Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tuesday, Tuesday"

Finally got away from this town today and finished up most of my family Christmas shopping. Also, the guy at one of the pawn shops called and said he'd brought over another "long" box of comics that were 15 for $5., so I bought $15. worth of them. Some of the highlights this time were: Astonishing tales w/Kazar 18, Deadman LS (1986) 1-4, Green Arrow:The Longbow Hunters LS 1-3, Shadowman (one of the better Valiant titles) 1-5, plus some issues of Vertigo titles like Moonshadow, Mobfire, Millenium Fever, & other stuff. Said he still had three more such boxes for me to look thru next time around.

Also got out in the yard and raked for what I hope will truely be the last time this year. Still need to clean out a few gutters, though. And I noticed while I was out there inspecting around the house, that some of the wood's getting old and rotting in places that'll definately have to be a Spring-thing for repair once it turns back warm weather again.

Noticed by the ol' counter down there on the bottom right that this page has now surpassed 6,000 hits. Interesting, 'cause I know I haven't viewed it(personally) for a 1,000 of those, so it has indeed been viewed at least 5,000 times. Just "who" is reading this drivel beats the hell outta me! (Well, okay, I DO know at least one or two people that are, actually.)

My father seems a lot better here recently since his doctors took him off of some of his medication. Seems like his medicines were just too strong for his system. He now seems to have much more energy and is getting around much better. He gave us quite a scare there for a few weeks.

Looks like I'll have at least 6 days in a role to pull straight this week at work unless the boss wises up to the fact that I'll have mega-OT and sends me home early, or gives me an extra day off. I know I'm on the schedule the rest of the month, then it's my weekend to work, followed by Monday when I do my ordering for the retail section. About the only day she can take me off the schedule will be Friday and then she'll have to have someone else do the ordering FOR me that day. Looks like a rough week ahead anyway I see it, and especially here at Christmas Season when we're twice as busy.

No mail today, unfortunately, and I was sorta hoping for some more of the ABComics I've won on auctions to arrive. Seems like the mail (or the sellers) get slower all the time.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

"Christmas Commotion"

Today I want to talk a little about something I have seen on Network News that I find pretty disturbing, which is the madness in some of the larger cities are well-known department stores during this Christmas Season. I've seen clips of people being trampled by rushing customers, fights breaking out and other violence just to purchase merchandice.

Hurting other people, being rude or violent, is absolutely no excuse just because you personally want that new desktop pc, or new Game Boy, or t.v., or for a child. In fact, if you're spending these mega-bucks on a child at Christmas, then obviously you've never taught your kid the value of a buck to begin with, and such behavior is certainly no example for them. It's the small number of people such as this that really darken the holidays for others. There are other ways of giving and showing love at Christmas than showing it with money. Maybe you should take your child to a homeless shelter and make him dish out food for the needy, take away those video games and mega-dollar sneakers for a while and see what life is really all about. Because money absolutely does not buy love.

I used to feel a bit sorry for myself living here in a rural community, with any larger city being at least a 45 minute drive away, but at least here locally we have yet to experience such madness. In fact, my wife visited the local Wallyworld at 9:AM on Black Friday, and was still able to purchase everything she went after. (People would be amazed at what they really need in life if certain items weren't readily available.)

And it doesn't matter to me if you don't believe in the true meaning of the oncoming holiday. You don't have to be Christian to act like a civilized human being.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

"A Little Time On My Hands For A Change, So---"

And here we are two days past Thanksgiving, and now less than a month until Christmas, and only 5 weeks or so until 2006.

I think I like a White Christmas much beter than a Black Friday, although really, I couldn't tell that it was any busier yesterday at work than, say, an odd weekend in the Summer. I'm sure sales were good as I had to replace several large and pricier items on the shelves tho', and (as usual) people wait until 15 minutes until closing to come pick up some big piece of furniture causing everyone to have to stay over 10 or 15 minutes extra (as if 9-1/2 hrs. isn't enough of a work day). Seems like we just had Christmas last week, this year's gone by so quickly. Well...no more quicly than any OTHER year, but as a kid it sure seemed like it was 5 years between each of them!

No comic book reviews for today, but I did read a copy of Tom Strong's Terrific Tales last night, as well as a couple issues of "Tom's" regular series. There'll be more reviews of ABComics as I receive them thru the mail/read them.

Here after a couple of pretty frigid nights it's supposed to be much warmer next week. In fact, temperatures are going back up in the 60's by day and 40's by night. There seems no way to predict how this Winter weather will be, but I'm sure that next January and February will probably hit us like a ton of bricks.

I've seen several previews for this new live-action version of Aeonflux. Probably not a film I'll make an effort to eventually watch. I do recall seeing several of the animated episodes of her back some years ago, and they were...alright.. They were all drawn in that quirky style that was also used on The Phantom animated series.

Was "supposed" to have someone come over and help me put shrink-wrap over my windows today, but they copped-out on me, so I guess I'll just get tacky and put some blankets over them instead. Don't feel like doing any actual work today on a day off anyway.

And this time of the year the radio is blaring Christmas music it seems 24/7. I really think that's probably some ploy by big businesses paying off these stations just to get everyone to BUY more, but maybe I'm just a "Grinch". Anyway, I've heard the Annie Lennox version ofI'm Dreaming of A White Christmas about 100 times just in the past week. It seems bizarre that this is the song she'll end up being most remembered for, rather than such classics as "Missionary Man", or "Sweet Dreams". Occasionally I've even hear the Bing Crosby/David Bowie duo first performed live on some t.v. "special" a good 30 years ago. Always liked the way their voices blended, especially from two singers whose styles were/are so distinctly different. And it's hard to dislike Gene Autry's version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (such a classic). These, of course, mixed in with such silliness as "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer", and Weird Al parodies.

Tried to get out and do some Christmas shopping this morning; trying to find some of the stuff my wife had listed she would like. Finally gave up in disgust 'cause I couldn't locate anything on the list. So, I guess I'll try again tomorrow. Did find something for me, tho': a Bandai "Astro Boy Laboratory" playset (with figures) in new condition, and a copy of the 1994 Sgt. Rock Special #2 (with some nice work by Russ Heath and Howard Chaykin), both for a total of six bucks at the local flea market.

On to other things...'was talking with someone today about the old Saturday Morning Cartoon Shows and how all of the really good ones simply aren't ever shown any more. A lot of this deals with the silliness of political correctness. Terrytoons were always my favorite of the theatrical releases, especially Heckle & Jeckle's, which were repackaged and shown in the early 1960's on Saturday mornings, but some idiot decided they were too racist. This whole idea of offending some minority or religion or race has gone to such extremes in this country that now everyone's afraid to express any comments on such that they'll be labled as a hate monger. And I, as well, believe this country is well too full of unneeded hate groups, but I also feel like it's really stepping on any freedom of speech or expression we have left here. Plus, I find it strange that those who are in charge of cencoring such cartoons will elimintate those which aren't really racist, while allowing others to still be shown. Let's see... "Heckle & Jeckle" can't be shown, but "Fat Albert" can? Will there come a day that "Our Gang" and "Little Rascals" will be totally banned from existence? And what about old shows (and even new ones) that show caucacians in a poor light? Geez. I guess that covers around 95% of ALL sitcoms? "Hope & Faith" are about two really dim-bulbed blondes, so I guess we'll have to eliminate that as well or all of the blonde-haired, white women in the country will stop watching t.v.! Are "Three Stooges" shorts and "The Marx Bros." films far behind cencorship? Odd that we never hear of major protest groups of hyspanics against "Rickey Ricardo", huh? And, the majority of cartoons (getting back to that), are about the rediculous antics of caucasians as well, such as "The Simpsons" , "Family Guy", "The Flintstones", "The Jetsons", etc., etc. . Really, if one cares about what children may see, it doesn't need to be some executive "somewhere" making that decision, but rather the parent that allows television to be their children's babysitter far too often. Personally, I'd make myself much more aware of what video games a child may be playing and getting "ideas" from than anything still shown on network t.v. . (But...enuff of dat.)

Watched a promotional short for MGM Studios on Turner today, and several pre-production scenes from "Logan's Run" were shown. I wouldn't mind sitting back and watching an unedited version of that sci-fi flick again after not seeing it for several years...if only Farrah Fawcett wasn't so god-awful in it.

Read a rant by a guy on one of the chat boards that I frequent in which he states: "I bought a nice toaster oven on Thursday. Today I found out that someone else already bought a toaster oven for Grandma, and so... I went to return the oven. The young girl at the customer service/refund desk tells me, "You can't return purchases under ten days." HUH!? She went on to tell me that I'd have to bring it back again after the 6th of December for my refund! Thinking she was whacked, I asked for the manager. Guess what!? He told me the same thing."

Now, I'm not really sure "why" a store would have a policy such as that, although all stores DO have some sort of return policy, of course, but that one is a pretty odd. I know...I work in a retail store, and we have a 30 day exchange policy (no cash back and you have the receipt) as long as the item hasn't been used or is damaged (we check all items before they leave the store and initial the boxes). And, at times, I've even bent that rule and given cash back if the item had just been purchased. We did have to elimintae the "Christmas Policy", however. For a few years we'd write "Christmas" on their receipt so they could exchange it after the time limit, but we'd get things brought back as late as April of the following year (I've even had items brought back as late as June or July). I'm not not really sure why his store would have this policy in place (and ideas)? Anyway, it might be a Word to The Wise to call ahead of time, especially here at Christmas shopping season, as ask someone in a store in which you plan to make a purchase, just what are their partciular policies.

Friday, November 25, 2005

REVIEWING: "America's Best Comics"/Part Two

SMAX Limited Series (Published by America's Best Comics; 5 issues published monthly from October, 2003 - May, 2004; Written by Alan Moore; Illustrated by Zander Cannon. Scott Dunbier, Editor.)

This series deals with the adventure of a blue-skinned demi-ogre named Jaffs ("Jeff") Smax and his companion, a young girl named Robyn Slinger, who live in a city (or close abouts) called Neopolis, which is a combination of aspects of various dimensions and futuristic society.

The focus of this tale is when "Jeff" decides to return to his own dimensional plane to attend the funeral of his uncle, and asks Robyn to accompany him. We discover that when they reach their destination that Jeff's dimension is actually a fairie-world, complete with elves, unicorns and all other manner of beings one would expect to see in such a land.

And when they arrive at his home in this land, Robyn then sees that Jeff's parents are dwarves, but he has a seven foot, blue-skinned sister, much like some amazon goddess, who knows Jeff in more than just a "sisterly manner".

During this tale we discover just why it is that Jaffs (or, Jeff, as he prefers to call himself in the other dimension) left home as his origin unfolds.

It appears that his mother was a warrior-woman who went to kill a terrible ogre, who in turn kills and eats her horse, breaks her magic sword and rapes her causing the pregnancy of the twins: Jaffs and Rexa. For some reason the ogre feels pity on the woman afterwards and takes her with him to his cave where the birth of the twins kills her, but the ogre keeps them around, beating them on occasion and when Rexa turns thirteen, begins forcing her to have sex with him.

Naturally, Jaffs and Rexa hate their ogre father very much, and Jaffs takes her and they run away, only to come back later and finally succeed in destroying the terrible creature.

The twins are eventually adopted by a kindly dwarf family and Jaffs goes out to make extra money for his familiy by becoming a dragon slayer, and is quite good at this occupation, until one day a woman asks him to save her nine year old dather that has been given to the horrible dragon, "Morningbite" as a sacrafice.

During his encounter with the dragon and attempt to save the child, flames from the dragon kill the girl, and disheartened by the act, Jaffs leaves his home dimension.

This, as well, leaves him with many issues unsettled, and the remainder of this series deals with organizing a quest to return to Morningbite's lair and destroying him for good.

At first, this series began to read like the Vertigo-DC series, Fables, but quickly turned much "darker" in its content. It's not the best thing I've ever read from the pen of Alan Moore, but it is certainly far from his worst. The ending may have been a little rushed, but was still satisfying, and the artwork at times has that little "touch" of Scott McCloud that reminds me of his characters from Zot! and is quite nice, and the coloring by Ben Dimagmaliw, and script-type lettering by Todd Klein fares very well. Overall I give this series a: B+ and recommend it. (Thus far, I've yet to find anything from America's Best Comics' line that I haven't enjoyed.)

I will have further reviews of various titles from this company which include series such as: Tom Strong, and Tom Strong Terrific Tales, Promethea, Top 10, the second series of Terra Obscura, and the first series of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to come in future posts.

In other comic book news, I've read that DC is cancelling both their current runs of The Flash and Wonder Woman, and, of course, #18 is the last issue of The Doom Patrol. Also DC's decided to dredge out that lame 70's S&S character, "Claw" and team him up with Marvel's "Red Sonja", and there's to be a "Batman/The Spirit" team-up (that may prove sorta interesting). And the current run of Superman will be renumbered with (I think) the February, 2006 issue to match up with the original numbering of the first voulume of the title (which was discontinued back in the 1980's with issue #423), and The Adventures of Superman book will be discontinued. I really hate that when a company pulls such. Marvel did this when they discontinued the original run of Thor and changed the title back to Journey Into Mystery, only to discontinue that title as well, and then resume the original volume with a continuing number from volume one. The main reason this peaves me is that as a collector, "where" does on put these books in one's collections? Put V2 inbetween V1 and the continuing numbering? I imagine comic book dealers who have shops hate this as well. They have buyers asking, "Hey? What happened to the 225 issues between such and such?!

Of course, we know "why" companies do this. It's to drag in new readers with the thought that they're getting in from the start by buying a No.1 comic. Perhaps "some day" these companies will remember that not all of their older fans have died or stopped buying comics, but are still the backbone of their readers.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

REVIEWING: "America's Best Comics"/Part: One"

Terra Obscura Volume One (a six-issue limited series published by America's Best Comics. Co-Plotted by Alan Moore & Peter Hogan; Script by Peter Hogan; Art by Vanick Paquette & Karl Story. Colors by Jeremy Cox; Lettering by Todd Klein; Kaisty Quinn: Assistant Editor; Ben Abernathy: Editor. Published monthly from August, 2003 - February, 2004.)

Being a fan of about anything Alan Moore is involved in, naturally I knew I was going to enjoy this series, and I was right. The characters are a combination of pseudo-nostalgic heroes combined with aspects as the Golden-Silver-and Modern Age. Rather than being called super heroes, they are described as science heroes, and the main players in this storyline are supposed to be from a ultra-powered team which originally formed in the 1940's, but were put in suspended animation by an alien force for thirty years.

The main location of this tale is in a city named "Invertica", which is controled, so to speak, by an organization called "Terror" to keep it free from all major crime. During the course of this story we discover that a force of sorts is focused from The Grand Canyon, causing anything with electrical current to stop working. Several of these science heroes reorganize to seek out what is causing this. Along the way, some of the "old" heroes die, some are badly injured, and others go through both mental and metaphysical changes.

We see characters which would perhaps remind us of variations of Captain America, or The Spectre, The Phantom Stranger, or The Fighting Yank, with an good proportion of female heroines (one of which is a hybrid version of "Madamn Xanadu"/"Gypsy") to male heroes.

There's aspects of all kinds which makes a good story here: humor and romance, action and adventure, and in the end, all loose threads that may have been hinted upon in previous issues are tied up quite nicely to a satisfying conclussion.

The series is an easy-read with great visuals, and although not up-written to, say, some of the Vertigo series, still retains an adult standard while retaining all the fun aspects that make super-hero comic books fun!

I highly recommend this series, and give it an A+!

POST SCRIPT TO TODAY'S BLOG: There were some parts of this storyline which I was a little confused about, not being thoroughly familiar with the titles produced by this comic book company and reading this series cold, so, to be fair, I RE-read this entire six issues. With the second reading, there's a couple points here that made more sense. For one thing, the reason specific characters will remind you of ones from The Golden Age, is because the are! "The Fighting Yank" is indeed the old Standard Comics' hero from the 1940's and the current Yank is his daughter. Originally this character was aided by the spirit of his revolutionary ancestor. Now, being dead and in spirit form, he aids his daughter in a similiar way. And, I mentioned "The Terror", which is really, The Black Terror, who has died and come back as a disembodied form, his spirit essence now confined to a computer. The human who "manages" his affairs is his old GA sickkick, now grown up. And I suspect that other heroes and heroines in this series are either GA characters, or new versions of such as well (not being an expert on all of the Standard characters from that time period). But even without this beforehand knowledge, the series still stands on its own very well and I'm sure that anyone that's never been exposed to these characters before, will still be able to quite enjoy it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Holiday Wishes"

I hope everyone has a

and a safe one!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"One Week Later"

On today's date, I expect readers think I should post something in particular regarding the late President Kennedy. Probably some waning as to where I was at the time or the like when I heard he was shot. But I won't. Enough has been said about JFK over the years I really don't think I can add anything to it. I do sometimes wonder just how history may have been changed had he not died so abruptly? Would we had gotten to the moon sooner? Would he have ended The Viet Nam War before the end of the 1960's? It's hard to say.

Today I got off work a little early due to having overtime. Really, I don't, but with being paid for taking Thanksgiving day off, it'd put me well over 40 hrs. Actually, last year my employer just figured everyone up for a full week and had that AS holiday pay, so if I'd worked it, that'd been 45 hrs., 5 of which I'd gotten just regular salary for. No need in just giving them 5 hrs. extra of my time for no good reason, so...

I believe my wife and I are just going to stay home this Thursday. Usually we go out to the country to my cousin's for dinner, but that's become so very monotonous that we thought it might be a welcomed change just to cook here and have a nice meal between the two of us. (We don't get time off together very often anyway.)

Started reading a novel by Neil Gaiman titled: Anansi Boys. Most of the time I find such novels difficult to enjoy from a writer whose previous work I've seen mainly accompanied by illustration, and with Gaiman I've read probably everything at one time or another that he's produced by Vertigo-DC Comics. However, I did read his books: Smoke and Mirrors as well as Neverwhere, both of which I liked, so I'm sure I'll enjoy this one as well. I'll review it after I've finally had time to finish it.

Also today about 15 misc. comics from the America's best Comics Company arrived. They're the first and second volumes of Terra Obscura, as well as Smax 1-4. Other items I've acquired and haven't time to read include the collected trade paperback volume One of Mr. X, and such novels as: Superman: the Never-Ending Battle, and Superfolks, so I've plenty to fill any spare time I may have for reading. Reviews will follow as well whenever any of these are read.

I realize that I haven't posted much lately; time seems to be a premium with me these days. I do hope all have a nice holiday this coming Thursday. Don't eat too much.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"The Off-And-On Daily Rap"

It's been mentioned in e-mails to me (and I say, "e-mails", because even though I have several people that actually DO read this blog, for unknown reasons they don't care to use the Comment areas), that my blog posts here of late have been rather dark.

Well, I "could" use the old Steve Martin clique and just just EXCUUUUUUSSSEEE ME! There are more things in life to comment upon than just the fantasy of a comic book series, or some silly animated cartoon show, or a number of other unrealistic things where one really doesn't need to use their minds to understand them. It's a little thing I like to call real life. So, for those who don't want to read about reality, check back in from time-to-time and I'll eventually have something your Neverland mind can ponder upon.

But---in the meanwhile----

But I won't (*heh*). Honestly, I do occasionally need this space just to vent some of my own frustrations. Keeps me from being like a postal employee on a bad day (geez, I'll get comment from that). And maybe this'll be the last post for a while on just some "things" on my mind.

Such as...I think about how it's been 42 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy come this 22nd. day of November, and the American Public is still no closer to the truth of what happend then than we were on 11/22/63. The "Official Report" of the assassination has been sealed by court order not to be opened until 2038. Isn't it about time that decision was repealed? About everyone all the way up to the president at that time (Lyndon B. Johnson) is dead, so just who is still to be protected? Why is it called a National Security issue, when it has absolutely nothing to do WITH National Security? Why must the only report available to The American Public still be The Warren Report, which was just as much as a cover-up as "Project Blue Book" was about UFOs; just "something" to satisfy people who wanted answers?

Personally I think it'd be a fine gesture is our current president demanded those files open to the public. It might help his status among American citizens who distrust the government. (But, of course, IF and "when" those files do become available, don't expect to find much that's actually readable, anyway, because those files were destroyed as they were being photocopied. It's a little trick those who want to forever destroy facts do with such files. They use something to blacken out the parts they don't want you to read first, then photocopy them and destroy the originals. With current technology, even with areas blacked out they could use computers to still read the original typing, but photocopies that have been pre-blackened, especially back in the 1960's, weren't sensitive enough to make such detailed copies, so that material IF blackened out, now is lost forever.)

And, okay, I'll talk a little about comics today. I'll talk about people you buy comics from thru an on-line auction that don't list all the defects in their books. Such as today when I received a small lot of silver-age comics, one of which was a copy of The Brave & The Bold (DC) #57: 1st. app. of "Metemorpho" (1965) which arrived minus the center pages, which of course contained the origin. I thought I'd won a low grade copy of this at an inexpensive price for my collections. Yes, it certainly WAS low grade, and the dealer isn't replying thus far to my e-mails regarding it. And mind you I'm not complaining about the price, because sometimes you really "get what you pay for", but just the point that it wasn't listed as such. I'll keep you updated on what becomes of this situation.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

"Consumer Beware" Follow-Up

And yet another example of causing the consumer to buy something he didn't want.

Today I purchased a 13.8 can of Planters Mixed Nuts. The lable on the can makes three claims:

1) 20% MORE FREE

2) Less Than 50% Peanuts

3) 13.8 oz at the 11.5 oz Price

So let's examine the first claim. Upon opening the can I noticed that it wasn't full at all. Taking a measuring ruler, I found that the level of nuts began 7/8 of an inch from the top. The height of the can measured 4-1/4". So, the first claim is true in a way. We are getting around 20% more, but it's 20% more can! Then let's examine the word "Free". How can it be "free" when the price had been raised 50 cents from the previous time I purchased it at this particular store?

Which brings us to Claim #3 (don't worry; we'll get back to #2 here in a minute). If it costs more, then Claim #3 is false, because when it was at 11.5 oz, the store sold it for 50 cents less a can.

And back to Claim #2: Removing and carefully seperating the contents of the can from peanuts to other nuts, I then weighed each by putting them on an accurate set of balance scales I had. First I put the mixed nuts on on side, then the peanuts to the other. The weight of the peanuts when added was so much it jerked the mixed nuts up and scattered several off the balance. So this "claim" (at least in this particular can) was False.

So, if all three claims were False on the lable, how does the company get away with making them?

Well, I'm pretty sure it's like this. For Claim #1 they'll say that there's always a certain amount of settling in a can of nuts from the time it was originally filled and sealed.

For Claim #2, I'd think they'd say that's just an average and that occasionally a bit more peanuts get into their cans that "should". They always cover their hind-quarters by putting the "Satisfaction Gauranteed" slogan on the lable. After all, how's probably a item that costs The Planter's Company maybe 30 cents to produce going to harm a multi-million dollar industry if they have to give away one can free to a dis-satisfied customer?

Claim #3: They'll say the have no control over the prices the stores which purchase their products for re-sell put upon their items. Retailers buying from wholesalers is just like if you personally purchase something cheap from a yard sale or flea market and then decide to sell in on an auction, a store, etc. Just because it might have cost you a quarter, that doesn't mean that you have to to sell it for the same price. Your markup is your own business.

So, once again, I have to go with the tried and true slogan of "Buyer Beware!" When you are comparing products and see all these "claims", and because of such claims, you purchase the product, that company may be causing you to buy an item you didn't want or wouldn't have gotten, had you known all the facts beforehand.

Solution? One of those would be more accurate information on the lables, plus do comparative shopping. That item may indeed be cheaper, just across the street.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

"Yes, Consumer, You'd Better Beware"

I grow weary and more peaved at large corporations forcing to me purchase items that I neither need or want. They never ask us if we want them. They just add them to the product anyway so they can charge us more for something we'd never probably even thought of or requested had we done so.

Case in point: Saw a commercial last night for a new automobile where one doesn't have to turn on the windshield wipers because now the car automatically detects rain. Did anyone ask for that? Did some incredibly lazy idiot write to a car manufacturer and say, "Hey, I'm just too damn lazy and stupid to know how to turn on my windshield wipers when it's raining! Can you make us a car that'll do that for me?"

And naturally, that type of useless technology is going to cost the comsumers "big bucks". All of the OTHER automobile companies will follow suit and make it a standard on all of their cars as well, thus making all of those new vehicles costlier too.

It's sort of like the chip car companies have inserted into their keys for security. You think they help keep your car from being stolen? Nonsense. Any car thief worth his salt was way ahead of this technology. Oh, it may have stopped a few right when that was first started, but it wasn't long until car theives knew exactly how to get around a computer chip being needed to start an automobile.

They say that if you use a duplicate key to start a car without "the chip", it can tear up your auto's computer. This is true; it can indeed harm the car's computer. But if a thief steals your car, he knows exactly how to start the vehicle without a key. He knows exactly how to open that locked door without a key as well. This was just another ploy to make you pay more for a new vehicle. Auto companies purchased most of the companies that made keys and key machines. So now they can charge you from $35. to $100. for an extra ignition key, rather than you going somewhere to buy one for less than $2. The thing about that is, if you buy a new car and the dealer won't give you an extra key right from the start after you pay $20-$30 K for that new vehicle, my advise would be to tell him to "stick it", then go to a trustworthy used car lot and buy a decent car for a lot less. Eventually, these auto companies might just "get the message" that you're tired of the price gouging.

And it certainly isn't just with the automobile industry. Everytime you go to the store you'll see the words New and Improved on a lable "somewhere". It might be at a special price at first, but believe me, if it's new and improved, then new and improved technology, ingredients, testing, etc., etc. has been used to make it so, and somewhere along the line, you, as the consumer, will be paying for all of that, because that's why they're there: to make money for the manufacturer.

How to beat it? Buy Generic Brands. It's as simple as that. Same way with medicines. Aspirin is just...aspirin. Buffered or whatever, it can't be improved upon. It's still the most effective pain reliever bought across the counter. And if you'll look at most any over-the-counter medication, you'll discover that their main ingredients are available very cheaply and in large quantities. Quit buying Name Brands!

And when Coca-Cola comes out with that new Holiday Package, unless that particular store is selling it "on special", you'll pay extra for that as well. In fact, I noticed just today that a 12-Pack of their holiday decorated can drinks had increased over sixty cents. Now, you know for a fact that if you go to Wallyworld and they have a can machine out there that only charges you .30 a can and they're making a profit, and the drink companies are making a profit, them somewhere along the line, you're getting screwed. I dare say that with production cost and all at their volume they might have a nickle a can in the item...maybe.

And one of the biggest money-making ventures out there are pizza joints. I know this for a fact because I worked for one for 4 years. The cost of that great pizza with everything on it would be at least twelve bucks. We figured it up one time, including shipping costs of ingredients, the ingredients themselves, approx. cost of cooking the item, labor, etc., etc. That item they charged $12. for was actually costing the company about seventy-five cents to produce. Lesson here? Buy the ingredients enough to make several pizzas, take them home and make them yourself. All you're paying for is the convenience of sitting in their place of business and having them wait on you. And the next time you DO want to eat there and that waitress/waiter asks you if you want to try their new product, ask them, "If I don't like it do I have to pay for it?" If you didn't come there to purchase that item specifically, then you shouldn't have to pay for it.(And why you're at it, you might also ask the manager why it is that his servers aren't getting a regulated decent rate of pay instead of relying on "tips".)

Finally, well, not really finally, but my final example today would be, commercials aimed towards children. They should be banned, as simple as that. Most parents don't watch the cartoon shows their children do watch, but every 5 minutes or so throughout the show, a child will be subjected to at least that much time focused on a product that some toy company is trying to hack. They'll make that Lego dragon look like he's actually a small android, capable of walking, flying and breathing fire on his own. They'll show that remote control toy never flipping over on it's back or going out of control. Why, those action figures can fight one another without your child's imagination at all! With all the "stuff" these companies try to tell us we should buy, here's one item I'd personally like. A t.v. that totally eliminates commercials at my choice. One that would play music I like when they start to come on, then go back to regular programming when they're done. A recording devise, DVD or VCR either one, that would detect such and pause, then continue as the programming does. It's simple enough. After all, station emits a signal before a commercial starts, then another when the show resumes. There already are devices that can react to those. "Why" haven't they ever been mass marketed? "Why".....because then the manufactuer could not control you.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"Dis & Dat Day"

Finally got in the final issue of the current series of Doom Patrol today, which has me up to the current #17. With this I have completed the 1st., 3rd. and 4th., series, but still need a baker's dozen different issues to complete the Vertigo set. With the end of the year quickly approaching, it looks bleak that I will have accomplished my goal of completeing all 4 sets before then. Plus, I still need about a dozen other various guest-app.'s of the team "here and there".

Well, that local election was held today regarding the sale of alcohol in restaurants that seated at least 100 people. I knew it'd be close, and it was; the proposal passed, but only by 6 votes!

A Happy Birthday to my mother who is 81 years young today! (Born: 11/09/24). She took my frail father over to the local hospital for some more tests to see "why" he's been so weak and losing weight, but they won't know anything about those tests for a few days. In fact. my dad is supposed to go back to have yet more tests done this coming Monday.

Looks like we're finally going to have a little more rain here tonight and then, finally, some cooling down temperatures breaking the record high ones up in the high 70's and low 80's we've had all week. This has been one very odd, dry and hot Autumn here in South Central Kentucky thus far this year.

I also read where this town in which I live has sold another section of the cave (that runs beneath most of the area) to The National Cave Karst Association. This will lead to more federal money available to open up further sections of it for tourist viewing, and eventually, reclaim the original tour length it had back in the early 1940's before water polution eventually shut it down. There is a huge dome section yet to be reopened that, from all accounts, is somewhat spectacular to see "when" they are finally able to reclaim that original tour length.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"You Never Know Which Way The Wind Blows"

The thing about tornados is that, there's no actual season for them.

A tornado can strike and unexpectedly any time of the year as long as weather conditions as just "so-so". And that's what happened in a town about 8 miles from where I live, day before yesterday.

It sat down right on the historic section of the edge of town and stuck around 15 or so minutes, miraculously not killling anyone, but causing a few million in damages. People were, for the most part, sleeping when it hit, so it could have indeed been much worse! In fact, the tornado warnings went off here as well (even tho' it didn't strike here) but I never knew anything about it until the next day. Half the people around here never heard the sirens. All I knew originally was that obviously the power had been knocked out by a storm around 12:30 AM, and power didn't come back on until around 7 AM.

After personally seeing the amount of damage this tornado did to that town: partially destroying their city hall, some damage to an old courthouse, flattening a gas station, blowing part of a roof off a grocery store, much damage to several houses and several trees uprooted and much more, it makes me wonder if some higher power didn't step in and protect the people there.

And, on to other things.

Tomorrow is my mother's 81st. Birthday, so here's an early Happy Birthday, Mom! My mother is still very active and is a librarian here in town. She still drives, grocery shops, or whatever mostly she wants to do at this age. More power to her!

Wish I could say the same for my dad, who is 85. His health has gone way down just in the past 6 months, losing a considerable amount of weight and numberous doctor visits and tests. He's having to walk with a cane most of the time now. I mentioned this in an earlier blog about the doctors thinking his liver may be failing, and his "regular"doctor can't seem to find out what's specifically wrong with him (outside of plain ol' "old age"). I think it has a lot to do with the fact that he's simply worn himself out in those 85 years. This is someone who has worked some sort of manual labor job all his life. Naturally, not being able to be as active as he was when he was younger is a constant source of aggravation to him.

And, here on the home front, I got in several items I'd won on various auctions yesterday: around 11 comics, which were really a hodgepodge of comic book history from the silver-age to present. They included such books as Sgt. Fury #67 (1969), to some bronze-age Marvel reprint titles, to the current series of Doom Patrol (#15) from just this year. Reading thru them, it never ceases to amaze me how much imagination has been spent by those who have created comic books since their coming into existence in the mid 1930's. I really can see "why" it's so difficult for anyone to create something new and different these days because in the past 70 years or so I believe every field, every character and every "super power" has been used for various heroes. Every concept has been explored from humor to romance to war to western to super-hero to sex to fantasy to sword & sorcery to mutants to ultrahumans. They've been explored the same way with different characters. Comics have had about every conceivable merchandicing play their companies can think of from enhanced covers to cross-overs from even other companies, from revivals of older popular characters to trying to completely change an iconic figure, etc.,etc.,etc.,just to make them new.

Although I surely love the comic book, I'm certainly happy we DON'T live is such a universe. Otherwise we'd been in constant fear of mad gods destroying the planet or some evil super-powered villian either doing the same or conquering the world, alien invasions or having to put up with animals which speak or dress as humans, or the like. If the Gardner Fox concept actually exists that such ideas may be drawn from actual occurences from other dimensions, God Help those peoples! Me? I'm content to live in a world where I can seperate such fantasy from reality, read their fantastic adventures and be happy with a few minutes per book as pure entertainment.

And, while I'm on the subject of comics here, yes indeed I shall be writing a review of the current Doom Patrol title soon; in fact, I've already started on it. But from what I understand, this series will soon be discontinued (perhaps with #18), so I may wait and review the entire run when it's finished rather than just the first year now, because the storyline is pretty much continuous throughout the run.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

"Catching Up Day"

Went to Wallyworld today and got to take a good, close look at those 2" JLA figures in their lobby machine. Found they are called Justice League Pencil Toppers Bobble-Heads (which explains the movable heads, duh!). Anyway, I finally got the last one in the 10 pc set: "The Huntress". Figured I finally spend about $12. in quarters to obtain a full set.

And you'll remember back a few posts where I mentioned the citizens of a local town are voting on whether or not to allow alcohol sales in restaurants there. Remember I said one good citizen had posted a sign saying, "What Would Jesus Do? Vote No!"? Well, another citizen erected a sign saying: "Jesus Drank Wine; Why Can't We?" That whole campaign is such a hoot! (They vote on it next Tuesday.)

And, finally, there's some days you can remember exactly what you were doing 17 years ago. In my case, 17 years ago tomorrow (Nov. 4th.) my wife, Debbie, and I were gettin' hitched! It was a dark and stormy night, that is to say, the night was dark and it WAS raining pretty hard after a beautiful Autumn day of sunshine. We drove to the closest larger city (Bowling Green), stayed overnight in a motel next to a nightclub where we went to eat and dance until late as our Honeymoon.

Came back home the next day since we both had to work. I did stop for a little while at a small comic book show in that city. Guess my poor, unsuspecting bride got her first taste of "the life to come" (*heh*)!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"Heated Hallucinations"

Witches and Warlocks and Devils and Such

All came to my window and All wanting brunch.

They burned all my incense,

They drank all my tea;

Now I can't get rid

Of the demons I see.

Sandglasses, wineglasses, hourglasses for

The goblins and boogies that dance by the score.

Circles and daggers and gold-painted stars

Illuminate magics that glow on their shores.

Witches and Warlocks!

Oh, I see them all!

The smolder in closets

And slither in halls.

They just want to catch me when

I'm unaware,

And linger in Hades

Till I join them there.

Now I can't get rid of this dread that I keep

'Cause I see dem Witches whenever I sleep.

They stalk in my dreams in the dread of the night

And only dispell in the day's morning light.

Voodoo and witchcraft all rolled into One

Is practised by those who shun all the sun

To worship the moon and the goat and the the fire

And burn all the Christians they pile on their pyres.

Witches and Warlocks! Oh!

I see them ALL!!

The smolder in closets and slither in halls!

They just want to catch Me when I'm unprepared

And linger in hades till I join them there.....

Naked bound virgin lie on alters, bare

With sounds of mad laughter

Filling the air...

And Satan stands, horned,

In the midst of the smoke...

...And laughs at the evil

His presence evokes!

Witches and Warlocks!

Oh, I see them all!

The smolder in closets!

They slither in halls!

They just want to catch us

When we're unprepared.

They'll linger in Hades

Till we join them there.


(copyright 1973, 2005.)

(Just a little poem I meant to post last night on Halloween.)