Thursday, February 22, 2007



Goodness. After a few lackluster weeks, this week was kind of nuts. Superman finally hit the stands again. Civil War #7. Amazing Spider-Man. Wonder Woman. Checkmate. A good week. I'll be posting reviews, etc... to Comic Fodder.

Can't Vote for my Candidate

So after swearing off American Idol, I decided to spend some time with Jamie last night, and that meant watching American Idol.

I think I'm letting my prior irritation with the show go as I understand AI understood they may have crossed a line with their audition shows this year, and at this point, they are getting down to the nitty gritty of actually caring about how people sing.

Anyhoo, I only watched about half of last night's show, but I thought it was pretty clear that Lakisha Jones is in a completely different league from the other teeny-bopper contestants trying their best to emulate better singers. Lakisha simply IS one of those better singers. She's simply not been discovered to this point.

Lakisha is not beautiful, and when not singing, her self-esteem drops to nil. But I think AI voters are smarter than they used to be and no longer just vote for the poodles the first few rounds.

As mentioned above, I couldn't vote for Lakisha. I tried. I tried calling on and off for about an hour and could never get through as the line was busy. I take that as a very good sign for Ms. Jones.


Friday I am taking time out of my busy schedule to go and see Presidential Hopeful Barack Obama speak at Auditorium Shores. Schedule providing, I want to see everyone who swings through Austin and speaks in a public venue which does not require $1000 a plate dinners. This includes folks from any party you want to throw at me.

I am, of course, most curious about Obama. I've no idea what his politics and policies actually are (I guess I could read his book or his website), and aside from being relatively fresh to DC, and having a smoking habit, I don't know much about the guy. So Friday I shall go to hear some platitudes and get some vitamin D.


When I was 17 we were headed back from a weekend in San Antonio visiting College Jason. I have no idea how long it had been there, but it was the first time I'd ever noticed Ikea, and the first time I had to go there.

As a grumpy 17-year-old with lots of homework to do and with no plans to buy furniture, I was more or less shanghied into a shopping trip to the amazing assemble-it-yourself furniture store. If Ikea was looking to create a nightmare scenario for a reluctant shopper, they'd fully succeeded.

For those of you have never been to Ikea, it's the only shopping experience I'm aware of that demands a forced march out of its patrons. Like Disney World, there are probably hidden doors and passagways for use by the staff, but for schlubs like me, you have an endless march through adorable housing goods ahead of you.

The bottom line is that Ikea requires that you make a visit to their store an event. You cannot go to Ikea just to buy, say, a spatula. You're going to pick up a table, an ottoman, cutting board, drapes and various unnecessary plastic objects.

So this week I needed an inexpensive desk. I'd done my due diligence at Target, Wal-Mart, Office Depot and the Office Max site. But as a gentleman of generous vertical and horizontal proportions, and with a mass close to that of a white dwarf star, I was pretty sure one of the particleboard specials designed for college kids wasn't going to work for me.

So, after a little bit of browsing their website, I decided Wednesday would send me to Ikea.

Ikea is located north of Round Rock, which is a pretty good jog from South Austin. When I was a kid, Round Rock was but a happy little hamlet without much going on. In fact, their two claims to fame were (A) during the cowboy era, a notorious criminal named Sam Bass had been gunned down in the streets of Round Rock, and (B) the actual Round Rock, which was a point for turning around in a creek on the Chisolm Trail.

Now, it's suburban sprawl of the Chandler-kind. JoAnne Fabrics abound. Restaurants like "Cheddar's" dot the freeway. A huge flyover is being put in at an intersection that used to be a swinging stop light. It's a true oddity how Austin stops a few miles South of downtown, but goes on for an infinite distance North of town.

The Ikea was a looming monstrosity of Univ. of Michigan blue and gold, clearly visible a mile or two before reaching the store. What struck me immediately is that Ikea's philosophy is fundamentally different from virtually any other store. They trust their own shoppers to handle their shopping. There are not chipper teenagers positioned every thirty feet (who can't answer your questions, anyway). Items are marked fairly well, and you're able to grab a pencil and paper and write down the items you need to pick from the bins at the end. Further proving their faith in their shoppers, Ikea requires that if you want a desk, you don't just write down the table name. You have to write down the tabletop model, the frame number and the sort of legs you'd like as all parts are mix-n'match. There's a bit of personal responsibility associated with your purchasing. No commissioned sales staff showing you items you don't want to look at, and because you live by the laws of polite society, you are forced to look at.

Also, they had a totally sweet late-80's mix playing over the PA at a comfortable volume everywhere you went.

But I still had to walk through The Maze of Scandinavian Consumer Madness. I can't say it didn't work. I bought a cheese grater Octavio had once described to me in glowing terms, a spatula I thought would solve my pancake-and-egg-turning problem, a cutting board for properly shuffling chopped vegetable bits into a pot, and a turtle pillow for Jamie's delicate noggin. But mostly, I found a desk of the exact dimensions I'd imagined, with adjustable legs to fit my elephantine body structure, and it was white. I did not want stained wood as the colors of my office are, shall we say, not exactly reminiscent of a woodland meadow. I also have to mention the price was in line with what I might have paid for a low-end desk elsewhere, the furniture was easier to assemble than any Target furniture, and was made out of materials I have some faith in.

I'm definitely much more supportive of the Ikea than I was prior to my shopping expedition. I am not crazy about the near-hour drive to get there, nor the aimless meandering of shopping there, but I suspect repeat trips to Ikea will not be a frequent occurence. However, return we will. I saw options for our kitchen and for our upstairs hall/ oddly proportioned upstairs area that gave me some ideas. And that, Leaguers, is the point of the forced march. I may not have bought a hallway's worth of bookshelves yesterday, but I might next time.

Ikea, you win again.


Anonymous said...

Good Lord - next I'll be reading that you have forgiven Chair King for being your prison and torture chamber immediately after having your wisdom teeth removed.


The League said...

I shall NEVER forgive Chair King. Just thinking about the place makes me a little woozy.

Michael Corley said...

Is there a name for people who read 99% of their comics while at their lunchbreak at Borders?

Cheapass comes to mind.

Curse you Ikea!

The League said...

Official League policy is to decry the reading of, but not paying for, comics. This includes treating Borders like the library, downloading comics from non-pay sites and running out of the comic shop with a pile of comics while wearing a black and white striped shirt and tiny mask.

I also understand that money doesn't grow on trees. My suggestion: pick a comic or three you like and buy them. Just remember, every time you read a comic and don't pay for it, Stan Lee cries.

RHPT said...

You can also borrow TPBs from your local library (At least the family friendly ones).

The League said...

True as well. Keep in mind, in all seriousness, that the comic industry is fairly fragile. Money has to go back into it or it won't exist.

J.S. said...

I hope to make it to go see Obama, but if I get stuck at work, I'm counting on you to investigate this man and report back to your readers.