Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cap ruminates

Cap sure seems lost in thought.

"Hey, Cap! What do you think we should do about Norman? Cap?"
"I'll be in my bunk..."

New Avengers
#50 (April 2009).

Ultimate Destiny

Ultimate Destiny is a long-lost, brilliant pre-code horror tale with a classic shock ending by the prolific Golden Age comic book creator Jay Disbrow. Included as the final story of the otherwise dull anti-crime comic book Crime Detector #5, this September 1954 tale must have been a giddy shock to the minds of young readers who flipped, bored, through the typical law and order morality tales that comprised the majority of the content of the book. Discovering this story must have been like unearthing a buried treasure and finding a gold coin among leaden slugs. I imagine this book was hidden from parents and surreptitiously shared, like some sordid photo magazine found in their Father's closet, with friends in alleys, forts and tree houses all over the America of the 1950s. This story has served as the inspiration for a number of teleplays and comic book stories over the years.


This is one of the few times I've seen this story in color. I've only previously seen this story as photocopied pages with poor register in an old comic book anthology or two from the 1970s.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tor in 3D!

Tor soil loincloth!

Nice panel by Joe Kubert from 3D Comics #2 (October 1953).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fatty's Got The Sleeping Sickness in 3D!

Break out the red and cyan glasses, kids! I found a free Anaglyph program on the web that turns photos into 3D images and I'm testing it with various pictures. Bright color comic book panels don't come out that great but it was a fun experiment anyways.

Freakin' awesome panels from Jungle Comics #6 (June 1940).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hang in there

Cavalcade (1957).

Bibimbap is the shizznit

Being married to a Korean woman of traditional ways I eat a lot of Korean cuisine. Since I can't really exercise anymore because of the lower back, the high-veggie ingredients of my Korean-style meals are what I credit for my waistline going from a 46 to a 42. By the time the next San Diego Comic-Con rolls around I should look less like a stereotypical fanboy and instead more like a superhero. I don't mean Herbie, either.

I particularly enjoy Bibimbap. It is awesome. At most restaurants it comes in a huge bowl with a couple of pounds of condiments (including Kimchi) on the side. Like many of the items on the menu it has a high veggie to meat ratio. Vegetarianism is dull and boring. I couldn't face life if I had to eat carrots for every meal. A few days of that and I'd kill a cow with my bare hands and eat it raw. What would you rather eat, a plate of steamed veggies or a big, hot stone bowl of Bibimbap? You can be totally Vegan and not want to kill yourself out of boredom three times a day just by eating Korean food. It is true.

On Convoy street in San Diego are a few nice Korean restaurants that serve good meals. The favorite of the wife and I is one with the name of her home town in the title. The lunch specials are great and are a popular destination for the people who work in the area. We go there about once a week. The price is small and the portions are large.

One aspect of the place I dislike in principle is the information about the dishes in the framed printouts that line the walls. While the photos and descriptions serve to educate those guests not familiar with Korean cuisine they are also filled with paragraphs touting the health benefits of the food. But none of the descriptions contain much in the way of facts and instead make woo-woo claims similar to those found in books, articles and websites about homeopathy. It should be enough to state the benefits of real food over chemically-saturated and processed junk. Instead nigh-magical properties are attributed to the ingredients that 'clean the blood', 'improve the spirit' and ' such blah blah blah. The mystical, magical and junk-science claims are not necessary, but I am very aware they appeal to a certain type of person.

Not that one culture is particularly apt to take advantage of their own over another, but I am often angered by what I see as an incredibly predatory attitude among members of their own community. Magic cures, quack medical procedures and junk science abounds. Like an evangelical preacher will use religion to make a buck, these grifters exploit the cultural traditions regarding age, respect and ingrained social politeness as pry bars to open the wallets and purses of their marks.

One of the items a market near the Convoy area sells are six inch strips of neoprene cut from wetsuit material. This rubber is nothing short of magic and supposedly cures an amazing list of deadly ailments. By the way, the rubber is cut into trapezoid shapes, ensuring that every other piece leaves a smaller triangle-shaped scrap that is sold for around $300. Nothing is wasted, there. The product purportedly works through ions and magnets and other made up blather. My assertion would be any material that does what it claims doesn't need a large piece to work as the application of even the smallest piece should be equally effective.

That store and nearly every other in the area is full of quack items like that and is one of the reasons I don't let my wife shop alone when she is in the area. Many people of her background have shown themselves susceptible to the high-pressure tactics by salesmen who seek to take advantage of cultural predilections. Some of the salesmen, and I witnessed a lot of this tactic in Maryland, would find a family and prey upon them like a telemarketer with a sucker list. They used cultural and familial pressures to make a sale for some ridiculous device, juice or magic pill. Once a sale is made the word gets out and the vultures descend in a mighty flock.

In Maryland I was often asked by members of my family and the community who had questions about a product to check out the claims. I printed out evidence from the FDA, warnings about scams from the BBB and other sources, pointed out the miracle health pills being pushed on them for $175 a bottle was in fact powdered baby formula. I even once held a presentation for a group revealing that the test for "bad" tap water a salesman was performing in selling $2500 water filters was a scam the government has been warning people about for over 40 years. I often wondered why I bothered to help because in nearly every instance the salesman was able to babble some nonsense and I would be dismissed. On one occasion I'm aware of the product representative asked why anyone would believe a "Westerner" over a fellow countryman.

Just before I left Maryland a member of a small local church asked me to look into the claims of a company pushing miracle Amazonian berry juice. Someone was aggressively contacting the entire congregation. Product aside, it turned out to be an up-sell scam using high-pressure in-house visits to sell a customer a case of very expensive juice on a recurring bank withdrawal or debit card. On the basis of the sales tactic alone I advised against it. Many people signed up anyways and bought nearly $1000 worth of Acacia juice any organic market sells for far cheaper. The funny part was when one of the customers discovered the added protein ingredient in the juice was from shellfish, shrimp casings to be precise. The consumption of shellfish was against one of the tenets of their religion. Massive soul-cleanings then resulted along with the usual problems associated with canceling an account with a company that doesn't have public email address and won't return telephone calls.

Sadly, against all evidence and common sense most of the time people would shell out the cash. Not because they were stupid but because the grifter was working several fronts at once and had already ingratiated themselves to an elder member of the family. If anyone failed to accept the dubious claims of the salesman, they usually withered under the generational influence of an elder who berated them into purchasing the magical, magnetic, ion-saturated vitamins or device. The alarming fact is that for most people, even when the product or service turns out to be useless, they just go on and accept a different incredible pitch.

I have little reason to doubt that many similar scams are being worked here, also. I have never really witnessed a hard sell like I did in Maryland, but considering the claims some of these products make I'm surprised someone hasn't shut them down for fraud or questionable sales tactics. Salesmen in certain stores communicating with my wife step quickly away when they notice me approaching. I doubt I'm scaring them as I usually appear neutral if not jovial. It must be due to awareness that the husband, especially one of another culture, is a greater influence on the wife than they will be in the short time allotted. Unfortunately the desire or need to purchase products and items that can otherwise only be found in Korea leads us into certain stores like the one that sells the magical healing rubber.

But woo-woo claims aside, Bibimbap is the shizznit.

Friday, February 20, 2009

It's the water that is filtered, not the air

While shopping the other day found a big old moth floating in a jug of filtered water.

No reason to get upset. Stuff happens. The moth could have gotten into the jug anywhere and anytime prior to the container being sealed, even as far back as the manufacturing, storing and shipping of the empty jug to the bottling plant. It isn't like this plant has leaking roofs covered with bird feces that drained down into the food processing area.

I hope.

I don't drink bottled water anyways if I can help it. The quality isn't any better than what comes out of my tap, and no insect ever made it through the filter on my faucet.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cocky Porcupine: A Study in Terror

Like olden fairy tales, comic books were often used as a way of teaching children to stay on the path of righteousness, fear strangers and obey authority. Comic book stories were also similar to folk tales in that that horrible retribution will result for any child that fails to learn the lesson of the story, like this cautionary tale of sportsmanship from from Circus of Fun #3 (December 1947). The moral? Learn to get along with others or face the prospect of horrible, maiming torture at the hands of an angry mob.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A paleface, you do not be

This has been done before somewhere, right? I was eating lunch at work and goofing on my laptop yesterday and thought this up. Seems an inevitable image. I had intended to put a tiny Darth Vader under the tree waving and change the slogan to something in Yoda-speak, but I lost interest. Huge SF fan and this is about all the enthusiasm I can muster for Star Wars. Plus, my sandwich needed attention.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Good retaining walls make for good neighbors

You probably can't drive down any highway or freeway and not see the scars and cosmetic damage caused by out of control cars striking and scraping the concrete retaining walls placed between the opposing lanes of traffic.

I wonder how many high-speed head-on collisions a day never occur because of the barriers. A common-sense safety measure that I would lay good odds no one ever thinks twice about. But every mark on those walls represents a potential horrible accident where the results or complications from accidents were at the least minimized.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Red Flu

A good number of employees called out today with what I have come to call the "Red Flu". The Red Flu is an ailment that typically lasts 24-48 hours. The symptoms usually express themselves as headache, nausea, cramps, chest pains and can be diagnosed as Red Flu Type A or Type B.

Red Flu Type A and B both are contagious annually on or about February 14th. Type A is largely psychosomatic as the illness subsides once the employee has successfully called out sick from work. Any discomfort vanishes completely by the time they step out for a party that promises plenty of hot, drunken babes or the dinner reservations are confirmed with that special someone.

Red Flu Type B is initially similar in the way it affects the employee, with the exception of the added symptom of uncontrollable sobbing, as the employee becomes truly ill once they come to the sick realization they are alone and unloved.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

We Accept Party Animals

This week a customer in his early 20s comes through my line and makes a purchase using his EBT card.

For those who do not know what that is, an EBT card is basically a debit card connected to a Food Stamp account. People in need are allotted by the State a certain amount of funds so they can eat and pay bills. Many EBT accounts allow the user to receive cash back from their purchase so they can pay for things they couldn't otherwise by debit card, like the rent. There is nothing inherently wrong with needing a hand every now and then. As I am fully aware, things happen. I was almost there myself back during The Bad Times.

The purchase? A pack of cigarettes and cash back of $100. The employees and customers who witnessed this were not amused.

But wait, there's more! A few minutes later the same customer comes back through the line with a cart full of beer and party supplies. He pays for it using the cash I gave him as change from his previous purchase.

Now I have some gripes with this:

1) Our tax dollars are being used so some kid can buy cigarettes and booze. A system set up to aid people in dire straights is underwriting a party.

2) In my opinion, anyone on food stamps should not be shopping in this community. It's a free country, but the prices are on average higher at stores located in affluent areas. Less than four miles away are many grocery stores with prices much lower than this one for the same products. If I was given a limited amount of funds each month to feed and house my family I'd want to stretch those dollars as far as I could. The customer also declined to use his store discount card, which would serve to drop the prices by an order of magnitude on the alcohol. It is likely the guy didn't want an electronic trail of his monetary purchases generated and wanted to remain anonymous in the event he was audited.

3) My California state tax return this year will be in the form of an I.O.U. because the government is supposedly broke. Yet somehow California can afford to issue people EBT cards that have little or no accountability in regards to their purchases.

4) I mean, seriously. WTF?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Get a cave

If by 'wonderful' you mean 'disgraceful'.

Brides in Love #12 (April 1959).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sean Penn

Rock N' Roll Comics #17 featuring Madonna (November 1990).

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Of course you know

Due to an asshat bombarding the site with his religious wingnuttery (who is also spamming other sites and boards, I've found) I've had to enable comment moderation. As usual for the woo-woo type and their hit and run attacks, this person is hiding behind 'unavailable status' so no one finds him and can launch his special brand of loony and threats from the safety of anonymity while pretending to be a Lamb of God. Here's the response to demanding he quit spamming the site:

Use "Comment Moderation" or I'll be back.

Now that you know the truth, you'll be held to a higher standard when you make your account to God. Good luck ; )
It isn't like this person is totally anonymous. A-holes always advertise, don't they? Usually what happens is these types get exposed and scurry away like roaches when the spotlight gets switched on. The accounts they use to spam and threaten get closed, their ISP bounces them and sometimes, if the emails originated from a workplace, they get unemployed for being wacky on company time.

I don't like comment moderation because it slows the pace of the fun. Like playing chess by mail.

It's this or the chair, doll!

Sam Hill, Private Eye #1 (1950).

Saturday, February 07, 2009

That breeze feels good

A bit less subtle than a sledgehammer message of morality for young impressionable comic book readers of a bygone era.

My Own Romance #31 (September 1953).

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Robin to the rescue

"I've got lots more special comics just like that in my cave. Let's go and read them together." Said Petey the Wolf.

Kiddie Kapers #1 (1945).

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Flash Fact

Ow. Contemplate the amount of detail erased from that Tales of Asgard panel penciled by Jack Kirby. Well, at least it got published. If anyone else had tried to ink the high amount of news rack-flooding titles of early Marvel's output the company would probably have failed long ago.

While I agree with many that Vince Colletta could be the creative kiss of death for any comic book he worked on, he deserves more industry and fan respect than he usually receives. The man rarely missed a deadline, if ever. If Vinnie had been given an estimated percentage of all the money he routinely saved a publisher by having them avoid the high cost of of idle printing presses due to missing a publishing date he would have been a very wealthy man.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Praise for Tru Dat

From the back cover -


Tru Dat © is a publicly-accessible information gathering and data retrieval service that is part and parcel of every activity, large or small. Once implemented, Tru Dat © caused a paradigm shift in the way politicians did business, it was a boon to law enforcement and the bane of corrupt businesses and those who labored to distort the truth. Privacy is a nearly out-dated concept. Transparency and accountability are a way of life. With Tru Dat ©, the most obscure fact about nearly anything or anyone was readily available via a lightning-fast download to anyone who cared to browse the database.

After a minor mechanical failure of his car causes average guy James Wassanna to be tagged by Tru Dat © with reckless endangerment his life begins to spiral out of control. Neighbors are angry, his fiance is about to leave him, the police are about to arrest him, revenue collection agencies are hounding him and a bored, sensation-hungry public is following his every move. As circumstantial evidence gathered by Tru Dat © repeatedly ties James into increasingly serious crimes he has no choice but to rebel!

"It's like GATTACA meets The Manchurian Candidate!" - Jackie Lancer, Boston Review.

"A wake-up call for the Information Age!" - Tech Quarterly OnLine.

"Frankenstein's creation is a Girl Scout compared to Harman's benevolent monster." - A-Z Book Review.