One Hundred Random Thoughts #16-20


16. Fridays on eBay really is sales death. You might as well give your stuff away. And bargain-hunt then for stuff you want.

17. So, it seems that some of the remaining Bush followers are now warming up to place them blame for the utter failure in Iraq not on Bush and his allies but squarely on the war protesters. If their President has the power to spy on whomever he wants and indefinitely detain [and torture] anyone he wants -- all under a retroactive doctrine that the executive has unlimited power to do whatever it chooses to keep the country safe -- surely he could have shut down the dissent from those damned late-swilling liberal lunatics.

18. The First Rule of Pranking: Never ever ever go with the first idea that comes to mind, ever.
The Second Rule of Pranking: Cook up a bullshit story that's barely on the edge of plausibility; you're making a joke, not a [possibly slanderous] suggestion.
The Third Rule of Pranking: Work alone and wait a while before you share your work with others.
The Fourth Rule of Pranking: Don't shit where you eat, unless it's a close friend.
The Fifth Rule of Pranking: Admit nothing, no matter what.

19. A hard-drinking friend of mine wanted to try a nutritionally satisfying but purely liquid diet. We did the math and figured out it only required one glass of orange juice, two glasses of milk and 47 pints of Guinness. Another boozehound I knew once took on my dare to eat nothing solid except canned corn; it took less than a week before it looked the same going in and going out.

XX. Ninja used boxes of crickets to mask the sound of their footsteps.

The 617th step on the last road home.

The 616th step on the last road home.

Comical Books hyping videotronic games

The other day, a friend of mine told me that video-game sales crashed so badly in 1983-84 that many experts argue that the field may have disappeared entirely had the Nintendo Entertainment System not hit in '86, and the one-two punch leading to the crash was the pathetic sales of the Atari 2600 games Pac-Man and E.T., the latter's poor showing attributed to its atrocious gameplay. I refuse to believe it, since E.T. is still one of my favorite 2600 games because it actually requires some thought and skill.

Still, any business where the sales leader receives so many returns in one year that they literally fill 14 tractor-trailers, drive them out to the desert and dump millions of dollars in stock into a landfill can't possibly be very healthy. The funniest/saddest part is the report that Atari had the cartridges crushed so that no one could drive to the middle of nowhere and dig up, say, a rusty Monte Carlo's truckbed-ful of remaindered, buried E.T.s and Pac-Mans and make ... tens? .... of dollars off them.

[I also learned that Nintendo initially wanted Atari to handle distributing the NES in America, but Coleco's publishing of an unlicensed Donkey Kong port queered the deal and Atari focused on their 8-bit console, the 7800. Yeah, I've never heard of it either. Oh, and the dude who founded Atari sold it and founded Chuck E. Cheese and two-dozen other businesses.]

Anyway, one of the stranger pieces of nerd-commerce nostalgia is the esteem you can occasionally still see for the ATARI FORCE comic book, which was published by Atari's sister division DC Comics [both were owned by Warner Communications at the time]. While researching the crash, I found this archive of the DC-made Atari minicomics that were included with some of the games; I remember my grandmother being so annoyed that they used comics as a come-on for such dumb games, which reinforced her/my childhood view that color comics were all advertisements for cheap junk. We agreed they had nice Jose Luis-Garcia art before she threw them away, at least. The Howie Post art in the Centipede one is quite nice, although I guess I don't remember the game well enough to understand what the hell the comic has to do with the game.

In the future, everyone world-famous will blog for 15 minutes.

John Kricfalusi now has a blog. And this one is 2 Lame 2 B Fake.

One Hundred Random Thoughts #01-15

1. Despite being an alcoholic barrelhouse pianist, Johnnie Johnson could turn a phrase; after one particularly bizarre rant from Chuck Berry during the rehearsals for the documentary/concert film HAIL HAIL ROCK & ROLL!, the band turned to Johnson for an explanation of what Berry was babbling about. Johnson shrugged and said "Hey, you know him as well as I do. I just known him longer."

2. By all rights, Charlie and Grandpa Joe should have been thrown off the Wonka tour after they stole some Fizzy Lifting drinks and messed up the bubble ventilation system. It's telling that Charlie's unsanctioned moment of gluttony was the only one that didn't involve candy.

3. Could Willy Wonka be even more of a manipulative dick? He practically rubs Charlie's nose in the fact that the only reason he wants a child to run the Chocolate Factory is because a child won't have ideas of his own. Gee thanks, Mr. Wonka -- so, if I'm your mindless flunky, even after your death, my family won't have to sleep in the same bed and slowly starve to death on scraps?

4. The United Arab Emirate/port security news doesn't disturb me because the ay-rabs will control "da docks"; it's that the whole thing stinks of cronyism, and Bush's pals has a commitment to excellence roughly on par with any Delta House frat guy.

5. The country is starting to catch up on Howard Dean. It's uncanny how right he's been about virtually everything he predicted in the last few years.

6. Assuming that the back-up features of the main series are also included, I would be first in line to buy THE ESSENTIAL SPIDER-HAM. No jokes about how "Essential" Peter Porker's stories are; Marvel's only published a small stack of truly essential comics in its entire existence.

7. Milton Caniff would have turned 99 next Tuesday.

8. I don't know when they were implemented, but Amazon now has prominently placed text ads for other booksellers on their pages; I momentarily confused them for links to Amazon-proper product pages. Good thing they had them, since I couldn't find a new book I wanted and they didn't have, but one of their advertisers did. The bookseller I found through them has better service, presentation and prices than Amazon, so I'll be going directly to the new place in the future. Could they really make enough money off those ads to not mind sending business elsewhere?

9. Message boards and other online chat areas are the opiate of the nerd masses. Cold turkey has got me on the run.

X. Most castles have clockwise spiral staircases to make it easier for a right-handed defender to fight off a righty interloper coming up the stairs. Except for some castles in Ireland, which were owned by families who were predominately left-handed.

11. When investigative journalism is outlawed, only outlaws will be investigative journalists.

12. There is no honor in weak craftsmanship, because incompetence is not a virtue.

13. I'll never get over Macho Grande. Or my high-school crush on Natalie Merchant. Or selling my Simpsons pinball machine. Or faking all those orgasms when I should have been upfront about my needs. Or wasting all that time and money on collecting every North-American video-game system extant, only to see most of them fry the moment I hooked them all together and turned the power on. Or getting fired from my job as Gene in a Kiss cover band after a show in State College, PA. when my bandmates found out that I wasn't pretending to vomit blood during my bass solo. Other than that, no regrets. Yep.

14. For my money, the most subtle but delicious value to be appreciated in experiencing a long-term serial is isolating and examining the point where the author[s] lost faith in the concept.

15. Flipping through '70s-'80s MADs, I can't imagine anyone finding the jokes loud-out-loud funny, ever, but the quality of illustration and printing is amazing.

The 614th step on the last road home.

The 606th step on the last road home.

Attention Earthlings

You have 90 minutes to six hours to buy my crap. Dennis O'Neil & Neal Adams' GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW, Les Daniels' Marvel & DC Comics art-book histories, all three volumes of the Kitchen Sink ZOT! collections, a Frank Miller book, Jeff Smith's BONE, Jack Kirby & Joe Simon's CAPTAIN AMERICA CLASSIC YEARS slipcase and a small pile of Alex Ross comics.

Three things to make this post not 100% spam:

1. If the reportage about it to date is accurate, HOLY TERROR, BATMAN! will be the most retardedly awesome thing comics will produce next year. It sounds like Frank Miller will rub superhero comic books in their own historically jingoistic shit while celebrating the genre-form's undeniable powers of projection. Now, that's a juggling act.

2. The Danish Muhammad cartoons are intentionally provocative hate speech. I don't understand why people would argue with that -- politically motivated racism, anti-Semitism and hamfisted bigotry are core Western values, after all -- and the scrambling to find depictions of the prophet in Muslim art [as if the religion has been unchanging and unified for over a thousand years] stinks of the college-freshman dorm where we all had to discuss whether or not it's hypocritical that a black man can call a black "my nigga" but a white guy can't. Also, isn't it curious that the same handful of looped footage of the riots seem to be used for all the reports, and most of the reports are coming from Syria and Iran, the two countries the Bush administration is warming up to open the third and fourth fronts [!] in the War on Terra. What a wonderful strategy. Really, are we to believe that none of the neo-con nerds in Bush's cabinet never ever spent a Saturday night playing RISK with their friend[s] in their school's Young Republicans club?

3. It's a shame Teddy Kennedy didn't have medical-response and communication teams during his Chappaquiddick vacation back in the day. What the hell is the man who is one heartbeat away from the Presidency doing engaging in a gun sport in the first place?

The 603rd step on the last road home.

In what's sure to shock no one, the test results are in.

What Muppet are you?

You are Statler or Waldorf.You have a high opinion of yourself, as do others. But only because you are in the balcony seats.ALSO KNOWN AS:Those two old guys in the box. SPECIAL TALENTS:Heckling, complaining, being cantankerous QUOTE:"Get off the stage, you bum!" LAST BOOKS READ:"The Art of Insult" and "How To Insult Art" NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT:Their pacemakers.
Take this quiz!

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Give me your money and take my stuff, pathetic Earthlings

New eyedrops + kickass new sunbox = me getting back to work. Huzzah. Now go bid on my stuff right now. Thank you.

So this isn't a completely spammy post, here's a pathetically funny Amazon Customer review I found while looking something up for one of today's auctions:

"I love Denny O'Neil's writing when he sticks to super-heroes fighting super-villians, but he took an awfully liberal views on the issues. I bought the book none the less, and I would buy it again, but he made everyone who was homeless or a junky extemely innocent. Some of those people did get there because of their own actions not the government or evil landlords."

Ha ha, it is to laugh.

The 599th step on the last road home.

Oh the wonderful things you find when you're looking for something else

My search for the elusive, awesome Nejishiki wind-up toy continues; I still haven't found a store that stocks it, but I did accidentally find:

An old audio recording of Yngwie J. Malmsteen, that pudgy neo-classical guitar-playing has-been, "unleashing the fucking fury" on a Japanese woman who poured water on him during a flight.

This hype site for horror manga-ka Kazuo Umezu's next film -- which, from what I can read of the front page, will be an anthology film based on six of his short stories. The neatest thing about the site is that each film has its own trailer -- click the images for those -- as well as the main trailer for the whole film.

I used to think the biggest problem with cell phones like mine was that they always seem to be in Roaming, even at home -- and that the cell companies get away with charging for Roaming calls, which I think is clearly them forcing their customers to pay for their crappy service twice -- anyway, no, the biggest problem with our cell phones is that they don't come with screen backgrounds by Tsuge, Umezu or Mizuki.

Your guess is as good as mine as to how I wound up on this page, but doesn't this book of Osamu Tezuka interviews sound delicious? When I was at the Journal, I had started to line up licensing to translate and publish the Tezuka/Suiho Tagawa conversation for an international kid's comics issue. I hear their convo is pretty great.

SLIGHTLY LATER UPDATE: Alvin just sent a link to Tom K's swell photo-tour of the Norakuro Museum, which includes a photo of a Norakuro/Astro Boy sketch that looks to be by Tezuka, although I like the photos of Tagawa's desk the most.

The 598th step on the last road home.

The 593rd step on the last road home.

This is why WFMU is the greatest radio station on Earth.

Duh nuh nuhnuh nuhnuhnuh, duh nuh nuhnuh nuhnuhnuh, SUN-RA! I had long heard about a wild '60s Batman exploitation record that was recorded by the Arkestra under a different name, but never saw or heard a shred of it ... until today, when those swell folks posted it on their blog. There's something perversely beautiful about Sun Ra playing funked-up classical themes for a Batman record published by a toy company. I wonder how many kids got this record in 1966 and felt ripped off that the Hefti Bat-theme didn't sound exactly like it did on the show.