Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Supergirl Saga"

Been trying to complete this set of the 1996 DC Supergirl series. You know; the character that originally began back in the early 1990's as "Matrix".

I've always been a fan of Peter David's writing, and I'm sure that's not a single issue of his run on "The Incredible Hulk" I haven't read at one time or another. Plus, I've always been a big fan of Supergirl no matter which form she happened to be taking at the time. The back-ups in Action Comics were the first continuing series of any sort I always tried to make a point of reading, and many a time when I bought an issue of said title, I'd turn to her story first to read before the main Superman feature.

I kept up with her through her first arrival on Earth and throughout her "pig-tail" days at the orphanage, being adopted, being introduced to the world and finally into her own feature in Adventure Comics after the "Legion" series ended, and through a couple of solo-titles. And all the way up to the pont that DC killed her off in "Crisis" (something I thought was totally unnecessary and just something to do to attract readers to the series).

But, naturally, old characters that are popular are hard to dispose of in any comic's "universe" and I figured she'd be back eventually. And, sure enough, John Byrne brought her back in Superman V2 a few years later in the form of Matrix. But, that's when the story of Supergirl began getting pretty confusing. She's this changling-type alien sent to Earth to aid Superman, and her powers are somewhat different. She has just a slew of appearances before DC deemed her worthy for her own title again. (For a while there she even used her changling powers to disguise herself as "Clark Kent".)

Then when she does get a book again, the meld her with Linda Danvers (trying to recapture her original secret I.D.), and she goes through yet more transformations as one of the "Earth's Angels", etc., etc. It's the sort of title that you really have to know some of the history of her before the title began to know what the devil's going on with the heroine. You have to know about her fling with Luthor and be able to straighten out that whole mess in your mind.

But...anyway...currently I have a full set except for, I think, 4 issues of the 80 issue plus 2 Annuals run and am re-reading the whole thing from the beginning and will more than likely give a review here sometime in the fairly near future of the entire series, right up to the point that she's sort of taken out of the DC Universe altogether to make room for yet another current version which was introduced in the Superman/Batman series of late and now has her featured once again in a new title.

Monday, January 23, 2006

"Which Came First?"

In the age old question of which came first, "the chicken or the egg", the answer could very well be: the dinosaur.

It is remarkable how much differently paleontologists consider now the way dinosaurs actually were to say, 40 years ago. Just as far back as the 1960's, dinosaurs were still considered to be all rather awkward, slow-moving, cold-blooded reptiles with the sole concern of obtaining their next meals.

Today many scientists believe quite differently. That some of these creatures were actually warm-blooded. That they moved in family units and raised their young. That they carefully nurtured warmth and protection for their eggs. That many were fleet of foot: up to and surpassing possibly 30 MPH. And, the most remarkable of these new revelations is that those with bird-like skeletons eventually evolved into the birds themselves.

New theories involving the most revered of the gigantic beasts, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, is that he may have been covered in a brightly-colored plummage. Not as far-fetched if you consider that birds attract their mates in many cases with such.

The problem with exact knowledge of dinosaurs is because of time, itself. We don't have a preserved specimen of any of them; just bones. Trying to reconstruct an animal from just their skeletons is not an easy task. In fact, when the first fossilized remains of dinosaurs were discovered well over a hundred years ago, scientists reconstructed the beasts into creatures that could only have existed in tales of fantasy. Claws were mistaken as horns, etc.

For scores of years the wrong skull sat on the incorrect body of another famous dinosaur: the brontosaurus. It had been found near a full skeleton that was missing it's skull. Finally in just recent years the correct skull was located in the museum's basement in storage and corrected, and now the brontosaurus didn't even exist. Instead, it's now called: the adaptosaurus.

Like many mysteries of nature, science must fight the millions of years that have sought to disguise the truth.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

"The Rocky Years"

Since I wrote about one of my jobs I had in the 1970's a bit back, I thought that this time I'd talk about my time that I worked as a manager of a crystal and rock shop in the 1980's.

I've always been able to adapt myself to any position I've had in life, except for factory work. Me and assembly lines just never seemed to mesh. I always liked to have a job that allowed me a certain respect of individual management. I guess that's because I've always had to put up with so much BS in life from so many, that at least, where I worked, I wanted some sort of escapism from the day to day routine.

Now, you've got to understand why we'd have "rock shops" in this area in the first place. It's because of being located close to Mammoth Cave, and Mammoth Cave National Park. "When" these rock shops first began, I haven't a clue, but I'd say as far back as the 1800's when tourism first started at the caves (and we have a LOT of caves around here besides "Mammoth"!), and tourists wanted a souvenier to take back with them.

Back in those days, there was NO preservation of caves and no laws against selling stalactites/stalagmites from them, so many such caverns suffered a lot of damage. Eventually, this was all stopped, but the tourists still wanted something to take back with them as a momento. So the rock shop owners started selling local geodes and such instead (and occasionally still illegally selling formations from caves on their private property).

But I personally never sold anything like that. Any onyx we had came from Mexico where it's legally mined and then carved into figurines. But I digress, as I said I wanted something that wasn't a routine job.

Working at the rock shop (from 1984-1989) gave me quite a bit of that. I hit it at just the right time when holistics and New Age themes were the rage. So, my customers were quite a mixture.

I'd have the typical tourist who saw rocks as they drove by, thinking they were ALL from the cave area, and stopping to buy them, to the serious mineral specimen collectors, to the New Age folk or those interested in Native American religion. I had to be a certain type of "actor" to deal with each of these sorts.

Naturally, to the serious mineral collector I had to be ALL business and serious about the specimens I pointed out to them, because they always knew what they were talking about and were looking for that certain something in the way of natural minerals to add to their collections.

To the tourists, I just had to be pretty much myself, and try to explain (millions of times) that not all of the rocks they were looking at were locally found, since we carried samples from literally all over the world. I had to explain to them that the brightly colored glassy-looking stuff that we had on stands outside the shop, was just that, i.e., glass "slag". People used it for decorative purposes in their yards, and it did indeed attract one's attention as they passed by, and got them out of their cars and into the shops where they could see the real minerals and crystals.

And then, the New Age crowd. Oh, now THERE I had to be the ultimate actor. I had to make them think that I was some sort of "crystal guru" and that if there was anything to know about various holistic uses of stones, I knew them for a fact. And, quite frankly, I carried that off rather well. There's no telling how many thousands of said folk I waited on or the thousands of quartz crystals, and beryl, etc.,etc. I sold them over the years. They thought me so knowledgable about such things that finally I started printing up some pamplets about various crystal uses. These things would cost me about .15 to print and sold for $3., so I made a LOT of profit from those considering that each printing was 500 copies and I sold out of 5 different printings! At one time, I was mailing these things out from orders all over the globe. I recall sending orders to India, South America, and even the (former) U.S.S.R..

Then, by the late 1980's, the holistic boom was over, or at least most of it. New Agers got away from just crystal use and more into Native American cultures, and my bosses grew more and more greedy and cared less and less about their customers in general, and I finally became pretty disgusted with them and moved on to another job.

But I met a lot of interesting people and made several friends along the way. Not just people using crystals to fullfile any wish they had in life, but people like a couple of Australian "healers", some nice Native American folk, some that claimed to be psychics, and some just "regular people". I also met some rather sad individuals along the way. People who were looking for hope in the form of a piece of 6 faceted silica, and many that would never realize that the power comes not from a stone, but from within.

And today, I'm glad that the biggest part of the New Age craze is over and done with, and people are turning back to traditional religions and concepts.

Not that crystals don't have a certain amount of energy levels, as that's been proven that they do.

But, for God's Sake, people, it's just a fu--in' rock.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

"Okay....I'm Awake!"

Gee, I guess I really outta blog something today. My posts sometimes seem more weekly than ever, but this has been one of those "up-in-the-air" sort of weeks when other issues have just seemed so much more important.

It began really a week ago last Thursday (the 12th.) when my wife discovered that her father's cancer had returned. Scans showed about 5" of it in his lower bowels. Now, naturally, this upset everyone because he'd fought one bout of cancer a few years back and it had gone into regression. Plus, my wife's mom died of cancer 6 years ago on Jan. 1st.,2000.

Finally, after a week in the hospital and many tests later, it showed that at least the cancer hadn't spread any further, and my father-in-law is back home now for a few weeks to recover before he'll have to go to Louisville for an operation. I'd like to say all of our hopes are high, never knows what the future will bring.

Then, my own father had to go have a scan of HIS lower bowels as well because he'd lost yet another 6 lbs. since his last checkup. Personally, I think the reason "why" he's lost this weight is due to simply not eating enough. The man's 85 years old and at that age doesn't have that big an appetite. Being inside and frail, this Winter he naturally doesn't expend a whole lot of energy and thus isn't as hungry, so he eats 1/2 a sandwich and says, "He's full!" I guess so. When you don't eat as much the stomach tends to shrink and that's all it takes to fill one up, and so, the weight loss. But the results still aren't in from that test yet, so, once again, we just don't know anything.

Then, of all things, I come down with some virus or walking pneumonia or something another that's made me quite ill this week. I worked on it anyway (except for coming home for 1/2 a day for some extra rest) and pulled 8 days straight without a full day off. Of course, from all of this I was pretty beat. Too tired and sick to get up on the roof this weekend to check out yet another leak over the bathroom or even go get a new tire for my car; both of which is needed to be done. This morning, in fact, I took cold medicine, then a big dose of Expectorant perhaps too close together and was groggy for hours. So much so I had to go lay back down for a couple of hours just to clear my head. Only now is my mind clearing back up with over 1/2 the day gone.'s just been one of dem weeks.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th.

I've gathered the following information regarding the date from various sources. Make of it what you will.

According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of phobias (and coiner of the term "paraskevidekatriaphobia"), the number of people (in this country) that fear this date may be as high as 21 million.

"Legend goes": If 13 people sit down to dinner together, all will die within the year. The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was practically expunged from their vocabulary . Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don't have a 13th floor. If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil's luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names). There are 13 witches in a coven.

To the ancient Egyptians, these sources tell us, life was a quest for spiritual ascension which unfolded in stages — 12 in this life and a 13th beyond, thought to be the eternal afterlife. The number 13 therefore symbolized death — not in terms of dust and decay, but as a glorious and desirable transformation. Though Egyptian civilization perished, the death symbolism they conferred on the number 13 survived, only to be corrupted by later cultures who came to associate it with a fear of death instead of a reverence for the afterlife.

In Norse Mythology: Twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One, god of mischief, had been left off the guest list but crashed the party, bringing the total number of attendees to 13. True to character, Loki raised hell by inciting Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder the Good, who was a favorite of the gods. Hod took a spear of mistletoe offered by Loki and obediently hurled it at Balder, killing him instantly. All Valhalla grieved. And although one might take the moral of this story to be "Beware of uninvited guests bearing mistletoe," the Norse themselves apparently concluded that 13 people at a dinner party is just plain bad luck.

According to The Bible, there were exactly 13 present at the Last Supper. One of the disciples betrayed Jesus Christ, setting the stage for the Crucifixion.

The Crucifixion took place on a Friday. It is therefore a day of penance for Christians.

It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit. Adam bit, as we all learned in Sunday School, and they were both ejected from Paradise. Tradition also holds that the Great Flood began on a Friday; God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday.

In pagan Rome, Friday was execution day (later "Hangman's Day" in Britain), but in other pre-Christian cultures it was the sabbath, a day of worship, so those who indulged in secular or self-interested activities on that day could not expect to receive blessings from the gods — which may explain the lingering taboo on embarking on journeys or starting important projects on Fridays.

On October 13, 1307, a day so infamous that Friday the 13th would become a synonym for ill fortune, officers of King Philip IV of France carried out mass arrests in a well-coordinated dawn raid that left several thousand Templars — knights, sergeants, priests, and serving brethren — in chains, charged with heresy, blasphemy, various obscenities, and homosexual practices. None of these charges was ever proven, even in France — and the Order was found innocent elsewhere — but in the seven years following the arrests, hundreds of Templars suffered excruciating tortures intended to force 'confessions,' and more than a hundred died under torture or were executed by burning at the stake."

So...there's a few reason's why people think Friday the 13th. is unlucky.

But, just remember: You make your own luck in life.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"Oh....the pain....the pain."

A little over a year ago, I decided that with the ever-growing number of comic books in my collection, that I'd get this smart idea and begin a secondary collection.

This "collection" would consist of comics that were bagged, but not boarded, so, as I GOT backing boards, I'd add them to these boxes until I had the time to add them to the bulk of the collections.

Now, I did this because, I have to admit, it's quite a hassle to carry 30+ "long" boxes of comics into my bedroom (the only area large enough to lay out all the boxes in order), then rearrange and add new boxes for books so they wouldn't be so tightly packed and get them all in alphabetical order (which is how I keep the most of them).

This didn't turn out to be that great of an idea at all. Because now, besides the 30+ boxes, I have a good 10 more crammed boxes that need to be added to the bulk. As well, I have another 2 "short" boxes of comics that are bagged, but yet to receive backing boards that'll have to be added.

Now...this is all because I really didn't mean for my current collection to get this large. I really planned on keeping it at a modest 5 K books, concentrating on silver-age (or before) and a few choice bronze-age titles that I'd always liked. However, I didn't expect to get so very many good deals on "lots" this past year, and I have this philosophy that no matter what the comic is, IF I don't have it, I should keep it.

So now this present collection has grown to the 10K mark and is really getting a bit out of hand. Even though I don't buy hardly any new comics, I've spent quite a sum on older ones (not counting the costs or various storage supplies). And with new deals that seem to present themselves to me pretty regular, it would appear that the end to this is nowhere in sight.

Besides my collections, I probably have somewhere around 700 duplicates, that I admit, I could sell in lots on on line auctions had I the time to do so, or, the "effort" (but would really like to dump those as well in a lot and reinvest that money back into books I don't have).

Honestly, I just don't "where" these collectors that have collections of comics that total 30K books or more (and, I know much more than a handful of them), keep their books. Right now, the bulk is stacked 9 boxes long and 4 high, not counting another two stacks of 5 high. Space is such a premium with me since their stored in a room that I share with my wife for her craft supplies. IF I had the whole room, the problem would be solved. But, there's no place else to store the crafts. Our screened-in back pourch is also crammed with her stuff, as well as the garage, so I also have comics locked in cabinets and file drawers, etc.

So...this year I dare say I'm going to be a whole lot pickier about what and how I buy comics. When someone offers me a large lot of books, I think I'll ask myself whether they're things I really need or if I could invest the same amount in just a small amount of higher valued items or books I really want to read (and, yes; I DO read every comic book I get).

The madness has got to stop "somewhere".

Monday, January 09, 2006

"Those BG Days"

Since I mentioned something about the time I lived In Bolwing Green here, recently...

In the second half of the 1970's, I had been working at a local pizza joint, which eventually closed and I had to look for new employment. It was then that a friend told me that the manager of a head shoppe in Bowling Green, KY. (about 35 miles away from here) was looking for a clerk/salesman.

So, with jobs being tough to find at that time, I went down there and applied for it and was hired on the spot. I worked there long enough that the manager, who was also the owner, decided to give me his position to free up his time. At first, in fact, for at least the first three months I was employed there, I drove back and forth every day. I had this old Ford Maverick and the thermostate didn't work in it although I'd changed it more than once. The temperatures were most of the time below freezing, and I'd have to bring a blanket with me to cover my lower body as I drove. I literally scraped ice off the inside windshield as I drove down the interstate highway. When I finally got a thermostate that worked and got heat in that old Ford, it was like Heaven!

Eventually, after getting stuck in a couple of big snow falls where I couldn't drive back home and had to stay overnight at the boss's place for a few days, he got tired of seeing my face all the time and helped me with the extra cash I needed to rent an apartment in BG; in fact, it was only about a block and a half from the store and usually I'd just walk to work every day and back.

The store opened at 9AM so I'd leave by 8AM, go inside the store and turn up the heat, open the registers, then lock everything back and go up the square (because the head shoppe was actually located right down in the middle of town) to the Woolworth's Store for a quick cuppa joe and breakfast before I began the day's work.

After we closed at 5:30 PM, I'd drop off the deposit, and, since I lived alone, usually I'd go to a nearby restaurant for a bite before heading home. (This was where I met a waitress that ended up living with me in BG for over a year, but... that's a whole different story).

I think that's when I reached any "high point" of popularity in my life, since it seemed that there were few college students (which attended Western U. there in the city), local hippy and/or musician that didn't seem to know me, if not by name, then at least by the "Hey! There's the guy that runs the head shoppe!"-title. I got invited to countless parties and was bought innumberable free drinks at local bars (a LOT of which I passed on because, well, even though I looked the part back then and knew my business and patrons well, I was never what one would call an actual stoner), and was everybody's "friend".

Anyway, at this head shoppe we carried the usually array of paraphenalia: pipes, black light posters (even had a special room for those where you could view them all), t-shirts (and we'd put hot iron transfer designs and/or letters on them while you waited), silver & torquoise Native American-type jewelry, bongs (a rather large assortment), glass "carborators", fancy roach clips, underground comix, and a large number of different types of "rolling" papers.

At one time I counted nearly 200 different brands and types of these papers we had in stock. Everything from flavored ones (strawberry, chocolate, plum, banana, etc.) to ones with designs (like dollar bills, American Flags and draft cards), to 1.5's, Double Wides, Extra Longs, Wheats, Rice, etc., etc. And with names like Zig Zag, Bambu, Roach, Leaves, uRol, JOB, OCB, 1.25's, Weed, Foxy Brown, Export, Wrappers, Cherniak, Northern Rollers, American Dream, Whitehall, Alfa, Ritzla, E-Z Wider, Smoking, 1/2's, Legalize It, Van Nellie's, French Connection, Blanco Negro, Good Leaf, Canada Goose, Mr. Natural's (My personal favorite!), Esmeralda, Foy, Reefer Rollers, Top, Joint Wides, Instant Roach (with the built-in wire clip), Cool Leaf, Joker, Bugler, and the list goes on and on, all in myriad sizes and flavors.

So...I decided to start a collection of them. I'd collect empty packs; some I'd buy just for the packs, some friends would donate, and I started pasting them to a large framed board. And when I say "large", it measured 2 x 3 foot. I'd also paste designs and ads and the like out of various "head" magazines. I collected so many of them that I eventually had to start a second board for the over-flow!

When I finally got these full I hung them up on the walls of my apartment and my friends would come by and look at them and comment on ones they'd never seen before and state something about some that they'd personally used. They were an interesting conversation piece, and a little part of hippy history.

So, as time went by, so did that job when BG outlawed head shops from the city and I lost my position there to finally move back down to my hometown to find work again. The boards came with me and got stored in the basement of my parents, and there they stayed from 1980 or so, until just this last week when I noticed them collecting dust in a corner while I was taking my folk's Christmas decorations back down the steps for storage.

I brought them back to my house, cleaned the dust off of them, and looked them over again, recapturing a few old memories of those head shoppe days in BG. Oh, they're missing a few packages now, either from time making the glue come off or maybe someone snitching one or two 'cause they liked the designs, but 99% are still there. The photo above is one of them (I think, the second board I started) and here is a shot of the other (not the best of photos due to the glare, but good enough to give you a general idea of them).

I doubt if I'll rehang these anywhere again. They'll more than likely just go out in the storage building with a lot of other old memories. But it was nice to visit with a couple of friends again for a little while.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

"Happy Birthday, Elvis!"

Today, had Elvis Presley lived, he'd been 71 years old.

Unlike many famous people that when I heard of their deaths I could now tell you exactly where I was at the time, Elvis is different. I do know that I was living in Bowling Green, KY. at the time, and I do recall it was a pretty bad Winter with lots of snow and ice.

I think that's because I didn't have a tv that worked well back then and listened more to my favorite lp's at night, so I rarely heard current news and it wasn't until at least the next day that someone mentioned it to me.

The following weeks I remember better, when everyone and their brother was trying to cash in on his death with everything from posters, to jewelry with his likeness, to the ever sick National Enquirer which showed him in his coffin.

Elvis may have treated himself badly towards the end of his own life, but the vultures certainly have treated him worse since. Still, his immortal music and millions of fans live on as a wonderful tribute to this pioneer of rock & roll.

Best to ya, "King".

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Just Can't Watch Them Anymore"

I noticed today that the TV Land Channel is going to show like a full day of "All In The Family" episodes celebrating, I think, it's 35th. Anniversary. I find that I just can't watch those anymore, although when that show originally broadcast back in the 70's, I wouldn't miss an episode.

I think it's because I find the themes expressed in the episodes just too outdated these days. During it's hayday, AITF hit on every topic they could from racism to women's rights, to the presidency to The Viet Nam War. We'd laugh...sometimes a little nervously perhaps because even back then we thought it was a bit too "politically incorrect" to find humor in a bigot like "Archie Bunker", but so very much of that time has changed that to watch such is like trying to recapture a part of our own past.

These days as well, I find it difficult to watch hardly anything from before the 1990's in the way of tv shows. Old films are fine, because they're classics and don't bother me. Most are timeless. But Donna Reed in her pretty dress, or Robert Young in his "work suit", Mary Tyler Moore in her tight dancing pants or Tom Hanks doing his "cross-dressing", just doesn't get it for me anymore, it's probably sad to say.