Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Retail Woes: Shoplifters

Anyone who has worked retail (or especially owned a shop of any kind) knows that shoplifting is part and parcel of the experience. Generally it's called "shrinkage," like the inventory magically shrunk rather than being carried off by thieves.

It's an annoyance, but it's one I haven't had to deal with too much, because of the nature of our business. While we do get a lot of casual traffic, most of the people who would be interested in having our product enough to steal it also have enough of a fondness for the store to pay for it instead.


We've had a couple of packages of dice go missing lately. We know because we find the empty boxes stashed somewhere in a display, the dice obviously slipped into a pocket and carried out. Annoying, but relatively minor.

Then today, my manager and one of the employees noticed that some of our Battle Royale was missing. Notably, the first three or four volumes, and our inventory indicated we had one, and in some cases two, of each volume. Later tonight, a group of four teenagers who have been semi-regulars (although they've rarely purchased anything) came in, and while the manager was busy, they stole three more volumes of Battle Royale. He knows this because they were there when the teens came in, gone when they left, and there were no other customers in that time.

So we know who they are. We know what they look like. And the next time they come back, they will either be read off the property or arrested for shoplifting. Which isn't much comfort as I go to buy about eight or ten volumes of Battle Royale that I already bought, but it will be if we catch them in the act.

Monday, January 28, 2008

An Open Letter to Games Workshop

'Ello There Gents,

I'd like to have a word with you, as a retailer who does fairly well with your miniatures games and very well with the role-playing games that Black Industries has produced for you. Specifically, Warhammer 40K Dark Heresy, which was selling so well on its opening weekend that I ordered about three times more than I initially thought I'd sell over the product's lifetime because the momentum seemed so impressive. Given how well Warhammer Fantasy was supported, how beautiful the production values were on Dark Heresy, I thought it worth taking a several hundred dollar risk on your product.

So I'd like to know why you decided to cut me off at the fucking knees by announcing that you're ending the line come September. I mean, as someone who bought the game for himself and hopes to run it at some point, I'm mildly annoyed from a personal standpoint. But don't get me wrong, you've got plenty of fan ire right now... let's change lanes a bit.

Because as a retailer, a *partner* in selling your games, I'm pretty fucking livid. You had to announce this the very day that I purchased hundreds of dollars in stock from you? You think maybe this might come back to affect my bottom line on your products, and then as a result your bottom line? It's certainly affected the amount of trust I'm willing to extend to you in preorders, which will begin affecting you pretty much immediately.

So thank you for the thoroughly puzzling decision to cancel a game so anticipated and so popular that it sold out at manufacturer *and* distributor level within days of release. And while we're at it, thanks for deciding to cancel Talisman, one of the best-selling fantasy board games of all time, after finally bringing it back.

I honestly have no idea what the fuck kind of business plan you have at Games Workshop, but I can only assume someone there has an almost paranoid fear of stacks of easy money. I guess selling out of a product in six minutes is somehow not an indicator of success in the world of Games Workshop, but a deadweight line of miniatures based on an expensive license (Lord of the Rings) is something to be carried for years, and foisted as an unnecessary expense on your partner stores in order that they might be able to carry your actual products that sell.

P.S. To anyone confused by this post who wants to know what I'm talking about, you'll find the whole thing detailed at the Black Industries site.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - January 30, 2008

House Of M Avengers #4 (This '70s flavored superhero book is one of my favorite Marvel books of the moment right now)
Proof #4 (I had advance copies of #1-3, so this is my first new Proof in months, and I'm highly anticipating the read)
What If Spider-Man Vs Wolverine (Loved the original What If?, and Jeff Parker does a great follow-up)
Wormwood Calamari Rising #1 (Yay! More Wormwood, Gentleman Corpse! With drunken leprechauns!)
Y The Last Man #60 (The finale... hope I wind up liking it)

Batman The Man Who Laughs HC (Ed Brubaker's Batman stuff collected, including his great tale of the Joker's first encounter with Batman)
Captain America #34 (I have my issues with it, but this is a good intro to the new Cap)
Casanova Vol 1 Luxuria TP (Now that the trade is out, I need to revisit this. Especially since, with The Order going, I'm going to need a place to get my Fraction-writing fix)
Fantastic Four #553 (McDuffie's story continues to impress, as does Pelletier's art)
Manhunter Vol 4 Unleashed TP (The original Manhunter series, now complete in trade. I keep hoping for an announcement of a new #1 any day now)
Previews Vol XVIII #2 (Down the Line is in the works)
Salem #0 (Witch hunters vs. real witches from Boom! Sounds interesting)
Young Avengers HC (The whole series collected, and I'm thinking about picking it up)

Man, I've got a lot to write about

Stuff I want to blog about:

*How much Burnout Paradise rules and thoughts I had about what could be even cooler in the sequel

*Obama's win in South Carolina

*Essential Luke Cage, Archie Goodwin & Steve Englehart

*New Recipes I've tried in the past week

*The new Warhammer 40K RPG Dark Heresy

*My take on ComicsPro's latest position paper (hint: I disagree with it, as I have with *all* of their position papers thus far)

What I seem to have time to blog about:

*Things I want to blog about

Marvel Trying Their Hand At European Comics

There have been a lot of publishers trying to make headway in the American market with European comics. I'm always heartbroken when they fail, because there are a *ton* of European comics I'd love to read, but usually what happens with these deals is that they print one or two books I'm interested in, a whole bunch I'm not real interested in, and the whole thing goes under before they get to books I want to see.

Marvel's going to give it the old college try, though, and I think that's pretty cool. Nice looking art on the books so far, too.

Oh, and Obama in South Carolina? Beating Clinton by 2-1? Awesome. Victory speech:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hooray Marvel!

Look, I give Marvel a lot of shit on Comic Pants and elsewhere (even while loving some of their output, like The Order and other great books that have *not* been canceled), but you have to give them credit for getting this one right.

Marvel Studios signs Interim deal with WGA

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Gaming Weekend

Yes, technically it's Tuesday, but I have Sundays and Tuesdays off, so that's my weekend.

After watching most of the NFC championship game on a whim on Sunday (my Tivo changed channels, so I still don't know who won... guess I should check ESPN after I finish writing this), I got the bug to play some Madden. So I fired up the XBox and played a home game, Broncos against Raiders, and beat them 20-0. Given that I've been getting my ass handed to me in Madden vs. the computer (and it was even worse the one time I tried playing another person online), and I'm a Broncos fan, this was quite satisfying.

Not, however, as satisfying as tooling around Paradise City in the new Burnout: Paradise. I'm a huge fan of the Burnout games, and when I played the demo, I liked it, but the combination of wide open spaces and limited, locked demo made me wary of what the full game might look like. Nevertheless, I bought an extra (third) controller for Christmas that I never even opened, and I decided it was probably better to trade that in and pick up Burnout instead. $10 later, I'm playing Burnout.

It's a blast. I'm starting to get a hang of the open-ended city driving, and I'm loving how fast cars unlock and how easy it is to find stunts and do cool jumps. Can't wait until some friends get it so we can do some multiplayer, apparently there are co-op achievements.

And as I was going offline for the night, I checked XBox Live on a whim to see if there were any new songs for Rock Band. I didn't really expect there would be, but there was a new pack of Oasis: Wonderwall, Don't Look Back in Anger and one more I can't remember. I dug the hell out of that Oasis album, so I downloaded that one too... now I just need to play it.

But first I need to find out who's playing in the Superbowl. And maybe finish watching Scrubs Season Five on DVD, and catch an episode of Cupid.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - January 23, 2008

Annihilation Conquest Book 1 HC (Glad to be getting the new Annihilation in hardcover)
Johnny Hiro #3 (The first two issues were fairly different but good, looking forward to seeing what's coming in #3)
Order #7 (A great issue, as Fraction writes Namor very well)
World War Hulk Aftersmash Damage Control #1 (Great to see Dwayne McDuffie back on these characters, and the art on the book is terrific too)
X-men First Class Vol 2 #8 (Beautiful interior art by Eric Nguyen, and as usual, a great story by Jeff Parker)

Afterburn #1 (New post-apocalyptic adventure book from Red 5)
Hack Slash Series #8 (Back to reading this in single issues, and I'm really enjoying it)
Marvel Adventures Iron Man #9 (Iron Man vs. an army of gray original Iron Man armors by Van Lente... give this guy the regular Iron Man book, already!)
Marvel Zombies 2 #4 (Still surprisingly fun and as always, great art from Sean Phillips)
Therefore Repent TP (Interesting, gorgeously illustrated graphic novel about a post-Rapture New York)
Usagi Yojimbo #109 (Heading into 2008 with a pretty impressive series of 2007 stories under its belt)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Perfect Storm of Inside Joke Theatre

Well, it was a pretty big weekend for me, and there are new things to talk about in comics, TV, movies, videogames, family and politics. In other words, every single thing I write about on this blog will be contained in this post. Feel it's mighty (yet inconsequential) power!

So TV, first off. I watched the second episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and I'm pretty much convinced that if the strike wasn't on, and there were a lot of shows competing for my time, this one wouldn't make the cut. The cast is a little bland (even Summer Glau, who shines in her brief moments, is not getting enough chance to show off) and the stories seem a little low-key for a story about the end of the world. I love the idea of using time travel to place agents on key missions, but so far that idea has shown a lack of imagination in execution, and worse, I get the sense that they're not thinking all the implications through, which is death for a time travel story.

It's not a bad show, by any means. But it's up against my fondness for Terminator and T2, and even the things I liked about T3, and that's a pretty rough bit of competition. I'll probably give it a couple more episodes to hook me on the same level The 4400 did (decent, not great, good for filling time), but I'm not dying to watch the episodes or anything.

In politics, the big news is that Clinton won the Nevada primaries, another disappointment for us Obama supporters. Obama's camp is saying that they actually won the primary, with more delegates, so it's not over by any means, but we're starting to get into that "Well, to understand who won you need a doctorate in American political machinery" territory that's just frustrating to follow. Suffice to say, I'd been hoping that the Iowa victory was a signifier that he was going to have the nomination sewn up, and it still looks like a pretty serious fight. I think the Democrats may yet again take an election that should be a cakewalk (if they'd run Obama or Edwards) and turn it into another stunning snatch of defeat from out of the jaws of victory (I don't think Clinton can beat McCain, who is showing surprising strength in the Republican primaries).

I still believe in Obama, and he's still the only person I *want* to vote for. I'll hold my nose and vote for Edwards if he's there instead, or McCain if he's up against Clinton, and if none of those choices are available, I'll probably be voting independent and nursing an even more shattered faith in our electoral system.

In videogames, I've been downloading new songs for Rock Band, and wow is it dangerous how easy it is to get new content for the XBox 360. I bought a bunch of new songs, they're all a lot of fun (my favorites are the Police three-pack and "Gimme Three Steps" by Lynrd Skynrd, but Blink 182's "All the Small Things" is quite fun too) and I keep watching for new songs, which seem to appear about every two weeks. I'm already looking for the next opportunity to throw a Rock Band party. Best videogame ever.

This weekend was the 1st anniversary of my owning Rogues Gallery. Well, technically, I signed the check and ownership papers on February 19th, but we jumped the gun by a month for scheduling reasons. To celebrate, we had a party on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, which featured game demos, creator signings and lots more. It went very well, and I'm pretty proud of how the store has developed. Some highlights:

*On Friday night, I got to play Zombie Fluxx with several of my customers and friends, and we had a lot of fun. Fluxx, for those unfamiliar, is a card game by Looney Labs wherein the basic rules are "Draw 1, Play 1" but there are Rules cards that change that (and many other rules) throughout, and Goals that generally include having two or three "Keeper" cards on the table. The goals, rules and Keepers change throughout the game, and it's a fun bit of chaos. Zombie Fluxx adds zombies to the equation, and is even more fun than the original.

*Also on Friday, I had organized an expedition to see Cloverfield with guests Greg Pak and Scott Kolins (and his wife), several of my staff and a couple of my customers. I got about 30 minutes in (right about when the monster shows up) and had to leave the theater, because the jerky camcorder filming style was about to make me sick. This is the second time this has happened to me, the first was with the Bourne Ultimatum. So now it's not just first person shooters I can't see, it's some films. Stupid motion sickness. At any rate, everybody else seemed to enjoy the movie, and there were a few good trailers, which included the Star Trek teaser (pretty effective, and I'm not a huge Star Trek fan in general), the Iron Man trailer (again, I love this trailer) and the Jumper trailer (looking forward to this one as well). Kind of surprised there hasn't been a Hulk teaser or trailer at this point, though.

*On Saturday, we had a signing in the store with Greg Pak, Scott Kolins, Matt Sturges and Paul Benjamin. And for part of the time, we also had The Defuser, the winner of the second season of Who Wants To Be A Superhero? and an Austin local. It was a lot of fun, and Scott drew a sketch of The Flash for my daughter Katy, which she loved. Greg, despite being a writer, likes to draw Hulk pictures with his signature, and so he drew a backer board sketch of Hulk for my daughter as well, and she loved that too. She also got a picture with The Defuser, and she was just elated to meet a real live superhero.

*We had a good event, which also included our "Hulk Smash" sale (wherein everyone who bought something smashed one of four styrofoam cups, Hulk style, to win something written on the inside), our writing contest to start defining our roguish mascot, Maximillian Larch and our second miniatures painting contest.

With the anniversary event done, it's time to start looking forward to our next store event (probably Free Comic Book Day in May) and throw myself a bit more into my duties on STAPLE!, the independent media/small press comics show that is having its fourth year in Austin on March 1.

And now I leave you with three trailers that I caught last night, all of which I thought were pretty good.

This was my favorite. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler? That's enough right there. Holy crap, Maura Tierney is in it too? And Romany Malco? And guest spots by John Hodgman and Sigourney Weaver? Promising.

This also looks like fun, and I'm really intrigued the notion of John Krasinski and George Clooney playing off each other. The fight scene at the end cracked me up.

I love Judd Apatow and his production company, and I'm a big fan of both Kristen Bell and Jason Segel, but this didn't crack me up like the trailers for 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up or Superbad.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What Really Happened to Britney Spears

John Rogers has a theory. An AWESOME theory.

Other Ways In Which Obama is Better than Clinton

As reported by The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan:

Obama's favorite show? The Wire.

Clinton's favorite show? Grey's Anatomy.

Advantage: Obama.

Man, if I could somehow work comics and videogames into this, it would sum up everything I write about on this blog.

Monday, January 14, 2008

TV Thoughts: Sarah Connor Chronicles, Friday Night Lights & Cupid

First of all, the best show I'm watching right now is one that was canceled years ago, although there is a developing remake by the original showrunner. That showrunner is Rob Thomas, also creator of Veronica Mars, and the show is Cupid, starring Paula Marshall and Jeremy Piven. I loved it when it was on, still hate ABC for canceling it, and when one of my favorite critics, Alan Sepinwall, started doing "Strike Survival Club" and writing up episodes of Cupid, I started re-watching. They're all on Youtube, and the links are in Alan's column, I highly recommend doing the same.

Friday Night Lights is *this* close to dead to me. I feel about it the way I felt about Heroes Second Season, except that Heroes First Season was nowhere near as good as FNL Season One, and FNL Season Two, for all its missteps, is not as catastrophically bad as Heroes Season Two was. That said, the gap between what I liked about season one and what I like about season two seems about equal. It's not just the misguided Landry murder subplot, either. Now that that's done, we're having equal bits of nonsensical melodrama and a distressing lack of one of the most interesting characters on the show, paralyzed former QB One Jason Street. Even worse, no Street means no Herc, and that's just a damn shame.

But the stories are just so un-engaging. The Smash "who will he choose/should he choose" college story never quite made up its mind about the point it was trying to make, and the resolution seemed to come out of nowhere. I'm not sure how his picking TMU because they pressured him into giving him a verbal commitment is more pleasing to his mother, who last I recall was trying to get him to go to school for something other than football. I'm not sure when all the women on FNL became flighty, or mean, or uncertain, either. Jessalyn Gilsig did a great job with the role she was given, but that character was ditzy or right depending on the needs of the story, rather than as an outgrowth of the character. It was distressing to see Tami turned from the strong woman she had been into the second banana in the Taylor home, and even more distressing that they seemed to be going out of their way to make us hate Julie.

I mean, in season one, Julie was the smart one, distinguished by a healthy sense of skepticism about the importance of football vs. academics, and then she was half of a perfect cute couple with Matt Saracen. While her youthful rebellion in the opening part of season two was distasteful, it was believable... but they keep pushing it too far. Having her mope around and act all hurt because Matt had moved on when she behaved like an absolute brat makes her seem incredibly selfish. Having her not speak up for Tim Riggins when he was basically thrown out of the house for trying to help her was unconscionable. Sure, she eventually came around and confessed, and I can *buy* her being reluctant to tell her dad the truth, but it makes her look like a weaker character, and the character already looked weak-willed and selfish enough. The girl needs a storyline where she doesn't look like a brat, and soon.

Then there's Riggins and the drug dealer's money, which can only lead to another misplaced crime type subplot. Basically, while there are occasional scenes that work, and still a ton of good actors on the show, the overall direction the stories are moving in, and the melodramatic upshift in tone, has turned it into a completely different, and much weaker show. I'm *this close* to taking it off the Tivo season pass list... if there weren't a strike on, and there were more shows competing for my attention, it'd already be gone. Being the only game in town only gets you so far, though... I can use those 45 minutes to read or play videogames or surf the Internet instead.

The same thing applies to Sarah Connor Chronicles, which was stronger than I expected but still not great. They've completely miscast the main role, aiming for hotness rather than toughness, and that's a huge, huge chink in the armor. To her credit, Lena Headey does her best with the role, and has some good badass moments, but Linda Hamilton had the look and feel of a completely crazy badass in the movies, and she's just not on par with that.

Summer Glau as a new kind of Terminator is great casting, and she does a good job, even if I spent the whole time thinking "Wait, if they've got liquid metal terminators, why not send one of those back instead of another more limited physical model?" Their casting for the main male Terminator and John Connor is fine, at least so far. But someone over at Alan Sepinwall's board mentioned Katee Sackhoff, and now that's all I can think... man, what an awesome Sarah Connor she would have made.

The show is OK... I'm curious how they can get an ongoing narrative out of the setup they've had, which is basically a re-do of Terminator/T2, which really nailed the concept to perfection. In fact, I was thinking as I watched the first episode that somebody *really* liked T2, and they were just doing a TV budgeted version of it (bad idea). But then the whole time travel thing came up, and I thought that was a clever twist.

However, I can't help but think about the inconsistencies in the mythology whenever I watch or read a Terminator story, and it bugs me. In the original movie, time travel was experimental and rare and blowed up, and it really wasn't supposed to be used again. Now it's so common that they built a backup time travel device in 1963. In the second movie, they sent an outmoded T-800 because it was all they could manage. Now they've gotten their hands on some kind of newer model. And in the second movie, they had created this advanced liquid metal terminator, but now they're back to sending standard model T-800s back. Which might make more sense if the liquid metal was some kind of prototype, and they sent dozens of T-800s instead of just one, or if they had some kind of shift in the formula. But in a lot of ways, it seems like they're trying to emulate the cool parts of what has gone before without realizing that part of what made it cool was that it was new and unique, not a retread of something we'd seen before.

I dunno. I'll give it a few episodes to prove itself, and it did launch stronger than I thought, and I'm curious what exactly their ongoing status quo is going to be... but my fear is that it's going to turn repetitive real fast.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - January 16, 2008

Surprise! I'm not *just* writing about politics, I also cover comics from time to time. :)

76 #1 (This looks like a blast, a great riff on '70s comics)
American Virgin #22 (Closing in on the end, and this remains one of my favorite comics)
Incredible Hercules #113 (A really fun use of an under-used hero, great work by Pak, Van Lente & the rest)
Miki Falls Vol 4 Winter (Mark Crilley's romance/supernatural manga concludes, and I can't wait to see how it ends)
Resurrection #2 (First issue of this post-alien invasion book was really good)

Angel After The Fall #3 (I've been digging season six of Angel almost as much as season eight of Buffy)
Atomic Robo #4 (Tons of fun, great art, as always)
Bone Vol 7 Ghost Circles Color Ed SC (Yay! Getting ever closer to having the whole Bone saga complete in color)
DMZ #27 (Guest art by Nathan Fox, which is awesome, another single issue story from the DMZ)
Fell #9 (Wow, I wasn't sure we'd ever see this book again!)
Fight For Tomorrow Tp (Early Brian Wood Vertigo work that I want to check out)
Grendel Behold The Devil #3 (I'm an issue behind, but I loved #1, and I really need to catch up)
Hawaiian Dick #2 (Solid first issue, beautiful art by Scott Chantler, looking forward to reading more)
Hulk The End Premiere HC (Hate the premiere hardcover format, but I love both the stories in this collection)
Immortal Iron Fist #12 (Reads *much* better in trade, but still fun reading in single issues)
Lifelike HC (Dara Naraghi, a small press genius, finally gets his due from IDW with this hardcover of short stories)
Thunderbolts By Ellis Vol 1 Faith In Monsters TP (The softcover of Ellis and Deodato's great supervillain book)
Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite #5 (I don't understand it half the time, but it's beautiful and fun)
World War Hulk Aftersmash Warbound #2 (Promising first issue, but I'm more excited to see what happens now that all the setup is out of the way)

How The Media is Fucking Up The Election

Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi writes a cynical, caustic and hilarious piece on political reporting. I thought I was bitter and jaded about the political process, but I'm a wide-eyed newborn compared to Taibbi. Read the whole thing, and definitely stick around for the last paragraph, which is laugh out loud funny.

I love Rolling Stone's political coverage, it's probably my favorite RSS feed for politics.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another Reason to Vote Obama

Karl Rove, manipulative turd to the stars, seems to admire Hilary Clinton and dismisses Obama.

I don't care what party you're in... if Karl Rove likes you, that's not a good sign.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Holy Crap

TSA Searches, Detains 5 Year Old Boy

Jesus, I hope this never happens to us. Because I know that with me, this story ends with me being tased and arrested after BITING OUT THE FUCKING THROAT of the idiot who tried to take my kid away from me in front of witnesses.

TSA or no TSA.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

It Ain't Over Yet


Clinton is looking like the winner in New Hampshire. CNN notes in its article that New Hampshire has an older base, and that a lot of the independents voted Republican, and voted for McCain.

I don't know what this means in the context of who's going to get the nomination, or in terms of the Presidential election. Certainly it's disappointing, and not what I expected. I honestly thought Hilary was going to get her ass handed to her in New Hampshire, or at best that she'd lose by a narrow margin. After Iowa, and polls showing a 10 point lead for Obama in New Hampshire, I didn't think she could win, even though I'll be first to admit that polling is an inexact science at best.

Bummer for me and other Obama supporters tonight. I had hoped to have a clear indication that Obama was going to be the candidate, but clearly we're going to have to wait it out until Super Tuesday.

Here's the thing... McCain won in New Hampshire. And though I hold my nose at the very thought of it, given his desperate attempts to ingratiate himself with the insane Bush-era Republican leadership, I'd probably vote for McCain over Clinton. Which would be my first vote for a Republican ever.

Monday, January 07, 2008

EMusic "Trial" Subscription

Edited to add: Well, that was unexpected. After I posted my rant, which was basically blowing off steam, I was contacted by email by someone from eMusic who refunded my money and explained that I had canceled my music account, but must have accidentally signed up for an Audiobooks account. I didn't think that there were two separate accounts, which was my mistake.

So essentially, in terms of customer service, I take it all back. Getting back to one guy blowing off steam on a blog is really going above and beyond, especially when I'd basically said I probably wasn't going to be an eMusic customer anyway. So instead I'll say that if, unlike me, you're more interested in a wider selection of less well-known bands and trying a bunch of stuff out rather than ala carte buying a handful of music each year, you might give eMusic a try. Because that's pretty good customer service right there.

Original post below:
Netflix, which I love, has advertising on their disc sleeves for various products and services. One of those, back in November, was for a free trial of EMusic. I'm pretty happy with iTunes, but these were DRM-free MP3s, and it had an interesting subscription/price structure that still allowed you to own your music, so I figured I'd give it a try.

I wound up picking up albums from Spoon, Gogol Bordello and Pain and an audiobook from James Ellroy, but I couldn't find most of what I was looking for, and I decided that the service just wasn't for me. I don't have time to discover new bands and new sounds while I'm paying for the time, which seems more like the focus of eMusic.

No harm, no foul. I was a member for about 20 minutes, I went and canceled the account. Wasn't really looking for the music I downloaded, but it was good, and it was free.

Then I go through my VISA statement today and discover that I was charged the $9.99, despite having canceled immediately. Not only that, I was charged $9.99 again a month later. Clearly, my "trial" subscription was still active. After being unable to find a customer service phone number (which you can find here, I guess I didn't look carefully enough) I went over and canceled my subscription again, and this time I saved the email with my cancellation. If I don't get charged again, I'll call it a learning experience, and I've still paid $20 for three albums, which is fair, even if I would rather have spent those $20 on iTunes for albums and audiobooks I really wanted.

Weekly Comics to Come - January 9, 2008

Bprd 1946 #1 (World War II era BPRD, another great artist, I love the number of good BPRD/Hellboy spinoffs we're getting)
Foundation #1 (Intriguing little X-Files meets Nostrodamus book from Boom!, I've read the first issue and it's great)
Nova #10 (Another spectacularly good issue of Marvel's best book)
Spirit #12 (Darwyn Cooke's run comes to an end, and since #11 was so good, I have high hopes for a strong finale)
Youngblood #1 (Joe Casey and Derec Donovan, I'm interested to see this and hope it'll be fun)

30 Days Of Night Red Snow TP (I can finally read the entirety of Ben Templesmith's World War II era vampire tale)
Bprd Vol 7 Garden Of Souls TP (Steampunk robots vs. Abe Sapien, plus plenty more)
Marvel Adventures Hulk #7 (Hulk and Silver Surfer, with David Nakayama returning on art)
Nightwing #140 (Rags Morales on art, Peter Tomasi writing, I'll check in and see what's up)
North Wind #1 (Post-apocalyptic climate change book from Boom!, very nice art and promising story)
Suicide Squad Raise The Flag #5 (Enjoyed the last issue quite a bit, I'll be back for this one too)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Obama Wins Iowa

Aw hells yeah.

Even better? Hilary Clinton came in third.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Blog Update for December 2007

This is the latest monthly update to the sidebar of the blog, updating my favorite comics and TV for the previous month. The listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published. This is basically also my own records of what I read/liked for the inevitable "End of Year" lists I feel like making.

Turns out December is a busy month when you've got family and own a retail business. I barely had any time to do extra reading this month, and the writer's strike turned out to be a blessing in disguise for my free time, even if it does make all my fears of future corporate domination seem all too real.

It was a pretty good month for comics, and there were a dozen or so books that didn't make my cut-off for best of 20, including, for the second month in a row, issues of Batman and the Outsiders (DC), Angel (IDW), Fearless (Image) and plenty of others. Marvel dominated again, with 10 comics, and two of those had two issues in the month, so technically it's a dozen. Image had 4 (Dynamo 5 plus three promising newcomers), Dark Horse had 2 (although I haven't had the chance to read BPRD or Lobster Johnson, both of which might have made the cut), IDW had 1 (although it was a great one, new Wormwood) and Oni had 1 with their interesting new book Resurrection. DC scores the other 2 with Vertigo, and again the mainstream DC Universe has little to nothing to offer me.

With the Writer's Strike, it looks like I'll just put my Top 10 shows on hold for the time being. In fact, I took the rather shocking (for those who know me) step of dropping my cable down to the very basic minimum this month, and that mostly for my daughter's shows. Honestly, I've got a huge backlog of DVDs to get to, plus a Netflix queue I've been neglecting, plus the XBox with Rock Band and some other games... my free time is more than covered.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Year End Recap Internet Meme

I'm planning to write some kind of "Year in Review" post, but since I probably won't have time for that, this meme, posted by Steve Rolston amongst other bloggers I read, appealed to me:

1. What did you do in 2007 that you'd never done before?
Had a son. Bought a business. Played Rock Band. Canceled my digital cable.

2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't make resolutions, usually. If I had, I'm sure I would have failed at them. See also, why I don't make resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Well, there was my wife. And my sister had her second son. And one of my employees and friends had a boy with his wife. So yeah, it was a big year for births.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Nope, this year was pretty clear as far as that went.

5. What countries did you visit?
I visited California, which is *like* another country when you're visiting from Texas. Also, on December 31st, through the miracle of Rock Band, I visited the United States of Rocking Out.

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
Money. Or alternatively, the ability to not stress about money and whether or not we have enough of it to survive now and into the future.

7. What date from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
February 19, the day I officially bought the comics shop. And June 11, the day my son Aaron was born.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I bought a comic shop, and managed to avoid running it into the ground for the entire year.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I freaked out way too often about how the business/our personal finances were doing, and I took on so much that I feel like some things (comic reviewing in particular) suffered.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Aside from a couple evil cold/flu type things, not really.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Rogues Gallery Comics & Games. And I didn't buy them, but getting an XBox 360 and Rock Band for Christmas qualifies as my favorite material things acquired for the year, aside from the store.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Food... we spend a shocking amount of money on groceries every month. Then the mortgage, ever-more costly gas, health insurance, preschool bills, etc. Nothing fun, really.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Wow, I sound like a broken record, but the birth of my son and buying the store.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?
I don't tend to link music and memory, but if anything sticks, it'll probably be either The Fratellis - Flathead because that song cheered me up a lot when I was stressed or The Humpty Dance by The Digital Underground due to a number of inside jokes at the store in the last few months.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

Older or wiser?
Yes and probably no.

Thinner or fatter?
About the same. So fat. :)

Richer or poorer?
Poorer. But my *future* financial prospects are much stronger, if we can survive the duration of the business loan.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Gone outside, exercised, spent time with my wife and kids (because no matter how much time I spend, it's never enough).

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Messing around on the Internet. Like I'm doing. Right. Now. So this will be the same answer in 2008, probably.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Visited the in-laws in Dallas the week before, had Christmas Eve at our house with my parents. If only my sister and her husband and kids could have visited (and Katy hadn't had strep), it would have been perfect, but as is, it was still a great Christmas.

22. Did you fall in love in 2007?
Yes. With Rock Band. :)

23. What was your favorite TV program?
How much time do you have? Choosing one, I'd say Dexter.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Almost certainly, but I don't have a handy list or anything.

25. What was the best book you read?
Non-comics, since that's a list all its own, my favorite book of the year was probably the final Harry Potter.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Fratellis

27. What did you want and get?
XBox, Rock Band, a comic book store, good friends, good family, etc.

28. What did you want and not get?
A bazillion dollars, worldwide fame and a license to kill.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Knocked Up in theaters, Children of Men on DVD

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 36, and I cannot for the life of me remember what I did.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More money, less near-death and hospital bills as a result of Aaron's arrival. But really, it was a pretty satisfying year.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?
Um... t-shirt and shorts or t-shirt and jeans?

33. What kept you sane?
Suzanne and the kids. My best friend/store manager Dave. Videogames and TV. Murdering hobos with my bare hands. (Wait, scratch that last one.)

34. Which celebrities/public figures did you fancy the most?
There are whole lists for this kind of thing, but I'm gonna go with Tina Fey.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
I've fallen into a sort of simmering, constant frustrated outrage over the Bush Administration, but I think I was stirred most by realizing that Barack Obama is a candidate I'm actually *excited* about, rather than just willing to settle for. I'm dying to see how tomorrow's Iowa primary plays out.

36. Who did you miss?
I'm always disappointed Don MacPherson can't make San Diego, as I haven't seen him for years.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Wow, I don't know. I always meet a ton of people in San Diego and at STAPLE!, and new customers turn into friends with regularity at the shop.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007:
I will always, always stress about things I can't control, even if everything winds up turning out OK.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Yeah, that's gonna be a little too emo/Myspace for me.

Weekly Comics to Come - January 4, 2007

Remember, comics are coming in on Friday this week... if you go into the store on Wednesday, they may point and laugh at you. And also, since I was too busy last week, my list of comics I got/read the last week of December is here as well.

Annihilation Conquest #3 (Another great issue of Marvel space adventure... I'd really like Abnett & Lanning to get an ongoing Annihilation style title, in addition to Nova)
Dynamo 5 #10 (One of my favorite new series of 2007)
Northlanders #2 (Solid first issue, and the second one builds nicely on that)
Overman #2 (Loved the first issue of this science-fiction book from Image, looking forward to seeing where they go next.)
Teen Titans Year One #1 (The art on this one, by Karl Kerschl, looks drop dead gorgeous. The covers and solicits seem to promise a fun, engaging series by writer Amy Wolfram. And it's out of continuity, so maybe it won't be as fucked over as many of DC's mainstream superhero books are right now.)

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #10 (Joss Whedon written interlude that sheds light on the big bad of Season Eight)
End League #1 (High fantasy post-apocalyptic superheroics. Good high concept, intriguing art)
Essential Power Man And Iron Fist Vol 1 TP (Been waiting a while for this one... of course, I still haven't finished reading Essential Moon Knight Vol. 2, these Essentials are huge time sinks)
Fearless #3 (Nobody's talking about this weird little Image superhero book, which is a shame, because it's got solid writing, a neat hook and great art)
Thunderbolts #118 (Not as big a fan of the second story arc as I was the first, but there are still plenty of good moments.)

December 28

Captain America #33 (Great issue, one of the best in a while, interesting lead-up to the new Cap next issue)
House Of M Avengers #3 (This is in the running for my favorite miniseries of the year. It's that good.)
Proof #3 (Image's newest breakout book, with a great concept, writing and art)
Queen & Country Definitive Ed Vol 1 Tp (Love the new design, and 12 issues of Queen & Country for $20 is a steal)
X-men First Class Vol 2 #7 (Great second part to the powers lost story, with tons of Sentinels as a bonus)

Brave And The Bold #9 (Kind of a weak issue, too many characters, and though it was crafted well enough, it didn't have the hooks for me that so many issues of this series have)
Daredevil #103 (It's good, but I'm still having trouble with Brubaker's uber-dark, kinda slow-moving, take on Daredevil... probably just not for me)
Fantastic Four Isla De La Muerte One Shot (Fun, weird FF special by Tom Beland and Juan Doe)
Giant Monster TP (Darkly funny giant monster story)
Invincible Presents Atom Eve #1 (Haven't had the chance to read it yet, but I love the work of these guys on other books, and I like Atom Eve)
Marvel Adventures Iron Man #8 (Steampunk Iron Man = awesome)
Marvel Zombies 2 #3 (Still surprisingly fun... I'll almost certainly pick up the hardcover)
Midnight Sun TP (Beautifully illustrated little indy gem from Slave Labor)
Usagi Yojimbo #108 (Continues to be as good as always, loving the current story)
Wasteland Vol 2 TP (Haven't gotten a chance to read through it yet, but I dug the first trade and want to catch up)