athelind: (Default)

First Superman Comic Sells For Record $1 Million



I dread work this week; odds are far too high that at least one bozo will come in every night, all excited about this, and wanting to talk about comics and collectibles as "investments".

He won't want to buy things, per se. He'll want my advice. What should he look for? What should he buy? What's the best return on his money?

How can he make a quick buck?

Your Obedient Serpent is honestly sick to death of comic books, superheroes, and pop-culture ephemera, but he'd still rather deal with people who read and enjoy these things than someone who bumbles in asking questions so clueless they defy an answer, simply because he's heard about someone who made huge returns on stuff that he's always dismissed.

How can you make a quick buck in the comics market? You can't. It took seventy godsforsaken years of carefully babying a fragile bundle of crappy, high-acid paper, starring a character nobody in the industry thought would catch on, to get that ten-million-fold return on Action's 10¢ cover price, you idiot.

Resolved: I am going to do my damnedest to sell these sleazy fools every worthless piece of crap I've got in the store, every random Big Event Comic, and most especially, every High-End, Hard-Sided, Nitrogen-Filled Comic Preservation Device I can dig up.

Because that's the real answer to the question. How do you make a quick buck in comics? By selling crap to the gullible.

Barnum was right.


athelind: (Default)
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At the moment, my Dream Car is the Aptera:




Every time I post a link to the Aptera, though, I get a lot of people whining about how impractical it would be in the snow, and that sort of thing. So, if money is truly no object, it would be sharing my garage with this cinematic classic ...



Yes, it still exists, it's been restored, and it's out there.

And if you make fun of my Aptera, I will take my Landmaster, run over your silly little SUV, and drive through your HOUSE.


athelind: (Default)
Desired Title.

My "Desired Title" is "Lord Chief Justice, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Master of the Buckhounds, Lord High Auditor, Coroner, Archbishop of Titipu, Groom of the Back Stairs, and Lord High Everything Else", but I'll settle for "Lead Cartographer: Mars Terraforming Fleet".

I mean, what the frak? Who cares what they're called? Is someone looking for a "Hydrographic Technician" going to blow off my posted resume because I have "GIS Specilaist" listed?

One of these sites basically hijacked my resume submission to somewhere else, and then demanded that I fill in their extra blanks before I could change the (really obnoxiously obvious) password they sent me; I'm tempted to put some sarcastic title there just to blow off steam.


(They also have a "delete resume" button, which I'm tempted to hit. Am I gonna get anything but spam from http://hotresumes.com?)
Update: I hit it.
athelind: (Default)
And now, everyone can stop the endless round of the same ol' Disney-Marvel mashup gags, because there's no way to top the awesome of this:




For those of you not in the loop, that's a take-off on the first on-panel appearance of Mary Jane Watson.

athelind: (Default)
The news in my last post has a lot of people worried about Marvel getting "Disneyfied". Funny, that hadn't really occurred to me.

I'd hate to see the intelligent, thoughtful storytelling of recent years compromised by a company who didn't respect the years of development and history of these characters. I'm not sure the store where I work could survive without merchandise aimed at the mature, sophisticated sensibilities of the modern comics audience.

I know, I know, when people hear "Disney", they still automatically think of the "wholesome" Mouse Factory of fifty years ago, as if the company had no idea how to tell exciting, entertaining action-adventure tales. But, seriously, folks: the modern Disney megalopoly has its tentacles in a lot more than happy, sappy, saccharine kiddie stuff. When I hear "Disney", I don't hear "Cartoon Company" anymore. I hear "Entertainment Powerhouse".

When I mentioned the effect this might have on the Marvel Studios movie series, it was almost entirely wondering if that side of the business would see a cash infusion that would re-accelerate the filming schedule (which has been pushed back a couple of times from the original plan of two big-name superhero pictures a year for three or four years).

Edit: [livejournal.com profile] cpxbrex pointed out that Marvel owes its recent barrage of movies to "complex financing", and that this may have something to do with the acquisition deal.

A lot of folks, on the other claw, are worried about them somehow compromising the integrity of the properties.

Personally? I think that the megacorp that gave us movies like No Country for Old Men and Miracle at St. Anna won't bat an eye at Tony Stark's antics.


Edit: Since none of the other comics blogs I read have mentioned this at all, I've combined the last two posts into a single post on my comics blog, Kirby Dots & Ditko Ribbons. Scooped! You are all so totally scooped! Like Raisin Bran, you're scooped!
athelind: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] quelonzia arranged for a long weekend for her birthday, and so, on Friday, we went to see District 9, and today, we finally wended our way to downtown San Jose to see Moon.

We are two for two on Smart, Well-Done, Thought-Provoking SF movies this weekend. The previews indicate several more are on the way -- and a few smart, thoughtful non-genre flicks, as well.

I was tempted to do a blog entry castigating District 9 for being an uncredited remake of Alien Nation, Moon for being a rip-off of all those '70s SF movies, right down to the rip-off set designs, and The Time Traveler's Wife for being based on a novel and thus proving Hollywood has to steal all their ideas from someplace else -- but I don't think the target audience would get the sarcasm.

If Generation Rape-My-Childhood thinks that Hollywood can't do anything new or non-derivative, maybe they should expand their horizons beyond the latest formulaic blockbuster or the remakes of 30-minute toy commercials from the '80s.

Sure, movies like this are in the minority, but they always have been. Sturgeon's Revelation holds, and has always held. If it seems that there was a higher percentage of good movies in decades past, that's because people prefer to remember the stuff they liked -- and because TV stations and cable channels seldom run the real crud.

athelind: (Default)
You know, in my last post, I linked to last year's tirade about Alvin and the Chipmunks. I should have gone ahead and quoted the best insight from the comments on that older post, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] circuit_four, since it really gets to the heart of the matter:

"A lot of this pop-culture purism is just people clinging to their own generation's nostalgia -- and I'm not really comfortable, myself, with how much of that nostalgia was hand-chosen for us by commercial interests."


Amen.


Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to order my tickets for Star Trek.
athelind: (Default)
There's a G.I. Joe movie coming out this summer.

Most of the buzz from the trailers has been positive, so far, but we're inevitably going to get a lot of bitching from the crowd who grew up on the '80s cartoon.

Considering that I had -- and still have -- a 1966-vintage Mercury Astronaut G.I. Joe, and was nearly 20 wheh your precious cartoon assaulted my fond childhood memories, there's not a whole lot I can say that is essentially different than what I said a year and a half ago when people were bitching about Alvin & The Chipmunks.


Come to think of it, I'm not really interested in your positive reactions, either.
athelind: (Default)
Your Obedient Serpent just got a spam call on his cell phone.

It wasn't one of the scam calls about my "automobile service contract" expiring, the ones that everyone was getting for a while there. This was a local carpet cleaning outfit.

I assume that it was a spam call, and not a wrong number. I hung up as soon as she identified herself.

You know, I've heard that there are some providers that let you customize the incoming ring on your cell -- the one that people hear when they dial your number.

I want to do that, and have a EULA as the ring for any unknown number:

"Unsolicited callers are advised that, by dialing this number, they have agreed to be invoiced for Mr. Stormdancer's time and attention. Billing amount is entirely at Mr. Stormdancer's discretion, and will commence as soon as the call has connected; this includes leaving messages on Mr. Stormdancer's voice mail. The use of an automated calling system is considered to be automatic consent to this license agreement. Thank you."


athelind: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] quelonzia's favorite movie is the 1951 classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still.

This Saturday, we went to see the 2008 version, starring Keanu Reeves.

Here is her review -- it's sort of our review, since it summarizes our post-cinema conversation.

I may elaborate on this further, if I get motivated -- but hers is so succinct and to the point.


athelind: (Default)
This one's been going around lately, so I thought I'd share my answers to The Controversial Survey... )

athelind: (Default)


I know posting something like this on my blog is largely preaching to the choir, but I wanted to pass it on anyway.

athelind: (Default)
The computer is a doorstop.

I opened it up, dusted it out, made sure all the internal power and data cables were secure, and yanked out the old CD-RW which hasn't worked properly in three years.

I plugged it back in, turned it on... and got nothing but the case lights. No BIOS screen. Nothing.

Just to see if the video card was screwed up, I unplugged one of the monitors from the card and plugged it into the onboard video (which was a workaround when I was having all the troubles with the Card From Hell that never did work in this machine).

Zilch.

I cycled the power button rapidly several times.

That had an effect: It now does nothing when I press the power button. Not even case lights.

That particular problem might just be a loose wire in the case power switch.

Or it could be the power supply.

The other problems I've been having make it almost certain that there are hardware issues besides a bad on/off switch, but whether they're in the power supply, the RAM, the motherboard, or the shiny new hard drive I just installed along with Ubuntu... I have no way of knowing.

And, in all likelihood, the problems in one part of the system have probably CREATED problems with the rest.

New Motherboard, at this point, means New Computer, since the old RAM and the old video card are obsolete.

And now, a Public Service Announcement.
"Doctor, it hurts when I do this!"
"Well, don't do that!"


If someone posts something saying that they're having trouble with Linux, comments to the effect of "Don't use Linux!" are not helpful in any way, shape or form.

I was very careful to phrase the first paragraph of my last post as "I don't know how to do X, and can't find any information on it", rather than "this doesn't work in Kubuntu."

That's because I want to learn this stuff. It's complicated, and it's kind of a pain in the ass, and the documentation is about as clear as sixty centimeters of reactor shielding, but I wouldn't be messing with Linux in the first place if I didn't want to learn new things.

At the moment, that's trumped by the need to have a computer that I can use comfortably for several hours at a stretch, looking for work and learning new work-related software. (The Transnote does not qualify. Squinting at this tiny screen gives me a headache.)

Once I find a Real Job (read: not consulting, most especially not consulting in a job that expects me to have my own hardware, I can take the time and effort to learn the ins and outs of X-Windows Configuration Scripts.

I should also note that Ubuntu installed seamlessly and is running smoothly on my grandspawn's system -- which is theoretically older, slower and more abused than my own.
athelind: (Default)
Of the previews currently showing in the theaters, the one that fills me with the most looming dread is the one for Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Oh, I don't dread the movie itself. It looks kinda cute.

I dread the inevitable parade of bitching and moaning from twenty- and thirty-somethings who grew up with the 1980s Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoon. People grouse about how the Baby Boomers think the entire 20th Century was All About Us, but my little stars and garters, it's Gen X and Gen Y who treat their childhood mass-market pop-culture as sacred writ.

I most especially dread yet another screeching chorus of "Hollywood is Raping My Childhood!" Let's, just for a moment, set aside how obscenely inappropriate it is to trivialize the verb "rape" for something as puerile as a remake of mediocre cartoon. Instead, let's look at just why specifically inappropriate in this instance.

  1. That '80s cartoon you all remember so fondly? That was the inferior copy, compromised and sold out to better push sugar cereal and crappy toys to the kids of the day. And yeah, that's you, Mister and Ms. Rape-My-Childhood. It was clear to all of us baby boomers who cared to tune in that the '80s version was a schmaltzy, dumbed-down version of the anarchic brilliance of the original 1962 Alvin Show. They turned one of the great trickster characters into the insipid centerpiece of yet another Get Along Gang, just like every other '80s cartoon that wasn't explicitly action-adventure.*

    We were, of course, full of crap. The '60s show wasn't that great, and the '80s show wasn't that bad.

    So shut up.


  2. The new movie is being produced by Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., who is also providing the voices of Alvin and Simon -- just as he has in every recording of the characters since 1972, when his father, the creator of The Chipmunks, died. Ross, Jr. is responsible for the late '70s revival of the characters -- and for that late '80s cartoon that brought them to the attention of Generation Rape-My-Childhood.

    This guy literally grew up with these characters: "The Chipmunk Song" was recorded when he was 9. Personally, I think the reason they continue to be a steady presence in the market is because, in addition to his marketing savvy, he has a genuine and sincere affection for them, and it shows. Unlike the heirs of, say, Jim Henson, Badgasarian has a keen insight into the essence of his father's creations, and what made them successful in the first place -- in this case, a clever recording gimmick and a knack for making a buck with it.

    In other words, these characters aren't your childhood. They're his.  

    So shut up.


  3. Yes, there's scatological humor in the trailer. It's brief, perfectly in character, and surprisingly tasteful. See my note about "anarchic brilliance", above; if the cultural climate had allowed the senior Mr. Bagdasarian to include poop jokes, I suspect he might have succumbed to the temptation.

    So shut up.


  4. (Addendum, 13:52) Most importantly: you're not the target audience.

    So shut up, and let the kids enjoy their movie.



Now, I'm hardly the Chipmunks' biggest fan. Hearing the original Chipmunk Christmas Song once a year is about as much of their music as I can endure. The highest praise I can dole on either version of the cartoon is that they don't immediately force me to scream and leap for the remote if I happen to encounter them on one of the 500-odd channels the cable pumps into my living room. I almost certainly won't see this movie on the big screen, and if if I watch it on DVD, it'll be because my stepdaughter rented it for the grandspawn.

While I do respect Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. for his handling of his father's creations, and for keeping them from becoming yet another lost property of some faceless entertainment megacorp, I am not, in short, defending The Chipmunks, the upcoming movie, or Hollywood in general.

I'm just telling you Rape-My-Childhood assholes to Shut. Up.


*'80s cartoons that were explicitly action-adventure were never as good as Jonny Quest, because nobody ever got shot or threw a barrel.
athelind: (Default)
The next time someone wants to use the McDonald's Hot Coffee Suit as an example of frivolous litigation, send them here.

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