Thursday, December 29, 2005

Comic Books to Go

It looks like I'll be buying comic books for the first time it 5 or 6 years? Good grief, that's a long hiatus. Hopefully being a bit more picky will help keep me under control. Whenever I try to get every last bat-book, I end up with a pile of comics at the dealer that I can't afford. Yes, I know that's a horrible thing; I'm confessing here. Of course, that's not going to happen now, what with Batman having about 40 or 50 related monthly series these days. I think I'll be better off picking and choosing and just getting a few I like here and there. I stopped by Mindgames here in Florence and Kim Lawson was extremely helpful. I also picked up a Crimson Mist Batman action figure (which I believe wraps up the Christmas presents I received [ha! wraps up! I didn't even do that on purpose]). The figure is just plain cool - based on the series of Elseworld comics (Red Rain, Bloodstorm, Crimson Mist) where Batman meets Dracula, gets bit and ends up as a vampire himself. The Elseworlds series are some of my favorite - I love the re-imagining of old characters and stories. Some highlights:
  • Kingdom Come (an alternate future and acclaimed 4-part mini series starring and guest-starring nearly all of the DC Universe),
  • Batman: Speeding Bullets (in which Kal-El is found by Thomas and Martha Wayne; not John and Martha Kent),
  • Catwoman Annual #1, 1994 (a fantasy world where Batman is a knight and Catwoman a shapeshifting, well, Cat-woman - this was my introduction to Elseworlds),
  • Detective Comics Annual #7, 1994 (Batman is the pirate, Leatherwing),
  • and the first Elseworlds story: Gotham by Gaslight (Batman meets Jack the Ripper in 19th Century Gotham).
The Batman action figure for Kingdom Come falls under Chester's Law. I didn't pick them up when they were $14.99, and now they're going for around $50 on eBay.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas isn't over yet!

Get more stuff!! There's still time to buy!

Did you get lots of things, but there's still more stuff you don't have? Target's weekly ad exclaims:


Not thankful for the stuff you did get? WalMart's web page tells you to make sure to:

Get What YOU Want!

There's always room for for more stuff.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas / Greed / Classic Rock

This Christmas, more than any other, has turned my thoughts toward those who might not have a Christmas as nice as I'm going to have. I wish I could say I was doing a lot this year because of that, but the truth is, even though I've done more than any previous Christmas, what I have done is far less than what I could do. I guess it's one of those things that I need to carry with me beyond Christmas, to be mindful of the needs of others; to do something about the needs of others, regardless of the time of year.

I've been thinking of this season about greed, consumerism, and the desire for more "stuff". Recently, I heard on the radio about a local organization (HEALS, Inc.) having a "shoe drive" (my term) for kids that didn't have proper shoes to wear to school. It disturbs me that there are kids in Huntsville that have to walk to school in the cold December rain in holey shoes, but I'm worried about what action figures I'm going to get for Christmas. And that's just scratching the surface.

From so many places I'm reminded of this season of giving and sacrifice; of so many people celebrating the birth of Jesus. I'm not going to get into the whole "Left-wing anti-Christmas conspiracy" thing, but I wonder how much of that that is hype. I find it ironic that I grew up in a Christian tradition that went to great lengths to remove Jesus from the whole holiday season (if that doesn't make sense, Mark Elrod does a good job of describing the phenomenon). I wonder if they are part of the conspiracy...

But now, I'm thankful of being reminded of Jesus and His sacrifice when I hear Kenny Rogers and Wynonna sing:

Mary...did you know...
When you kiss your little baby,
You've kissed the face of God.
(Mary, Did You Know)

Or Sarah McLachlan and the Barenaked Ladies:

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Worship Him, God Most High.
(God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)

For some reason, the more I think about it, the more it convicts me of how much I have and how much others don't.

Then tonight, I read about John Densmore (who was the drummer for The Doors) and his issues with "selling out" their music.

He has some interesting thoughts after Cadillac, last year, offered them $15 million for Break On Through to sell their SUVs:

All of it made me think about this book I want to write. It's about greed.

How do people get such crazy ideas? What did Paul say about the love of money?

A few years ago Densmore wrote a piece in The Nation regarding the same thing. Here he says things like:

We used to build our cities and towns around churches. Now banks are at the centers of our densely populated areas.

Does this say anything about what we worship?

He says a lot more, and this paragraph is to good to pass up:

Actually, it was John and Yoko who inspired me to start a 10 percent tithe, way back in the early '80s. In the Playboy interview, John mentioned that they were doing the old tradition, and it stuck in my mind. If everybody gave 10 percent, this world might recapture a bit of balance. According to my calculations, as one gets up into the multi category, you up the ante. Last year I nervously committed to 15 percent, and that old feeling rose again: the greed gene. When you get to multi-multi, you should give away half every year. Excuse me, Mr. Gates, but the concept of billionaire is obscene. I know you give a lot away, and it's easy for me to mouth off, but I do know something about it. During the Oliver Stone film on our band, the record royalties tripled, and as I wrote those 10 percent checks, my hand was shaking. Why? It only meant that I was making much more for myself. It was the hand of greed.

It's interesting reading this ex-drummer of The Doors echoing some of the thoughts I've been having. And the man tithes. I don't know where he tithes, and, actually, it's none of my business, but how many of us who are vocal about our Christianity can actually claim to do that? Why do I have the feeling that if all the Christians in Florence, Alabama gave 10%, poverty would be but a memory here?

Thanks to the Maverick Philosopher.

Quote of the Day: rich in helping extravagantly generous.
Paul, in his first letter to the young preacher, Timothy

Saturday, December 17, 2005

...and the Ugly

Why, oh why, do they have to make sequels?

Ok, so sometimes you get an Empire Strikes Back out of the mix, but most of the time it's Mannequin: On the Move or Look Who's Talking Too. Ok, maybe that's a bit strong in this time of franchises (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Spiderman, X-Men, too many more to mention), but you know what I'm talking about.

Was it really necessary to make a sequel to 1964's Rankin Bass special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? And to make it a full-length hour-and-a-half CGI straight-to-video production? This has got to be one of the worst capitalizations of a childhood dream I have ever seen. Made in 2001, it's called, of course, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer & the Island of Misfit Toys. I believe this to confuse people who were enamored with the original to mistakenly buy this new video. Maybe that's not true, but last year, when I was looking for the original for my daughter, I came across this DVD over and over, and nearly bought it, thinking it was one of the original specials. At the time, I remembered that Rudolph visited the Island of Misfit Toys, but couldn't quite remember all the details. And in this sequel, the Island isn't even the main setting. It figures in the story, but it's only visited once (I think; it was difficult to pay attention). On the package of the new DVD, many of the characters from the old one appear on the cover (with a few new, but with my aging memory, I wasn't quite sure).

So they get a couple of names to play the main characters (Richard Dreyfuss, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rick Moranis), but of course, they couldn't play any of the old characters, so they had to create new ones (like a Zsa Zsa Gabor-talking hippopotamus that can fly; no, really). They brought in actual voice talent for the old characters (names no one ever recognizes, like Kathleen Barr [Rudolph, Mrs. Clause], Scott McNeil [Hermey, Yukon Cornelius], Gary Chalk [Santa Clause, Bumble/Abominable Snowmonster]). The voice actors were the only impressive thing about the film. Many of the voices were good, but Rudolph and Hermey were dead on.

While my daughter sat through the whole thing, I could only half pay attention to keep my food down. Of course the first thing she wanted to do after seeing it was watch the first one again (she's 3, but she knows good entertainment).

Just to leave you with some feeling for the movie, I'll leave you with quote and one screen shot.

Quote (Narrator): Poor Bumble felt like a lost child at the mall.

The mall?!? I guess this is the the age we live in.

Screenshot: (Warning: Image may be disturbing to viewers who loved the true Rudolph).

I warned you! But had to look, didn't you?

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Good, the Bad...

I'm glad that the holidays bring out the best in some people so that it can take some edge off how they bring out the worst in other people. A couple of times we've been out shopping and happened to pick up a small present for my daughter when she was with us. Once was at Target; once was at Linens N Things (both stores in Florence, AL). Both times the cashier was very cognizant of what we were doing, helped us, and both times double-bagged the item so she would be less likely to see it in the bag and when we got home. It's those kinds of things that remind me there's good in people. They weren't saving the world, sure, but the point was people were trying to be helpful, and be mindful of others, not merely being selfish and inconsiderate (which is how I, in my limited thinking, often assume most people are).

Of course, there are exceptions. Recently my wife and I got new phones from Cingular. We did it on-line and over the phone, and couldn't be more impressed with how helpful everyone was. Of course, when we went to the store (the one in Florence, on Cox Creek Parkway), and tried to get some help there, it was a different story. They were very nice until it was obvious we weren't spending any money there - we just wanted to transfer the address books from our old phones to our new phones. And then, when we wanted to add to our phones the (free) package that allows you a pay-per-download internet connection, they become even less helpful. Basically, you can pay for a monthly package, or pay per KB downloaded. The first person that set set me up only did one of my two phones, then walked away. So, when the sales associate was finished transferring my addresses, I asked him to do the other phone, at which point he began to talk me out of it. I'm probably going to download maybe one or two ring tones and a wallpaper, so didn't see the need to spend the money on a monthly package. After I told him "no" the first time, he told me it would cost four times as much; at that, I told him I probably wouldn't be using it very much. Then he tried to show me the error of my ways with Logic by telling me:

That's like spending $5.99 per movie with pay-per-view when you can get unlimited movies by getting a movie channel for $15.99 a month.

Then I responded with:

But what if you only want to watch one movie a month?

I don't think he liked it when I turned his Logic back on him. I guess he wasn't going to make any money off the free package. But then, maybe I'm being judgmental. Maybe he was being rude for some other reason.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Comic Book Movies on Cable

I have to say, I was pretty impressed with Painkiller Jane which debuted Saturday night on the Sci Fi Channel. For something that premiered on cable, it was actually pretty good. If you missed it, it's supposed to be showing again Thursday night. Although it was obvious from the movie, the buzz is that they'll probably use it as a pilot for a series. If the series is as well made as the movie, I'll be watching it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Corporations are wierd.

Came across a couple of odd things tonight.

First, I collect non-sports cards. What I buy mainly falls into the realms of movies and comics (I'm sure that comes as a surprise). Tonight, I bought a pack of Topps Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith Widevision Movie Cards.

These types of cards typically contain a special insert that appears only one in so many packs. For example, these packs could contain a) Motion Flix-Pix cards with the odds per pack of finding one 1 in 9; or b) Chrome Art Cards with the odds per pack of finding one 1 in 6. Sadly, this pack contained no insert. However, the package notes: No Purchase Necessary. The back notes that you can send away for a chance to get these cards with the same odds. I could send up to 8 entries, with each having this chance to win an insert. Unless I'm Canadian. This is where it gets wierd. The last 2 sentences say, and I quote:

Potential Canadian winners will be required to first correctly answer a mathematical skill-testing question. Include on a 3 x 5 card the answer to the following skill-test question: 5 + 4 x 2 - 8 = ?

What?!? I am completely at a loss here. So basically, if you're American and stupid, you can get a chance to get these special inserts, but if you're Canadian, you have to be smart to get a chance? I have no idea what that's about. I'll have to ask some of my Canadian friends to see if they have any idea.

Secondly, we had a small superglue debacle tonight. Whenever my wife uses superglue, I suggest that it might be better if I were the one to do the gluing. Last time she ended up with three of her fingers bonded together. Tonight nothing got stuck together, but she had quite a few fingertips covered with 3M Super Glue Gel. So, to help, I thought I would go on-line and search for remedies for superglue on skin. I came across this handy item on the offical superglue site:

If lips are accidentally stuck together, apply a generous amount of warm water and encourage maximum wetting and pressure from saliva from inside the mouth. Peel or roll (do not pull) lips apart. It is almost impossible to swallow the adhesive as a liquid. The adhesive solidifies upon contact with saliva (moisture) and could adhere to the inside of the mouth. Saliva will lift the adhesive in 1-2 days, avoid swallowing the adhesive after detachment.

I'm not even going to ask.

All I Want for Christmas...

It's the time of year for giving. And, yes: getting. I've been working hard over the past year on being more generous, but that doesn't make it any less fun to open presents. Today, I got my first Christmas present of 2005; it was from my brother. It was a (drumroll):


I hadn't actually seen one of these, yet (well, except on the internet). I can't wait to place him next to my Darth Tater in my office at work. (Note the laser masher.)

Stop, rebel fries!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

More Comic Book Films

My two favorite mediums are movies and comic books. Most of all, I love movies based on comic books. One of my favorite past-times is finding little-known comic book movies (superhero movies count, even if they're not based on comics). Whether it's the movie that's not well-known (The Return of Captain Invincible), or the comic (Mystery Men), or both (American Splendor), it's just something I enjoy doing. As you can tell, I also like to review them. (Sorry for the shameless self-promotion. Hey, that's alliterative! Hey, alliterative's a word!).

The Sci Fi Channel has been jumping on the bandwagon lately. In April, it premiered Man-Thing, based on the Marvel comic, which was coming out on DVD a month later. I was finally able to see it. I had it TiVo'd it back when it premiered, and finally tried to watch it a few weeks ago, but about 10 minutes into it, I realized it was very edited (very edited? I'm sure somewhere a copy editor is having convulsions). So this weekend I finally got the DVD from the rental store. It was edited for good reason - being a horror film, it's a pretty solid R and cable wouldn't have been able to show it uncut. It was better than I thought it might be for a straight-to-video. My review is at the above link.

I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but as coincidence would have it, I was scrolling through upcoming events on Sci Fi Channel and Cartoon Network last night, and found that Sci Fi was premiering Painkiller Jane today. From what I can tell, this is a comic book previously published by Event Comics (which I can't even find when Googled), but now seems to be with Dynamite Comics? Sounds complicated to me. I don't know anything about it, except what I've seen in the movie previews, but my curiosity is peaked. If you're interested in seeing it, it will also be on at 9 (Eastern?) Thursday night (Dec 15).

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rankin Bass, Stop Motion, and Toy Collecting

Remember those old Rankin Bass specials when we were growing up? They were always my favorite, especially the stop motion specials: Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Rudolph's Shiny New Year. We were recently watching the original Rudolph (where he goes to the Island of Misfit Toys), and there's a doll there that doesn't seem to fit in with the misfits (like the Charlie-in-the-box or the elephant with pink spots). We re-wound it a number of times, and couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. Well, apparently, we're not the only ones that had this question. This article sheds a little light on the subject.

I was recently listening to The Wall and was surprised at the parallels between that story and Rudolph. Both are about misfits that are rejected by society for being who they really are. Of course, Rudolph has a happier ending.

I'll definitely never make it as a prognosticator. This is the story of my life as a collector. I see lots of things that I want, but, of course can only buy a few. It always seems to end up that the things I do buy never are worth much, but the things I don't always seem to go up in value. Maybe it's just Murphy's Law. Maybe I should create a new one:

Chester's Law: The things that you don't collect will tend to increase in value, while the things you do collect tend to depreciate.

Anyway, case in point. A couple years ago, I had the chance to buy set of action figures from The Year Without a Santa Claus - you know, the one with the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser? Well, I didn't buy them when they came out, but now that I think they would make neat Christmas decorations, the Heat Miser and Snow Miser sets have tripled in value and and are going for $50-$60 on eBay. Of course, the Abominable Snowmonster that I did buy a few years ago is going for around $10. I guess I was never intended to make it as a toy investor.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

'Tis the Season for Plastic Surgery?

Ok, why does it seem like I've been hearing a lot more ads on the radio about cosmetic surgery. Is this really a popular Christmas present?

Overheard on one commercial:

Who better than your plastic surgeon to guide you through what modern medicine has to offer?

Hmmmm...who better?

Same day, different radio station, different doctors:

We think of ourselves as not only surgeons, but also artists.

I think you're going to have to find a different canvas, buddy...

What disturbing times we live in.

'Tis the Season for Processed Meats

This is my favorite time of the year. For lots of reasons. One of those reasons is processed meats. Beef jerky. Summer sausage. Hunters sausage. Pickled bologna. It's all good.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

God, Beauty, and Pink Floyd

Lately, what music has brought my mind to God more than any other?

Pink Floyd.

The other day, I was driving home from work, listening to the local classic rock station, and Breathe from Dark Side of the Moon came over the radio. The music brought a smile to my face. It calmed me during a stressful ride home. It made me think about the beauty God has created in this life. The awesome gift of music that He has given us. The amazing talent He granted to Waters, Gilmour, Wright, Mason, and others on the album.

A couple days later, I was listening to A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Lately, it seems like believers are taking more of an interest in the plight of people in the world around them. (I'd like to throw in a finally here, but I'm pretty much behind the curve, so that'd be the pot calling the kettle black.) It seems odd that we would need this turning point, considering the importance Jesus placed on helping those in need, but it seems like these times have seen many of us turning a blind eye to the helpless. And as the fifth track on the album began to play, I was reminded how it seems like everybody's doing it. Almost as if we have some sort of subliminal pusher: Come know you want to...just ignore that homeless guy...forget the fact that you're more affluent than most of the rest of the's not your fault...

The words just kind of echoed in my head.

On the turning away,
From the pale and downtrodden...

It seems Jesus and David Gilmour agree on this one.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

First Fridays in Florence

I love alliteration.

We enjoyed First Friday last night in downtown Florence. Businesses are open late, artists are selling their art outside, local musicians are playing. I have to say I'm disappointed that we waited until it was cold outside to check it out, but we still had some good conversations with some artists braving the cold visiting from Huntsville, and we once again enjoyed the Dark Chocolate Decadence coffee from Shaolin Computers. Nolen Cole Gallery was hoppin' with live music. In the future we'll have to make sure we make more time to just walk around and see what's going on.