long the film takes to get to the damn point. This suspense plot has been done better many, many times. See one of those films instead.

179. (926.) The Oklahoma Kid (1939)
For a movie made in "Hollywood's Greatest Year", this western has all the earmarks of the silent era that had ended 10 years earlier. It's not bad, largely thanks to a villainous Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney's infectious joy at being in front of a camera.

180. (927.) The Phantom Tollbooth (1968)
I recorded this animated film from Chuck Jones thinking I'd relive my childhood. I was convinced I'd seen it before, but on watching I found I had zero memory of Butch Patrick's live-action Milo. The movie also completely omits my favorite part of the pun-filled story: subtraction stew. This film isn't all bad, but I'll stick to re-reading the book from now on.

181. (928.) The Croods (2013)
Damn cute movie. Giving voice to a cartoon caveman is the only way Nick Cage doesn't go over the top. (And Emma Stone is still wonderful even when I can't see her.) I look forward to the sequel.

More to come.

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What movies am I describing?

Movie 1: A rebel spy sneaks secret plans into a droid just before the evil jedi storms in and takes the spy captive. The droid escapes and flees into the desert where an orphan with dreams of a bigger world finds it. The orphan enlists the aid of a fossilized former warrior now in hiding from the fighting between good and evil that rages throughout the galaxy. The old warrior leads the orphan to Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber. Stormtroopers attack, forcing the mentor and the other occupants of the Millennium Falcon on an ill-planned rescue attempt of the enemy stronghold. The mentor dies, killed by the evil jedi in a self-sacrificing attempt to make a larger point. The other heroes survive to participate in attacking the enemy's planet-sized, planet-destroying super weapon, an action only possible because of the information they had secreted out from under the enemy's nose. In a daring display of piloting skill, a lone x-wing fighter pilot makes it through the defending trench and blows up the enemy weapon, saving the galaxy.

Movie 2: Stormtroopers attack en masse, and the heroes are separated into the far reaches of space. A talented but untrained child has a dark vision before meeting a jedi and being introduced to the true power of the Force. Before the training can be completed, dire circumstances (and a painful interrogation instigated by the evil dark jedi) force the child to flee. In an attempt to save his family, a father and son engage in a lightsaber duel to the death on a bridge over a bottomless pit. The good guy loses the fight. Failing to stop the evil jedi leaves one hero near death, and another departs with Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon to find her missing loved one.

Movie 3: After Han Solo is rescued from a battle in a smuggler's den, he is reunited with his lover. Their time together is cut short as the evil empire has built yet another giant laser the size of a planet. The few rebels remaining have no choice but to engage in a direct assault (despite Admiral Ackbar's misgivings), but for the plan to work, Solo has to lead a team into the forest to shut down the weapon's protective shielding. The enemy is prepared for the attack, and the dark jedi engages in a lightsaber duel in an attempt to turn the upstart young jedi to the dark side of the force. Once again the light side of the force proves to be the stronger. Meanwhile, a team of pilots fly inside the superweapon and blow it up from the inside, saving the galaxy.

Sound familiar? They're all the same movie.

189. (936.) Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars worked — and still works — largely because Lucas took pieces of other (generally better) films and adventure stories and put them in a new, sci-fi setting. The Force Awakens fails because the only movies it steals from are all Star Wars. Sadly, the Franchise that Lucas Built has become nothing more than a marketing machine, a blender of nostalgia designed not to entertain or inspire, but to please focus groups and sell action figures to adults.

It's still better than the prequels, but that's a pretty low bar.

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This one's for Keith

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Mom wanted glass marbles for a vase. She looked at several stores but was having no luck. At her wit's end, she dragged me to Hobby Lobby.

I haven't been in a Hobby Lobby for years. I've always preferred Michael's, partly because I was long ago brand-brainwashed when Michael's was my only local option and partly because I don't generally shop at stores whose idea of impulse-buy items are bibles. What kid fidgeting in line at the checkout cries, "I wanna 'nother bible"?

Of course, I've been especially dissatisfied with Hobby Lobby since it insisted in demanding the benefits of religious organizations while maintaining its for-profit status. The Supreme Court may have decided that's legal, but it's not cool. Since I disagree with Hobby Lobby's bible-based decision against contraception, I exercise my constitutional right to not give them any of my money.

So when Mom said we were going to Hobby Lobby, I renewed my resolution to keep my wallet shut. From that lead in, you know that no sooner had I walked into Hobby Lobby than I found myself Tempted By The Devil. Right by the front door was a display of metal Batman key fobs. I've had the same metal Batman key fob (purchased from the now-defunct Warner Brothers Store) attached to my Jeep key since 1999, and it's a little worse for wear. Now here, in a Hobby Lobby, was the chance to replace it for only $5.99 and a small piece of my soul!

In the end, I kept my soul (and my $5.99). But if anyone without ethics is looking for a something to buy Walter for Christmas, I know a place.

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Mark Richt gambled that he could survive the 2015 season with a crop of lackluster quarterbacks in the hopes that he could reach current high school senior Jacob Eason on the other side. Many thought that Richt's firing would send Eason to choose another school, but new hire Kirby Smart worked hard to re-close the deal.

It worked! Eason has re-committed to be the University of Georgia's 2016 quarterback. After two years in the wilderness, UGA will have a quarterback again. Cue the fireworks and parades.

Cause I have a Peaceful Eason Feeling and I know you won't let me down

Now let reality set in. It will be hard enough for Eason to live up to the years of hype UGA fans have been sold. Worse, to justify Richt's firing, he'll be asked deliver a national championship to Athens sooner rather than later. That's something Eric Zier, Mike Bobo, David Green, Matt Stafford, and Aaron Murray all failed to do.

Good luck, kid. You're going to need it.

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How Superman fills his time between bank robberies and volcanic eruptions:

Law abiding citizens never have to explain that they are law abiding citizens
DC Comics Presents #20 (1980)

The important takeaway here is that Superman uses the word "jiffy." That's my kind of Superman.

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Earlier this week, I discovered that a squirrel had destroyed the duct work in the attic of the commercial office building I manage. The squirrel paid for this transgression with its life, not because I managed to trap it, but because it trapped itself. Leaving its rotting corpse wedged against a ceiling vent inside the HVAC system was its final act of domestic terrorism. Little bastard. The repair estimate is $1000.

I wasn't planning on mentioning that here until I found out yesterday that ours wasn't the only building damaged by squirrels in recent weeks. The local real estate Barron had a family of squirrels destroy his overhead duct work, too. His repair bill also came to about a thousand dollars.

Ian Fleming famously said that twice is a coincidence but three times is enemy action. Is there a conspiracy of squirrels to deprive the citizens of Newnan, Georgia, of the heat we need to survive the coming winter? Can we afford to wait to find out?

The Great Squirrel Uprising of 2015 is upon us!

Believe it or not, I could find no concrete data on just how many squirrels there are currently living in America. It is past time our government addressed this growing problem. I recommend building a wall to keep those suckers out. In fact, I should probably go buy a gun — the bigger the better — so I can be prepared for the next time they try to invade my home. A man's got a right to do whatever it takes to protect his own nuts.

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