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Booking Through Thursday: Cereal

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If you’re like me, you grew up reading everything under the sun, like the cereal boxes while you ate your breakfast, the newspapers held by strangers on the subway, the tabloid headlines at the grocery store.

What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever read? (You know, something NOT a book, magazine, short story, poem or article.)

Honestly, I’m not really sure how to answer this, off the top of my head. I don’t really think much about what I’m reading, except for this meme, or other occasional random/isolated moments. Like: for as few books as I really read anymore, I read a crapload of comics and graphic novels—which is still reading, just in much smaller chunks than full-length prose novels.

Reading headlines on magazines, tabloids, strangers’ newspapers, or random text on cereal boxes or signs in stores or posted on the door of the apartment building, or whatever….I’ve never really considered those as any particular reading material, nor as something odd TO read.

I suppose email or blogs could factor in here. Facebook statuses and Twitter posts. Subtitles in tv programs or films. But I don’t find it odd TO read any of those.

Maybe warning labels and disclaimers. Heck, even claims that I find to be outright ludicrous given experience.

Like this claim by Sprint regarding their Picturemail service.

I find it EXTREMELY odd that they claim that it’s easier to download stuff using a Flash-y interface, where you cannot simply download an entire album, and that is highly UNfriendly when one has over 5,000 photos they want to download and can’t reliably do it more than 21 photos at a time.

I guess I’m just being extremely wordy to not really say anything at all.

What do YOU think is the oddest thing you’ve read? (Besides any of my writing, that is). Feel free to comment on this post to share!

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower graphic novels [Checklist]

1. Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born

2. Dark Tower: Long Road Home

3. Dark Tower: Treachery

4. Dark Tower: Fall of Gilead

5. Dark Tower: The Battle of Jericho Hill

6. Dark Tower: The Gunslinger – The Journey Begins

Books Read 2011: Q1

Though I’m keeping a Page with this tally, figured I’d throw up a post in the main feed, to touch on my “books read” for the first quarter of the year. Yeah, there are still 3 days left to the month, but other than a couple more Ultimate X-Men volumes, I don’t anticipate any other completed books.

So…here ya go. The books, audiobooks, and graphic novels/runs I’ve been through in the last three months:

  1. Usagi Yojimbo vol. 1: The Ronin by Stan Sakai / Fantagraphics [graphic novel]
  2. The Last Days of Krypton by Kevin J. Anderson
  3. Savage Dragon: Emperor Dragon by Erik Larson [Savage Dragon 163-168]
  4. The Summons by John Grisham [audiobook]
  5. The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer
  6. Avengers & the Infinity Gauntlet by Brian Clevinger / Marvel [graphic novel]
  7. Dragons of the Highlord Skies by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman [audiobook]
  8. Ultimate X-Men vol. 9 – The Tempest by Brian K. Vaughan / Marvel [graphic novel]
  9. Ultimate X-Men vol. 10 – Cry Wolf by Brian K. Vaughan / Marvel [graphic novel]
  10. Ultimate X-Men vol. 11 – The Most Dangerous Game by Brian K. Vaughan / Marvel [graphic novel]
  11. Ultimate X-Men vol. 12 – Hard Lessons by Brian K. Vaughan / Marvel [graphic novel]
  12. Ultimate X-Men vol. 13 – Magnetic North by Brian K. Vaughan / Marvel [graphic novel]
  13. Ultimate X-Men vol. 14 – Phoenix? by Robert Kirkman / Marvel [graphic novel]
  14. Ultimate X-Men vol. 15 – Magical by Robert Kirkman / Marvel [graphic novel]
  15. Ultimate X-Men vol. 16 – Cable by Robert Kirkman / Marvel [graphic novel]
  16. Ultimate X-Men vol. 17 – Sentinels by Robert Kirkman / Marvel [graphic novel]
  17. Ultimate X-Men vol. 18 – Apocalypse by Robert Kirkman / Marvel [graphic novel]
  18. Ultimate X-Men vol. 19 – Absolute Power by Aron E. Coleite / Marvel [graphic novel]
  19. Ultimatum by Jeph Loeb / Marvel [graphic novel]
  20. Ultimatum: X-Men/Fantastic Four by Aron E. Coleite, Joe Pokaski / Marvel [graphic novel]
  21. Dragons of the Hourglass Mage by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman [audiobook]
  22. Ultimatum: Requiem by Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Pokaski, Aron E. Coleite / Marvel [graphic novel]
  23. Ultimate X-Men Ultimate Collection – Book One by Mark Millar / Marvel [graphic novel]
  24. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man vol. 1 – The World According to Peter Parker by Brian Bendis / Marvel [graphic novel]
  25. Brightest Day vol. 1 by Geoff Johns / DC Comics [graphic novel]

 

Favorites of Walt: The Comic Shops #8 – JC’s Comic Stop

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My freshman year at BG, I bumped into someone who turned out to be a kindred spirit–a fellow comic reader! We compared notes, and he told me about his home comic shop in Toledo. He had nothing but good to say about it, and I recall thinking it’d be a great shop to visit…especially compared to the original incarnation of Ground Zero Comics, which at the time was the only comic shop I had access to while at school.

Over a year later, I’d forgotten about this "JC’s" shop. I don’t recall what had us out ‘n about, but I was out with a friend, and as we were stopped at a traffic light, I happened to glance over and spotted a sign: "JC’s Comic Stop." Needless to say…we ended up stopping in. I also realized that this was the shop that Darryl had told me about (and I vaguely recall confirming that when I bumped into him late sophomore year).

When I first had a car on campus midway through junior year, other than trips to Meijer for groceries, many Wednesdays a friend and I would make the journey to Toledo, to JC’s to get our weekly comics. Sometimes we’d be racing the clock to get there and back before a class, and other times we’d be going right after class and hoping what we were after was still in stock…but for the rest of my college years, JC’s was a regular fixture.

JC’s was (is?) one of those shops that lets back issues build up on the long-term racks. They have four sections of new comics–one for the current week, and one each for the other 3 most recent weeks of releases. From there, comics would move to the long-term racks, and remain for however long. I once noticed that they had most issues for almost a 40-issue run of Hellblazer (and I eventually utilized that to catch up on about 15 months of the series).

They also have a huge stock of back issues, which played a huge role in me catching up on a year of Superman comics I’d skipped in the late-90s (1996/early 1997’s run). I also acquired quite a few of my "classic" TMNT comics from JC’s.

Their collected edition stock isn’t all that impressive, though they have a decent selection of some of the "core" editions one might seek. I started my Preacher run here, among other things.

This shop was also where I discovered the new TMNT series that debuted in 2001, when I happened across #2 in early 2002. I asked if they still had #1…and lucked out. I got the very last copy they had in, and they were my TMNT source until I moved to Kent in late 2004.

JC’s also was a fairly regular part of the routine I had with several friends when we’d venture to Toledo to hit a gaming store down the road…whether or not my memory’s accurate, I think JC himself referred us to that store when we’d asked him about the MechWarrior minis game (he carried Heroclix but not the other WizKids games).

In early 2004, one of the times I stopped in, turned out they had a guest in for a signing–Dustin Nguyen, the then-current artist on Batman.

To my knowledge…JC’s is still open, and I keep meaning to stop in again…but haven’t had much excuse, as I’ve generally already got the comics I’m interested in for the week and not really looking for anything in back issues, and wouldn’t have the cash I’m willing to spend on collected editions. The last time I was there, though, in October ’09 I was meeting an old friend, so it was a social experience, and I was able to get a couple back issues of Deadpool.

NEXT WEEK: Rupp’s Comics.

Booking Through Thursday: Serial

bookingthroughthursdaybuttonSeries? Or Stand-alone books?

 

When it comes to non-graphic books…I don’t think it really matters to me if the book is standalone or part of a series. At least, I don’t choose a book because it’s one or the other.

Most of the Stephen King, Brad Meltzer, and John Grisham books I’ve read have been standalone (even if they’re set in the same world/continuity, they aren’t necessarily part of a series). I look forward to their new books based on it being a new book by an author whose work I enjoy…not because it’s the next book in a series.

At the same time, in the last couple years, I’ve read the Twilight series, the Percy Jackson series, and I just finished listening to the latest two books in Weis/Hickman’s Lost Chronicles (Dragonlance) series. A few years back, I spent six weeks reading the entire original Left Behind series. A couple books on my to-be-read list for this year are the first books in new series—but they’re there due to the author, and not for kicking off new series.

When it comes to comics, though, I’m a bit more choosey.

I prefer series. If something is an “ongoing” series and has proven itself to last, I’m more likely to give it a shot. (a $2.99 or under price point certainly helps). Superman, Batman, X-Men, Green Lantern…there’s a history, there’s a reasonable expectation of the series continuing indefinitely, and so I’m more likely to be comfortable checking things out long-term.

For the most part, I tend to avoid “mini” or “limited” series as these will inevitably be collected into collected volumes/graphic novels, which I may pick up if my interest’s there by the time that edition is published.

Given the serial nature of comics, while there are the occasional great self-contained stories…overall, if it’s just a one-off short story (under 12 issues) I’m generally not going to check it out without much prior critical acclaim—I’ll feel cheated, as it’s a comic, I enjoy it, and I want more. V for Vendetta and Watchmen are a couple of notable exceptions on my own shelf.

Of course, as always…I’m sure there are plenty of exceptions to all this, holes to be poked in my thoughts that make sense before 9am. But hey…that’s the point of discussion. These are my stand-alone thoughts, for the moment…and they’re open to the changes/molding/evolution of a series of posts…

Old vs. New: Quarter Bins vs. New Comics Rack

This week was another where I managed to score some cool stuff from the quarter bin of my local comic shop. Sad thing is, it also continues to pound home just how EXPENSIVE current comics are. 2/3 of my final cost was the tiny stack of new issues, dwarfed by a huge stack of almost 60 issues that totaled roughly HALF the cost of the other 7 issues (one of which was a $1 comic).

Sharing the awesomeness…

Picked up where I left off a couple months ago, adding to my Silver Surfer run:

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And getting a great start on my early post-Crisis Flash run (no pun intended):

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Some early 1990s X-Men issues (two editions of Bishop’s first appearance…not sure if the one is the first print or 3rd or later; the gold cover is the 2nd print:

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The GI Joe/Transformers full 4-issue mini, and 4 of the first 5 issues of GI Joe Special Missions:

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Couple shiny issues, Infinity Gauntlet #1, and the first issue of the “new” X-Factor:

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The entire stack of quarter-bin awesomeness compared to the new issues:

2011.03.23.006

The new issues:

2011.03.23.007

‘Because we CAN’ vs. ‘Because we SHOULD’

Though this is primarily a comics blog, I’m taking off the comics-guy hat for a few moments of venting.

I went to Kent State University for 2 1/2 years of graduate school in Library and Information Science. While there, I attended classes with and interacted with students and professors involved in a “usability” program which would—to my understanding—study the “usability” of web sites and other user interfaces. Basically, “how does the end user use this” or “how easy is this to use for the end user,” which is a step beyond the folks designing something. When you’re the one designing something, of course it’s going to be intuitive and easy to use—you’re the one thinking about how you want to use it, and your will be done.

Anyway…I have long been frustrated and annoyed with use of Flash and other “technology” to FORCE a user to use one particular “way” or “path” through something—particularly websites. I’m a multi-tasker/multi-tabber…if you have multiple links/bits of information I’m interested in, I want to keep one page open in a tab, and be able to simply go down the line and open numerous links in new tabs—then I can go through and read what I want, and branch new series of tabs off of that…and it is NOT uncommon for me to find myself with 30-50 tabs open after an hour of using Wikipedia to look something up.

Sprint is my extreme example right now, though, of something that goes against anything I can think of for “usability.”

A number of years ago—late 2005 or so—I decided I wanted a backup of all the photos I had taken on my Sprint cameraphone. So I went to the Sprint Picturemail site, and after logging in was able to select an existing folder, and simply download that folder to my computer as a huge .zip file, that contained all of the photos, at full size.

However, those photos—that download/backup—that was all lost over a year ago now when the computer I had them on crashed the weekend I’d planned to do a proper backup of the machine.

Now, I again find myself trying to get those photos, which now span 7 years and number above 5,000…and in the years since that old download, Sprint has changed their site and interface.

They’ve implemented an interface far more reliant on Flash, and tried to make themselves like some other social network site or photo site, promoting features that—for someone like me—are totally useless or redundant or just uninteresting.

Their promo screen also—to ME—is a blatant LIE (though technically true, but that’s all relative to your purpose).

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They’ve made it HARDER to download ALL your media and albums to your PC.

Just drag and drop them—“them” being INDIVIDUAL PHOTOS. One at a time, you can download these. A multi-step process—select the photo, drag it to the PC, wait for the download dialogue box to pop up, hit ok, wait for the download, then hit ok on a popup telling you how to download multiple files, and then you can go to your next photo to download and repeat the process.

OR—get this—you can hold down the Control key, and select multiple items…UP TO 21, because there is NO option to display more than 21 items at once. But if the Flash interface “hangs” or otherwise delays, your smooth mouse-pointer movement from one photo to the next will be affected, and register as you NOT holding down Control…and you have to start ALL OVER AGAIN selecting photos.

Sure, this interface is fine if you’re visiting someone ELSE’s collection of photos—you want a handful of photos, cool, select ‘em and go. You’re the owner of the photos, and you want a few select photos to upload your best to facebook or twitter of flickr or whatever—great.

But you’re the owner of the photos and you want to download everything to your own machine, to use in software on your own computer and not just the limited set of options on the Sprint site…

Well, there’s NO provision for THAT.

So as a result…I’m dedicating a big chunk of my day to going through, using this crappy, UN-friendly interface, attempting to download over 5,000 photos 21 at a time…and will then still have to go through over 240 such .zip files and unzip these photos, just to have a usable photo archive.

And maybe sometimes soon I’ll get into my feelings about numerous sites all trying to emulate facebook, and/or sites and services trying to make it easy for you to use them as your CENTRAL, core, prime “homepage” or home site by allowing you to import content from other sites/services…and yet making it impossible or extremely difficult to take data from this one to one of those others.

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