Friday, July 29, 2011

Can I get a WA-HOOO!

When it comes to movies based on comic book superheroes I am of the opinion that the best I can hope for is it doesn't suck too much. Two or three bad super hero films can kill the genre for about a decade. Look at the 80s for an example.

Fortunately for fans of comic-to-film cinema Marvel has been doing a pretty good job lately in their choices. What helped I think was an overall vision or if you prefer, a story arc. Beginning with Iron Man a connecting theme of sorts has been present all with the goal of maintaining a franchise to culminate in the Avengers movie slated to be released next year. Clearly, a lot is riding on the Marvel characters to pay off in the end and the recent Captain America movie probably did not hurt the studios chances of wrapping up the story with good box office.

I saw Captain America, the First Avenger, The Movie (to use the full official title) in the theater last Monday and I was pretty impressed. It exceeded my expectations that the movie not be merely OK which is about all I really want from a super hero flick. While I really enjoyed the film I did accidentally pick the 3D version from the hard to navigate sun-washed touch-screen kiosk outside the box office, so ouch to my eyes. The 3D was alright but it is not my entertainment viewing preference.

The film was fun, exciting and the producers didn't get stupid with the script or go cheap which is the death of any comic book film (for instance the 1990 Cap). Production values were high and there were plenty of Easter eggs to delight the geeks like myself such as the Human Torch android safely sealed in a vacuum tube and the Arnim Zola giant face in the monitor. Chris Evans and Hugo Weaving as Captain America and the Red Skull were pretty great. Wisely, a young Nick Fury was not included.

The film managed to acknowledge the entire published and cinematic history of Captain America and as a fan I was pleased it did not ignore the contributions of Simon and Kirby among other creative teams. Honestly though, I thought the 1990s Red Skull mask was superior to the one worn by Weaving. The 2011 Red Skull had smooth and flawless skin. I expected more veins, raw exposed teeth and muscles similar to the one worn by Scott Paulin in the 1990 film.
The initial Hydra spy foot chase could have benefited from some tighter editing and the musical number, with Cap punching co-splay Hitler was a nice scene that set the stage for the journey from propaganda jester to hero. Also, a nice touch was that Captain America was made in a process that meant more than the physical aspect as a pre-super soldier Steve Rogers obsessively studied militarily history and tactics. It was clear that not just anyone could be Captain America, something that the comic books has addressed for decades. That the Nazis were only incidental to the film and Hydra was the big bad initially caused some story concern for me. What is Cap without Nazis? But it became clear that the Nazis were petty, venal thugs with limited vision and ability. In recent cinema (after the 1940s) this idea was also put forth in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The fate of the Red Skull is pretty obvious and I'd be surprised if he doesn't make an appearance in the Avengers film or a Cap sequel. Bucky was also set up to make a return as the Winter Soldier if the fan interest is there.

So as a lead in to The Avengers and as a stand alone film I was not disappointed with Captain America: The First Avenger. Most of all, are you listening, Marvel? This film I would pay to see again.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Not Shown: Tears

Utterly hilarious in heavy-handed guilt inducement this online ad from a bank urges you to avoid years of expensive therapy for your children and acrimonious divorce from a spouse by taking out a loan for fancy, expensive vacations and not suffer the shame of a mediocre family trip to lesser destinations.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday with Hayley Mills: Q and A

Came across this research website with an unanswered query about film star Hayley Mills and knew that it was up to me to provide peace to her fans.

No other answer possible.

FYI, this entry of Monday With Hayley Mills also marks the 6th blogiversary of Lady, That's My Skull.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

All in color for a won

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't recognize South Korea if I visited it again. When I was there almost no one had internet and now it is one of the most connected countries on the planet. My impression of the country was that a person could walk a mile and the landscape, lifestyle and technology would change to resemble anything from 1930s American Heartland to the 1980s and back again all within a comfortable stroll. From new pictures I can see that many of the cities are completely transformed.

The popular music I heard while out was more often than not self-produced, self-promoted and self-distributed and the bands commonly consisted of a small electric organ with pre-programmed bossa nova beats. One of the interesting things to watch while I was in Korea was the evolution of rap and rock music. As restrictions of an oppressive government eased and Korean youth could speak out they did so angrily through their songs, though more polite by several degrees than the urban American inspiration that shocked so many people.

Watching the slick, corporate-owned and high production values of some of the newest Korean pop groups is something of a shock since all I recall are stiff, rote performances to a cassette tape playing on a chair next to the performer. There are few surprises in the music videos though and all pretty much follow the standard themes familiar to anyone born after the 1980s. The girls are cute, bouncy and sexy (very few affect a public street or gangster persona though this is changing) and rapid changes in costume and sets are the rules. A lot of cosplay costumes are involved though I'm sure this is what producers are confident that the audience wants.

The male performers in videos are usually depicted as living large and horribly tortured by emotion, definitely appealing to teen girls. The videos are hilarious because of the overwrought scenery chewing of the performers. I suspect focus groups or something similar dictate the format and themes of the music videos to an extreme perhaps more than their American counterparts and that these groups are similar to the heavily-managed and manufactured boy and girl groups of the American 1990s music scene.

5 Dolls is a typical Korean girl bubblegum pop group featured in a video with a comic book layout theme. Kind of fun and a little daring.

On the male side is So Goodbye from the City Hunter television series soundtrack and it's pretty slick. My wife is addicted to the show and many others that are not fun to locate in the US but she enjoys immensely. Being a good husband, I focus on procuring Korean films and television nearly as much as I do gathering Hayley Mills memorabilia.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Voyeur enabling comic book ad

While not being privy to the creation of the ad copy for this mini-camera from a 1958 girl's romance comic book it is hard to believe that the following sales point for the camera was meant for anyone other than emerging pervs or creepy adults. It is possible that it was totally innocent but the sleaze-factor, combined with the explosion of "camera clubs" during that time period leads me to doubt that the camera was meant just for laughs.

Brides In Love #9 - Stalking Ad (Sept 1958)

In case you can't read the copy it proudly states one of the positive features of the small, easily-concealed camera is:"Your girlfriend and other bathing-beauties will all relax in their natural pose and make a swell pin-up collection. Through a paper is just one of many ways to go about it."

You can view the entire ad (among others) from Brides in Love #9 (Sept 1958) via this post here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

From the Library of Ada Winemiller, Part 2

The presumably young Ada Winemiller that claimed this copy of Brides in Love #9 back in 1958 would have been reading tales of romance that perhaps misled her as to what gender roles were really like in the late 1950s. Other than the social programming within the book Ada would also have been exposed to the somewhat non-gender specific advertising within the pages as well.

The advertisements that appeared in comics were not really targeted to both genders back in the day. Comic books were primarily and rightly so aimed at the young male demographic. Female customers were almost an after-thought and romance comic books held the same place the more adventure oriented books had as a product, as a safer alternative to the racier and more lurid pulp and gossip magazines that dominated the news stands.

Comic book advertising was almost certainly sold based upon volume, not a targeted youth or older group. Ads for submarines, rockets, space suits, cowboy gear and body building dominated pages set aside for outside revenue. What the sales department was selling was eyes on the page, not what percentage of boys versus girls were tempted by their products. Even the romance or female-oriented magazines for the most part contained advertising directly aimed at the young male reader. Ads for fashion and makeup were typically published in titles like Miss America or Calling All Girls which while they contained sequential art were considered full-fled magazines and were on a different tier than the other four-color comics.

So it was that Brides in Love #9 contained the usual advertising of the era. That several of the ads depicted muscle men is likely incidental and while possibly of interest to Ada were probably not placed in the book specifically to her market.

The opposite may be true for the male youth market as the amount of T&A in most of the mainstream comic books were obvious and gratuitous far beyond what the artist or writer knew was sensible. The romance books, while not as adventuresome thematically, supports my personal theory that even the girl-oriented books were also primarily meant for the male reader and served as a safe and acceptable form of pornography or at least a source to satisfy curiosity, somewhat like the notorious lingerie ads in a Sears catalog. Given that so many stories feature panels of women in their underclothes and showing them fitfully tossing and turning on their bed with frustration is provocative to be sure. A scene in an issue of Marvel Comics 2003 mini-series Unstable Molecules, reflecting the era, bears anecdotal witness to the idea. You can view the semi-NSFW page here.

These type of cheesecake voyeuristic images were almost exclusive to the romance comics. Unfortunately when this imagery, combined with the more violent ones that were ubiquitous to the action and adventure comics reached a sort of parental saturation the result was government and group involvement that resulted in the Comics Code Authority.

Of the eight pages of ads in Brides of Love #9 there are three are shilling body building, four are pushing a combination of toys and science-related instruments. Arguably given the perceived audience of the time these ads were correctly and most effectively aimed at a young male.

One ad features photographs of popular media stars, which is the only ad that might be considered by advertisers to be directly of interest to a girl of that era. But what sort of young woman was Ada Winemiller? If she took any interest in the ads at all who is to say she wasn't the most intrigued by the rocket kit? Maybe she liked the idea of breaching the walls of America's enemies in a tank? It could be she grew up to be a force to be reckoned with in the business world after learning entrepreneurship from selling salve or Grit. Out of all the advertisements from Brides in Love #9 presented here, which ones may have captured the attention of Ada the most?

Maybe she chose her own path and did whatever she wanted be it in business, science or as homemaker. Perhaps the old men editing the romance comic books of the 1950s, who mandated stories of women who yearned to be housewives and mothers and nothing else because there was no other goal worthier than domestic breeder, would be shocked to learn how Ada Winemiller ultimately turned out.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Multiple Choice


Brisco and Lord Bowler got trouble in The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (1993)

The venison of vegetables

Baby carrots are the venison of the vegetable world. This is because they are not grown into such a convenient shape and size like baby corn is. Rather, a regular carrot is chopped, shaved and whittled down to a fun sized snack. A similar process is used in making veal, which is the tasty result of a calf being ripped from the beating womb of a cow. Such waste.

Annually millions of pounds of carrot shavings are then discarded into the streets creating traffic jams or toasted and made into non-caffeinated coffee substitute. Furthermore, a bag of baby carrots can cost the consumer $7.99 or more while a few bunches of carrots that the buyer would have to wash and cut themselves costs less than $5.

It is in Maryland that sales of baby carrots are the most brisk. This immoral act of environmental crime is ameliorated by the fact that for the most part anything sharp enough to cut carrots in the state of Maryland is typically used for preparing meth or stabbing neighbors, or both, usually in the same evening. Baby carrots are most appealing to children and it would be wrong to use blood-stained, meth-permeated knives to cut up carrots and then feed them to kids.

So already prepared carrot pieces manufactured in a smarter region and imported are preferable to warping another generation of Maryland spawn by getting them hooked too early on drugs and the taste of blood. It is better to delay the inevitable until they can be securely housed in a Super-Max prison jail instead of the rotating doors of Juvenile Hall. Somebody has to think of the children.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Caroline is back, but not in the US

After an absence, Hayley Mills as Caroline returns to the cast of Wild at Heart (2009).

Man, this show is hard to find. Mostly they are all Region 2 formats or medium quality rips from incomplete online sources like the place I found this clip. There should be a law that all media related to Hayley Mills should be All Region. Really, the various movie media empires need to get it together or end up in the same trash can as the music industry. There are fine films, some featuring Hayley, that can only be found as bootleg DVDs ripped from a VHS source or poor quality tapes from online auctions. The film industries don't want their catalogs to be copied and made free to everyone with an internet connection but they don't want to make them available either. I get the DVD market might be a loss for many movies out there as they would only have niche buyers but how hard is it to make a digital copy of an out of print film and put it up for streaming? Not very, according to Netflix.

Right now there are three classic Hayley Mills films I want to own but have to purchase as old VHS tapes from online listings. That is assuming I can get past the typical auction site sock puppets that many sellers have in place to prevent their item being sold at a less than an artificially inflated price or the vultures that hover over a bid and pounce using bidding software. I had to use a piece of software to successfully win a bid for some Land of the Lost memorabilia some time ago, as I kept getting outbid by a few cents at the very last possible second. I really don't mind paying the "Buy It Now" price for many items but when the expected bid for an item is $35 and the BIN is over $150 then you can be pretty sure the fix is in for the auction and it is a waste of time to enter a bid.

And the big risk of a thirty year old video tape is that it will get ruined by the equally aged player the first time I put it in the machine, leaving the world a lesser place for having lost a Hayley Mills film for the crime of trying to watch a movie. Maybe another ten or fifteen years will see big changes in the media business model that doesn't alienate consumers but by that time I may only be interested in collecting my medication and adult diapers. The future can't come fast enough.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Count this


Love Confessions #3 (February 1950)

Friday, July 15, 2011

From the Library of Ada Winemiller, Part 1

An unknown time ago Ada Winemiller signed her name to a September 1958 copy of Brides In Love #9 published by Charlton Comics.

At this time Ada is a mystery. Nothing is known of her past, what she was like or the path of her life's journey. The travels of this old romance comic book are as equally unknown as the owner.

How is it that this book came into Ada's possession? Was it a gift, purchased with hard-earned nickles or begged for to a parent at a news stand? Did Ada enjoy the stories within and treasure them or did a cynical young girl dismiss them as foolish tripe?

That is almost impossible to say but here is one of the stories that a presumably young Ada Winemiller would have read way back in 1958. I'd like to imagine Ada lazily splayed over a pile of Annette Funicello records scattered about the floor, idly kicking her bobby sox adorned feet as she happily read about four-colored romance and happy endings as she dreamed of her future wedding day.

Brides In Love 09 - Gamble Called Love (Sept 1958) 00

Brides In Love 09 - Gamble Called Love (Sept 1958) 01

Brides In Love 09 - Gamble Called Love (Sept 1958) 02

Brides In Love 09 - Gamble Called Love (Sept 1958) 03

Brides In Love 09 - Gamble Called Love (Sept 1958) 04

Brides In Love 09 - Gamble Called Love (Sept 1958) 05

Brides In Love 09 - Gamble Called Love (Sept 1958) 06

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Painting the fourth wall

Nice panel gimmick by David Wachter for That Hell Bound Train (July 2011). I've seen something similar in a few movies but it works better in a comic book than the screen. Painting on glass to segue in the next scene isn't as effective as breaking the panel wall.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Desperately Seeking Ada

Who were you Ada Winemiller?

Why did you sign this 1956 copy of Brides in Love #9?

Was it to claim the wishes it held as your own?

What were your hopes?

Did you dream of a comic book romance?

Did it come true?

What was your life like?

Were you more happy than sad?

We may never know.

Recursion by Monteil

Seeing this ad for Nostalgia perfume in my copy of the December 1962 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine made me wistful for the good old days and before I knew it I was stuck in a recursive nostalgia loop from which there was no escape.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Captain America vs. Cthulhu

Ever wanted to read a story about Captain America vs. Cthulhu? Do you like super-soldiers, mad science and evil elder gods? Then check out this book, Beneath the Dark Ice.

Or maybe it was demons

It's been months and months since I have fallen ill, corresponding with the decision to stop letting customers use my personal pen to make notes or write checks at the register. I rarely got sick before I worked in retail but shortly after I started I kept having various health issues that just wouldn't stop. I suspected it was exposure to customers, raw meats and blood and relatively unsanitary conditions from shared keyboards, phone handsets and other equipment.

A few weeks ago I got sick again resulting in a short hiatus. It felt like it was the same sort of respiratory and intestinal affliction I always got when customers used my equipment or I failed to clean the keyboards and phones we all share. This is an illness we all share at some time or another and you can actually track the progress of it moving through the store like WHO tracks disease through the members of a remote village.

No telling how I got the old familiar germs but some weeks ago one customer hacked and coughed directly in my face and I could feel the warm death-spray spatter into my face. Of course my first reaction was a surprised "What the hell, dude!" The anger followed nearly immediately and I let the guy have it. He was not at all apologetic, just stood there and refused to respond or meet my gaze. To make things worse I had to assist him in entering his store club discount card and payment in the point of sale pad since it seemed beyond his faculties. The fact that he carried more money on him than I see in a month and had a wallet full of high-end credit cards did not help my mood any. I really hate it when stupid people make more money then I do.

I expected the worst and a few days later I started feeling poorly and then lapsed into horribleness. Fever, intestinal problems and the sensation of drowning in my own mucous lasted about four weeks total. Medicine did little to help and merely allowed me to keep on my feet, though one customer called the corporate office the complain I wasn't very upbeat and nice to her. She was apparently oblivious to my near-constant retching, coughing and difficulty standing without shaking. Don't people have anything better to do?

I guess it's also possible I got sick from the equipment but I doubt it. Some time ago the liquid sanitizer we used on the equipment was replaced with a gel that isn't suitable for wiping on keypads or phones. The glass cleaner we now use may be a poor substitute but I'm pretty fastidious about cleaning the gunk off my work spaces. So I'm pretty sure it was the jerk violently assaulting me by splashing his yellow/green lung fluids in my face that got me sick but ultimately...Who knows?

While the illness didn't cause much pain it did leave me exhausted by the end of the work day forcing me to ignore the site and place on hold various To Do projects. Curiously, during my hiatus of a week or so when I was not posting I received more followers, links and "likes" to the blog than I did during the last four months of regular updates.

And that hurt.

Monday, July 11, 2011

You've gone too far, DC

I don't care what you do with every other character post-Flashpoint, DC. Stupid 90s costumes, re-worked "contemporary" origins attempting to lure in young readers and discarding decades of world-building. All that I could care less about.

But THIS better be undone by the time you do the reboot.

Flashpoint #3 (Sept 2011).

The Million-Dollar Pixie

Years before Cosmopolitan magazine became known as Cosmo and advocated that liberated, independent, strong, intelligent and powerful women keep a married man on the side to help pay the bills movie star Hayley Mills appeared on the cover, goofing around and reinforcing a young image.Cosmopolitan used to be a well-rounded periodical of not only light articles but some in-depth investigative stories as well. From the December 1962 cover Hayley Mills talks about how her family keeps her grounded, the ways the young women of Moscow are defying Cold War stereotypes of behavior and fashion and the growing number of adults who are taking care of grandchildren born by unwed mothers. I'd like to present the Hayley Mills family-centric article "The Million-Dollar Pixie" in its entirety but laying the magazine flat enough to scan the pages would cause them to separate from the binding. I'll leave that sort of damage to those who cut ads and art out of vintage magazines and sell them online. So instead of the fascinating Hayley article I'll present a few pages of interior artwork instead.

Like many other magazines of the time a lot of page space was filled with fiction and non-fiction stories. For my tastes it isn't so much the writing and authors that are of interest but the art and illustrations that accompanied the stories. Frequently the art is classic and highly skilled and is widely appreciated as a stylistic snapshot of the era. Of all the art in this issue of Cosmopolitan it is the two pages that accompany the "complete mystery novel" Snow Job by Malcolm Gair, illustrated by Mitchell Hooks that I like the most. I've got a thing for duo-tone (or nearly so) magazine illustrations.

He put out his hand to throw back the bedclothes, but Sally caught his arm in
her long tanned fingers and stopped him. "You're doped," she said.

When he got to the low point of the cliff, he looked up.
On top stood a figure with a large stone poised to throw.

Cosmopolitan changed in the way it did to stay relevant and alive by appealing to a young, trendy and orgasm-conscious female demographic. While not the New Yorker by any means it was not a bad magazine at all and was likely better than many it competed with on the news stands. The change in the magazine was a sign of what was happening in the publishing industry as a whole at the time. The fact is if Cosmopolitan didn't change to increase readers and ad revenue when it did it would probably have ceased publication decades ago and been all but forgotten. I'm glad that Hayley wasn't featured in the magazine during a time when the cover would feature "new" sex positions and ways to drive your man wild in bed.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sexual Healing


Brides in Love #1 (August 1956)

One shield to rule them all

Snagged this cool Captain America shield ring/cupcake topper from the bakery at work the other day. The shields are intended as value-added accessories to adorn cakes that a child or child-like fan can enjoy as a keepsake as a tie-in to the up-coming film Captain America, The First Avenger.

Unlike most of the official promotional items our bakery receives to be included on large and small decorated cakes the shield is remarkably well-constructed. Convex, the shield is firmly seated onto the mount and the paint job is clean, on-model and doesn't easily wear off. I had it in my coat pocket along with my car keys for three days and there isn't a scratch on it.

In comparison to the shield the Pirates of the Caribbean accessories were incredibly cheap and were of poor quality. The Pirates rings consisted of a flat recessed surface with a sticker placed within it. In the shipment we received most of the Pirates stickers were printed off-color and placed off-center. Like the last film, a truly disappointing experience for Depp fans.

I don't know how many Captain America-themed cupcakes we are are going to sell when the film comes out but kudos to the company that manufactured these what are primarily disposable toys.

Friday, July 08, 2011


Sometimes my work day at my grocery store is filled with frustration and misery. Not from policies and procedures. Never by emergencies real or perceived. Long ago the military taught me what a real emergency was and how to keep calm during it. Nothing a high-rise building or a grocery store can throw at me gets me rattled. Losing your head just makes things worse. Usually it is the little things that repeat every minute all day long day after day that make me want to crawl into a supply cabinet, shut off the lights, curl up into a ball on the floor and hallucinate happier times.

It is usually the stunning amount of stupid I deal with all day that gives me migraines. Nearly everyone I meet acts the same way and has the same problem with the same equipment. It makes me think that the earth is populated by high-functioning zombies with only a rudimentary brain stem guiding their actions. I mean, HOW HARD IS IT TO USE A PAYMENT CARD? SWIPE A DISCOUNT KEY CHAIN TAG? READ A LABEL? ENTER A PHONE NUMBER? PUNCH IN A PIN NUMBER? REALLY? HUH?

To fix this, I propose that along with those already fantastic savings a customer receives by using their loyalty card at the grocery store that buyers should receive additional discounts when they successfully do any of the following (and only because maybe since common sense doesn't work and the use of cattle-prods outside the stockyards are illegal):

A percentage off should be given to any customer that places their reusable bags in front of their order. 90% of the time the customer just stares while their entire order is bagged and then when everything is done and in the cart says "Oh, I have bags." And then wants everything taken out of plastic and put in their moldy, fungus-riddled, bacteria pockets. This is why we hate you.

On a side note, customers don't like when we throw the semi-used bags away or put them in the recycle bin and they typically remark or are hostilely emphatic that we should save them and use them for the next customer and their purchases. I am against that for a simple reason. Lets say a customer comes up with a bunch of fresh vegetables and the clerk uses a sack that the previous customer declined after their order was already bagged. As a new customer, would they be confident the bag wasn't used for insecticide, drain cleaner or meat products that leaked over the interior of the bag? What kinds of chemicals or toxins are getting transferred to that bundle of lettuce, loose carrots or box of baby cereal? Demand new bags or present your own bags at the start of the order. I do.

I think the existence of alternate universes are proven via the average grocery store. Because in what universe is it okay to just dump your hand basket of stuff on the belt and wait while we empty it, ring up your items and re-bag it? NOT THIS ONE. It really slows the lines down. So I think we should give 2% off any order where the customer empties their basket onto the belt AND then places the empty basket in a safe place under the checkout stand and not behind them on the floor so the next customer can trip and fall.

I advocate giving a substantial discount to the entire purchase of anyone who can read the [expletive deleted] point of sale pad and figure out how to swipe a payment card without assistance and five minutes of wasted time. True, payment pads may differ from store to store but they are all similar and all have text instructions if not pictures detailing how to perform each step. As someone who works a register I am mystified that so many people are unable to perform a simple electronic payment function. Electronic payment cards have been around for about three decades, people! Catch up!

4% off an order for any customer who decides they don't want their milk, ice cream, butter, meat or any other perishable item (heck, any item for that matter) and hands it to the cashier. A large part of any store's loss comes from spoiled items found dumped all over the store. Instead of stealthily depositing it in with the magazines, candy rack, on the floor or in a section that is not meant for it (don't put butter in the freezer, steaks in with the coffee, etc) give it to someone. I find ice cream left sitting in the magazine racks at the check stand nearly every day. The result is not only ruined product but a ruined magazine we have to compensate a vendor for. IF YOU DON'T WANT IT, GIVE IT TO THE CASHIER.

Anyone who hangs up the cell phone, stops playing with their e-reader or removes their ear buds in order to pay attention to the order should get another 5% off their order.

The last discount idea isn't an incentive for pulling a head out of an ass but a bonus for honesty because I'm actually shocked when it happens: Anyone actually purchasing saffron instead of just stealing it should receive an extra 20% off that item. Those little bottles of spice cost nearly $20 a piece for a few threads of flavor enhancer and hardly anyone buys them. Usually ingredient-seekers just steal it. Where I work we only stock a few bottles at a time on the shelf but it is one of the most shoplifted items in our inventory. If saffron is stocked on Monday odds are the bottle is either stolen or the bottle is opened and the contents are emptied out by Tuesday. I'm actually to the point where I effusively thank any customer who actually purchases saffron.
I'm not going to advocate that we give a discount to those customers who recognize that the employees are not robots, indentured servants or slaves. That should be the minimum expected and fines should be levied against any customer who acts out. I personally require customers to not be a-holeoids and expect them to act like human beings. Well, better human beings, actually. This doesn't apply to all customers. You know who you are. I've probably voided your order and kicked you out because of the way you have acted. Yes, I'm looking at YOU, snobby lady who voiced the opinion that "Mexicans shouldn't be allowed to shop in OUR store." If you are reading this please drop me a line and let me know what lucky establishment has had you as a customer these last two years.

Sometimes I don't understand people. The grocery business is the only industry I've ever worked in where people act like their human rights are being violated if they have to wait in line a few minutes. If lines to the cash register are long it isn't because the store is cruel or doesn't want to sell stuff. Likely it is all the people they have available.

One job site I worked required me to start shutting departments early and sending staff home if the store did not make 80k in sales by noon. Falling short of that sales goal was an indicator that the store would not be profitable that day unless we cut operating costs. If you don't like the wait then please call and let the management know staffing isn't adequate. DON'T call and lie saying the staff wasn't helpful or ignored you. They can't magically poop trained and certified cashiers or clerks out of their butts. Overtime in most instances is not allowed so staff are required to leave when their shifts end, even if it is inconvenient to you. State and Federal laws determine when and how breaks and meal times are to be taken and it may not coincide a break in customer visits. FYI: Not going to a meal break on time means a large fine for the store from the state and usually results in the employee losing their job after three or less incidents.

Probably not. The economy is bad, sales are worse and there are few grocery stores that can operate with a full staff that might possibly be idle for a few minutes during the day. Under-staffed and hoping for the best is the standard operating procedure. One major grocery chain in San Diego is removing all the self-checkout lines because they are not profitable, taking up more time than they are worth. This won't mean a corresponding increase in cashiers either, just a sort of precarious balance in customers to staff. There will undoubtedly be good and bad experiences for customers when this happens.

I have been assaulted by customers and witnessed the same to co-workers due to long lines (a five-ten minute wait at most). I have been punched, poked, screamed at and had canned foods thrown at me. One employee had a pizza whipped at her face like a Frisbee from a customer who refused to wait in line. Most recently, a cup of hot coffee was splashed over an employee by an angry customer at one of our job sites. Shrieking rage is often expressed at the staff. People have screamed curses, shaking with anger that since there are not "enough checkers" they are justified in walking out with their full baskets.

Ironically when areas of San Diego were devastated by fires a few years ago and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced civility was the rule. Stores were jammed with people buying supplies to use or donate for relief. I did not experience anyone acting out. They were patient, kind and for the most part realistic about goods running out (though one couple asked for a discount on spices and gourmet foods because their personal chef was inconvenienced by the quality of goods stocked in the hotel they occupied during the fire). I just wish that people acted on a typical Friday night like they did back during the brush fires.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Look at me, Ted


And let's not forget one of the greatest "Mamma's Boy" songs ever made as performed by Steve Martin from the 1986 film The Little Shop of Horrors...

Monday, July 04, 2011

A star on earth and the heavens


New comet found

San Diego, Ca. - (HMCC News Service) - Dedicated staff at the Hayley Mills Celebratory Complex Orbital Space Platform have announced the discovery of a new comet. Originally detected by the HMCC Deep Space Telescope in April 2011 the object was confirmed as a comet in a joint effort by NASA and the HMCC.

A preliminary orbit calculated by the HMCC has determined that the newly discovered comet, named HAYLEY-BOPP by an overwhelming number of raised hands supporting the designation, will swing by the planet earth in an orbit roughly the same distance from the Sun to the planet Venus.

Scientists have reported that the comet is unusual in its chemical make-up. Rather then the "dirty snowball" of ice and frozen gases that most comets are made of HAYLEY-BOPP is unique and atypical. The HMCC has determined through rigorous peer-reviewed science that HAYLEY-BOPP is made of pure, crystal clear water as clean as a mountain spring. "Cleaner, even." Claims the staff of the HMCC. "We suspect that the water is so pure that if a Maryland sewer rat were exposed to this celestial super-fluid it would transform into an immortal puppy that barks rainbows."

Below is the first photograph of comet HAYLEY-BOPP as recorded by the HMCC Deep Space Telescope. Coincidentally, the comet structurally resembles screen and television star Hayley Mills.
"Not so unusual." Claims Sleestak, the leader of the HMCC. "In a mysterious, infinite universe it is inevitable that Hayley Mills will appear almost everywhere you look. We all expected as much, hence the need for the Deep Space Telescope. It merely confirmed what we already knew, that Hayley Mills totally rules not only on earth but in space as well."

The HMCC also reports that while the path of HAYLEY-BOPP will bring it relatively near earth the distances between the orbits of the comet and the earth are "mind-boggling" and HAYLEY-BOPP is no threat to the planet. Says Sleestak: "HAYLEY-BOPP poses no danger to the earth at all, though of course there are always some doom cultists that are scared of things they don't understand. Yesterday the HMCC received a fax from the Lindsay Lohan Fan Club signed by both members pronouncing doom unless the comet is stopped and sent back into space. Oh, and Lindsay wants to know why Hayley won't return her calls."

Have a safe July 4th

LinkFrom Girl's Love Stories #1 (Aug-Sept 1949).

And once again my wife, son and I are working the evening of July 4th, so if you want to go "OOOH" and "AAAH" at the pretty lights then pull the [expletive deleted] over and off the road.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

You others stalkers can't deny


First Kiss #6 (Nov 1958).

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Friday, July 01, 2011

So that's where he got his start

Watched the classic 1965 film Planet of the Vampires last night and as ever was amused by the look of the unusual pressure suits worn by the cast with the impractical high collars, helmets, bulky gloves and stiff joints.

When the credits ran I discovered who the costume designer was. It all makes sense now.