Saturday, October 11, 2014

Book and Record Double-Feature!

Last month's double-feature Book and Record post was so popular, I thought I'd do another one this time! So here's two different sets this week!

The Last Starfighter is, of course, based on the movie of the same name.

Superman: The Man From Krypton was one of the Power Records releases, and like all the DC ones, they used an all-new story instead of adapting a published tale, like the Marvel ones. This particular story is a retelling of Superman's origin.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Comic Book Ads: Wheaties!

As you may have picked up on with these months of comic book ad posts, there used to be a lot more advertisers willing to shell out bucks to get their ads in comic books compared to now. Cereal companies were some of the bigger advertisers (I still recall seeing cereal ads in the comics of the 1980s), and Wheaties were a huge advertiser!
As you can imagine, the "Breakfast of Champions" looked for ways to convince comics readers to buy and eat their product, and this initial series of ads went with the approach that their cereal was so good, it could be used to motivate!
Of course, they had to make ridiculous promises about how great an athlete you'd become just by eating the stuff!
Occasionally, these ads would get rather odd... I mean, here's one where a criminal's used Wheaties to evade the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who themselves were billed as always getting their man!

Next time: The focus changes, and a new series of ads start, offering all sorts of premiums and a few contests, to boot!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Julie Newmar Photo Parade!

Time once again for the monthly parade of photos featuring the gorgeous Julie Newmar, the sexiest Catwoman of all time!

julie newmar

julie newmar

julie newmar

julie newmar
This is Julie as "Stupefyin' Jones" from Li'l Abner.

julie newmar

julie newmar

julie newmar

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Sci-Fi Magazine Cover Gallery!

Time once again for a parade of covers from vintage sci-fi magazines that I've been selling on eBay! I'm guessing that most -- if not all -- of these have been sold by this point, but one never knows!
This one's not too particularly special... neat spaceship, but not much else!

Geek Memories: Conventions, Comics and Otherwise, Part 1!

As I've no doubt mentioned before, the very first convention of any kind I attended was a Star Trek convention in Seattle, put on by the Puget Sound Star Trekkers. This was the first time that I'd ever gone anywhere that I felt part of a community, where everyone around me was interested in the same thing I was.

It may be hard for some of you to understand (and much easier for others), but I was always kind of an outsider as a kid. I didn't really have much of an interest in sports, much less an aptitude for it (the only extra-curricular sport I tried was soccer, and I don't even remember if it was my idea, or something my parents got me to try). I was much taller than other kids my age (I didn't have the sudden growth spurt at puberty most kids had, I was always tall for my age, and grew at a regular rate), and was always the most advanced reader in my class (I was reading at a college level around fourth grade). I didn't have the sense of humor that I do now, and little in the way of social skills, to be honest.

Oh, I had friends... other kids that shared some interests with me. But none of them really seemed to get into these interests as in-depth as I did.

So it was a revelation to me when I went to this first convention, and was able to feel like every single person there had just as much of an interest in Star Trek as I did.

I don't recall for sure where I heard about this convention. It may have been advertised on TV, although I seem to recall seeing a flyer for it at the junior high school I was attending (another factor in my social awkwardness was moving to a different school halfway through seventh grade).  My mom took me to this convention, along with the daughter of a co-worker of hers whose last name was coincidentally Knutson, too. The day of the convention, I had a pretty bad cold (or perhaps it was seasonal allergies... back then, having a stuffy nose pretty much meant you were treated as though you had a cold, allergies were only treated if they were life-threatening), so I had a constant supply of Kleenexes available for me.

I remember many things in detail about the convention... there were some very creative people in PSST, some of whom had made life-sized mockups of props and other items from the show. I remember seeing a reproduction of Captain Kirk's bridge chair (I didn't get to sit in it, however), and someone else had built a transporter in a box that used an old magician's trick to simulate being beamed in and out (this involved a two-way mirror and a dimmer switch that alternated lighting from one side of the mirror to the other... interestingly, when Playmates Toys manufactured a transporter toy for their Star Trek: The Next Generation line, they used the same trick). There were a lot of models of other Star Fleet vessels on display as well, some of them inspired by drawings that had been published of the evolution of the Enterprise.

There were cast members in attendance as well... George Takei was one of them, and Grace Lee Whitney (Yeoman Janice Rand) was another. I met Takei, but not Whitney. Sadly, the autographed photo I got of George was lost before I left the convention (as I said, I was constantly blowing my nose, and apparently when we were attending a presentation that was supposed to feature Robbie the Robot -- who didn't get shipped to Seattle in time -- I must've accidentally pulled the picture out of the bag I was carrying and dropped it on the floor). There were other guests, I'm sure, but I can't recall who they were.

There was, naturally, a dealer's room, and I recall seeing a number of items there that I really wanted (some very nice prop reproductions, much more faithful to the scale of the originals than AMT's "Exploration Set" models or any of the AHI toys being sold in Kmarts at the time), fanzines galore for sale, paintings, books, and so forth. I saw more than a few people selling homemade Tribbles (I'd later make my own, since I was pretty handy with a needle and thread -- remind me to write about why sometime). One item I purchased was a poster in the form of a flow chart that would let you "generate" your own more or less random Star Trek episodes (most of them ending with a gag of some kind... while I haven't had the poster for nigh on 40 years, I recall one ending read, "And everyone remembered the episode where Spock had the Deadly Ears"). I also bought a few publicity stills, including one of Robin Williams and Pam Dawber from Mork and Mindy.

As well as I recall some things, other aspects of the convention were a blur. It was impossible for me to really take it all in! Of course, I'll never forget meeting Sherrill Hendricks for the first time at this convention. The Puget Sound Star Trekkers had clubs located throughout the Puget Sound area, and Sherrill was the "captain" of the Tacoma group, and meeting her got me into that club, or "outpost," as they called them.

The next convention that I attended must've been as part of Outpost 10 (as we were called), and it was a mini-convention held in Seattle as well. This mini-con took place at a high school, and it wasn't nearly as big as the PSST one was. In the intervening time, Star Wars had come out, and I'd come up with a reasonable Han Solo costume to wear (although looking back on it now, I know my costume was way off on a number of points). I didn't have the proper gun to use with the costume (I don't know if his gun was available as a Kenner toy by then or not), but I did find a Ricochet Racer toy (if you don't remember those, it was basically a spring-loaded gun that would launch a toy car onto a floor) that I modified to sort of resemble a blaster, and I made a holster for it as well, explaining to anyone who cared to ask that my Han had kept one of the Stormtrooper blasters from his Death Star adventure.

That mini-con was a blast, and I came away from it with a set of Star Wars posters that had been a fast-food giveaway at the time, as well as having had a few viewings of the Super 8mm home version of Star Wars that was shown a few times -- including being projected backwards once!

I think there had to have been one more PSST convention before that group imploded, but I don't have any specific memories of that. It's entirely possible that my next convention experiences were all through the Northwest Science Fiction Society and their Norwescons.

Norwescon, I believe, still runs to this day. Unlike the PSST cons, the focus at Norwescon is very much on the literary side of Science Fiction. Oh, there were aspects of Norwescon that were common to just about any kind of convention... such as people dressed in costume and the like, as well as dealer's rooms... but like I said, the focus was on SF books and stories.

I think the only author that ever went to one of these that I was interested in meeting was Phillip Jose Farmer, and my interest in him was liked to his book Doc Savage: His Apocolyptic Life, a biography of the pulp hero written as of Doc was a real person whose adventures were fictionalized in the pulps. I had gotten heavily into Doc at that time, and I bought that book just to have him sign it (sadly, I sold it with my other Doc books years and years later, and for a price that wasn't close to what I should've asked for them).

The first few Norwescons I attended were fun for me, especially those where I'd share a hotel room with other members of the sci-fi club (which had morphed by then from just Trek to all SF, and had been renamed Other Worlds Unlimited, I believe, or perhaps by then it was Galactic Neighbors United), and I was able to really get into the whole convention scene more.

They were fun... but something was missing. Sure, I'd been reading other science fiction by that point, particularly Robert A. Heinlein's stuff and books by a few other authors... but I got to feeling that I'd been missing something. These weren't quite "my people" there.

I realized later that as much of a SF fan as I was, I wasn't that big an SF fan, not really. I came closer to being with "my people" again at the one Sci-Fi Expo I attended, which took place at the Seattle Center. Guests included Jimmy "Scotty" Doohan, Steve Leialoha, and the actress who co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian, Sandahl Bergman. I didn't meet Steve there, although I did attend a panel he spoke at, where I learned about his work on Coyote (soon to be published by Marvel under their Epic Comics imprint, if I recall correctly). I met Doohan and had him sign an autographed photo for me (another one I've lost over the years), as well as asked him if he knew why, when there were open calls for extras for the Star Trek films, none of the extras could be more than six feet tall (I was already 6'6" by this time). Doohan explained that William Shatner was barely six feet tall himself.

Sandahl Bergman made a bigger impression on me. She was tall, blonde, and gorgeous, and my favorite character in Conan. When I was next in line for her autograph, the person ahead of me asked her to sign an extra picture for a friend of his who couldn't attend, but was madly in love with her. I remarked (uncharacteristicaly, at the time) that there was a lot of that going around lately, to which she replied, "So why aren't I married yet?" I had nothing to respond to that.

There were some other cool things at this Expo, including some of the puppets from the forthcoming Dark Crystal, which were cool as heck. I also picked up a few of the Warren issues of The Spirit, the first Spirit stories I'd read since the one tale in The Great Comic-Book Heroes.

In 1983, I went into the Navy, and when I got assigned to my second ship homeported out of San Diego, I finally went to a convention where I did really feel like I met up with "my people" for certain.

I attended two conventions during the three years I was based out of San Diego. The first one was a Creation Convention. These smaller conventions were held in the Southern California area for some time (I don't know if they still are), and the one I attended had Chris Claremont as one of the guests. I was heavily into X-Men (well, pretty much all superhero books) by that time, and I mentioned to him that Rogue had become my favorite character, and I hoped nothing bad was planned for her. Claremont mentioned that I might not like some things that were in store for her, although I don't recall anything in particular happening in the books around that time.

Walter Koenig was also there, and I briefly met him -- my third Trek cast-member! Speaking of Star Trek, I volunteered to be part of a production there called "The Not Ready for Star Trek Players," in which randomly-chosen members of the audience got to perform -- with only one run-through -- the final scenes of the episode "A Piece of the Action." I think I was one of the Iotian gangsters, although not one of the main ones. We were rehearsing our parts when we noticed that Majel Barrrett Roddenberry was set-up nearby signing autographs, and of course, we converged on her to sign our scripts (making her my fourth original Trek cast-member meeting, although it would prove to be my last one).

One of the panels there was a trivia contest, and I not only was able to answer one of the questions offered up there (winning a prize), I was also able to stump the panel by asking them who Dr. Fate's wife was (Inza Nelson, in case you've forgotten).

This show was a revelation, the first convention I attended where the focus was largely on comic books.

But I had no idea what a real big comic book convention could be like... until I attended my first (and only) San Diego Comic Con... which I'll write about next month!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Ape of the Geek: Ape--X!

Species: Mutated gorilla

First Appearance: Squadron Supreme Volume 1, #5

Other Appearances: Ape-X was featured in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Volume 2, #12

Merchandising: None

Biography: Ape-X was originally Xina, an ordinary Earth gorilla, until she was mutated in an attempt to enhance her intelligence. When her trainer was killed, she turned to crime and eventually joined the Institute of Evil, taking on the name Ape-X. Later, when the Squadron Supreme defeated the Institute, she underwent the behavior-modification process developed by Tom Thumb, and was thereafter admitted into the Squadron as a full member, working with Tom and continuing his work after he passed away. Part of the process of the b-mod treatment was that she would not betray any Squadron member, and when she learned that Squadron member Moonglow was a traitor to the team, the conflict between her duty not to betray a member and her duty to report the actions caused her to have a psychotic withdrawal from reality. 

Powers: Ape-X has advanced intelligence, equivalent to human genius level. She has great mechanical aptitude. Since her lower torso and legs are amputated, she gets around in a mechanical wheelchair, which is equipped with various offensive and defensive capabilities.

Miscellaneous: Ape-X appears to be based on Gorilla Grodd, as all the Squadron Supreme members are based on DC's Justice League of America members or their villains, but I think there's also a hint of Monsieur Mallah there, too. A later Ape-X appeared in Marvel Apes #1, but this version was a small monkey that becomes a large gorilla when he puts on a magic Mexican wrestling mask.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Holy Crap, It's Been A Busy Couple Of Days!

Does it ever feel to anyone else like you've finally got things all figured out, and life is starting to work out the way you wanted it to, or at least you've got a handle on the way things are... and then the universe decides to upend things on you so that you have to work your way back to "getting a handle on it"?

Happens to me at least once or twice a year, it seems.

So let me set this up for you: As you know, I've been ramping up on my eBay auctions, especially when I can take advantage of free listing periods. I had a lot of auctions ending on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and since I was off work on Wednesday through Friday, I figured I'd have plenty of time to deal with all of those, catch up on some sleep (given that I'm still working nights), and get a few blog posts done ahead of time in anticipation of the upcoming vacation my family is going on in a few weeks.

Wednesday afternoon, my son Tristan was taken to the doctor for his annual well child exam. For some time, we'd been concerned that he wasn't putting on weight the way he should be -- especially since he's grown so much, and yet his weight is down a few pounds from a year ago. Well, finally we got the doctor to get some bloodwork done to see if there's anything we need to be concerned with. Because of some of my son's issues, it took about 45 minutes to get him to agree to let the blood be drawn (and even then, he had to be semi-restrained). Fortunately for him, my wife was the one dealing with this, as I was getting my daughter Desi ready for her Brownies meeting at the time. Finally, the blood was drawn, and I met up with Jessi to swap kids so I could treat Tristan to ice cream for finally allowing the blood draw to happen, while Jessi took Desi to the Brownies meeting.

Thursday morning, I get the kids up and ready for school, and put Desi on her bus (they're on different buses for the time being, it's a long story), and was about five minutes away from putting Tristan on his bus when Jessi called to let me know she got a call from the doctor's office, and that she was on her way home from work. It turned out that Tristan's blood sugar was through the roof, he obviously has diabetes, and we had to get him to the emergency room at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital up in Tacoma.

So while Jessi was on her way here, I was preparing a bag with whatever I thought we'd need to have, given that Tristan was going to be in the hospital for a few days. We figured we'd end up taking shifts after the initial exams and treatment, so that one of us would spend the night at the hospital with Tristan, the other home with Desi.

As it turned out, we both stayed at the hospital on Thursday night, with me in the room with Tristan, and Desi and Jessi staying in this kind of hotel the hospital provides at a discount for families of children who are being treated. By the end of today, pretty much every member of my family had come to visit Tristan in the hospital and see how he's doing (and he's doing very well, responding to treatment very nicely, and is even starting to get used to getting the insulin shots he'll have to be getting multiple times a day).

Back to Thursday: Jessi decided that she wanted Desi at the hospital with us, so my mom rode with me back home to Olympia, so that while I picked up Desi and gathered more items we needed, my mom could drive Jessi's car to the hospital so she wouldn't be stranded without transportation. I ended up sleeping in the room with Tristan, as I said (in the most uncomfortable bed imaginable, my back was killing me Friday morning).

Friday, I got up and was expecting the nurse with the diabetes unit to come in at nine to educate us on Tristan's diabetes, and what we were going to have to do about it. Turned out she didn't make it in until after 10 (which was about when I thought I'd be able to run home and take care of eBay items), and I didn't leave the hospital to run home until about noon.

Of course, this whole time my phone is going off with one alert after another about closed auctions selling, items being paid for, and so forth.

I get home, package up about 18 packages (almost all of which had multiple purchases in them), print out shipping labels, grab a shower, package up one or two more items that were paid for while I got cleaned up, loaded up the van with all the packages plus the additional items I needed to bring to the hospital, and ran to the post office.

On the way there, I get a text from my wife asking me to bring snacks -- what I didn't know is that the snacks were supposed to be just for Tristan, and I was assuming that the snacks were for all of us, plus whoever happened to be visiting at the time. So I stop at Walmart in Tacoma before arriving at the hospital with some cheese, chips, fruit and veggies, just before Tristan's dinner arrived (and just before Jessi went to get her own dinner at the hotel place). Once she got back, she was taking the evening shift (a few other friends arrived during this time to visit), and I took the perishables that weren't eaten with me, ran out to get some storage bags for some of them, and then it was my turn to stay at the hotel for the night. Also during this day, my iPad decided it didn't like the wifi at the hospital any more, so I couldn't even use it while I sat around (I'd recently bought the new Godzilla with the digital download feature, but hadn't gotten it downloaded yet -- I figured I'd be able to watch it finally, but no dice there).

Saturday was more education on how we'll have to handle Tristan's diabetes, and around three or so, I headed back for home, as I had to work Saturday night. Of course, by that time it was too late for the auction winners who paid after my Friday stop at home to get their items shipped, so that will be happening on Monday. We'll be heading back up to Tacoma on Thursday morning for a follow-up at the clinic there, and then after that all follow-ups should be in the Olympia clinic.

It's been an exhausting couple of days!

Before I close this entry, let me offer this advice to any of you who have kids: If you think something's physically wrong with your child, and the doctor wants to blow you off -- especially if you're concerned about their weight and they've developed some behavioral problems -- you need to take a stand... either convince the doctor to do additional tests (or test at all) or get a second opinion. We were concerned about Tristan's weight a year ago, and the doctor said he was fine then, and we started seeing some behavioral issues occur at that time, too. Since he started getting treatment for diabetes, Tristan's moods have swung 180 degrees, and he's already looking healthier. If we'd pushed it a year ago, who knows? We may have caught this that much sooner, and started treatment before it got as serious as it did. We're very happy that we now know what's going on, but we'll always wonder if a year ago we could've found out then. We as parents really need to advocate for our children's health, and we are the experts on our own children -- take a stand, and do what you need to for your kids!