Saturday, September 5, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
So, upon writing my opinion blog on the current states of Marvel and DC, I started thinking on a controversial bigtime player, Joe Quesada. Joe was the instigator of the Marvel Knights line, bringing in Kevin Smith on Daredevil which has basically had a ten-year run of being really good. From Smith begat Mack who begat Bendis who begat Brubaker. From the success of that line he was promoted to EIC, and proceeded to make huge changes in the Marvel U. He brought in Morrison and Quitely to X-Men, helped usher in the Ultimate line with Bendis, Millar, Kubert, Hitch and Ellis, brought Ennis to The Punisher and JMS to Amazing Spider-Man.
There've been a lot of good runs under his tenure, with Hulk under Bruce Jones and Mark Waid's Fantastic Four. I also believe he was the guy that resurrected Black Panther with Christopher Priest at the helm.
However, people on the internet hate him. Now, I've covered this slightly on my post on internet message boards, but it bears repeating. I've heard him called "Joe Quesadilla" which struck me as a little bit racist considering that he's Cuban. His name sounds different. It's the same principle as the assholes who stress Barack HUSSEIN Obama. The general consensus is that he's ruined Marvel, he's pissing in the open graves of Jack King and Stan Lee (wait, Stan Lee's not dead yet? Boize Moi, he must be drinking that same swill that Nick Fury does), yada yada yada.
What exactly did he ruin at Marvel? The hopelessly convuluted X-Men? The post-Clone era Spider-Man? The Avengers featuring teenage non-evil Tony Stark? Heroes Reborn? Ugh. Just think of all the great, memorable comic runs and stories in the 1990s. Then think of the same of the 2000s. 2000s wins.
Obviously I think Joey Q has done more good than harm. He brought back the subtle rivalry with DC while making JLA/Avengers a reality. Although after reading it maybe that one should have stayed a pipe dream. Marvel comics continue to spank DC in regards to sales so he's clearly doing something right. He's also done a good job of positioning Marvel as the hipper company, which it kind of always was-from the era of stodgy Silver Age "your dad as a superhero" DC to the modern "simple wing of a huge conglomerate", the competition isn't really fierce. Marvel is a Twittering, TV-friendly place.
Is he perfect? No. As mentioned before, the revamp of a universe not even a decade old was unnecessary and dumb. The idea that you don't have to explain magic, and that Peter Parker would make a deal with the devil (literally, Beezlebub) is idiotic. They kinda killed Supreme Power by bringing it away from MAX. They cut off Epic's wings before it took flight, only for them to eventually allow creator-owned series too late to take advantage of Millar's movie and sales-spawning works, not to mention probably alienating a ton of dudes that probably just went to Vertigo. Yeah, Epic was a huge missed opportunity. And he keeps hiring Greg Land, although it's admirable for him personally that he sticks up for friends and employees.
So, I dunno. Feel free to criticize Joey Q. Hell, do it here, in the comments section, and give me something to respond to. But try not to be too big of a weirdo about it. Or else you'll end up like this gentleman here.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I debated as to whether to include this guy or not. He and I have a complicated history, but in the end he did frustrate me on more than one occasion, as I'm sure I did him, so in he goes. I'm going to use this photo of Baby Huey, not to be insulting, but because that's what this one guy called him in defense of Sarcastro ragging on him. Plus, it's less insulting than a picture of Comic Shop Guy, who is older, bald, and unattractive. He did share his attitude, however.
Sarcastro was the guy that worked at the shop the second longest period of time. Sadly, I believe the longest belonged to me. Thor, I wish I could take that statistic back. Anyway, he started there in his early 20s. At the time, he quit his job doing something in construction where he supervised people, as he wore the standard husky-guy "short sleeve and tie Sipowicz" outfit.
He was pretty popular with a lot of the regulars. Indeed he should've, because for one, Sarcastro was very personable and had a great sense of humor, thus the alias "Sarcastro". He said a lot of things that were "LOL" as the kids say online, and not just comic-related stuff. He was funny all around. Some of my favorite "bits" of his was his reaction to the Stormwatch storyline "Change Or Die", to which he replied, "well, they gave 'em fair warning!" A joke in the same vein was when "Live Kree Or Die" came out and he said simply, "I'll live Kree". He also once had two Captain America toys dancing and started singing the Carpenters hit "We've Only Just Begun". I remember one time on his birthday a group of us saw some sort of IMAX ocean-related movie. When the store owner said it was gay, Sarcastro thoughtfully replied, "it was bisexual at best".
He also had quite possibly the best work ethic that I've ever seen. He was a consummate salesman and seemed to rise wherever he ended up. This guy would've killed as a salesman in the 1950s. For some reason, you don't really see a lot of salesmen nowadays. I blame the internet. I said salesman a lot.
After leaving the shop, he took a job at our local game and sports memorabilia distributor. Unfortunately, they started downsizing before downsizing was cool and he was let go. He later got a job as some sort of pager salesman (post 1996!) and I remember seeing him immediately go into a pitch at the drop of a hat with this guy in the store. My man wasted no time. Ultimately, he ended up at a bank, where he rose to the position of loan officer and ended up making more money than the store owner and possibly the store owner's wife, who always worked in banks.
It wasn't all wine and mint-condition Amazing Fantasy #15, however. Sarcastro could be insensitive at best and pretty much just mean at worst. With the exception of people he thought to be his peers and Chunk Jr, he could lay it on anybody and everybody, and I remember coming under his sights on more than one occasion. It tapered off the older I got and presumably the more respect he gained for me, not necessarily for doing anything but just for getting older, more mature and not really being in the target demo for zings and barbs. Looking back, I don't really feel any anger as I was in his presence when he would lay it on someone else and I realize it wasn't just me, per se.
I think a lot of the vitriol that erupted a lot of the time was just a general dissatisfaction with his life, a twentysomething malaise (as seen in Garden State) and the like. He was a young guy who dropped out of college. He lived at home and lost touch with old friends. It was hard to meet people (namely, women) at the shop. Once on a ride back home he was explaining to my future roommate and myself how it was hard to hang out with various people: this guy had a drinking problem, these guys were married, and my future roommate and I were too young to do some stuff. (At ease, we were in our mid-teens, this isn't the King Of Pop here). So for a good amount of time he probably felt pretty lonely, at least in the existential sense. His situation was probably a lot like the character of Scott Forbes in the criminally overlooked comic The Waiting Place. Do yourself a favor and track these down, then bug Sean McKeever over and over until he makes more of them.
The longer I worked at the store the more I could see why Sarcastro was the way he was. It does something to you, particularly if you're just drifting along. The filmmaker never went through this because while he was employed I think everyone understood it was a temporary situation and he was on the next train out to Anywhereelse as soon as it came by. He was too smart for the shop.
Sarcastro ended up meeting a nice Christian girl in her early 20s who ended up indirectly instigating a life change for him. He traded in his Jeep for a woman's car (according to everyone who saw it), got a new job, started going to church (which was hilarious to those of us who heard him talk about DC Talk and Jars Of Clay, and how just because something is Christian doesn't make it good) and he ended up proposing to her after just a year or two of dating. My roommate, the filmmaker and I ended up going to his wedding. His wife had a kid and last I heard he has twins on the way. He actually emailed me this year and asked if I was on Facebook, and how all the guys had joined. I thought the question silly as even though I'm still in my 20s with some time to go before I head into my 30s I feel slightly older than the typical Facebook demographic, let alone a bunch of guys barrelling towards 40. Needless to say, I did not reply nor seek out friend requests as that's the last thing my psyche needs is to relive the worst years of my life.
He did go through a really rough period, oddly enough after he met his then-girlfriend now-wife. He demanded the filmmaker bring back his Dreamcast that he had left in the shop for a while, which the filmmaker borrowed just to play around with, as it was doing nothing but gather dust. He snapped at me and the owner, who suspected he wanted it back in order to trade in for a better system, something somewhat insulting as the owner had given it to him for a birthday or holiday present. Luckily I think regular sex calmed him down or something.
Overall, though, Sarcastro was a pretty good guy. Certainly ended up being better than the store owner, which would have shocked me then but seems inevitable now. We went to Monday Night Raw, saw some movies, had some bad Italian, laughed at the nerds at the local conventions, and told some jokes. He's a different guy now than when he was angry and 24, and wherever he is, I doff my cap at you, sir.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Alright, I've gotten back into the habit of posting these things on a semi-regular basis, and I see I've gotten more subscribers but less commenters, or at least less commenters that I haven't met in real life. Sigh. I really liked my last post, too.
Anyway, there was a small group of guys that played Dragonball Z. Dragonball Z was the game that guys should have been embarrassed about playing in middle/high school, versus the Yu-Gi-Oh, the game that you should be embarrassed about playing in elementary school and Magic: The Gathering, the game you should be embarrassed about playing as an adult.
There was a somewhat normal looking, quiet guy I'll call Vic, as in victim, more on that later.
There was a young African-American gentleman who would come in with his little, rambunctious brother I'll call Ten Cent, more on that later.
There was a redneck teen who was pretty good-humored that had such a heavy accent he once called "Mello-Yello" "Meller-Yeller". I never got tired of getting a kick out of that.
There was also a couple of brothers that looked like Jonathan Taylor Thomases.
These guys were pretty okay, they were old enough to stay out of my hair for the most part. That was until the apparently ambitious young hood Ten Cent put the smack down on Vic right there in the store.
I guess Ten Cent was sore that Vic wouldn't give him a ride or something, and one Saturday when I was leaning down to put something away, I heard what sounded like fabric rustling and rose to see Ten Cent punching away on Vic who was pretty much just sitting in a chair and taking it. After awaking from my stupor, I grabbed the phone and came out to tell Ten Cent to knock it off and get the Hell out or something. I should have been suspicious as Ten Cent came in earlier with a huge guy, presumably as back-up. They got out of Dodge and Vic called the cops who got a statement from me.
One thing that's weird is that Ten Cent was a normal guy. Sure, I nicknamed him in a demeaning fashion against a famous gangsta rapper as he was an aspiring young thug, I suppose, but he was normal. He didn't fit into any un-PC stereotypes involving cornrows, wifebeaters, or ink. Just a middle class guy.
What you have to worry about in this world is not the smart criminals, or criminally-inclined, but the dumb ones. "Duhhhh... let me settle my dispute violently, in public, and at an age where I could possibly be tried as an adult. With lots of witnesses against a guy who knows my name, address, and phone number."
Vic got a restraining order against Ten Cent, which included the shop. He never came in again, though, and oddly enough most of the group sided with Ten Cent, who also only came in once to see if he could still come in, which the owner reluctantly agreed. By that time though he was probably discovering pot and internet porn. So good riddance.
Oddly enough, I'm kinda more angry about it now than when it happened. When it happened, I just couldn't believe it was happening. Now, I realize that it was a violent, meaningless act (which I hate), and either an indirect or direct disrespect towards myself. What did he think I was going to do, just stand there and let him mete out suburban street justice? Now when I think back to it (not often) I wonder what he would have done if I had just come up from behind and nailed him with a steel chair, WWE-style. Even if he had his huge, future inmate #311420 assault me, I'd be throwing out lawsuits like nobody's business, and if that didn't pan out, hell, my friends are more numerous, older and with access to better weaponry than chairs.
I just hate violence and crime, is what I'm trying to say. Ironic considering I've got a huge interest in the mob. But at least that's largely between themselves, and not running up to random people and aiming a shotgun in their face. Must be all those accumulated super-hero stories infecting me with their morality.
Damn anime. Teaching kids to solve their problems through screaming, punching and blasts of force from their palms. Shit.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I still try to keep somewhat of an ear to the ground of comics, and often will flip through the trades at Barnes & Noble or wherever. I also fantasize about getting back into collecting, and made a quickly aborted attempt a couple of years ago before realizing it was way too daunting and the price way too high. The last time I regularly read comics was right before the endings to Civil War and The Ultimates Volume Two, if that tells you anything.
Now I know what it feels like to be one of those then-annoying guys who come up and say "I haven't read since blahbittyblah, what do you think?". I mean, from my understanding Batman found his kid, died while killing Darkseid, the DCU is still chugging along after anywhere between two to four criseses because I guess editorial is too scared to reboot the universe and piss off old readers. As for Marvel, Tony was head of SHIELD then not, Skrulls invaded, got their asses kicked, now Norman Osborn is the head of SHIELD and leading an evil-Avengers team-which is way beyond the capabilities of a guy that just started out as a pissed-off middle-aged father of one of Peter's loser friends. At least in my opinion.
Getting back to DC, remember a few years ago when they were all ready to overtake Marvel? It looked like they would have them on the ropes for a little while. They hired away the Kuberts and Bagley, got Geoff Johns, Jeph Loeb and Grant Morrison all exclusive, were going to do a "final" crisis and were starting up an ambitious, weekly comic series that would shake up the universe and explain to readers what had happened. I was really psyched for 52: focusing on cool, but obscure characters like the Question, Black Adam, Booster Gold and Steel? Killing off one of them? Back-up origin stories by the best artists in the biz? Covers by J.G. Jones? Still haven't read most of it and online reviews have been mixed. Definitely not the world shaker I thought it'd be.
But what happened, DC? Dan DiDio was supposed to be your Joe Quesada. Apparently he's just good at pissing off creatives and alienating Ed Brubaker which in retrospect turned out to be dumb, very dumb. Morrison's run on Batman has been met with mixed reviews, All-Star Batman was met with shitty ones. JLA now stars Vixen of all people, completely ignoring Morrison's ahead-of-its-time premise of only big names and only big threats. The revamp of Wonder Woman went nowhere, and she remains a missed opportunity. Obviously things aren't all bad, All-Star Superman is thought to be one of the alltime great Superman stories, and Green Lantern is in the midst of probably the apex of its influence and excellence. Geoff Johns is probably the John Byrne or Frank Miller of Green Lantern.
But nonetheless DC remains in a distant second place, despite having the number two movie of all time based on one of its properties and the financial backing of one of the largest corporations of the world.
Marvel seems to be doing better in some regards, but they have commited a screw-up so godawful I almost think they did it on purpose. You'd have to.
In late 2000, Marvel realized that no one could decipher the complicated and often-crappy backstories of its media-friendly properties Spider-Man and the X-Men, so they tasked two largely unknown writers to revamp them, Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar. Those two became the definitive writers of the '00s and helped usher in the emphasis on scripts over pencils from the reverse situation in the '90s. What's even weirder is that the books were good. Really good. Peter Parker went from a married guy seemingly in his 30s to a nerdy high-schooler again. The X-Men became the older teenagers they started out as, with the added bonus of mixing up familiar tropes, such as Wolverine working as an assassin for Magneto and Colossus being a gay. The Ultimate line became so successful that Marvel soon launched Ultimate versions of the Fantastic Four (which brought us the popular zombie craze) and the Avengers, which brought us the most interesting variations of Cap, Iron Man and Thor in a while before Marvel updated the 616 versions. Of course, all sales on books fall after awhile. Peter Parker talking like a Mamet character loses its shock value, and Marvel certainly didn't help things by replacing Millar and Hitch with (ugh) Loeb and Joe Mad. As for the other books, you'd think they would have continued to try to follow big name with big name, like when Ellis took over for Millar on Ultimate Fantastic Four or when Bendis took over for Millar on Ultimate X-Men. Instead, they seemed to throw a lot of middling-to-unknown/new names on the books, thus losing the cool, superstar "edge" that they once had.
How to fix it? How about rebooting the series that were reboots just nine years ago! We've gotten a total of thirtysomething-to-fortysomething issues with some of these characters, so we already know all we need to know about them! Let's all have them killed in gruesome ways, just to give those fanboys shit! Let's have them all be eaten and exploded and all-around mutilated! Then we can reboot the long, complicated histories of characters and titles that have been around alllll the way back since 2000!
With all due respect... are you fucking high, Marvel?! What the fuck?! Are you gonna find a creative team as talented and in-sync with each other and the zeitgeist of the times like Bendis and Bagley and Millar and Hitch? The Ultimates had two volumes of pure awesomeness and now it's not good enough. Honestly, with these titles that have lost their way, how hard would it have been to do a "soft reboot" and hire new teams to handle the books? Maybe get rid of the repetitive cover designs where every issue looks the same. Make a big convention announcement and throw a few grand at Wizard to get a ten-page advertisement/article. It seems like Joe and Bill and the creative teams spent a lot of time and effort coming up with archetypes, boiling down the characters to their essence, forgetting all the crud that's accumulated and having each hero down to their peak. Tony Stark is an alcoholic playboy wanting to turn his life around after a near-death experience. Peter Parker is an awkward nerd who can't catch a break. Steve Rogers is a man out of time, even more poignant given the greater distance between 1945-2002, versus the 616 '45-'63. Wolverine is once again scary and bad-ass. Creating characters to care about and root for/against for a long, long time.
And it's all getting rebooted. Again. By teams that probably won't be anywhere near the ability of the originals.
Boy I hope they spend a lot of time reading 616 and Ultimate incarnations of super-heroes, so that they can streamline each character in expectation to the big reboot of 2011.
DC might have the most screw-ups, maybe the biggest as far as missed opportunities go, but Marvel by far had the most idiotic.
I hate you, comics.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Kirk Van Houten
Wow, okay maybe I wasn't as ready to come back as I thought. Well, what do you want, it's a free blog. On with the show...
This guy literally just popped into my head the other week. I hadn't thought of him in years. I know his real name, but his pseudonym will be Kirk Van Houten. They're both single (presumably divorced) dads and they're both a little sad.
I don't know when Kirk Van Houten started coming into the shop, but I think it was around the time Sarcastro was still working there. Kirk looked to be in his late-thirties/early-forties, but apparently should have been only in his early-thirties when I knew him. He had a classic "grown-up nerd" look to him: wire-rimmed glasses, wide mouth, overall awkward demeanor.
He would come in a lot with his son, who was somewhere between the ages of three to seven. I don't know a lot about kids, but he was young. The kid acted like he had some vague behavioral or attitude disorder. He was just really loud and seemingly out there. I don't want to call anybody's young kid an idiot, but he definately didn't have the spark, charm or wit of some of the other kids that I would see occasionally.
Kirk was also cheap. He was notorious for spending vast amounts of time, sometimes north of an hour looking through the alphabetically organized discount boxes. It was always a huge pet peeve when someone would come in around the time I wanted to eat, so you can just add fuel to the fire when that someone was obviously broke/poor/cheap and not going to spend an amount equal to what you were buying your lunch with. I would've rather put a Lincoln myself in the register and spared myself the aggravation.
But what really makes Kirk "asshole worthy" was the fact that he was indeed an asshole. He would constantly sigh when looking through comics one-by-one, as if he was above it all. If only the industry could write and illustrate to his standards, so he wouldn't have to endure the mundane indignity of looking through such dreck. Hey, here's an idea! Get a real fucking job and you'll be able to afford some higher quality comics. He wasn't too proud to not play Sarcastro's Dreamcast when he left it hooked up one day, either.
I remember talking to the filmmaker that worked there just before me and he mentioned Kirk as well. Said he used to come in every...single...week and ask if League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #6 was out yet. I suppose this was before the internet was in wide use. My friend said that when the comic finally shipped, he wanted to look out for him in the parking lot, then rush the door, throw it open and toss the book at him. "Here"!
Once again, a guy all too happy to perpetuate the stereotypes of comic fans. Sigh.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Okay, so it's only been, what... five months, right? Not too bad.
Alright, where was I? School, folks. Going to school. Not doing all too much other than that. This semester was a rough one, albeit one of the more memorable ones. On a personal note, I actually wrote a play. This marks the first time in my personal history of ever that I've written a complete creative work, and somewhat of a viable one at that. I'm currently sending it out to trusted friends in order to ascertain some honest feedback, and then I'm sending it to every able-bodied producer in the US. The sooner I can get paid doing what I love, the sooner I can lord it over my many enemies.
Was I so busy that I couldn't even update a lousy once a week or month? Well... no. But I decided to take a break, although I'd be lying if I expected to take such a long one. Mostly I was just getting burned out, in addition to being slightly disappointed at a lack of involvement for the blog. I was kinda bummed at making a rapid series of posts with few comments. I understand not everyone has something to say about everything, but for right now it's the only measure I have of who's reading. And while that contradicts my earlier notion of mainly doing this for myself, it was quite a headrush and ego boost to have followers.
But no matter. I am back, and while I can't really see myself making one post a day like I was at my peak, certainly I'll manage better than twice a year.
For those of you wondering where the picture comes from, it's the cover to Superfolks, the best comic story you've never read. It's so good, in fact, that Alan Moore stole from it for three of his best known tales, Watchmen, Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? and Marvelman! Grant Morrison apparently wrote a column in the early '90s talking about it. I'd love it if some ambitious journalist removed his mouth from Alan Moore's penis and asked him about this influence. Because in my opinion Alan Moore is a very lucky man. In another world, Robert Mayer is better known and Moore is looked at with suspicion. I'm honestly surprised there wasn't any lawsuits. I'm not saying Moore is not talented, nor do I intend to piss on the Holy Grail of comic creators... but read Superfolks and see if you don't take the hero worship down a notch or twelve.
Why am I embedding this clip? Well, because it has the song "Return Of The Mack" in it. The downside is that Entourage is the douchiest show in the history of television, and the guy who uploaded it is one of the douchiest guys on YouTube, so be sure and give him shit in the comments section of his video.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I am a moderate-to-big fan of Kevin Smith. I think his comics are generally pretty good, although the wait for Daredevil/Bullseye: Target and Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil Men Do was unforgivable, and upon reading the comics not really worth it. However, his run on Green Arrow was pretty damn good and about as good as that title ever got (at least since Mike Grell was on it, allegedly). I'm more of a fan of his movies. Clerks was the movie that made me realize I want to pursue creative endeavors for a living (still waiting on that). Dogma was great when I first watched it, but grows more irritating every subsequent viewing, mainly due to Linda Fiorentino's horrible performance and the frequent preachiness of the dialogue. I'm not really making a good account for him, but suffice to say I thought Clerks II was really well done. It got a lot of flak online, although that's no big surprise. Smith has always been a huge lightening rod for people. He's basically the everyman, slob, "my movie is your life" industry figure. You can make honest arguments about his subject matter choices, his style (or lack thereof) in directing, and his frequent habit of putting his wife in his movies, which is new and very unfortunate. She seems like a great, smart gal but an actress she is not. But people seem to hate him now, which seems weird to me. He doesn't take over beloved franchises like Transformers or X-Men, or even fondly remembered franchises like the Spirit or Green Hornet. He does his own stuff. No one forces you to watch any of it. It's there if you like it, and if you don't then it's cool, too. I think a lot of the shit that gets thrown his way is a result of envy. Normally I'm very skeptical of this. I believe you can disagree with people like Barack Obama or Jesse Jackson without being racist. I think you can disagree with Hillary Rodham Clinton or PETA without hating women or animals, so the accusation of being a "hater" doesn't really fly with me. However, I think the glove fits in this situation. I think a lot of people, even if they don't want to make the exact type of movies he does, i.e. "I had the idea of doing a blue collar comedy on retail, dammit!" or "I was going to do a romantic comedy in the new zeitgeist of amateur porn, fuck!" People (me admittedly being one of them) would kill to make very good money in order to tell whatever stories they have inside of them, to be able to work when they want, buy what they want, lie in bed playing online poker and eating take-out without showering for days if they want. Instead, most of us are forced to attend expensive schools in order to learn things we don't care about so we can work jobs we don't want to with people we don't like so we can pay debt that we will never be free of. So the idea of Joe Nobody from New Jersey going from college dropout and register jockey to LA director living in Ben Affleck's old crib probably turns people green with sick, sad jealousy.
Which is a shame because Kevin seems to be free of pretention and self-absorption. He cheerfully admits that he's not that great of a director, and that he's not even as famous as Marty Allen, a comedian I had literally never heard of until the latest SModcast. It's SModcast that I think he really shines. He's a naturally gifted conversationalist and storyteller, and here he plays entirely of his strengths (witty words) with none of his weaknesses (anything dynamic or visual). There was a guy that commented on here a couple of times that hoped for some SModcast-like stories, but now I can't find his comments. I will say that if you enjoy this, or you think you and I might have similar pop-culture tastes, I highly encourage you to download SModcast. It's free, there's 70+ hours of material for you to listen to while cleaning the house or typing at work, and you can listen to debates on whether people would drink semen if it meant losing weight, how a giant Scott Mosier with black bat wings and the knowledge of old-timey boxers would take on a giant warrior kung-fu Jesus with heat vision on the orders of the UN, and hanging around baseball fields at night hoping to have high school seniors stick pickles up your ass.
One of the things talked about on SModcast is the fact that Smith owns two comic book stores called Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash, named after two of his most famous characters. The one on the east coast in Jersey is run by his longtime friend Walt Flanagan, and the one on the west coast was run by another friend, Bryan Johnson, until Johnson had enough of it and quit. You get some interesting insight in how even comic shops relying on celebrity get the same exact frustrations as ones run by the everyman. Even Walt Flanagan, who has drawn comics and appeared onscreen at the cineplex has to deal with bullshit customers. I'm going to link to a couple with known comic shop talk for you to listen and enjoy-
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Alright, there's been some big changes to this blog, in addition to more and more followers. I figured I'd give the personal recollections a rest and do another catch-up to anyone new.
Hello. I am Seethe Rogers. Actually, I am someone else, but my internet nom-de-plume is Seethe Rogers. I'm an angry ex-employee of a (probable) ex-comic shop. See how clever my name is now?
So, as for the changes?
I have become a whore. I decided to set up a link to donate via Paypal, and a link to my Amazon wish list because frankly, it's free to do so. I wouldn't want to enter into an agreement that would place pop-up ads or anything that would ruin the site, but I can put two little links up knowing that people can ignore them if they want to. I know the economy is about one coke-fueled Wall Street sneeze away from utter collapse, and that now that school has started back up my posting frequency will be once a month (not really, but maybe), but I figure if someone, some anonymous person out there is doing really well or is secretly an industry person, then if they want to give me even a buck in which to buy a fruit-and-yogurt parfait at Mickey D's, then who am I to stop them? If you, like me, are a broke college student, or a broke family man, or just broke and at the library using free internet... then by all means don't click. But at least the Amazon link will give you some idea of what I'd be reading if I was still reading.
I decided to put one foot firmly in anything over the past three years and spiced this blog up. I had been thinking of videos that would connect with my posts somehow. Some of the humor is subtle, as only Heroclix players would get the significance of Rick Ross talking about "pushing it". Not all are music videos, as when I somehow found a video on not getting raped by tentacles, and put it on the post about the girl who probably wanted to get raped by tentacles. I think the ones that I found (and I'm still looking) are pretty awesome, so play away!
As time goes by, I remember more about things from the past, and if I've already blogged about them I will go back and add to them. Just my way of expanding this baby out and getting it to a place you might visit again and again. And as I have no method yet of making money or even calibrating visits... know that my intentions are altruistic.
This post looked somewhat awkward for a while as for some stupid reason I could not get the font to work. Also, as previously stated my full semester has started up so start settling in for some long-ass waits. But then again you folks stopped commenting, so how do I even know someone is reading this? Well, BFM will. Hey, BFM! You're one of my BFFs!
Finally, to Derek Coward and Dave Slusher- self-masturbatory totally works. Now, you might not be the two most sexually experienced fellows on the block, but I'll clue you in. If some partner (to be PC) massages you in the bathing suit area, that can be considered masturbating you. Now, if you masturbate yourself, or self-masturbate, you're doing something of no interest to anyone else. Indeed, it is something to get sick over. Unless you're a hot lady. So when comic creators do self-masturbatory stories, they are writing for them, and no one else. I look forward to people barely sitting through my posts. Or fucking themselves. Whichever they might like better.
Actually, that sounded harsh. I'm just giving you shit. Feel free to tear me down on your blogs and twitters and friendfeeds and podcasts all you want. We're all just asshole nobodies on the interwebs anyway. Take it sleazy!
Just for the hell of it. This was funny. Not everything has to connect.
Friday, January 16, 2009
There once was a boy with no knees. It was pretty messed up. The end.
Chunk Jr was an interesting sort. Evidently he started coming into the shop around the age of ten or eleven. He was short, even for his young age. I know next to nothing about children or their development, so just trust me on this. He was also as wide as he was tall. You know on those talk shows where they interview people in real bad spots? He could've been one of those people. He had to have equaled my weight. He didn't walk, he waddled. He walked like he had no knees. He never wore shorts (thank God) so none of us knew if he literally had no knees, or if he was just so big that his shins buckled under the weight. Point was, wasn't pretty. The owner remembers overhearing Chunk Jr telling his sidekicks that he couldn't feel anything in his legs, and subsequently watched as they all took turns walloping him something Sasha Fierce. He could tell that it hurt him, but damned if he wasn't too proud to admit he lied.
He would come in with his grandmother. By all accounts, she was a saintly lady who doted on him, which was probably to the detriment of Chunk Jr. When you indulge the young'uns, they don't know enough to get off their fat ass, turn off the Playstation and trade in the double cheeseburger for a carrot. I have no idea about his relationship with his parents, but the grandmother would intimate that they didn't really care for him. His parents were big people, but not morbidly obese. He had a somewhat normal sized sister. One of the guys who worked at the shop took a shining to him, Sarcastro actually. This was surprising as up until he got married Sarcastro was as black-hearted and cynical as they come, unafraid of cutting to the quick friend or foe. But yet he would watch out for this little tub. I'm sure he had his reasons, whatever they may be...
Chunk Jr was a weird little kid. A bit "off". He would request comics like Lady Death and Evil Ernie, and when the workers would balk at selling them to him, the grandmother would just come in and pay for them. He liked metal, and would probably be seen as a modern day "hesher" of a sort. I really need to do an urban dictionary update for this. He played D&D, listened to metal, didn't get outside a whole bunch, ate crappy foods, probably got lackluster grades, and basically did everything you stay up all night worrying about your own kids/kids today doing. He seemed to have a decent intelligence, and had a little wit to him sometimes. He even had a group of guys around him to do his bidding. Hell, he had more lackeys than I ever will. He did have a somewhat annoying habit of repeating catchphrases, particularly "feed us, don't eat us", which at the time I swear sounded like "fetus, don't eat us". Neither really makes sense, though the latter gets points for surreality.
I remember one time my two filmmaker friends were at a party for Sarcastro and wondered out loud on his condition, and being surprised that he was even still with us. "Wow. Good for him," seemed to be the reaction. His grandmother eventually passed on, owing us about a hundred bucks for a case of Mech Warrior she bought and took home while only covering part of the cost. Sigh...
He never particularly bothered me, and labeling him as an "asshole" might be a little strong, but that's the category I made for the customers I had. If anything, I kind of worried about him. But not too much. Frankly, I figure he's either alive somewhere leading a much improved but forever hampered life thanks to earlier health problems that might have been preventable, or he's in a very big coffin worrying about other creatures eating him.
Wow that was dark.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
This is the blisteringly exciting tale of one of the few times I worked there that somebody started some shit. They didn't know that I wasn't no ho, though.
There was this dad that would come in with his kid, and he forever wanted a bargain. Nothing could be for what it was marked. I've always been fascinated by this. I've always wanted to go into the Golden Arches and say "you know you've got some Big Macs that have been sitting out for a few minutes... how 'bout letting one go for 75 cents, huh?" Or to Best Buy and say "this DVD of Cool Runnings has a dinged corner. You might as well dollar bin it, and you might as well let me pick it out of said bin and buy it for said dollar." Anywho, I remember this guy wanting a deal for the then-white hot Pokemon tins, and the owner let him have one for a few bucks off, but I still charged him tax and got a thrill when I could tell through the miracle of peripheral vision that he furrowed his brow at the amount. He looked normal, a guy in his mid-40s, glasses, with a kid probably around nine or ten.
He came in one day with his kid and looked around, oblivious to the way I crumpled up a piece of paper on seeing him. He took a look at some sort of Pokemon merchandise that for the life of me I can't remember what it was or how much it cost, so we'll just say it was a box of cards and cost $20 each. He said to me as casual as an elevator companion commenting on the weather, "how about doing 2 for $30 on a Friday afternoon?" Okay, there are so many things wrong with this I don't know where to start. One, you are asking me to knock down an item in price. A significant amount. Our profit margins skewed small to begin with. Two, you are asking me to knock down a popular item in price. This wasn't a back issue of Youngblood: Bloodstrike Deathforce edition. This was something that was going to sell out anyways. That's like going into Wal-Mart and saying, "I see you've got some Kevin Costner movies in the discount bin... how 'bout coming down a third on that Nintendo Wii?" You will get your ass kicked by the reanimated corpse of Sam Walton himself. Lastly, what the flying fuck does it being a Friday afternoon have anything to do with it? I'm obviously still at work, you obviously are not. So... why am I in a good and generous mood? Dumbass. Needless to say, I told him essentially "nice try" and he sheepishly admitted he had to try in case it worked.
They looked around and the guy brought up a Pokemon box and I rung him up. He then pulled out a couple of twenties that looked a little odd. Now, I might have had all the attention and care of a heroin addict in a poppy field, but I could spot this from a mile away. Normal money looks (or looked) dark and light shades of green. This looked jaundiced yellow and black. I pulled out this counterfeit pen that we had. If you marked something and it came up clear, it was good to go. Black, and we had a problem. I was supposed to check high bills, mainly hundreds and up. In all my years, nothing had come up black... until now.
I said something on the line of "uhhh, I don't think these are any good." He furrowed his brow and mentioned something about coming directly from the bank. I told him what the counterfeit marker did, and that if he had come directly from the bank then he had better go directly back because they gave him fake money. He pulled out some other money he had (surprise, surprise!) paid, mumbled something and got the Hell out of Dodge. I can't really remember seeing him again, at least with any frequency.
Looking back, it would have been fun to pretend to have to make a call real quick, and dial the cops. Some of you might think that he was a counterfeiter. Maybe not a professional one who makes flawless copies of Benjamins, but someone who tries to make some twenties to pass around local businesses in order to avoid spending his own income, but I honestly don't think that's the case. I think he was just a weaselly guy who got handed some bad money as change somewhere, and then upon finding out tried to pass it off on a gullible comic shop employee. My man just ended up with the play money still on him, less real money and a near heart attack after narrowly avoiding the Secret Service putting a bullet in his ass.
Friday, January 9, 2009
This will be kind of a short little post about another group of nerds, the Mech Warrior crowd.
The Mech Warrior crowd alternated in size. At one point, it was somewhat popular, filling just about two long tables. It eventually died off, as they always do. They were a motley bunch, and although a look at any one of them could make a penis flaccid or dry a vagina, there was a soap-opera tale amongst them...
There was Chunk Jr: The Boy With No Knees, whom I will get to in a few. I don't want to blow my wad here.
There was Awkward Andy. He was this supernerd that played Star Wars: CCG until that imploded. His wardrobe consisted almost entirely of dress shirts tucked into dress pants. Seriously. On his own time he dressed like he was going to church or a job interview. He disappeared for a while (possibly to write scripts with Ponytail) only to return to play Mech Warrior. He also discovered the healing powers of metal. Specifically, Type O Negative. I'd bash him for this, but... I, too, like Type O Negative. Shut it, they're a good band! However, I will bash him for half-heartedly dying his hair black. It came out his normal red, with black streaks in it. He also grew a weird, red neckbeard. And wore Type O Negative shirts... tucked into black jeans. And leather jackets year round. Moving on...
There was this creepy teacher who brought his students one time. I just remember no one buying anything and the guy taking all the chairs for his group. Then one time the Heroclix people (who played on the same night) arranged it somehow so they got the chairs first, and he bitched until someone pointed out he spent no money. I don't remember seeing him much after that. Possible reason? Jail.
Most of the group have been blocked from my memory, except for three poor souls. No wait, I'm the poor soul who remembers this.
There was a young married couple who came in. They had a pretty cute little girl that came with them, although at certain ages any little girl is cute. I'm sure she'll blow up and white trash out just like mom when she gets old enough. Sucks, but that's life. The dad had wire-rimmed glasses and a slow drawl that belied not an inquisitive mind, I gather. His wife was a larger woman, or a BBW in internet vernacular. She always wore midriff shirts that said things like "Hot Stuff" or "Lil Cutie" or other things that were ironic. Bryan Ferry's Mom said he was going to sue the t-shirt manufacturer for false advertising. Haw! They disappeared for a couple of weeks, then returned, no lie, with a baby in one of those things you carry kids in. You know, the one with the handle without wheels, like a shopping basket. They would just kind of let the baby sleep under the t-shirt rack. Kind of sad, really. Not as sad as what's coming up...
The last guy I remember was a real goober. He was loud to his friends, yet I cannot recall a single time he talked to an employee. It's like we didn't even exist, this wasn't even a store. He was just chillaxin' in the basement of his buddies. He would say these really over the top nerdy things like "Boo-yah we're playin' now!" or some other weird shit I can't remember. Just obnoxious. I could tell that this was the only time he felt comfortable enough to really let go, and the other hours of his existence consisted of trying to avoid eye contact and furious masturbation.
Apparently, the obnoxious dork and the BBW hit it off, and something convoluted happened. The BBW was hanging out with the sister of this kid that used to hang out and later worked there. They returned to the store, or met up with the loud asshat. The BBW and the obnoxious dork ran off together and left the bespectacled redneck there with the kids. The owner remembered coming back to count the money or something and seeing a pitiful note on the door from the poor sap wondering where she was. At first people might have been a little worried. It's a dangerous world out there filled with drunk drivers and sexual deviants. Then the truth got out. I think the owner talked to the sadsack and he said that he still loved her and that they had kids at home. The guy also called up once when I was working. I forgot the initial reason of the call, whether to commiserate on his heartbreak or some other reason, but once the awkwardness started coming out, I found a reason to get off the phone quick. Might not win me the Humanitarian of the Year award, but it won me peace of mind. What occurs between rednecks and BBWs and obnoxious dorks are none of my concern.
Fun Fact: The BBW once asked either the owner or Bryan Ferry's Mom to take her to get her belly button pierced on a Saturday. She hardly knew these people. It would have been awkward even if she had been attractive. She was so big, her navel piercing was a hula hoop. Oh snap!
I never found out what happened to any of these people. I think that even though there wasn't two brain cells among them to rub together, they all knew better than to return to the site of the affair. If the redneck had any sense he would have filed for divorce and custody, as obviously the BBW wasn't exactly the mothering type. She was probably the smothering type... in bed. Burn! The obnoxious dork didn't really seem dumb, either. I'm sure he went to college and had some sort of job involving computers, or anything that wasn't manual labor. But desperation and plastic toys is a dangerous mix...
Thursday, January 8, 2009
I know that everyone in the nerd world has memorized this 10x over, but fuck it. I need something to break up any monotony in posts about all the idiots I knew before. Besides, it still cracks me up that people online thought Scott Kurtz was a woman. Haw! Take that, you crappy web comic douche! You know the thing with web comics? They're not good enough to be actual comics. Enjoy!
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
I completely forgot about these guys until a week ago, for some reason. I can't use their real name, so I'll call them the Mudds.
The Mudds were a family of two brothers and a dad (I'm assuming there was a mom in there somewhere, or the effort of cloning was wasted). They started running tournaments there to help fund their habit (where have we heard that before?). You know, I guess it isn't such a bad idea. You spend a lot of your spare time some place, why not get some compensation for it?
The dad was a fellow in his late 40s, early 50s. He had a handlebar mustache and out-dated glasses and hair. He wasn't such a bad guy, actually, and was probably the most tolerable out of all of them. He did have a weird opinion on his sons smoking, including one that was under 18 at the time, which was that he was fine with it. Yikes.
The oldest one was a year older than me but in the grade behind me. Then he dropped out. Weird how people assume all nerds/geeks are smart. There's probably a large percentage of unambitious, intellectually lazy fanboys out there. No, not probably. Definitely. He was kinda nerdy in high school, then moved on to being kinda scary. I think Bryan Ferry's Mom described him as looking like if Jesus was a pedophile. I feel like I'm going to Hell for typing that. He had long hair, a scraggly goatee and big glasses as well. And I think he wore a vampire cape once. I hope it was on Halloween.
The youngest was terribly awkward. He was tall and super skinny. I remember he came in once when he was in high school and he talked about Pokemon cards. He was in high school. He also had a bad habit of wearing t-shirts way bigger than he should have, with the collars all stretched out... it just looked trashy. Fashion tip: wearing a tee with a stretched out neck says that you stopped caring and you don't mind if you never show your genitals to anyone ever again.
I had some great moments with them. I used to always be late on Sundays (before pretty much being always late every day) and I would lock up shop at 5 on the dot. I used to just shut off the power and I remember Mudd the elder yelling "Oh, come on!" Now that I think about it, maybe he was secretly hip and knew about Arrested Development and GOB before anyone else.
Mudd the elder turned out to be a bit of a suspected thief as well. The owner found some discarded Magic: The Gathering wrappers and saw him quickly toss an empty box of cards in the trash when he came in once. Nice. They stopped coming in pretty much when they discovered Worlds of Warcraft and figured that playing with paper cards was for pussies, and playing with pixels was for big-dicked studs. Or something. Speaking of big-dicked studs, I guess Mudd the elder might like them as I overheard a couple of teenagers talk about how he had moved and was bisexual, and sure enough thanks to MySpace it has been confirmed. Man, if you ever didn't want a dude on you, or under you... it's this guy. I don't know what would be grosser.
I don't know where they are now, but I like to imagine them all still under one roof, no one going to school, no one bettering themselves, just a group of guys drinking Red Bull, listening to metal, smoking up a storm and playing RPGs. Fuckin' A.