Saturday, July 23, 2005


I realized this week that most of my favorite comic book writers are British and tried to figure out why. Grant Morrison, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman are all somewhere around my age (okay, Moore's an old guy) and we seem to share a common language of music that informs their writing. While all of them are perfectly capable of quoting Shakespeare or Shaw, they're more likely to throw in Clash lyrics. There's a kind of implicit challenge to "get" the references that I gladly accept.

So I got a real kick out of the recent Alan Moore book "Albion" and the episode #1 title:
There's No Future in England's Dreaming
- cute but a little obvious. It was the "next issue" note at the end of the book that actually took me a couple of minutes to place and I leave it to you guys as a challenge - where did
We'd open strange doors that we'd never close again
come from?

Yard Sales

I was greeted early a couple of Saturdays ago by the sound of car doors slamming and knew instinctively that one of my neighbors was having a yard sale. Okay, "early" is a relative term - it was probably around 9am, which is when most yard sales in most other towns would be wrapping up. We do things a little differently here in Chapel Hill. On the other hand, Nashville seems to do yard sales right and my aunt is a yard sale diva, both holding them and shopping them. Nashville is apparently so into yard sales that according to my Aunt Jane yard sales typically start Friday instead of Saturday. The mind boggles.

I'll have to admit that I have a real aversion to yard sales be they mine, my neighbors' or a fund-raising sale. Given the traffic tie-ups on Franklin Street every year during Chapel of the Cross' annual ABC sale, I'm in the minority. For me, there's an implicit sort of "it isn't good enough for me but you might want it" attitude on the part of the seller and a weird sort of picking-through-garbage vibe from the shoppers. I know that's just me and for most people they're fun and some sort of game, but I just can't get into it (although it is kind of funny seeing people dressed in third-hand clothes parking their Beemers around the corner before walking over to my neighbors).

All that being said, we've got a bunch of stuff in the garage, the storage unit, various closets and the like that we should probably sell for whatever we can get, rather then giving it to Goodwill or donating it for the next ABC sale. Hence our new interest in eBay.

I've not paid much attention to eBay - it just seemed like an online yard sale without the body odor and bad teeth. But JennySlash has started looking into it and I thought I ought to see what I had that might be good auction material. First thought was my LP collection, especially since I'm making good inroads into digitizing it and writing them out to CDs - not much use for the LP after I'm done. But a little research makes it obvious that my collection is either too popular (nobody's going to buy my copy of Boston's Boston or Deep Purple's Machine Head since everybody's already got it) or it's too obscure (not likely I'll happen to find a buyer for a Mike Batt or Translator LP).

I naturally also thought of selling off part of my comic book collection, but there are problems with that as well. The market has really dropped out for almost anything published after 1975 and I believe eBay is at least partly responsible for that. To ensure more uniform grading for the more expensive comics, a whole industry has grown up around impartial comics grading to get some safeguards around purchases via eBay and other Internet venues or mail order sales. The result has been that there aren't a whole lot of comics now valued between their cover price and $100, since it'll cost you at least $15 apiece to get a book graded. So other than my Frank Miller Wolverine limited series, Flaming Carrot #1, 30 Days of Night and a few old Uncanny X-Men, I've got very few comics that are worth selling (although I might try selling them in lots).

Then while we were picking up eBay for Dummies at Borders, I ran across a field guide for Hot Wheels and I realized that I might have something to sell after all. I did manage (with help from Mom) to hang on to a dozen or so of my cars and a couple of them are in damn good condition. The best of the lot is probably the 1969 Custom Volkswagen, which could go for a couple hundred bucks, so maybe there's some use for this eBay thing after all. But I refuse to sell my Major Matt Masons - those are irreplaceable.

Late Friday Blogging

Or actually very early Saturday morning blogging. The following posts are written after a) seeing that Erin at Poetic Acceptance is hosting Tar Heel Tavern this weekend with a music theme, 2) a VERY tough week at work and III) six beers, including a Blue Moon Wheat right after work, a Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout and some Summer Ale at Margaret's Cantina followed by a couple more Blue Moons and a Sol on the back porch while actually writing all this silliness longhand. It's likely drunken gibberish, but it was fun to write so I'll chance it.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Spoiler-free Harry Potter post

Picked up Half-Blood Prince Saturday and finished it yesterday, which implies I've been spending way too much time in the bathroom this week. HP books seem to be the opposite of Star Trek movies - where the even numbered Trek movies were the better ones, I've enjoyed the odd numbered Potter books the most. This is the best of the evens by far. Without giving anything away (and I do refuse to give ANYTHING away) I think it opens up a lot of possibilities for the final book, rather than narrowing the final story down to necessity. That being said, in retrospect a lot of what happened in HBP feels like it HAD to happen, but that doesn't mean you see it all coming (although J will because she always does). I zipped through it so that J could have her turn with it but I'll want to go back and read it again soon to pick up on some of the groundwork that JKR laid for later events (including those in book 7). One of the things she has captured better than almost any author I can recall is kids growing up - I've read a lot of coming of age stuff but the aging of her characters just rings really true. I think you'll enjoy it - just let me know when you're done so I'll know that we can discuss the details!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Nearly Speechless

First of all, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say here that I have despised Raleigh's Metro Magazine since its inception, I do not know Michael Peterson and I did not know Kathleen Peterson (although I know a number of people that worked with and/or for her). But dammit, I do know owls!

What the fuck am I talking about? If you were too busy a couple of years ago paying attention to "the other" Peterson trial (you know, that Scott guy), you might not have been very aware of the one in Durham for columnist/novelist/ex-mayoral candidate Michael Peterson, accused (and then convicted) of murdering his wife Kathleen. The accused has some pretty influential friends who stood by him throughout the trial, eating up his accusations that this had all been an accident - that his wife had fallen down the stairs and that the Durham establishment was out to get him because of his newspaper columns. This went so far that after the trial, some of his buds, including Nick Galifianakis, came up with the theory that the poor Ms. Peterson was attacked on the interior stairs of her home by an owl. Yep, an owl. Now, as many of you know, I personally have been attacked by an owl in the same region of my person as the late Ms. Peterson was struck (top of the head) and while it was worth a tetanus shot, I'm having trouble believing a local barred or great horned owl inflicted several deep lacerations across the deceased's head. Apparently everyone else had trouble with that too and the "theory" (and the theorizers) became the butt of many local commentators' jokes.

So now, the aforementioned Metro Magazine (I know you were wondering when I'd get around to them) has resurfaced the "theory" with a couple of modifications but on top of that it has published Ms. Peterson's autopsy photos to try to bolster their "case". As in the case of Dale Earnhardt, I think it's in incredibly poor taste to publish autopsy photos. But to do so in this case to advance a "theory" (and I'll keep putting quotey marks around that word because this is not a theory - it barely even passes the test to be called a hypothesis) is just. fucking. wrong.

Do I have to actually point out the obvious? That owls are not generally known to attack critters that are the size of adult humans? Repeatedly? Enough to cause a grown woman to bleed to death? And recall that this happened in winter, not nesting season. I was running on a trail in the woods in late March during nesting season and just got scraped across the top of the head by an owl that was obviously defending its nest - it did not continually attack me.

You know, I've just spent about 100 words more on the previous paragraph than this ridiculous idea warrants, but Metro Magazine has used it as an excuse to publish autopsy photos of a victim of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, a woman whose family and many friends are no doubt going to be subjected to this travesty.

I've purposely not hyperlinked to Metro's website - Lord knows I don't want to drive any more traffic to their site at all. It just sickens me (and frankly not a whole lot that doesn't look like President Chimpy McSmirksalot or his puppeteer Karl Rove has the power to sicken me these days). If they want to guarantee passage in the state legislature outlawing publication of such photos, this is a pretty good way to do it.

The Loved One

As JennySlash was looking up movies and books on a website specializing in hard-to-find ones, she asked me if there were any movies that I wanted her to look for. I immediately answered "The Loved One", despite being relatively certain that it still has not been released to DVD. I vaguely think I remember seeing it on television some Saturday afternoon many, many years ago but the only time I can say for certain is when we rented it from Visart (VHS of course) a dozen or so years ago - I was blown away (while J pretty much hated it). If you haven't seen it, it's a pretty relentlessly dark comedy about the British ex-pat colony in Hollywood, the funeral biz, death, life, bourgeousie and a bunch of other stuff. Shit, a Terry "Dr. Strangelove" Southern screenplay of an Evelyn Waugh novel? Gotta be good. It's probably the only thing that I've ever seen Jonathan Winters in that I liked. Add in Rod Steiger, Dana Andrews, Liberace, Tab Hunter, Robert Morley, Robert Morse, John Gielgud, Milton Berle, Roddy McDowell, Chick Hearn (Chick Hearn?!?!?!) and you've gotcherself one of the weirdest freak-outs I've ever seen.

Of course I was unfortunately right - it is yet to be released to DVD despite the occasional cries for it on the Internet(s). If you still have an old VCR gathering dust in your entertainment center, it's worth checking your local vid store to see if they're cool enough to have a copy.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Tar Heel Tavern is Up at Billy's

Mr. Billy T. B. Poet is hosting the Tar Heel Tavern this week - ya'll go check it out here! Bloggy goodness from around the Old North State.