Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I originally meant to post this yesterday

Ballpoint pens sticking out into the aisle at the perfect position and height to have a customer stabbed in the side or arm or, at worst, a child taking one in the face as they bop along with a parent. A fine example of what I have come to call The Culture of Half-Assedness.

Just duct tape a steak knife to the counter while you're at it.

In many industries, people often seem not to care and fail to think forwards for many reasons. In all cases the origin of that ethic is laziness. Doing things half-assed is a conscious decision. People feel they are too busy, perceive it doesn't matter because hard work doesn't pay off, doing the extra work or taking precautions are not appreciated or met with hostility by co-workers or managers.

Mostly this kind of work ethic does no harm and elicits only amusement. Poorly written signs and odd pricing are typically the result. Sometimes it is more serious and can be a work hazard.

Absurdly, I had to argue with people about the wisdom of placing the pens where they did. I mean ARGUE. I actually had to present a convincing case to people to reposition the pens. Overwhelmingly the response was 'What's the big deal?" from most everyone. Sure, say that later when your performance bonus is cut by a big percentage due to failing the workplace safety audits and increased injury reports being filed. Also, the big deal is people can be hurt. Duh.

Then I had to do so twice more when the pens were repositioned so that anyone moving groceries on the belt or attempting to pay for their goods would risk being stabbed. So I had the pens moved again and this time they were placed so they stuck out into the cashier's work area. Scrapes, minor stabbings and ink stained work shirts ensued as the cashiers moved their arms through a space now occupied by something pointy.

Pro tip: Don't have sharp things point against the flow of traffic. Turn the pens around so the blunt end is facing people. Finally realizing that if I want something done right I'd have to do it myself, I placed the pens under under the counter so they are out of the way while the lanyard is long enough to allow the customer to use the pen.

These pens were a stupid idea anyways. They are cheap, constantly in the way and cause problems for the workers. Even placed under the counter the plastic lanyard, while long enough to reach the counter for use are too short not to get caught on product moving down the belt. The lanyard pulls taut and then launches the pen haphazardly into the air like a ballpointed whip. The ideal length of the pen lanyard would be a foot and a half of chain of the kind used in banks but when we install those type of pens the customers tear them off and take them with them.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mysta of the Moon - Chapter 28

Planet Comics #62 (Sept 1949) is the final original Golden Age appearance of Mysta of the Moon. A stated previously, comic books and their content were changing and soon there would be little acceptance of grand, impossible space operas. The trend in newer storytelling would be just as bombastic and unlikely thematically but would be more acceptable in relation to what the public perceived as possible in science fiction tropes. Film and television would have a great influence on the appearence and plots of science fiction comics thereafter.

Planet Comics would mostly exist as a re-print anthology before ending in late 1953. While the serials ended with somewhat of a quiet whimper Planet Comics went out with a bang. The cover to the final issue, #73 (Winter 1953) is a Maurice Whitman classic. The lead feature, Cerebrex, is also no small accomplishment in both art and story. Cerebrex has been reprinted a few times over the decades and a few comic book blogs have also featured the tale of computer power gone right.

The last Planet Comics issue featuring Mysta starts to shake up the status quo a bit as another technician begins to delve into Mysta's true identity. For the uninitiated, Mysta is working undercover with the Safety Council, leaving behind her extra-planetary fortress and resident caretaker to live among humanity. The main plot is one typical of the last several chapters of Mysta and concerns a mutated race and the misuse of technology. It is a shame the series ended so abruptly because the subplot about Mysta's identity was interesting. It showed a growth of characterization in the serial that the rather disposable nature of the medium of the era was often bereft.

This chapter of Mysta of the Moon is shorter by one page than previous entries. The Mysta feature is also the only one among the other serials that signed off with a definite if unsatisfying conclusion. All the other series simply promised to return next issue and often did not reappear. I speculate that the creative team knew this chapter of Mysta would be the final one and wrapped it up very, very quickly even though many plot threads remained dangling, particularly in regards to Bron, exiled to Mysta's fortress moon. The final panel of the Mysta story depicts her breaking the fourth wall, an annoyed expression on her face. Indeed, throughout much of the story Mysta appears uncharacteristically bothered, unprepared and angry. In the final scene the reader is privy to her thoughts and she in effect communicates a final, perfunctory farewell to the audience. A text box in the panel displays the phrase 'The End!' something that the other serials did not include in their own final chapters. We may probably never know but it is as if the creators are expressing their own frustrations through Mysta.

But it is as a fan and not as a critic that I read Mysta and the other heroines of Planet Comics. As a reader of these Golden Age tales I am more of a Fan-Editor. In that certain way that comic book fans pick and choose what continuity or behind-the-scenes reality to keep or ignore I apply that same sensibility to Mysta, not allowing the changes at Fiction House that caused the various adventure features to conclude so abruptly. As a fan I can accept that Mysta, seeing no need to continue in her previous role as the final authority on the dissemination of science in a rebuilt human civilization would choose a form of semi-retirement. Instead of acting as a wrathful Science Goddess she would keep her hand in, acting as a government functionary while keeping watch via the Science Council. In abandoning her fortress on the moon Mysta is allowing humanity to once again control their own destiny and perhaps discover a new one of her own as well.

Mysta and the other Golden Age characters of Fiction House would vanish into obscurity until revived in the 1980s for a short-lived effort by Paragon Press called The Star-Fems, a time-tossed team of space-based heroines. You can find more info about the team and read the 1980 adventures of Mysta of the Moon, Futura and Gale Allen here: The Star Fems.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another long delayed post

Today must be catch-up day. Here's a mash up of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars I've been meaning to do for about 15 years. Somebody tell I'm not the first to have done this.

Star Odyssey

I'd place Han in the monkey/monolith scene (which would be funnier) but the position of the block in all those scenes sucks.

You Can Count On Me, Eventually

Finally got around to creating my own fan-made Spider-Man movie main title sequence. I've been meaning to do this since 2002 and kept putting it off. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely.

Original title sequence created by Kyle Cooper of Imaginary Forces and copyright Columbia Pictures 2002. Original score by Danny Elfman replaced by Count On Me, performed by William Kirkland from the classic album Spider-Man: Rock Reflections of a Superhero. I was always disappointed that songs from the 70s album never made it to the big screen. This video corrects that error. Count On Me is a bit more exciting and upbeat than the fantastic though ominous Elfman score.

Sharp-eyed viewers may notice the omission of a certain someone from the credits.

A really, really, really lazy Sunday post nearly a decade in the making.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Mysta of the Moon - Chapter 27

Planet Comics #61 (July 1949) is the second to last original Mysta of the Moon story to appear in the long-running science fiction comic book.

In this chapter Mysta again aids the Safety Council against a gang of criminals with access to advanced technology. There isn't any politics involved to speak of and the criminals appear to be simple thugs out for a payday. One questions how inexpensive and available the technology is to allow criminals to transport and enlarge small creatures to giant size. It must be common knowledge and fairly economical at this point because Mysta has had to deal with tyrants and crooks using size-changing science several times over the course of her career.

Assistant Bron appears once more and again reveals his dissatisfaction with his lonely exile to Mysta's fortress moon. Having been released from a prison colony to spy on Mysta his life has surely been extended by improved conditions but Bron is still in a prison of sorts. Mysta certainly knows it and has undoubtedly restricted access to many of her devices including spaceships. Bron may not have been an innocent sent to the prison colony and Mysta could be allowing him probation of sorts by remaining on her moon. However lonely and isolated Bron may be the alternative would be to return to a short-lived existence of hard labor.

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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Two steps forwards, one step back, cha-cha-cha

Got a car! Paid a third of what it is worth thanks to a guy who knows a guy who hooked me up. Of course, since life is what happens when you are making other plans my Mom's car just broke this morning so I'm going to be driving her around until it is fixed. Maybe I'll have the wife drive her around on errands since they get along so very well.

A plus is that since this is a car my wife can operate I can get some uninterrupted sleep and won't be so exhausted all the time from ferrying people around.

Have not yet decided what I will call the car. Previously we referred to our various vehicles as 'Free Car', 'Red Car' or 'Dented Car'. There is a lot of short hand in sign language and those signs are easier than spelling our Jeep Cherokee or Taurus all the time. Maybe I will call it 'Supercar' from now on. I kind of dig the idea of striking a superman pose and then signing 'driving'. Doubt the wife will go for it. What's ASL for an exasperated eye roll?


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Tow Away Zone

Dealing with vehicle issues this week so featured is a few car-related entries today.

Hey, Mom, can I borrow the car?
One of my worst fears has come to pass. Free Car finally died and the costs of repairs, with little guarantee that it would not fail again within a few weeks if not days are prohibitive. I am left with no choice but to purchase another car. This wouldn't ordinarily be a problem except for the lingering fallout from my time in Stupidlandia still doesn't enable me to get a reasonable loan. A few months ago the car breaking down would have been a disaster that would have left three people unemployed. Currently we are at a point where it is less an emergency and more of an annoyance. I know a guy who knows a guy so I should have a really good car for cheap by the end of the week.


Because Calvin urinating on a cat attacking his groin would have been weird.
Check out the tow truck decal I printed out and stuck to the rear of my friend's Jaguar next to that symbol of a leaping cat. I think it is funny because his Jag is always in the shop. He doesn't see the humor.

Decal I put on friend's Jag because it is always in the shop

Still better than the Stephen King novel.
Here is one of the truly scary scenes from the 1966 film The Bubble. The movie tells the story of the few people left self aware when they wander into a town that is covered by an invisible dome. Aliens are studying humans though how effective the test could be are in doubt since the captors have zombie-fied the townspeople, surely skewing the results. The aliens also hate broken down vehicles littering the scenic roads because they tractor field out of the dome any car with engine trouble. If the video looks a little blurry it is because it is presented in 3-D. Put on your red and blue specs for the entire experience!

There is another scene in The Bubble similar to this one featuring a woman trapped in a truck but that would have meant actually watching The Bubble to find it.