Shelf Obsession

I’m still not writing enough about my lifelong passion for comics.

Convenience stores, newsagents, and 5-&-10s in South Jersey fed my early habit,
as I shared last year. Only so much history could be gleaned from comic-book reprints and editorial pages, however. Luckily, a bevy of books on comics awaited at the Cape May County Library, where surveys of my favorite four-color fantasies and their forebears could be found in (mostly) cold, hard black and white.

Cover to 'The Comic-Book Book' with sound effects and word balloons reading 'Aargh!', 'Hmmmm', and 'Zowie!'

The one I checked out most often was a 1973 tome aptly titled The Comic-Book Book, edited by Dick Lupoff and Don Thompson. I read it with such fervor and frequency
that my dad finally just bought it for me — the actual library copy.

Chuck Not Up

Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah, facing Zachary Levi as Chuck, her back to us but head turned our way in steely-eyed gaze

This post is currently down for maintenance.

Give Me Hellboy

I'm looking to get rid of most of my thousands of comic books, but Hellboy ranks among the keepers. The series is pretty much my all-time favorite, certainly when you discount nostalgia; Mike Mignola long ago proved that he's as accomplished and unique a writer as he is an artist. While I think the absolute best Hellboy stories are short, self-contained tales, the mythology woven by Mignola and his collaborators in the family of Dark Horse's Hellboy, BPRD, Abe Sapien, Lobster Johnson, and Witchfinder one-shots and miniseries rivals any other from graphic novels, television, film, or prose in recent decades.

Hellboy carrying a desiccated corpse on his back

Yet I come here not to praise Hellboy, but to barter him.

Words to the Wise

My grandfather always had a dictionary on his night table. I have one on my Apple laptop. His was a so-called "pocket" paperback almost as thick as it was wide; mine is virtual, an application represented by the icon below in the dock of programs and folders at the right of my computer screen.

Icon of thick dictionary with large capital and lowercase A on cover

The lure of Dictionary is strong. Enter a word, and it not only returns a definition
and usage from The New Oxford American Dictionary but synonyms from The Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus and, if you're connected to the Internet, a Wikipedia entry (or disambiguation page) as well. It's a ridiculously quick and comprehensive research tool — as well as a microcosm of the paragon of potential procrastination that is the Web itself, since hyperlinks abound and the results list for any given word is often fascinating. I'm pretty disciplined about not following flights of fancy too far, although I admit to indulging spontaneous bouts of "Hey, I wonder..." entirely unrelated to what I'm working on, because suddenly the answer seems gravely important and if I don't at least type the relevant word or phrase into Dictionary's search field to read up on later then I might forget. Other people for whom frivolous research is considered fun will be able to relate. For the rest of you, well, I can't really explain it if you don't already understand.


Meaner Still

can of Campbell's Bean with Bacon soup against starry void of space

The can of Campbell's soup is still in effect, due to connection problems as well as projects that aren't being dealt with as efficiently as I'd like. For those who've not seen it before, I should point out that the can is a mysterious "ancient Internet tradition" begun by Mark Evanier, as explained and in fact recently invoked by Evanier on his blog, News from ME, which if your interests are anything like mine offers a variety of fine, funny, and fascinating material by the bushel.

I hope to have a volley of posts up soon (yeah, When don't I?), but meantime here's another batch of Blogger word-verification definitions.

abendsl — n. #2 graphite stick, when you're congested.

betoofsr — Father of Betoof Jr.

boophala — n. A shout-out from Ms. Betty.

The Fab-Four Score

I chanced upon "Hey Jude" in the car last night, reminding me again to write about The Beatles.

Far lesser musical lights have labels on this blog, and it's been bugging me that the greatest band in the history of pop music doesn't. Many folks consider The Rolling Stones the greatest rock band ever, and they might be right — I'm not a huge Stones fan, to be honest, although they are indubitably iconic. The Beatles, however, during
a relatively brief period spanning the era in which classic rock-&-roll ("She Loves You") gave way to flat-out hard rock, hold the roll ("Helter Skelter"), also proved masters of old-fashioned balladry, psychedelic experimentation, and so much more ("Strawberry Fields Forever"). They wrote anthems, they wrote grooves, they wrote ditties, for Pete's sake. Has any other group of musicians been so talented at turning out so many different styles of infectious, accomplished, influential music? And I include in that group not only John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, but producer George Martin as an indispensable enabler of most of the Beatles' joint

So here's my First Beatles Story.

Got to Get You into My Life

Lost 6.11 Happily Ever After

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Cube Reporting

small mound of artfully arranged foil-wrapped chocolate 'Ice Cubes'
Photo: Albert's online product gallery.

Mom gave me another batch of Ice Cubes after her recent trip to San Francisco.

You don't see Ice Cubes around here anymore, but when I was a kid they were the awesomest point-of-purchase items ever at 7-Eleven. For literal pennies, you could have weird but yummy chocolate melt in your mouth — or, if you weren't careful, in your hands, since in the warm weather they got pretty mushy in those foil wrappers pretty darned fast.

Made in Germany by Moritz and distributed in America by Albert's, per the wrappers, Ice Cubes were out of my life for decades; until recently, I'd assumed they were gone for good. They're still not available in my neck of the woods anywhere I can find, but certain specialty candy shops as well as online vendors carry them, and (something that just does not compute because I associate them with my life of 25-30 years ago) they have their own Facebook page.

Even Meaner

Screenshot of Word Verification box with prompt characters reading 'soctin'

I need to take my laptop in to get the DVD drive replaced one day soon. While I'm hoping to get some of the many nearly finished posts on hand published before then, here are more word-verification definitions in the meantime so Miss Peasy is no longer the first thing you see on the blog.

Driving Miss Peasy

Closeup of a woman resembling Kate Winslet

You know that Windows 7 commercial [bad link] with the woman who looks a bit and sounds a lot like Kate Winslet talking to us from the back of a cab?

Every one of the far too many times I've seen it but one, what I heard was "easier peasier should be simpler". Now, I'd be thrilled for my brain never to have accessed the dubiously cutesy phrase "easy peasy"; when the ears can't make out for sure what they're receiving, however, the brain first searches for something that's likely and then just substitutes anything that's possible. The other night I finally recognized what she's saying as "using a PC should be simpler" — which you'd think I'd have gotten earlier since this whole series of ads is about people sharing how Windows 7's improvements were their idea, but nope.

Mini-Slog and Miscellany

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1 for 1

The Phillies won on Opening Day for the first time in five years. I just hope, as my grandmother pointed out, that it doesn't jinx them for the rest of the season; despite a history of bad Aprils, they've been NL East division champs for the past three years and made it to the World Series the past two, grabbing the crown in 2008.

What a game, though: 11 to 1 over the Nationals — not, I grant you, necessarily the biggest threat, but a win's a win.


The blog was hijacked today.

No, I did not put up the image and message that you might have seen as an April Fool's joke; it was straight-up vandalism.

Most of the blog will be reposted as quickly as logistics permit, with exactly how much and where to be announced shortly.