Sunday, November 30, 2008

My #$@! Co-Workers III:The Swingers

I know this is a little close to my last post on my co-workers, but I just remembered these people existed and this is too good not to share.

So when I took over for the last full-time employee, there was a couple that worked on the big gaming day, Saturday. They had been longtime customers, and presumably started working there to help pay for their habit. The guy was a heavyset bespectacled guy with a lisp, and his wife was an about ten-years-younger gal. They were nice enough, and I had run into them a couple of times at conventions. One time the wife was wearing a costume with no pants and when she sat down it looked like she was using the potty. Hee. Also one time at a convention, the owner ran into them and the guy was covered in so much sweat he might as well have showered with his clothes on. When asked where the guy had walked from, the husband replied "*pant* *pant* the hotel next door". Sometimes, cliches are true.

They were fine, for the most part. I hated working Saturdays because all the kids and the Pokemon craze and the mess and everything. They eventually quit and he got transferred to the Pacific Northwest working for a company that actually made some of the games, they had a kid, and now they're out there doing something somewhere. It's what I found out later that makes them noteworthy.

I overheard a conversation my senior year of high school between the owner, the old manager and a friend of their who was a judge talking about a legal issue. It seems the couple had an amateur website displaying amateur sexing. All the guys knew about it while it was going on except me. This thing was wild. I looked it up thanks to the handy-dandy Internet Time Machine and saw her getting sapphic with a girl in a wheelchair, sexing one of her college professors and getting more BBC than an English citizen. They were swingers. Not Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau swingers. Your creepy aunt and uncle swingers.

It was so weird. She was fairly young, in her mid-twenties when this was going on, but she wasn't really what you picture when you picture amateur porn star. You might think of porn stars looking like this (okay, how in the hell can you post pics where you actually want them? Write in and help a brother out!) In any case, she did not fit the look of the prototypical porn star.

I always wondered about their life. Did they continue reenacting Eyes Wide Shut when they moved? Do they find a sitter for the kid and go to a local motel to get the wife some huge schlong? Do they ever play Heroclix where the winning team gets a crack at her? I wonder...

I think it goes without saying that the swinger chick did not look like Bettie Page...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

State Of Affairs

Well, due in part to some good ole fashioned OCD, I don't really want to have two-to-three negative "aren't people such dumbshits?" posts in a row, so I'll hold a general catching-up post. Besides, the last couple of posts have had comments from people that aren't people I've known in real life.

So. Hello.

In all seriousness, I'm wondering how people are finding out about this blog. I haven't sent it to Warren Ellis or Rich Johnston yet (but I will, once I get enough content). The only thing I can think of is random keyword searching in the blogosphere. Or someone that reads the blog of my lone follower linked to this. So if anyone out there is reading this, who are you? Where did you come from? You don't have to disclose full name, SSN and address, but it'd be neat to see if you're current comic shop employees, people that used to come in to the shop that they think is the basis for this blog, curious masturbators, whatever.

I will say prepare for a slight (two week at the most) drop in productivity as school starts back up after the weekend and finals rear their ugly head. I have a big load this year (that's what she said) so I have to study up, or at least procrastinate and cram up.

I really don't have a concrete plan for this blog. I'm going to go through all the a-hole customers that I hated (off the top of my head, I can come up with five specific individuals, with perhaps some general "types" later), my idiot co-workers (three more parts, including my boss and the a-holes that bought the store), a couple of more opinions on the industry, one positive post on all the cool people I did meet (it'd be a slap in the face if I forgot them) and a couple of wrap-up posts where I detail what happened to the store (the hot potato change of hands is kind of funnytragic) and my ultimate final say.

I'm a little surprised at just how quaint or seemingly small the blog will be. I worked at this place for about six years, and had been a customer for ten. I have to say, though, that the last time I worked there will be three years this May, and time is slowly healing all the wounds that developed. I think my posts, especially the ones regarding me and my "origin story" will be pretty big, so it will be size and not numbers as we head towards the finish line. Then, I will probably say no more. I kind of thought this blog could be a discussion piece. A sort of example of what's wrong in the industry and how even good and honorable intentions can lead to so much waste and dust. Also, I hoped it would spur others. Nothing would please me more than for some owners (or especially employees) that have dealt with this special level of Hell to start their own blogs, whether here or video blogs on YouTube or Facebook groups or whatever. I am generous with the linking, so by all means if you want whatever meager publicity I can and will one day provide, send me an email or comment and I will link you up something fierce. And really, that goes for everyone in the retail world. Clothing stores, restaurants, video games, big box, it's all designed to make people want to empty a barrell in their face, so let's all express it anonymously on the Internet! That being said, don't think me a coward for expressing it anonymously on the Internet. The only thing I fear is a well-educated lawyer, and the people I am writing about are completely free to come by and see what I have to say. The ones that were good to me I am good to them, the ones that stepped on me are getting stepped on in return. Fair's fair, and you will see later on I can be just as harsh on myself.

I have signed up for AdSense. I resisted for some time, not wanting people to think me some sort of sell-out or that I'm trying to get money from this, but I figured why the hell not? The ads are unobtrusive and I'm a poor college student who needs all the funds he can get. Especially after I explain the owner's actions and how I left the store in my ending posts. He will not get a lot of sympathy from those that know him once they find out some things. For that reason I am also dwelling on putting up a link to PayPal. If I do, please do not feel obligated to do jack squat, but if Rich puts this up in one of this weekly columns and some kind-hearted Marvel editor or store owner or venture capitalist with a heart of gold and more money than Danny Rand(obscure!) gets a chuckle or two from this and wants to float me a fiver online, then so be it.

That's about it. My next post will probably be about the kinky couple that used to work on the weekends. Oh, it's a good one. Until then, stay safe!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My #$@! Co-Workers II:Sally Brown Make You Go Down

This is my second installment in my series on my co-workers. This one was yet another teenage girl, and yet another huge mistake.

I'm going to call her Sally Brown. Like Sally, she was a blond girl, and like Sally she had a ginormous head.

Sally Brown used to come in with her high school chums when the bus would drop them off in a K-Mart parking lot and wait for her parents to pick her up. She was remarkably self-assured, and would talk and sass total strangers and people much older than her. She started to ask for a job, and eventually the owner figured he could hire her cheap to do the stuff I didn't want to (it should be noted she predates the Phoenix). We pretty much trained her to run the register and set her loose on the weekends. We thought surely someone so nerdy looking had to be smart. Wrong. Mistake. She had the common sense of Gomer Pyle.

This was probably a mistake in hindsight. Sally Brown was about 5'0, and had a penchant for sitting on a footstool hidden from the public eye. An old co-worker came in one time, went to the back, changed, came out and stood in the front for a solid minute before she looked up from whatever manga book she had her nose stuck in and asked, "when did you get in?" Yeah. This was a common problem. Sally Brown wanted to work, but not "work". She wanted to get paid reading comics and sitting around.

She could be weirdly abrasive and sensitive at the same time. I remember once she called the owner crying because she casually tossed a pack of cards at a kid that turned out to be "special" and was yelled at by the mom. Her dad later complained to the owner about the mom complaining at his daughter, and eventually everyone was advised just to calm down. I'll always remember Sally Brown being extra nice and helpful towards the dimwi-new owners, and subtly (or not) asking about what her role in the new store would be, and being told none.

The family, while being conservative Catholics, also had a weird sexual undercurrent to them. Her older sister (Charlene Brown?) used to come in and flirt heavily with the owner, and regale him with taking guys home and them being rough with her. Once, I had found a notebook and thumbed through it, hoping to get a name or contact info for whatever kid left their Social Studies homework there. Instead, I found the beginnings of a classic hentai tale of a man with tentacles in his overcoat confronting a woman in a bathtub. I thought it was something the Phoenix had written, until Sally Brown called and said she left a notebook up there. To know her you would never had guessed tentacle sex was on her mind.

She probably has watched this video to do the opposite. You know, to ensure tentacle rape...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Look Back In Apathy: Blister In The Storage Room

I'm going to post couple of stories that don't really fit in anywhere under this series, as this doesn't really go in any other category (i.e. asshole customers, asshole co-workers, etc etc).

In the backroom where the bathroom and books older than your uncle are, the owner kept some porno comics. He had a euphemism for them, but I just realized I can't probably say what it was as it was the name of the only guy who enjoyed them. In the meantime, I'll just call them porno comics. A lot were published by Eros, which is a division of Fantagraphics and consists of probably their highest sellers. A lot of weird hentai and indie porn by small-press guys like Bob Fingerman( and one of the Hernandez guys. Pedro, I think.

He kept them hidden in a separate box, or tucked in randomly. Sometimes a regular would pull them out or find them for laughs. Of course, the funniest tale involved another kind of regular. This guy was a card and game player who had to use the potty during an action-packed Saturday. Evidently, he must've come across the box whilst returning from his mid-morning tinkle and decided to flip open a book and get reacquainted with his genitals. He had been gone for some time when the owner tried to open the back door and asked something along the lines of, "hey-hey, what are you doing? What's going on back there?" To which the curious masturbator probably replied, "uh-n-nothing. I'll be right out." Sadly, I wasn't there to take a picture of his walk of shame.

The lesson? Admit you're keeping the books to wack off to at 2 a.m. when your wife is asleep or throw the things out. No one wants a copy of Defenders with the shiny-embossed and sticky-entrailed cover.

Monday, November 24, 2008

$4 For Funny Books? You Are Insane.

So in late October on Rich Johnston's blog, something I compulsively read despite not having regularly bought comics in years and having a love-hate relationship with the author (he talks endlessly on British things no one cares about, plugs his own stuff and seems somewhat of a hanger-on to the industry), it was reported that comics may soon go up to $4 a book. He came up with a neat little chart that can be found on the blog here:

Turns out that comics should really cost about $1.09, as opposed to the $3 they cost now. No. You are not going to get teenagers with disposable income to spend $4 on 32 pages of Spider-Man not getting laid and Batman brooding when for the price of 3 comics they can get a DVD, and if they choose to eschew comics they can get a video game a month. If they can pull themselves away from the internets and the Facebooks and the homemade porn made with the digital cameras with soundtracks by the Lil Waynes.

The economy is tanking. The bottom keeps opening up, and by this time next year we'll all either be living beyond our means on credit like the good ole days or be standing in a bread line with the rest of our commune amazed that Michael Moore was right when he predicted that this was the end of capitalism. Now, how this would end capitalism when the Great Depression didn't kill it, I don't know. Then again, I'm not a fat retard. The point is, when Scott Collegegrad gets laid off from his entry level data processor position that he didn't want in the first place as he has an English degree, what do you think he's going to cut out first? Food? Rent? Uncanny X-Men?

Also, a lot of comics seem craptacular. DC is going through some fuckin' Crisis, like, Crisis 8:The Douchening or something. Everyone in Marvel is a Skrull, or a Republican, or a zombie, or a zombified Skrull who watches Fox News. I would venture to say I, someone who read a lot of comics for 11 years, could not figure out the Watcher's ass from a hole in the ground nowadays. New customers are going to be confused, and when a lot of old customers like me occasionally get a grim existential feeling that Spider-Man will always struggle to get laid, Batman will forever be a jerk, Wolverine will never shave those sideburns, they're going to put the Washingtons back in their wallet and keep walking.

You can get the hardcovers from Amazon cheaper than the individual issues from the local retailer. And they come with extra stuff. Why even get the monthly issues? It's all paced for the trade anyway.

I'm not saying I don't like comics. I do. And I'm well aware that there's more stuff than repressed homosexuals in tights blasting each other with lasers and tasers and whatnot. There's Blue Monday, 100 Bullets, Fables, Walking Dead, Dork, and countless other unique titles I'm forgetting here. I'm not saying creators shouldn't make money. They should. Everyone from the artist to the assistant editor should make a living wage and be able to get by without selling comp copies on eBay or heroin on the street corner.

I'm just saying that comics are too expensive, and sooner or later the industry will hit a wall. They'll either blink and lower their prices and financial expectations, or they'll find themselves on The History Channel talking about the good ole days of comics and interesting radio.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Parade Of Assholes Part Two

Sack Ofshitskin

First, an apology. This blog has had crazy delays at least twice, and all I can blame is my schedule and laziness. But this time, it literally has been my schedule. I'm taking 17 1/2 hours of college classes and working 20 hours a week, so I'm packed. I will try to continue posting as the rage remains...

Which brings me to my second regular who gave me regular bouts of insomnia and suicide attempts. Sack Ofshitskin. Once again, people who are familiar with the shop will recognize what the name is based on, others won't.

Sack was an old high school cum of the owner. He looked like a mixture of Mr. Burns and a baby, fitting because he was a fairly well-off right-winger who cried like a bitch at stuff, hence my two photos. He was balding, liked volleyball and walked around a local mall with a Santa hat. Needless to say, he probably was a closeted homosexual. He also had a sweet tat of the eyes of Nightwing on his bicep, so his predilection for man meat was probably true. I mean, it's lame enough to get a comic book tattoo on your bicep, but Nightwing?! The gayest sidekick that ever bared bare leg? And his freaking eyes? Not even his symbol or anything? What was he gonna finish off with, his face and a heart around it? Ugh.

Now besides being lame, Sack was best known for being cheap. Really cheap. Really... really... cheap. This is a guy that would try to get out of paying sales tax. Once, out of frustration and embarrassment, I paid the sales tax on his Witchblade action figure. Oh that's right, this guy is trying to get the best deal on a Witchblade... action figure. Comic fans by and large are known for being extremely selfish, cheap and short-sighted. Eager to pray to the altar of Amazon not realizing that by killing brick-and-mortar they're killing their own hangouts and game competitions. So to be noted by one's peers for being cheap, means that in the natural world you are a Cheap God.

It was his cheapness that ultimately created the schism between him and the owner/store. Sack had ordered a crate of Heroclix for an incredible steal, pretty much what he could have gotten ordering online. We were making close to 0% profit on this, very slim. He balked at paying the sales tax, which was something the owner warned me he might do while insisting that he had told him that he couldn't do away with sales tax that time. Without sales tax the profit might have just gone into the negative. I told him that he'd have to pay the sales tax, and that to refuse was un-American and hampering the War On Terror™ that was so beloved by his fellow NeoCons. He said "you know what? Forget it," and stomped back to his seat like a four-year-old. I said, "all right" as I didn't make comission anyway. Before I opened the new case to sell, what do you think he did? Buckled like a belt. Caved. Backed down like a bitch. He went ahead and bought the stupid case full of plastic toys for children made by Chinese children. Then went ahead and stopped getting as many books and buying Heroclix elsewhere. We sold the store and I moved shortly afterwards so I didn't get the full effect of the Sack embargo. The owner later said he visited the shop under the new dumbas-owners, I meant owners, and Sack ignored him. What a fucking baby.

Fun fact: When the "gang" went to go see X2, Sack talked like a retarded pre-teen throughout the movie, much to the derision of the theatregoers around him. "I didn't know Nightcrawler was so powerful!" "Siryn!" "Ulp, Phoenix! We got a Phoenix!" Dope.