Saturday, October 11, 2008

UT wins (a big surprise)

So, I had gone into today's UT game believing that #1 ranked Oklahoma would surely rack up about 45 points, and we'd get, maybe 35. It was a test not to see if we could beat Oklahoma, which we surely could not, but to see how we would stack up against the rest of the teams we would be playing.

As you probably already know, UT won the game 45 - 35. And if the refs hadn't made that horrendous "roughing the kicker" call (which was really just the kicker cramping up again after his ill-advised running play), who knows what the final outcome would have been.

"At least it's a good game" we were saying well into the 3rd quarter, pleased that UT was keeping pace with OU. And then UT took the lead, and... well... 2008 just got better in a lot of ways.

I have no idea where UT is headed BCS-wise, but I know Colt McCoy and Co. now have a huge target painted on their backs for the remainder of the season. I am now believing we could very well end up in a real BCS bowl this year.


Oh, and a very special welcome to Texas for my in-laws, who just moved to San Marcos from Oklahoma this week.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Birthday to Meredith B.

The League figures we won't remember to do Meredith B. the solid next year, so a happy birthday wish to Meredith B.

I met Meredith, originally, in elementary school when we both attended Haude Elementary. Mere and I were in a play together, "How the Sea Got Salty" (or something along those lines). I played "The Poor Boy" who goes mad with power when he steals a magic salt shaker from elves (I feel like I've taken crazy pills even as I describe the play), and Meredith played "Gabby Goblin".

We later went on to be several plays together in high school, and were sort of bossy to lower classmen together as Seniors. We were in:

The Crucible
You Can't Take it With You
Watch on the Rhine
Rhimers of Eldritch
All My Sons

And probably something I'm missing. But we spent a LOT of time together backstage and in and outside of school. Sometimes with The League's own Jill H-W. I know we also had Junior year English together, because I think Jill was in there, too... And so was Denise...

Wow... there's a lot of Ms. Richard's 1991-1992 Honors English class represented at LoM. If only David Parajon, Laura A. and that Beth girl who sat in front of me would show up...

Meredith and I were supposed to go to summer drama camp together, and then she headed off to North Carolina for drama camp and I went to UT for camp. Not so surprisingly, she headed off to NC for school. But before that, we hung out quite a bit.

Meredith is also the only person I know who has almost, literally, crashed into a bus full of nuns (I doubt she remembers this, but I remember the looks on the faces of those nuns as if it were yesterday).

Younger readers will be shocked to learn that people once sort of lost touch with one another as e-mail and Facebook did not exist. But, now that they do, I am happy to be back in touch with Mere and hear she and the Family B. are doing well in NC.

You can keep up with Mere at her blog

This Moment in History - Financial Armageddon

At least nobody is panicking

Thursday, October 09, 2008

10 Things to Do to Prepare for Halloween

1) Watch Thriller Video

Is anything more Halloween-o-rific than the full video for Thriller? It's scary, campy, has a werewolf movie within the movie, has dancing and singing and a horde of zombies. Really, if you're going to be attacked by zombies, I hope its of the dancing variety.

Here's the full version.

I can't embed the full version of the video, so here's a version from India:

By the way, Austin is participating in some worldwide, synchronized Thriller dance on October 25th. They're going to shut down 6th street to make way for the dancers. From what I saw on News 8, Austin Mayor Will Wynn is participating.

Somehow, I regret not getting me, Steven and Mangum involved in this...

2) Caramel Apples

This year, I want to skip the wax sheet, pre-cut caramel and do the full, heated dipped caramel apples.

Dizzam. I love a good caramel apple. Especially tart green apples.

3) Watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"

I hate to think how much this cartoon affected me as a kid, but I think the mix of hilarity and disappointment that marks "Great Pumpkin" is something every kid can sort of relate to.

I got a rock, indeed.

4) Do the Time Warp

Ah, Columbia.

They're looking to remake The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I cannot imagine this movie without the original cast, but if they DO choose to do it, hopefully they can get Tim Curry to play The Criminologist.

5) Get Super-suit squared away.

Yup, I'll be the Man of Steel again this year. That costume wasn't cheap last year, and I'm not ready to go back to being Green Lantern again for Halloween.

6) Hang up decorations

Due to our displacement, we haven't managed to get the decorations out yet for Halloween. Maybe on Sunday.

7) Watch a full-length scary movie or ten

We watched Ghost Hunters last night to get in the spirit, but we haven't gotten around to a scary movie yet...

8) Decide on Halloween candy for the kiddies

This is always a much bigger deal than it sounds. We have to figure out how much we want to pay for, and this year, I'm assuming we'll have a ton of kids with Halloween landing on a Friday. We'll probably do a mix of chocolate and sugary-type stuff, and be more sparing in how much we give out.

9) Consider hitting 6th Street Halloween

If you haven't been... it's usually 80,000 people who mill about, with a sort of informal constant circling of a blocked off portion of the street. It's a lot of people watching.

You see all manner of costumes, from the incredibly elaborate to the frat boys who get drunk and show up wearing saran-wrap diapers (that was Halloween 1996, if memory serves). My favorite is still the guy who came as the Grim Reaper, stood about nine feet tall, and would just point at random people as he passed by. Truly creepy.

It's been probably 10 years since I've been down there on Halloween. I miss it, but I also don't know if I want to go downtown in a Supersuit.

10) Invite Apartment-Dwelling pals down to hand out candy

If anyone wants to help us hand out candy this year, we'd love to have you. Maybe we can have an impromptu Halloween party of sorts?

Just wear a costume and come hang out. It'll be fun.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Displacement - Day 3

So today is day 3 of displacement, and already I think I'm starting to lose it a bit.

And poor Jason is okay with playing host to dogs, but I'm not sure he can put up with me and my passive-aggressive "I don't care what we watch" as he tries to find something on cable.

They have successfully scored the floor (cut grooves into it) and stained the concrete. Tomorrow is a "finishing coat". Then, on Friday, they'll paint the walls. The whole thing is going okay, I guess. It's not even a long process when you see what they're doing. It's just a LOT of stuff going on and you hope it worth it.

Right now, it seems like it will be. Especially if you'd seen the state of the carpet they pulled up.

Then, we have to move furniture back into the house from the garage, followed by bringing all our stuff back downstairs that went upstairs. Which is just a reminder that you own too much stuff.

I think we'll be done with the important stuff by Monday or Tuesday. Then, gradually, we can bring the stuff back down, which will be probably less hassle than bringing it up (I love books. I just don't love hauling them upstairs in stacks).

I guess I should take some pictures when we finish things up...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Investing for the Future?

Here's an interesting column from Newsarama.

It seems that as stocks are plunging, somebody is investing in back-issues of comics.

Here's the sort-of interesting thing about Back-Issues. Theoretically, there's a limited and dwindling supply. There are only so many copies left in existence of, say, "Jimmy Olsen #134". Unless someone finds a comic miser with an endless warehouse where he's keeping literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of copies of the comic, the rarity of the comic is part of the price point. You cannot grow or mine more Jimmy Olsen #134. You cannot manufacture more Jimmy Olsen #134. One thing that can decrease is the number of people who want a copy of Jimmy Olsen #134.

And, of course, copies of Jimmy Olsen #134 are deteriorating. They are being kept off the market by Jimmy Olsen collectors. They are being destroyed as comic shops suffer damage in hurricanes and floods (Houston's Westheimer location for the superlative "Bedrock Comics" took a huge beating during Hurricane Ike, in which a HUGE portion of their back issue stock was destroyed.)

In theory, then, Silver Age comics, in particular, hold value pretty well despite tumultuous economic times, and are much more likely to go up than down in value.

What we know now, versus what we thought in the mid-90's, is that not every issue is a collector's item. No matter what sort of holographic cover, or trading card is stapled inside, a bagged and boarded comic is only a bagged and boarded comic of, at best, dubious value. Only time will decide what is a collector's item.

But, before you throw a stack of comics in the recycling, as I did circa 1999, check to make sure none of them are worth $100, as I later learned one of my comics was valued(Lady Death #1). Go figure.*

Anyway, its interesting to hear investors are making a run on Silver Age comics. I don't have much in the way of a Silver Age collection as its very cost-prohibitive, but compared to a single share of, say, Initech, it's not that bad. It's just not going to make you a profit so much as be a fairly safe place to put your money for a while. Off the market, the comics will probably retain value (especially Silver Age, which is a very different market than modern or Bronze). Like anything else, however, if the investors re-flood the market... it's going to drive costs down. Which is nice for the collector, but for the dealer, its not going to be great.

That's not to say that those misers aren't out there with warehouses full of comics. They darn well may be. You hear a lot about estate sales where comics come up, and it can be anything from a shoebox full of moldy Archies to a storage space full of Silver Age classics. And, I hate to say it, but as collectors die, need a cash influx, etc... those collections will continue to rotate to some degree.

I don't lose a lot of sleep over it, but I do worry that if I croak tomorrow, Jamie and my parents are going to just drop off my whole collection in a dumpster behind Target. At minimum, I'd hope they would drop everything off at Austin Books so SOMEBODY could make a profit off the collection (note to Austin Books... that's a respectable run on New Gods and Mister Miracle... throw them a few bucks in the case of my untimely demise, okay?).

Unlike stocks, T-bills and pork bellies, there's not too much of a regulatory commission for the value of comics. So its something of a pure economic model. Find the price point of a back-issue by whether or not you can actually sell it to somebody (anybody) at that cost. Supply and demand in its simplest form. And maybe that's why so much of the back-issue market has gone to eBay, where you can see the transaction in real time. Kind of fascinating. But, as a total pain for the retailer, its done on a literally comic-by-comic, or run-by-run basis. And that's a lot of work to manage. Thus the built in S&H fee on so many comics.

*The comic is no longer worth that amount, but hit that selling point about seven years ago.

Monday, October 06, 2008

It seems redundant these days to announce that change is afoot at League HQ, but, yes, once again, it seems to be the case.

My professional life seems to have zagged and then zigged, but that's stuff I don't want to talk about until the dust settles, so pardon my silence on that for the time being.

Meanwhile, we're tearing up all the carpeting and linoleum on the first floor tomorrow, which means I'm sitting in the middle of an empty room on the floor. Local Leaguers will know the League HQ living rooms couches, coffee table, etc... all of that is in the garage.

Thanks to the power of dogs, we've made an executive decision to go stained concrete. And to paint.

Anyhow, by this time next week, I expect the place will look completely different, and no more will I look at the carpet and weep. Instead, I'll endlessly be sweeping up dog-fur clusters.


Jamie and I had some scheduling difficulty today... so you want to know what kind of person KareBear, my mother, is?

She got up at 4:30 AM, hopped in the car and drove all the way to Austin and helped oversee the movers who were moving our junk into the garage. That, people, is insane. And for anyone who ever wonders who they should pick to have on their side when push comes to shove...? You pick who you're going to pick. I pick my mom.

I owe her so huge, I can't get my head around it.

Anyhow, I got up at a respectable hour today, so I'm tired and am cashing in my chips.

Art Spiegelman in Austin

Austin readers may be interested to know that Art Spiegelman, creator of the award-winning Maus and In the Shadow of No Towers (a stunning piece of work, whether you agree with Spiegelman's politik or not), will be appearing Tuesday at Book People.

He's got a new book out and he's there for a signing. I'm not expecting a reading because, you know... comics.*

7:00 PM at Book people on the 7th.

*I once narrated an entire issue of Superman to a co-worker via closed-circuit head-sets. The funny part was when I had mercy and stopped half-way through, there was this pause, and then she asked " then what happens?" So I finished the comic and describing the pictures therein. A terribly gratifying moment.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Superman on the Church Organ

Steven sent this:

From the YouTube page:

Organist Sean Jackson plays the theme from Superman on the organ at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City.

There are some themes so well known, you just can't mess with them. Superman, Star Wars, Star Trek, Bond, Pink Panther... when you remake the movie, you better consider how you're going to fit the theme in.

Superman Returns re-used Williams' Superman score, as has Smallville to tremendous effect in the episodes featuring Christopher Reeve before his death. And while not everyone is a huge Superman nut... 30 years on and people still know that theme. And it warms the heart to see folks give it up for the organist and Williams' music.

Something for WB to consider.

I don't want to dismiss Mr. Jackson's work here. Wow! That's a lot of music to translate to the organ, and he did it with the right spirit.

I should mention: When Jamie, Steanso, Peabo, Randy and I met up with JimD in Beaumont for a screening of Superman at the Jefferson Theater, THEY had an organist who, I believe, also gave the Superman theme a whirl. We wound up talking to the guy for a while after the movie. Terrific gentleman.

Thanks, Steven!

Four Super-Films For Super Cheap!

I was looking at something unrelated on Amazon and I stumbled across this.

You can order a 4-pack of the Chris Reeve Superman movies for $14.00. If you've got kids who haven't seen any Superman movies, or if you've just never bothered to add the Superman movies to your DVD library... this seems like a heck of a deal. (That's 492 minutes of Superman awesomeness... quite a bargain if you ask me.)

My guess is this is WB's way of clearing their warehouse full of Superman DVD's as Blu-Ray takes over, but why not let WB's overstocking be your super windfall?