Sunday, June 24, 2007

"Keep Watching The Skies"

Today officially marks the 60th. Anniversary of the term "flying saucers" after a sighting of nine unusual objects in the sky by pilot Kenneth Arnold (click onto his name for a link to the entire story).

It's interesting to me that after all of these years we basically know little or nothing more about this phenomenon than we did (or, those who were alive then) in 1947.

Over the past 60 years so very much disinformation and fiction has been written and given to unexplained airships that basically people seem to believe they are one of the following:

Extraterrestrial space crafts

Government top secret military projects

Time travelers from the future.

Although I can personally not deliver an explanation (and probably wouldn't admit to knowing "what" they actually are IF I could), I still state that I believe that when UFOs are explained, they will more than likely be none of the above mentioned, but something totally out of our realm of imagination.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"In the Summertime, When the Weather is..."

Day 1 of Summer??? Thought we had gotten into THAT at least a month ago, so if the previous month is any indication of what sort of temperatures we are to expect here in S-Central, KY., then we're in deep $hit!

The ground hereabouts is like concrete. Even back on Memorial Day one couldn't stick artificial flowers into the soil at grave sites without bending the wire. Since then we're had no more than an inch of rain, and that was at 5 minute intervals days apart.

The grass is dead, brown, crackily to walk on; I'm amazed it hasn't just burst into flames. Then if we do get a few minutes of rain it's like a hothouse effect from the terrible humidity. The local lakes still have their beaches closed due to the water level being more than 8 foot low. HAS been good painting weather for me as I've been working on enclosing the previously screened-in back porch of mine. Since this was never used as a sun porch but rather just another storage area (mostly for my wife's craft junk), I finally decided it was about time to cover it all up just so the neighbors couldn't see this mess. So everyday for about two hours after work, and for most of the days when I'm off from my regular job, I've been working on this project. Thus far I have two sides enclosed and am getting ready to do the back to complete it.

I must say that I've amazed myself doing this as I'd never tried such a project before. I used plywood and door skins to cover spaces, leaving about a foot or so of the screen exposed at the top which I covered in white lattice. The rest of the area is painted white but it's offset by dark green painted poles the height of the coverings. The white with hunter green colors match the white house with it's dark green roof.

There are exposed rafters on the rear of this house over that area, much eaten by wood-boring bees, so I also filed in all of the holes (with calking) these insects had made and repainted the wood. Eventually I'll probably paint some large sheets of plywood white and tack them to the open rafters totally enclosing and boxing in the roof (just for effect).

I figure about another two weeks and the rest will be completed. (Maybe I'll post a few pics of the finished work when I do.)

And on to other things...

I think I mentioned how badly my on line auctions were doing which a couple of eBay seller "friends" were listing for me on one of their auction sites. They were starting the bidding at .99 on lots of anywhere from 11 to 60 comics, and sadly most of those lots only got the opening bid so I really lost money on that. What's worst however is that the deal was to take out the auction fees and we'd split what it sold for, so on an auction which sold for .99, I'D only get .49 (MINUS the fees). This was literally killin' me since some auctions the comics were going for, like, 2-for-a-penny!

Now, to make things even worse, I checked to see who was placing some of the bids that I did get, and wouldn't you know it? It was one of the sellers. Yes, they were getting my merchandice for a piddly amount, and since the guy listing the books couldn't bid on his own auction, his partner was, and they ended up "taking me" for nearly a thousand comics for next to nothing. Needless to say I found this HIGHLY unethical! This was the same as shill bidding. So I finally just told them to stop ALL of the auctions, NOT to list anything else and I'd come pick up what hadn't been listed or didn't sell. In fact, this morning I went and picked up the last 4 boxes and brought them back home. I'll just keep them and not count them as part of my "actual" collection. They can just sit in the storage room since they aren't "eating" anything and do nothing more than take up space. Maybe in another 8-10 years when I get a better/new pc I'll list them again myself and have them where I'll clear at least a dime a book on lots to make it worthwhile listing. (It's certainly taught me a lesson about so-called friends.)

Won a couple of DC comics that I'd bidded on for my own collections: The Brave & The Bold #34 (Silver-Age Intro of "Hawkman") and Rip Hunter...Time Master #1 (1961). These were COVERLESS issues, but in otherwise nice shape. 'Can't say I've ever been much on collecting coverless comics, but these two I just could not resist.

And...back to work tomorrow. I've been off work for 2-1/2 days and won't get another day off until next week. Didn't get much rest, but got a lot of other stuff done that needed doing, so...

A belated Happy Birthday to Sir Paul McCartney, who turned 65 a couple days back (why don't you just retire and rest on your laurels, you old fart, since you can't write any decent music anymore?)

Friday, June 08, 2007

"MY Turn at the Wax Nostalgic"

You would think that since I'm such a "big Beatles fan" to the point that I even have a "Beatles & Bizarros" blog site, that I'd have a lot to say about this month marking the 40th. Anniversary of the release of The Beatles' l.p., Sgt. Peppers. But the truth of the matter is that the time when that happened is a little fuzzy to me.

What I can remember would be something like this:

I wasn't quite 16 years old yet. That wouldn't happen for nearly another month and a half. I had just gotten out of school for the summer, and I was killing time by walking around and looking in the drug stores and "5 & Dimes" in this little burg I live in now. ( but at that time I actually lived in a similiar "little burg" 5 miles further South). At a drug store there, in their l.p. department, I first saw the album but didn't have enough money to buy it.

Probably the following Friday night or a Friday night shortly afterwards, my folks made their semi-monthly trip to Bowling Green, KY. (35 miles from here) to the Sears store, and I saw it again in their l.p. section, and since my birthday was quickly approaching I asked mom if I could have an early present by them buying the album for me (which they did).

It was probably late that night by the time we returned, so I didn't listen to it until the following day, and as I DO recall, I listened to it several times. I thought it sounded a a lot different from the previous albums I had by The Beatles, but I liked it quite a bit just the same. The inserts, I'm sure, got misplaced or lost quickly, or were jumbled in as part of something when I sold my original comic book collections. (I never sold my original Beatles l.p.s.)

I also remember that for the first few years of having that l.p. (and any others that I had before or afterwards) all I ever heard them in was mono because neither I (or any of my friends, at that age) had a stereo and neither did my parents. I didn't get my first stereo until either late 1972 or early 1973, finally breaking down and buying on "on credit" at our local (now defunct) Grants store. Any other time I heard it was probably on the radio, either the one in my folk's house, a pocket transister, or in my car. The only record player I had was one I got at Christmas circa 1962, which, although played records at three different speeds, was really made just for listening the 45 RPMs. (It was a small record player with a sapphire needle, maybe not over 12" x 24", and had a zebra stripped case). Even so, it didn't take anything away from all of the many, many hours of pure enjoyment I got from listening to so very many l.p.s on it. Not just The Beatles, but The Doors, and CCR, and Otis Redding, and Sly and The Family Stone, and The Stones, Iron Butterfly, The Turtles, etc.,etc., etc.

I was "aware" of the summer of love, but at 16 it really didn't mean a whole lot to me. I'd seen films of the hippies on the evening news, and, well, that was about all of the exposure I ever got to that crowd until sometime later in my life. Afterall, I lived in the midst of "Nowheresville, Kentucky", an area that didn't get out of the 1950's until 1971, and was still slow to adapt to anything new in the world for many years afterwards (and still is).

Another thing I remember was the various clues to what was the hoax regarding the death of Paul Mccartney being on that l.p.. Paul with his back turned towards us, the hand over his head on the front cover and the look of a funeral at the crowd's feet. I used to have a magazine that was published on that back in the latter 60's; wish I still did (need to hunt on online auctions for that one) that listed all of those little "clues". (Unfortunately an ex-wife got my original copy damn her soul to hell.)

As for the music itself, I can sing right along with probably any song on it. But, that's not unusual for me as I can more than likely sing along with ANY Beatles song. "Sgt. Peppers" was just one more step in my love for the group's music and great talent.

I'm still just as big a fan of them today.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

"And The Question is----"

It seemed like an easy enuff question to put to several people that I considered pretty much authorities on comic books. It was a question regarding The Comics Code Authority.

As any hardcore comic book fan knows, in 1954 the CCA was formed to eliminate such things as excessive violence, sex, horror, etc. from the pages of comic books by those who had the "frame of mind" that viewing such things in the four-colored pages would lead to juvenile delinquency.

"The Code" pretty much destroyed E.C. Publications whose main stay was titles which contained horror and crime stories (as well as "other" things the CCA frowned upon), and forced all but a very few companies, notably Dell (who had their own standards and family guidelines) and Gilbert Publications (publishers of such titles as Classics Illustrated, The World Around Us and Classics Illustrated Junior) to submit all pages of their comic book stories to the CCA for their approval. Upon either approval or editing of anything they deemed unfit, their comics were then given permission to display The Comics Code of Authority Seal of Approval stamp on their covers.

By March of 1955 almost every comic book displayed such a stamp in the top right-hand corner of the cover of the title. But, to get back to my question, what was the first comic book (or, comic book title) to display the CCA stamp?

The earliest I can find is a copy of Archie's Joke Book (Archie Publications) #16, which is dated Winter, 1954-55. I'm not saying it IS the earliest comic to display the stamp; merely the earliest one I can find.

So...if someone can locate a comic that was published with an earlier date sporting The Code, I would certainly like to hear from you, just out of my own curiosity.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"Hot, hot, hot"

Picked up yet another load of boxes, mostly comics, that didn't sell on auctions. Figured that since they either weren't listed or didn't sell, I'd just go back thru them all and keep whatever I thought I might want to, plus make sure everything in them I was keeping were in bags with backing boards. Out of the eleven various size boxes, I kept four full ones. I'd glad I did. One set in particular was the first 12 or so issues of the 2000 Stormwatch series by Warren Ellis. And another was several issues of the 2000 series of (Marvel's) "Captain Marvel". Then I saved many comics just because I remembered them being fun reads or contained great artwork by the likes of Paul Gulacy, Steve Ditko, and others. They're only taking up space and don't cost anything to feed them, so...

Got outside this morning to find one of my tires had gone flat. Thought maybe I just hadn't noticed it getting low and it just went down slowly, so I hooked up the small air compressor to fill it only to discover it was leaking from the valve stem. Opened up the trunk to get the spare and found that tire low as well, but aired it up and it's holding fine. Looking at the tire I took off it was just as well to be changed as it had a bad spot where wires were coming through. Replaced the valve stem and aired it back up and it's holding fine now and can be used as the spare instead. I don't really travel that much to wear out tires on a car; just usually to work and back, so they seem to last quite a while. Never cared that much for a Ford vehicle, but I'll have to admit that the '95 Taurus I own has been a decent ride for the past 4 or more years I've had it now and given me very little maintenance problems outside of having to replace that steering column earlier this year.
Automobiles can actually last one a long time IF they're maintained right. I plan on having this car for at least 3 more years before I trade it in or just buy another outright.

One car I had, a '73 Plymouth Ventura, I drove for 12 years. paid a thousand for it when it was three years old, and when I finally sold it I got five hundred from a guy that wanted to fix up a Ventura he owned (so I feel like I just "leased" it for $500. for a dozen years!). The only bad thing about Venturas (and the "Nova" from the same year) is that they had bad under-coatings on their paint jobs, causing them to rust similiarly under the paint jobs.

And, these are just random thoughts today...

Tried to visit with my dad at the local nursing home today for a while, but it was just one of those days that it was impossible for him to sit still and talk. He kept wanting to wheel around the whole building, go outside, etc. Dad has his bad days, and his "a little bit better days" anymore, and occasionally he'll sit there and know who you are and talk (usually about things that don't really exist or his mind's somewhere in the far past). This just wasn't one of those days, and both my mother and a friend of her's had the same experience when they went for a visit today as well.

My mother's mind at 84 however, is still just as sharp as it ever was and she still works every week day as a librarian here in this town. I visit with her a lot, and invite her over for dinner and cookouts very often and try to keep a close eye on her. It's a bitch to grow older... but its gonna happen to us all eventually.
And on to other things... Got in that lot of Warren/Kitchen Sink magazine editions of "The Spirit" that was published back in the 1970-80's today via UPS. Great Will Eisner stuff! I'm going to try to finish this set since I only lack 6 issues total counting the full-color special that was a "mail-away-for edition". With this I also got three more of the 1983 comic book series I needed of the character.

My wife has a craft show this weekend, and I'm off but won't be attending it since one of her fellow crafters will be helping her set up and sell. By the weekend I'm sure both my yard and my folks will need mowing again, even tho' I hate to do it with our desperate need of rain in these parts. We haven't had but one short shower now in ...what? Three weeks? (I forget.) the ground here is like concrete.

Finally...I see where Paul McCartney is getting ready to release some new music, but scenes I viewed that were going to be on "Good Morning America" show him playing a mandolin (or some such thing). That can't be good. Geez Paul...if you can't make music like you did 40 years ago anymore, just retire. (But then, maybe he actually NEEDS some cash these days after all he's given away to Heather.)

(I'm outta here.)

Monday, June 04, 2007

"And Into June"

With this year moving right along into June now, we're still somewhat slow at work "customer-wise". So much so that in the wholesale department there's talk of laying at least two workers off. Don't see that I have a whole lot to worry about in the retail division tho' as there's only two full time employees there (counting myself) and one part-timer. Most of the time only two of us are working at a time, however. The tool department is definately pulling the main part of the weight, out-selling such items as fiber optics, dolls and knick-knacks 4-to-1. This is naturally my department to keep stocked, and all by myself. Needless to say, this keeps me hoppin' all day long, and that's not counting the time I spend doing other things such as selling trailers, fixing bad light fixtures, and so on and so on into infinium.

But I feel fortunate to have a job such as it is, and I'm still getting pretty much full time hours each week. One week I'll have 36 hours and the next 40+, which evens things out. Just a matter of how long I can keep up the pace in my advancing years since everything is more or less manual, physical labor.

And on to other things...My eBay auctions went pretty bad. I put the blame on this entirely on myself because I was letting someone do the listing and selling, letting them take out the various auction fees, then just splitting the money from what was sold. BIG mistake. The guys listing my items told me they were going to put ALL of the items on at one time for the biggest haul, when in fact they've thus far listed on three seperate times. Now that would have been fine, save that instead of putting on the items for 5 to 7 day auctions, they had them all at 3 day listings, giving potential buyers little of no chance to see them.

Next we look at the listings temselves to find little real information about their content, anything in particular about the items, or their actual conditions. That's something very important to the buyer, natch, so this hurt sales as well.

Finally, they wanted to save money on the listing fees and put large lots of comic books starting out at a mere ninety-nine cents (thinking buyers would bid them UP). On MOST they did not, thus letting anywhere from 45 to 70+ comics go at a paltry "nothing". So I'm just hoping that the few items that did indeed do well end up making up some of this loss.

So today I picked up 10 various size large boxes of comics that hadn't sold (and more to pick up in the next few days), bringing them back to having to store here in the pc room (and just after I'd made space for my art board as I mentioned in my previous blog post). I went back thru them and pulled out 3 boxes just to keep. I figured that if I couldn't sell them for what they were worth, I might as well keep them and try selling them later on myself (and do the listings RIGHT the next time).

So...what else.....

I won a nice set of the Warren/Kitchen Sink magazines, The Spirit, and should be getting those pretty soon. The set was only missing five issues of the 41 issue run from the 1970-80's. Lotta nice Eisner work in those! And a friend sent me decent scans of both the front and back covers for my coverless Quality-Vital 1944 issue of The Spirit "nn", giving me now a decent reader copy for my collection.

The legal proceeding are going right along with my father-in-law's estate and the will should soon be read. Still no plans for the auction of his property until that's all taken care of,so...

Finally got around to scraping the old paint off the under-eves on the back of my house and replacing the old wood and repainting that as well. But the door skins I had saved from the past year of so (that my father-in-law had given me) are totally useless as when I checked them today i found them wet, warped and molded; nothing but garbage now to be hauled away. Instead I'll have to use thin plywood to cover the sides of the screen-in back porch now.

The Weather: Here locally we've not had but a few drops of rain in nearly three weeks. My mowing is less frequent, at least.

"Dat's th' gist o'it".