Friday, February 29, 2008

Batman and Captain America

From Time to time DC and Marvel get together and will combine their heroes. This book came out in 1996. I just read it a couple of weeks ago. I believe that after 12 years the statute of limitations on spoilers should be in effect, but if you don't want to know what happened quit reading now. Oh, great, I just chased everyone off. Well in case any one remained, here are my thoughts.

This book is written and drawn by John Byrne. It is set in 1945. Batman and Robin chase the Joker, who escapes from them. Over in Europe, Captain America is given orders to return to the United States. Basically Batman and Cap team up to fight the Joker and the Red Skull. The Red Skull is trying to steal the atomic bomb and tricks the Joker into helping him. For this review I am going to break it up into three parts, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

THE GOOD---There were several nice nods to comic book characters and creators. Captain America is fighting along side of Sgt. Rock, the star of a DC war comic. Chief O'Hara of the Batman TV series makes an appearance, and the names of comic book creators Sheldon Moldoff, Dick Sprang, Joe Simon, and Bill Finger are used on buildings and signs. One major name missing was Jack Kirby. Considering Kirby was a co-creator of Captain America, along with Joe Simon, I find his absence a glaring omission.
Of course we had the obligatory fight between Batman and Captain America, but as Bruce Wayne and Steve Rogers. Of course the fight was short and they quickly realized who the other was.
One scene made me laugh. The set-up, Batman and Cap traded partners. Batman and Bucky were captured and for dramatic effect were tied to a table that you will only find in comic books. The table is shaped like the letter H. It is in a shallow pit in the floor. Of course a bomb has been placed under the table, and Batman and Bucky escape before the bomb detonates. The best part of the scene however, is in front of the pit are the words 'stay back'.
When the Joker realizes the Red Skull has tricked him into helping the Nazi cause, the Joker turns on the Skull. He tells him, "I may be a criminal lunatic, but I am an American criminal lunatic".
The epilogue was a nice nod to Avengers 4 where Captain America was found encased in ice. Of course here he is found by Dick Grayson, the new Batman, and Bruce Wayne, Jr., the new Robin.

THE BAD---There were too many coincidences. I know in most fiction there are coincidences, but there were too many here.
The Joker killed some soldiers to get their uniforms. They were basically out in the middle of nowhere, waiting for a truck which was carrying the atomic bomb to go past them. There was absolutely no military strategy in placing them there. Not only that, they radioed ahead to find out when the truck would pass them. If they were positioned there, there would be no reason to find out where the truck was. I just consider this scene a bad plot device.
The "Gotham Project" had to be the worst kept secret in the world. Both Batman and the Red Skull knew about it.

THE UGLY---The ending. The Red Skull steals the atomic bomb and is going to drop it on Washington D.C. Batman and Captain America manage to get control of the plane and fly out over the Atlantic Ocean. The Red Skull and the Joker fight on top of the bomb, and it ends up falling out of the plane and it detonates. Why would a fully armed atomic bomb be taken by truck through Gotham City? I still don't understand how the bomb managed to drop. You are led to believe that the release mechanism had been broken. I can suspend belief with the best of them, but I can't suspend it here.
The bomb detonates over the Atlantic Ocean. This was before the war in Europe ended. What happened? How much was history changed? I just don't buy it.

Overall I felt this story started strong but faded at the finish. The art was excellent but my enjoyment simply decreased as I read on. On a scale of 1-5, 1 being poor, 5 being excellent, I give Batman and Captain America a 2.

Unless I acquire some more cards, this is the last of the Distinguished Heroes. The card reads: "Charles De Gaulle was a respected general, but he became legendary in France not for any battles he won, but as a symbol of defiance during the dark days of World War II. When France fell to the Nazis in 1940, De Gaulle went to England, where he formed the Free French movement. He was France's President in exile throughout the conflict, and took office with great acclaim after its liberation."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Return Of The War Between The States

The call for the militia hasn't been issued yet, but it will probably be coming soon. This version of the War Between the States will not be on as grand of a scale as the previous one, which took place 147 years ago. In fact, the participants in this one are only two, Georgia and Tennessee. The cause of this conflict? Water. Some lawmakers in Georgia want to annex about a mile of the southern part of Tennessee to lay claim to the Tennessee River. This actually is an old border dispute, dating back to 1818. The land really should belong to Georgia, but after this length of time the odds on them getting it is remote. Three other times, in 1899, 1905, and 1915, the Georgia legislature tried to get this land. Tennessee officials agreed a mistake was made, but nothing ever came of it.

We are in the midst of a drought here in Georgia, but the real problem here is a major lack of planning. Atlanta and the surrounding area has grown bigger than expected. There were warnings 50 years ago that there could be a problem and plans should be made for the water supply. Of course that would have taken tax money away from the 'glamorous' projects that politicians love so much. Who wants to think about water when we can build these new buildings and the roads that will take you to them. Then we can name the roads after the politician who had the pull to get the project funded. Water? Just look at that lake. There is plenty of water there. Now let's think about other things.

The picture here is from Lake Lanier, outside of Atlanta. The area where you see the man used to be under water. Experts have said under ideal conditions it will be several years before the lakes return to normal. Water conservation has become very important around here, although they are relaxing it a little. Hopefully the people have learned that with rapid growth there can be a price to pay. Maybe it will slow them down a little, but I am not holding my breath waiting.

On a personal note, I was asked if I wanted any more hours at Taco Bell. Since I cut back he has hired two people, neither one of which worked out. I have agreed to work an extra three days every two weeks, one week I will work 3 and the next 4. I am going to keep this blog going even with this schedule. I am enjoying this too much to quit now.

Today's Distinguished Hero is Ted Williams. The card reads: "No Big Leaguer ever gave more of himself-or his career-to his country than did Ted Williams. A flying ace in the U.S. Marines Air Corps, Williams served the United States with distinction both World War II and Korea. An instructor during World War II, he flew 37 combat missions during the Korean War, earning anMedal for his service. All told, he missed nearly five seasons while in the Navy."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Comics, Week 2

I know what you are thinking.( I am psychic. Or is that psychotic? I get those two mixed up.) Didn't you just post 2 days ago about buying comics? Of course I did. I bought them last Wednesday, but I was talking about my trip, so the comics post got delayed. Once again I spent a lot. Next week the amount of spending goes way down. I have been playing catch-up, and now things will slow down. I already am falling behind in reading, but I will be reading a lot tonight to start getting caught up. What I bought today was:

Action 862
Batman 674
Blue Beetle 24
Captain America 35
Countdown 13 through 9
Justice Society Of America 13
Legion Of Super-Heroes 39
Thor 6
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters 6
Star wars Legacy 20
Star Wars Dark Times 8 & 9
Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic 25
Star Wars Legacy 19
Star Wars Rebellion 11
Abe Sapien The Drowning 1
Buffy The Vampire Slayer 11
I also picked up the first 4 issues of The Death Of The New Gods.

I have read a few of the books I bought last week. Here are some quick reviews.

The Spirit 13 & 14
The Spirit started out as a Sunday comic book inserted into newspapers in 1940. DC has reprinted almost the entire 12 year run. The strip was a classic, which makes it a hard act to follow. I thought both of these issues were extremely well done, capturing the spirit of The Spirit perfectly. I look forward to more.

Booster Gold 0 (Yes that is issue #0)
If time travel paradoxes give you a headache, grab a bottle of Excedrin and dive into this book. Booster Gold was never one of my favorite heroes, but I like this take on him. He tries to save his good friend, Ted Cord, The Blue Beetle, who was murdered almost two years ago. I am looking forward to see where they are taking this.

The Death Of The New Gods 5 & 6
I started collecting comics when Jack Kirby was producing what they called the Fourth world. The first issue of New Gods I bought was #6, which some consider Kirby's greatest story. My personal favorite was #7, which explained a lot of the background behind Kirby's worlds. I am not sure what direction they are going with this series. They have killed a lot of the New Gods in this series, but death in comics usually is only a minor inconvenience. I liked these issues enough I picked up the first 4.

What I am seeing is right now is an exciting time in comics. I used to be a completest and would have to buy every issue of a title. I have got over that. Now if I don't like the direction the book is heading, I drop it. There is no point wasting your time on a title you are not enjoying.

Today's Distinguished Hero is Stan Musial. Here is what they say: "After earning 1943 National League MVP honors and making two straight NL All-Star Teams, Stan was a bona fide Big-League star by 1944. When his country called, though, Musial answered. He credited his time playing ball at Maryland's Bainbridge Naval Base with helping him develop as a power hitter, and he continued to play-even pitching a few games-after shipping out to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Third Shift

I have worked third shift off and on for the last 8 years, and continuously for the last 4. A lot of people wouldn't do it, but I really enjoy it. Working at Wal-Mart in the daytime can get very crazy. Some times third can, but it doesn't last long. We do a little business on this shift, mainly the start of it, but then we can do our thing with minimum interruption. One thing I insist on is I need my two nights off together. If they are not it doesn't seem like you get any rest. I know a lot of my co-workers go home and go to bed, but I stay up until about 2:00 P.M. My reasoning is if you get off at 5:00 you don't go home and go to bed. I also keep those hours on my days off. Sometimes I do get to bed later if I have a lot to do, but it is so much easier to keep rested.

The first time I ever worked third was a two month period in the early '90's when I was working at a hospital in Springfield, Illinois. I worked in Environmental Services, which is a fancy way of saying housekeeping. We had one person there overnight. The man who did it had to take a leave of absence, and I was asked to fill in. I really enjoyed it, but my wife didn't. When he came back I figured I was done with third, but flash forward a few years later, I was now in Georgia working for K-Mart. My position there was replenishment supervisor. It was a day time job, but a couple of months before Christmas they decided to go over night. The nice thing there was K-Mart was not a 24 hour store, so there were no customers to deal with. After Christmas the decision was made to leave replenishment on third. My wife wanted me to go back to days. I asked and was told I couldn't. I have never been one to demand, so I went and talked to Wal-Mart. I had an interview scheduled. K-Mart found out and amazingly a day time position opened up, so I stayed with them. My wife passed away in June of 2000. In October of that year, K-Mart decided to expand the number of assistant managers in the store. I applied and was accepted as the overnight assistant. I figured that would help me keep my mind off my home situation and it worked. I will go into it later, but about 4 years ago K-Mart weeded out a lot of their experienced help. I was a little disgusted with retail, so I worked 5 months making rubber floor mats, again on third shift. I quickly realized I was much happier in retail and the applied at Wal-Mart, where they quickly hired me. One advantage of third shift there is it pays an extra fifty cents an hour. The only way I will come off the shift is if I can get a a department head job. Until then, I am up all night, and enjoying every minute of it.

Todays Distinguished Hero is this guy named George Herbert Walker Bush. I wonder what he did after the war?
From the card: "Before he became the 41st President Of The United States, A teenage George Herbert Walker Bush served his country during World War II. George, the son of Connecticut Senator Prescott Bush, joined the Navy on his 18th birthday, and was not yet 19 when he earned his commission as an aviator in 1943. He flew many missions in the South Pacific during the conflict, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Buying comics again--Wahoo!!!!

In case you missed my subtle hint in the title, I am happy to be buying comic books again. I have been able to afford them since December, but I waited until now due to my car. There is not a comic book store in Calhoun, so my choices were driving to either Dalton or Rome. My old car probably would have made it, but it would have put a strain on it, the transmission is slipping slightly, and it is a gas guzzler, so I chose to wait until I had my new car. Last Wednesday I went to the Fantasy Factory in Dalton. I had planned on spending $100, I have some catching up to do. I ended up spending almost $150. I missed my mark, but I did get some great books. When it comes to comics, I prefer DC to Marvel. I buy books from both, but DC is my favorite. That will be obvious when I list the books I bought. The new books I got were:

The Spirit 13 and 14
Booster Gold 0
The Death Of The New Gods 5 and 6
The Brave And The Bold 10
Green Lantern 27
Infinity Inc. 6
Flash 237
Justice League Of America 18
Suicide Squad 6
Superman 673
Justice Society Of America 12
Legion Of Super-Heroes 38
The Twelve 2

All of those books are DC except for The Twelve, which is Marvel. I won't be reading The Twelve until I get number 1, which I believe the second printing will be out this week. I am not the type of collector that has to have the first print of everything. I just want to read the story. There were several other titles I wanted, but they were out of them. Two Marvel titles I definitely want are Thor and Captain America. I will also be adding all the Star Wars titles from Dark Horse Comics, but I had spent enough so I will get them this week. I also picked up some trade paperbacks. I bought:

52 Volume 1
Stephen King's The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born
Star Wars Legacy Vol. 1 Broken
Fables: Sons Of Empire

Fables is my favorite title. They were sold out of the regular issue, but this trade paperback covers some of the issues I have missed. 52 covers major changes in the DC Universe so I will get those in trade form. They are now doing a follow-up series, Countdown, which I will buy the first three trades as they become available, but I will be picking those up weekly as the series winds down. I also picked up some back issues. I am not going to list them other than I did get Mystery Men comics 1-4. I love the movie and I am looking forward to reading these. I will do reviews of the books later. I have missed buying new comics weekly. I have been able to follow what has been going on thanks to my friends on the Captain Comics board, but it is so much more fun to read them yourself.

Todays Distinguished Service card, Monte Irvin. The card says: "Monte fought for the United States Army years before African-Americans were allowed to 'Go to war' with teammates in Major League Baseball. A star with the Negro League's Newark Eagles and in the Mexican League- and later a member of the NL All-Star team with the New York Giants. Irvin served in the U.S. Army from '42 until '45. The star left fielder was elected to the Hall Of Fame in '73."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Evolution Of A Blog.

When I started this blog all I was trying to do was to see if I could actually post something on a daily basis. I really had no set idea what to post about. I was going to talk about baseball cards and comic books. I had no plans of being real serious. I was single again after four years and I was trying to keep my mind off the end of that relationship. The daily posts did not quite work out. Working 12 hour days will do that to you. I wanted to post, but I was just too tired to do so. When I did, the first few were nonsensical, but I started getting more personal than I had planned. I also got more serious than I intended. One of my dreams in high school was to be a writer. I failed because I lack the self-discipline needed. I am too easily distracted. I did some sports writing in high school with articles published in the Mason City Banner Times. The Banner Times is not actually a great newspaper. It comes out weekly and takes about 10 minutes to read. It was cool though to see a byline with my name in it. I always had a lot of ideas, but they rarely made it to paper. This blog is now a way of fulfilling that dream.

I am having a lot of fun doing this blog. It is nice to know that people are actually reading it, but even if no one was I would still do it. To every one who is reading this, thank you for taking the time to do so. I really do feel honored that you have taken a little time out of your day to read my ramblings. Some times I am serious, some times I am silly, most of the time I am both. I think we all need some silliness in our lives. Our lives are too short to be serious and up tight all the time. I see too many people that have this incredibly sour look on their face. How can they enjoy themselves? Laugh a little. I promise, it won't hurt you.

Where is this blog going from here? There will be almost daily posts. Right now I have a notebook started and have about 20 topics waiting. One of the great things about my job is I don't have to put my entire mind on what I do. I have done it so long that I put the body on automatic and let the mind compose. I keep a small notebook on me so I can jot down ideas to expand upon later. I also compose my daily blog post in my mind so when I get home it is easy to write. I haven't discussed comic books as much as I planned, but that will be changing too. Check out tomorrows post. Until then, have a great day.

Today's Distinguished Service card, Admiral Chester Nimitz. From the card: "Nimitz ranks among the most accomplished Admirals in the history of the U.S. Navy. As the Commander In Chief of the Pacific Forces during World War II, He had authority over all Allied Forces in some of the most decisive battles of the war- including Midway, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Nimitz's leadership earned him a promotion to Fleet Admiral, the Navy's highest rank."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Return To Georgia

I said yesterday I was not going to do this, but it occurred to me I don't have that much to say about the return trip. On my way back I stopped in Vienna, Illinois to check something out that I had seen from the bus. The have the Paul Powell museum. Who was Paul Powell you ask? He was Illinois' Secretary Of State from 1965 until his death in 1970. After he died they supposedly found $800,000 in a shoe box in his hotel room in Springfield. That is not true. Yes, some was in a shoe box but other money was in other containers. Not bad on a salary of $30,000 a year. During his time in office my Mom went to work for the state in his office. At that time it was a patronage job, meaning you had a job as long as the party was in control. If they were having a fund raiser, you had 2 choices, contribute or find another job. Mom managed to get a different job at the Illinois Department Of Transportation, under the civil service code, which ended that. I was wondering if they took donations at the museum in a shoe box. Maybe I will find out in September.

The drive back really was uneventful. The car ran smooth. I only had to get gas once, in Clarksville, Tennessee. I stopped frequently. I had decided to make it in one shot since I had to get the title transferred to my name and get my insurance changed. I now have full coverage, which would have been a waste of money on my old car. On one of my stops I saw two things I had heard about, but never seen. The first came with my choice of eating. I was in the mood for KFC and saw a sign for them on the interstate. I am not sure what town it was in. It was between Clarksville and Nashville. The KFC was a dual brand. There was also a Taco Bell there. Both are owned by Yum Brands so that is not unusual, I just hadn't been to one before. In fact there are actually some of these that give you a third option, Pizza Hut is in with the other two. I am glad I don't work at one. It is hard enough keeping track of one, let alone two. The other thing in a shopping center there was a Dollar General Market. The best way to describe it is a mini Wal-Mart Supercenter. They have produce, dairy, frozen, and more than double the grocery of a Dollar General, plus all the other things Dollar General carries. I like going into stores. I have worked retail off and on my whole life, and I just like seeing how others arrange things. If you haven't caught on before now I am a little (O.K. a lot) strange, you haven't been paying close attention.

The only other observation I made on the return trip is something that struck me as being odd. On I-24 there were several fireworks stores. Nothing odd about that, but they are open 24 hours. I think there is a redneck joke in there: You might be a redneck if you ever bought fireworks at 3 in the morning. I got home about 2:00 A.M. It was a nice trip, but I really was glad to be back home.

I am changing the format a little here. I think I like the card better here in the center than at the side. I will decide later if this is the permanent way I will be doing it. Also, this series of cards is being extended. I bought some more cards from Wal-Mart and have so far got another card in this set. Here is what is on the back of this card:
"He would go on to become a two-term President Of The United States, but Eisenhower came to national attention, and became an American hero, as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II. He distinguished himself as a masterful leader who made bold military decisions- most notably in the daring D-Day invasion of France- while also showing remarkable organizational savvy."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Adventures In Illinois Part 2

One very big reason I went to Illinois was to get my Christmas present early. I realize February is awful early, but I really needed it now. My parents bought a 2008 Chevrolet Impala. Their old car was a 2004 Impala, and it is now mine. Nice gift, huh. I own a 1993 Pontiac Bonneville with 183,000 miles on it. It is on its last legs and while it got me around Calhoun, I didn't risk leaving town very often.

Joe wasn't feeling well and asked if there was any 7-Up. Since Mom didn't have any I volunteered to go into town and get some. Dad and I had already been there to get the papers, but I wanted to test drive my car. I couldn't earlier because we waited until Sunday to sign the car over to me. I had five days from then to get the title changed to my name. I planned on going to Auburn, Illinois that night to visit my best friend, and I wanted to familiarize myself with the car in the daylight. The car handled very smoothly. This is the nicest vehicle I have ever owned. Dad always takes excellent care of his vehicles. I got the 7-Up and told Joe that was his birthday present. I know, I am overly generous. My niece Bailey, Joe's daughter, gave me a Valentine. That is what the picture is. She also gave me a valentine cupcake paper which she had punched a hole on each side and used a red pipe cleaner to make it a basket. She is very creative. Two of Steve's daughters were there, one with her boyfriend, the other with her husband and baby. We had a very nice time. After that I went and visited my best friend Tom in Auburn. We talk every week but it is nice to talk face to face.

The next day I was going to meet Steve in Mason City. He was going to show me a building he bought and we were going to hang for a little bit. I mentioned yesterday Steve and I are 10 1/2 months apart in age. During High School we did not get along. We each hung out with a different crowd and were pretty much opposites. After I graduated that changed and we now get along great. I got in my car to go and click. Nothing happened. Mom came out, got in and click. Dad told me to take their car since Steve was waiting and he would get my car running. After I got back I found out he had dug out his battery charger and when he got in the car and turned the key it fired right up. He took it to his mechanic and was told the battery was a little weak so he had a new one installed for me.

In Mason City Steve showed me the building he had bought. It used to be a doctors office and he plans on converting it into apartments, 2 or 3, he's not sure. When he bought it he said it looked like the doctor had just walked out. There were lab coats hanging up, an X-Ray machine in it, bottles of medicine, etc. The ceiling had fallen in and he joked when he cleared it out there was on old lady there waiting for the doctor. We also went to his shop. He used to have a home repair business. Now he just dabbles in it a little. We also went to the Mason City park where they have put a memorial walk dedicated to the men from Mason City who have served in the Armed Forces. They have lined the sidewalk with bricks, each containing the name of the serviceman, his branch, and years served. We found Dad's, various uncles and cousins, but one uncle was missing. I asked Mom about it and she said he did not want one because he did not want anyone walking on his name. We were there about 10 minutes. It was so cold we decided only morons would be out there. I think that says something about us. I bought Steve a Coke at a convenience store and he kidded me that I liked Joe better because Joe got a 12 pack. I will be going back up there around Labor Day. Steve's birthday is September 17 so I am going to buy him a 12 pack of Coke for his birthday. That should get a laugh from him.

That afternoon there was a light snow which covered the ground but that was all it did. I spent the rest of that day doing something I rarely do, watching tv. I usually am doing 2 or 3 things and just follow what is going on. That was my last day there. the next morning I left to come back home. I probably will tell that tale Sunday. Tomorrow I have to work at Taco Bell and my time will be limited, so I will be doing a quick post.

Todays Distinguished service card is of course Joe DiMaggio. The baseball record book certainly would have been different if some of these guys had played instead of served, but they knew what was really important. About Joe, Topps said "Joe had won two American League MVP Awards and was a seven time All-Star Game selection by the time he joined the Army Air Forces in 1943. The Yankee Clipper missed three MLB seasons, but spent plenty of time on the diamond during WW II. He starred for the Seventh Air Force and Santa Ana Army Base teams, and toured with the Armed Forces All-Stars, a morale boosting baseball squad managed by Babe Ruth."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Adventures In Illinois Part 1

I had finally arrived in Springfield. Mom and Dad were waiting patiently, like I mentioned yesterday I was 45 minutes late. This was the first time I had seen them in two and a half years. When I left the last time, I really wasn't sure if I would ever see Dad again. His health has been bad for the last ten years, but there he was. My Dad is my hero. I have already written a tribute to him that I will post on his birthday, March 31. Mom asked me if I was hungry. Considering I had not eaten since 10:00 P.M. the night before, I was just a tad hungry. We stopped at Burger King and took care of that, then we completed the last leg of the journey, a 30 mile trip to Mason City. Actually we were 8 miles south of Mason City, which is where I grew up. Yes, I am a country boy. (Is that John Denver singing in the background?) I did not sleep on the bus so I went to bed at 7:15 and slept until 4:00. Since Mom and Dad don't get up until 7:00 I just read and started writing posts for this blog. Right now I have 11 posts written, I just need to type them out and edit them.

My Dad goes to town every day and buys 4 newspapers. From him I get my love of newspapers. I have made it a habit of riding into town with him. Whenever I go there, I want to spend as much time with him as possible. I keep learning more about him every trip. This time he talked more about his service in Korea then ever before and about jobs he held before I was born. I learned just how much of the world he got to see thanks to the United States Marine Corps. I will discuss all this in my tribute to him.

The first day we had a small get together with about 15 aunts, uncles , cousins, and my younger brother Steve. Steve is 10 and 1/2 months younger than me. Read into that what you will. That evening I reconnected with my best friend from High School. We have lost touch a little, but reconnect every time I am back in Mason City.

Day 2 Dad and I went to see his older brother, Norman, who used to own a grocery store in Urbana, Illinois. He called his store Norm's Shopping Bag. He and I also share a birthday. I listened more than I talked, but it was a fascinating conversation. Sometimes we get so busy we don't take the time to listen like we should. As I get older I keep learning more about some changes i need to make in my life. Uncle Norman complemented me on maintaining my weight. I am not svelte by any stretch of the imagination, but my weight has been within a thirty pound range all my adult life. He said he has lost 75 pounds and you are much better off if you don't have to do that. I have picked up a little weight in the last 6 months. Eating Taco Bell 5 days a week has been the major cause. My Dad is a great cook and has given me some ideas that I will be using. Among his health problems is diabeties, so some of the things he does to maintain his weight will help me. When we returned home my baby brother, Joe, was there with his daughter. Some baby, he turned 48 today. The main reason I went to Mason City on these days was a birthday celebration for him. Part 2 tomorrow, if I haven't bored you too much.

Continuing the Distinguished service Cards, today we have Warren Spahn. The six cards I have are split evenly with three baseball players and three military men. the back of the card reads "Warren made the Boston Braves out of spring training in 1942, then was called to duty with the U.S. Army after just four major league appearances. Although he would later be beloved by generations of fans during his Hall Of Fame career, he was a hero before he ever won a game in the bigs. Spahn served as a combat engineer in the Battle Of The Bulge, and his service earned him a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Road To Illinois

I'm back. Did you miss me? What to you mean was I gone? Geez. Wise guy. (Grumble, grumble, mumble,mumble @#$%&* people) To borrow from Carnak the Magnificent "May the fleas of a thousand camels nest in your shorts."
Just for that, sit down and let me bore you. I had my first Greyhound ride. Let's just say it was an experience I am in no hurry to repeat. The first leg was fine. We left Dalton, Georgia on time at 2:25 A.M. EST and arrived in Nashville at 4:10 CST. Any time I go to Illinois I don't bother changing my watch. There was over an hour layover at Nashville. I thought about getting something to eat there, but since there was scheduled an hour layover in St. Louis I decided to get something there. Off in the distance there was this strange sound, bwah-ha-ha, but I ignored it. The bus was scheduled to depart Nashville at 5:30, but that is when we started loading. Shortly after 6:00 we got under way, heading for Clarksville, Tennessee. We lost a few there, gained a few, and then next stop was Paducah, Kentucky. Once again, lose a few, add a few, on to a truck stop at Paducah for a 15 minute layover. My second great decision of the day was not getting off the bus to stretch my legs. I truly am a genius I tell you. That bwah-ha-ha sound was louder this time, but I still ignored it. Cue Willie Nels
on and we are on the road again to Vienna, Illinois. The highlight of the scenery on that part of the trip was snow, snow, and look over there, more snow. Have I ever mentioned I hate snow?

At Vienna we gain three very interesting passengers. They had on matching clothes, brand new white sweatshirts, gray sweatpants, and were carrying their belongings in a cardboard box. Accompanying them were two deputies. I wasn't the least bit nervous. I figured they had just been released and wouldn't be in any hurry to go back. A short trip to Marion, Illinois where our new passengers purchased their tickets. I had assumed they would have been given those tickets when they arrived, but obviously not. Willie started singing again and we were off to Carbondale, Illinois, home of the Southern Illinois University Salukies. What the heck is a Saluki? That is what the picture at the top is. Nice looking dog, huh? Before Willie could start singing again, I was getting concerned. We were off schedule and I was beginning to wonder if we would arrive in St Louis in time to catch the bus to Springfield, Illinois. I politely asked the driver if we were late would they be holding the bus for us. He promptly bit my head off, spit it back out and informed me they wouldn't wait, he had no way of notifying them, and I could catch the next bus to Springfield. Fortunately I am always armed with the handyman's secret weapon, duct tape, and reattached my head. Okay, what wise guy out there said I was smarter with my head off?
Now I know how Rodney Dangerfield felt.

Willie got to sing and off we went. There was a sense of deja vu. Once again we went through Nashville, but this time it was Nashville, Illinois, population 3202. By this time the snow was disappearing which made me very happy. About 1:15 I see the St Louis arch, a fascinating monument. A couple minutes later we cross the Mississippi River and are in St Louis and arrive at the bus station at 1:30, which was the scheduled departure time for the Springfield bus. Captain Friend
ly, AKA the bus driver, informs us the buses would be held until we boarded. Naturally there was a bus in front of us unloading so we got to spend an extra five minutes with the good Captain. Be still, my heart.

Remember that wise decision not to eat? My stomach began calling me names. That excellent decision not to get off the bus at Paducah?, My knees made it a duet with my stomach. Now I couldn't ignore that bwah-ha-ha in the background. I spent about one minute in the St Louis terminal. It was a straight line to the bus, but of course we couldn't go that way. You had to go in one door, out the other and stand in line. Finally I was on the proper bus and Willie sang his final chorus. By the time the bus pulled out of the station it was 2:15. Our driver was the polar opposite of Captain Friendly. He apologized for being late, informs us they are calling ahead and any other transfer buses would be held until they got there. Gee, Captain Friendly had informed me that couldn't be done. Oh well, I am not worried about any other buses. The first stop for this bus was Springfield and I would be departing. The bus pulled into the Springfield station at 3:50, 45 minutes late. After fifteen and a half hours, my journey was over. Tomorrow, Adventures in Illinois, Part One.

My baseball card for today is a subset from 2007 Topps called Distinguished Service. I have 6 of the cards right now. I hope to get more. There are at least 30. Quoting from the back of the card, "The Wisconsin born Bong ranks among the most prominent aviators in U.S. military history. He earned the nickname 'Ace-of-Aces' during an astonishingly distinguished four-year tour in the Army Air Forces. Between 1941 and '45, he brought down 40 Japanese aircraft in the South Pacific, the most in USAAF history. Bong, who received the Medal Of Honor in 1944, earned seven Distinguished Flying Crosses."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Vacation Is Here

This is my last blog post for a week. I will resume it next Wednesday. At 2:25 A.M. I will leave Dalton, Georgia and arrive in Springfield, Illinois at 3:05. Math would say that is a 13 hour journey, but thanks to the time zone it really is 14. I will have stop overs at Nashville Tennessee, Paducah Kentucky, and St Louis Missouri. This is the first time I have ever taken Greyhound and I am looking forward to it. It is also the first time I have been able to see my parents since their 50th wedding anniversary in October 2005. Finances played a part of that, but the major stopping point was my car. I have a 1993 Pontiac Bonneville with 183,000 miles on it. I don't trust it much further than 20 miles from Calhoun. It has been a good car but it is on way out. My parents just bought a new car and they are giving me their old one. I am not sure what make or model it is, but it only has 58,000 miles on it which gives me some dependability. My Dad also takes excellent care of his cars, so I am getting a good one. From what they have told me, it will be a busy time seeing as much of aunts, uncles, and cousins as possible. I also will be seeing my best friend who lives in Auburn, Illinois. We talk once a week and it will be nice for that to be in person. I am going to take a notebook with me and I should have several blog entries to post when I return. I already have a few subjects planned and they should be better with the extra time I have to polish them.

Todays baseball card is another one I got from Upper Deck. I hadn't opened this pack when I posted the Obama card yesterday. Upper Deck did 9 cards in this one. I hope you enjoy Rudy Giuliani's rookie card.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

Most of my computer knowledge comes from trial and error. My wife got her GED in 1999 and started college studying office skills. We got the computer to help her studies. I always intended on having her show me some things on it, but it didn't happen. To help her further, we got the internet in May, 2000. I spent a little amount of time online, but I never logged on. She did all that. I didn't even know how the passwords. When she died in June I got a crash course in using a computer and the internet. They would not tell me the password, but after I explained the situation they reset it for me. Spending time online helped keep my mind off of other things. I learned a lot, but there was plenty I did not know. Last year I bought a three-in-one printer/scanner/copier. She who left me was here at that time. If I needed anything scanned she did it for me. After she left in October I tried to scan some baseball cards and could not get them right. The picture was too small and I couldn't figure out how to fix it. Yesterday as you saw I managed to figure it out. I got over-confident and thought I knew exactly what I was doing and promptly ran into trouble today. Once again however I figured it out. I am going to start posting a baseball card a day and I will explain why I chose that card. Tomorrow I will also post a panel from a comic book. I am going to try and make this a daily fixture also. So see, even old dogs can learn new tricks. I firmly believe that you should learn something new every day. Your mind needs to be exercised as well as your body does.

Todays baseball card is one I just got today. Upper Deck and Topps have both put out cards of politicians this year. They are special subsets which make them harder to get. This of course is that famous Chicago White Sox fan, Barak Obama. My spell checker does not like the nasme Barak Obama. It suggested Bark Mamba. I like that suggestion.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Wally Pipp

The last two posts have been serious, so it is time to do something light hearted. The picture here is a baseball card I just got. This year Upper Deck is doing one of the largest sets of cards ever. Since Yankee Stadium is closing and a new stadium is being readied, they are issuing one card for every game played there. There will be 6100 cards in the full set. I like collecting cards, but there is no way I will be a completeist for this set. I may be crazy, but not that crazy. This card here is the first one I got in a pack. The man here is Wally Pipp, who, as the vstory goes, had a headache and sat out a game. His replacement was one Lou Gehrig, who would not miss another game until 1939, 2130 consecutive games. The true story is Pipp was in a bit of a slump and the Yankees manager wanted to shake the up the lineup. Pipp was a good player and played two more years with the Cincinnatti Reds. He led the American League in Home Runs in 1916 and 1917 when he hit 12 and 9 respectively. These are very low numbers compared to today, but the baseball was different in those days and home run totals as you can see were much lower. I bought 4 more packs of cards and thought as I was opening them, wouldn't it be cool if I got a Lou Gehrig card. Guess what?

The Iron Horse himself. A very humble man who had his life cut short from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. Even though he knew he was dying, he addressed a crowd at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, proclaimed himself the luckiest man on earth. Getting the Pipp and Gehrig cards were a nice touch. The only thing that could topp it would be also getting a Babe Ruth card. To repeat myself: guess what?

In addition to these three I also got cards with Yankee pitchers Waite Hoyt and Earle Combs. I will post those if anyone wants to see them, otherwise they won't be seen. After I work tonight I am on vacation. There will be no blogging until I get back, then I will try to post something every day.

I almost forgot. One of my friends from The Captains Board invited me and several others to participate in his 500th blog post. I was honored to be asked. If you want to know what those of us who participated feel the meaning of life is, go here.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Cloak Of Anonymity

The internet is a wonderful thing. You can learn just about anything you want. You can make friends all across the world,all without leaving your house. There is another wonderful thing about the internet. You can be anyone you want. I could claim to be a 22 year old super-model and as long as you don't know me and I use a fake name you would never know. On the Captain Comics board a lot of people go by aliases. I used to go by the name Jinxo. That can be fun and it goes well with comic books where almost everyone has a secret identity.

There is a dark side to that anonymity as well. If no one knows who you are you can make the most outrageous claims and no one knows who you are. If I call myself Snydley Whiplash and question your heritage or your sexuality there is nothing you can do to stop me. I could post things where your friends and relatives could read them, and your only hope of stopping me would be that the forum has a moderator that can block me. Even then there are ways around that. You can go to another computer, call yourself Vandal Savage, and start the process all over. One of the things I enjoy most about the Captains board is the moderators are there to put out the fires before they start. They issue warnings and will block as a last resort. We do occasionally have heated discussions on the board, but they stick with the facts, no personal attacks are allowed.

On my last post I posted the sentence "Bill Clinton, Michael Vick, and Scott Peterson all initially proclaimed their innocence, only to be proven guilty." Someone using the nom de plume A Voice Of Sanity took me to task for daring to call Scott Peterson guilty. I was informed he was never proved guilty. I want to make clear now, what I am talking about has nothing to do with Scott Peterson. I look to get a response from this person and I am not arguing his guilt. What I am talking about is this person is making these claims anonymously. No name is given, no age, or no sex. Anyone can hide under these conditions. If you truly believe this why the hiding? Let your voice be heard. The signers of the Declaration Of Independence wanted King George to know who they were. They risked execution for treason by putting their names there. Newspapers will not print a letter if you don't sign it. They may print a letter and withhold your name but it has to be signed.

This next paragraph is directed to A Voice Of Sanity. Why the secrecy? Why not let us in on who you are. I may disagree with you, but with your name out there I will admire you for standing so firm for your beliefs. Without the name, I will simply ignore you. When I read your comment I immediately knew that I had run into you before. You got into a debate with my friend Alexandra Kitty, when she made mention of Laci Peterson in her blog. I responded to that post congratulating Alexandra on her patience in dealing with you. Alexandra tried to reason with you. She is much more gracious than I am. I will simply ignore you. I read a little of your blog and came to the conclusion you need to quit obsessing with Scott Peterson so much. Take a trip, read a book, see a movie, do something else. You probably should get your blood pressure checked, to. If you get so bent out shape over a small reference to Scott Peterson in a blog that is only read by a handful of people, you are probably on the verge of a stroke.

The countdown has reached 4 and no more days at Taco Bell until I get back. When I return I will only be working on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Lying Is Always A Bad Idea

When I saw the story about the young man in Nevada who called a press conference to announce a major college signing, which turned out to be a lie, I felt sorry for the young man. I wonder what lead him to go that far. Maybe he thought if he did they would say, this young man wants to play for us so bad, let's sign him. Obviously he has some talent or the school would have known immediately it was a lie. He claimed he wanted to play Division I football more than anything. Unfortunately, he most likely won't get the chance. He also now has to live this down. I hope that he isn't given such a hard time that he decides to drop out of school. He has made a major mistake and now needs to learn from it.

Unfortunately today the sports pages are full of stories like this. We have the steroid scandal in baseball. Rafael Palmeiro swore before congress that he had never done steroids, then tested positive the next season. Barry Bonds denial has been met with universal derision. Roger Clemens now is facing scrutiny because of his claims. For his sake I hope he is telling the truth, but I am not sure. People should have caught on that your lies will come back to haunt you. Gary Hart challenged reporters during the 1984 Presidential campaign to prove he was a womanizer. They did. Richard Nixon swore he was not a crook, but the tapes proved otherwise. The list goes on. Bill Clinton, Michael Vick, and Scott Peterson all initially proclaimed their innocence, only to be proven guilty. It is time to go back to the old adage, honesty is the best policy. If you have made a mistake, it is not the end of the world to admit it and take whatever consequences there are. Life is a learning experience, and growth comes from trial and error. If you get it right the first time, great. If not keep trying. But admit it when you are wrong. It makes everything easier in the end.

For the record, countdown is now 6/2.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I have collected comic books off and on for over 30 years. I started collecting Spider-Man in the early 70's. I quit collecting when I got married in 1978. When I resumed collecting in the mid 80's I did not buy Spider-Man because there were two different Spider titles and my finances were limited. I started buying the title again in 2001 when one of my favorite writers, J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5, started writing the series. I liked what he did, although a lot of people didn't. I stopped buying about two and a half years ago when finances once again dictated that I quit collecting comics. Now finances are good again and in a couple of weeks I will resume buying comics. However I will not be buying Spider-Man, at least the main version. Marvel puts out a couple of other lines, the Ultimate line and the Adventures line. I may buy one of those versions, I just haven't decided yet.

So why am I dropping Spider-Man? I do not like what they have done to him. For a quick overview of what has happened in the past, go here. Basically the powers that be at Marvel did not like his being married. Why I don't know. I thought it enhanced his image. To eliminate his marriage they had Spider-Man make a deal with Marvel's devil, Mephisto. To save Aunt May's life, he gave up his marriage. I am very glad I wasn't buying the title then because I would have been mad at myself for wasting my money to buy it. I have changed as a collector. I used to be a completist, wanting every issue of a title whether the story was good or not. Not any more. Comics are simply too expensive to buy something you don't like. I have read 8 pages of the new Spider-Man. They had a preview on MySpace and that clinched my decision. Aunt May was supporting Peter. He seems to have become a slacker. One nice thing about The Captain Comics Board is others will be buying the book so I can follow what is going on and if it gets interesting I will buy it again. Until then I if I want to read Spider-Man I have most of the Marvel Essential Spider-Man's, which reprint his earlier adventures. Before I forget, here is someone else who agrees with me about the direction the book is headed, another friend from the Captain Comics board who calls himself Cascadian.

Countdown is getting better. it is now 7/2.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Bowl

Today is the day all NFL fans have been waiting for. The big question will be answered, can the Patriots go 19-0. I personally will be taping the game. Who am I rooting for? No one. really. I simply don't care. So why tape the game? For the commercials and the halftime show. I follow the NFL, but since the two teams I like, The Atlanta Falcons and The Chicago Bears aren't playing, I don't care who wins. Well, I would like to see the Patriots win, but it doesn't matter to me. I will be asleep when the game starts and I have to work tonight, so I won't get to watch anything until tomorrow or Tuesday. I will fast forward through the game, kind of like the way I watch wrestling.

Countdown is now 11/4.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Feelin' Groovy

Now I have really dated myself.(And it wasn't a cheap date either. Sorry. I couldn't resist.) Anyway, I am feeling better today than I have for the past two weeks. My blood pressure is returning to normal. I really noticed it at work last night. One of the tasks I have is unloading a meat and produce truck. The produce area is next to the frozen and we have to pull the pallets to that section. Lately when I pulled a pallet I would get out of breath and my head would throb. Not last night. It didn't bother me at all.

This morning I went to Taco Bell and unloaded their truck. There is a new promotion going on featuring the new Fiesta Platters, which have chicken or steak Ranchero Soft Tacos, rice, beans nacho chips and salsa. Since this is being featured more had to be ordered and I had to figure out where to put it all. While I was doing that my boss went out and cleaned the parking lot for me. That actually was a major task as it looked like someone had thrown a big party there. After i had everything done I asked him about next weeks schedule. He has hired someone to replace me and I asked if he was going to schedule me for 5 days or if I was going to do less. He told me I would only be working 3 days next week. He also said I may only be doing the truck on my two days, but he wasn't sure about that yet. If that happens I will only be working about 4 hours a week. I have no problem with that. Tomorrow I am only scheduled for 2 hours which means I only have to do the minimum. I will be out of there in about an hour and a half, if that long.

Countdown is now 12/5.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tales From The Nursing Home 1

This is going to be a quick post because I need to get to bed. Spider-Man would take too long, so I am going to start a series of stories from the different jobs I have had. For almost 9 years I worked in a nursing home in central Illinois. For most of that time I held the position of Laundry/Housekeeping Supervisor. One day in our kitchen they had a 10 pound bag of rice that was bad. I never did hear what exactly was wrong with the rice, but someone decided it should be disposed of. Sounds simple, put it in the trash, end of story. Of course, if that had happened I wouldn't be writing about it, would I? Instead of throwing it away, they decided to pour it down the drain. This was not cooked rice, but raw rice. Do you know what happens to rice when water gets involved? Of course you do. It swells up, a lot. Enough to clog the drain. Of course a plumber had to be called. He was very happy to come over. It was New Years Day, so he got paid triple time. The administrator of the home was not amused. No one was fired, but they tread very softly around the home for some time after that. There will be more stories later.

I missed posting yesterday. I was just too tired. My blood pressure is not quite where I want it, but it is getting there. I feel better today than I have in over a week. The countdown is now 13/8.