Category: Lifestyle

Brainiac On Banjo #072: Grave New World

Brainiac On Banjo #072: Grave New World

I dream of cherry pies / Candy bars, and chocolate chip cookies / We used to microwave / Now we just eat nuts and berries / This was a discount store / Now it’s turned into a cornfield / You’ve got it, you’ve got it / Don’t leave me stranded here / I can’t get used to this lifestyle – (Nothing But) Flowers, David Byrne

I have spent my entire life being a collector.

No, not a debt collector or a tax collector, not even a rubber band collector. I am a stuff collector, and I mean “stuff” in the George Carlin sense of the term. I collect music (over 43,000 tracks, thank you), I collect comic books, I collect books about comic books, I collect books in general. I collect movies, teevee shows, artwork… all kinds of stuff.

The question “now where do I put this?” spikes my second biggest fear. My biggest fear is having to move all my stuff from the house that has warehoused my collections for almost a third of a century, abetted by the many collections possessed by my daughter and my late wife. Comics collections from the three of us, a legion of statues, enough history books to fill a wing at the Library of Congress, flicks I am dying to see again but won’t live long enough to do so… All this has combined to define the most consistent and most dominant part of my life. But moving it all to another place will look a lot like photos of those ancient, beautiful houses that somehow get boosted onto a flatbed truck and taken cross-town so developers who bribed their way into eminent domain can turn the land into a parking lot.

This hasn’t been an investment thing, and in that I am lucky. If all this stuff was here to make money, I’d have to go down to Wall Street and jump out of a window. This is because, aside from the Daffy Duck “I WANT IT” syndrome, today nearly all that stuff, no matter what it is, is available digitally. A 30-terabyte hard disc drive will house it all in a box that is much smaller than the Collected Works of Michael Moorcock. Of course, with all the streaming services around covering virtually all media, you really don’t even need that disc drive.

It’s possible that moving or disposing my collections will not be my problem. It might become my daughter’s problem. Hey, none of us are getting any younger (you’ve probably noticed that) and, whereas that’s a nasty trick to play on her, she is merely 25 years my younger and I’d like to be around to see her have decide what to sell and what really neat shit to hold on to. Sort of a Sophie’s Choice… without the “wait; you’re going to kill one of my kids??” bit.

Overall, this is a rather minor concern. There are much more important things to be concerned about. I don’t wake up in a cold sweat thinking about this, although I’m certain I will if I ever have to move it. I’ve enjoyed this stuff and, besides, maybe the tons of dust my collections gather will cure cancer or the common cold or something. I mean, look, we do not know why the guy who first looked at penicillin in a petri dish said “Wow! Cool!! I think I’m going to hit this shit up!” However, I do wonder if, at that time, this cat had the clap.

You know the old phrase “Evolution Happens.” Well, okay, I poured some artistic license over that one, but you get the point. The focus should be on content and not possession. Buddha had tons of material possessions, as the story goes, but he gave it all away to charity. I wonder which charity would be most interested in my Steve Ditko collection.

Like most of us who have a strong sense of wonder but a short attention span, I always have endeavored to embrace change. But making plans for one’s personal end times is a whole ‘nother thing. I think it takes well over a decade to work all this stuff out but… Hello! Short attention span, remember?

The contradiction in this labor is that I’ve spent my entire lifetime acquiring all this stuff. My thinking about eliminating it, no matter how remarkably logical it is to do so, feels as though I am invalidating my mission, my passion for existence.

And you wonder why old men scream at the clouds.

So Long And Thanks For the Fish, Man #58: Comics, No More.

So Long And Thanks For the Fish, Man #58: Comics, No More.

The other morning, my bff in comic books, Jim McClain (who is not part of Unshaven Comics, but exists perhaps as our ”big brother” in comic bookery), met me for brunch. As we’ve done in the past… we kibitzed about life, love, kids, and all things nerd. We dished and gossiped about Alley Folks we’ve rubbed shoulders with. We waxed poetic about what we liked, loved, and loathed across the Star Wars galaxy. Fun was had by all. Great conversation and amazing egg dishes aside, Jim was meeting me so that he might rid me of my comic book collection.

You read that right.

Every book I’d amassed since college had been piling up — some bagged and boarded, others less so — and I recognized that I’d not needed a single floppy copy for the better part of nine and a half years (the time in our home, which the wife and I are cleaning up a bit at a time to contemplate a springtime move). In the interest of no longer keeping treasure that could otherwise be of value back in the marketplace, I gifted to Jim two long boxes, seven or eight short boxes, and a tote-bag of comics.

Jim has already started sorting and valuing them. I wish him, and those who purchase from him, the best. There are a few real gems to mine there, too.

So, the real question then is why. Why was I so cavalier in gifting a collection away at a whim (for what added up to a delightful breakfast)? The answer is fairly straight-forward:

I’m still not over feeling played by the big two.  Continue reading “So Long And Thanks For the Fish, Man #58: Comics, No More.”

With Further Ado #076: Comics in Vogue – Literally

With Further Ado #076: Comics in Vogue – Literally

It’s so nice to see some comics popping up in unusual places.

The Italian edition of the fashion magazine, Vogue, features the work of a comic artist on its latest cover instead of the traditional photograph of a model or celebrity.  This January they have several variant covers, and one features a wonderful Milo Manara illustration. (Don’t worry, it’s G-rated.)

Milo Manara may be better known overseas than domestically, but he’s still a giant in the comics industry. Many of his works are a bit risqué for most Americans, but there’s no denying that he’s a fantastic illustrator and excels at drawing beautiful women.  This cover is another stunner.  Kudos to Vogue for also giving credit to his model, Olivia Vinton.

One could argue that Vogue borrowed this idea from Marvel, as they featured several Manara covers a few years ago. Infamously, his Spider-Woman cover was deemed too provocative by some folks.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #076: Comics in Vogue – Literally”

With Further Ado #075: Wake Up!

With Further Ado #075: Wake Up!

How’d it all go last night? Did you dance and party your brains out at the greatest event of the year? I hope there was a passionate midnight kiss involved.   Or are you one of those folks who leaves “Amateur Night” to others and got cozy on your couch watching episodes of The Twilight Zone?  I’m not judgey – both plans sound  pretty great to me.

Either way, you probably need a little coffee to get going today, and that’s the focus of this week’s column.

Death Wish Coffee Co. is a small business from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., one of my favorite places in the world. Founder Mike Brown has been on a mission to create the world’s strongest coffee and to fuel coffee drinkers not only each morning, but wherever they go. You might think that the coffee market is oversaturated, or dominated by big companies. It might seem like there’s no room for new ideas, but this is innovative company has been rocking it.  When they won Intuit’s “Small Business Big Game” competition in 2015, they were awarded a 30 second spot on the SuperBowl.

Brown and his team make a solid product with pride and strong ethics, and obviously have fun along the way.  In my classes, I teach college students how magical things happen at the intersection of entrepreneurism and creativity. And that’s the case here.

By Odin, ‘tis Glorious!

One of the things Death Wish Coffee did was create a comic book. It’s called Odinforce and now it’s become a series. Deathwish is just about to publish the third issue!  Continue reading “With Further Ado #075: Wake Up!”

Brainiac On Banjo #066: The Naked Truth

Brainiac On Banjo #066: The Naked Truth

The Gibson Girl, 1902

All your children are / Poor unfortunate victims / Of systems beyond / Their control • Frank Zappa, What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? 1968

There are a lot of things in this world that I just don’t understand. That’s not a complaint – the adage “the more I know the more I want to know” is like a monkey on my back. I am terminally curious, and humbly proud of that.

Well, okay. Sort of humble.

I do not understand society’s attitude towards the human body. We have a growing concern about all sorts of “shaming,” including body shaming. Yet we obsessively self-shame our bodies to the point of neurosis. Why? Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #066: The Naked Truth”

With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season

With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season

Forget Rudolph, the Grinch and Frosty. I’m not here to talk about it It’s A Wonderful Life  or Hallmark Channel movies (even though my daughter-in-law loves them). Today I want to focus on Christmas Commercials.

It’s been a good yuletide season for ads. Although I’ve yet to see the famous Santa-on-a-Norelco-shaver spot (one of my all-time favorites), there’s been some engaging TV spots. Oh sure, they are all  promoting crass commercialism when we’re all really supposed to be thinking about peace, brotherhood and one very important baby born in a barn, but let’s focus on creativity, entrepreneurism and providing more than a few jobs. 

The Peloton TV spot got all the buzz for all the wrong reasons. This year they stepped in it with an ad that suggesting a rich guy demands his perfectly beautiful wife to continuously workout to maintain her perfectly physique. The stock stumbled for a bit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Peloton has fantastic end of year sales.

Or was it all a sneaky plot? At the end of the day, Peloton is a brand that found a way to successfully sell a piece of fitness equipment  at a super-expensive price – despite the fact that this particular piece of fitness equipment exists in abundance on Planet Earth.   Continue reading “With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #054: Nerf-Herder

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #054: Nerf-Herder

When I was growing up, I was never for want. I was an only child with parents never guilty of spoiling me, but equally never guilty of letting their sole scion suffer. As my mom would like to remind me, often, I was never for want. That out of the way, there was a lone rule to abide by:

No Nerf guns. Ever.

While my childhood was devoid of viewings of A Christmas Story, apparently the universal law of toy guns held true; that ownership of one ensured the owners loss of an eye. And with that, a spark lit an ember that would grow into a problematic firestorm as soon as I became a homeowner, a decade and a half later.

My name is Marc Alan Fishman. To date, I own 61 Nerf Guns. There’s no sign I’m stopping anytime soon either. Nerf guns are relatively inexpensive. They make amazing props in comic books. They can be modified to shoot harder — which allows collecting to become something more akin to a hobby. As such, I consume a large amount of content on the internet related to the flinging of foam. Be it reviewing of existing products, sneak previews of guns to come, or viewing tutorials on modification… nary a week passes without me taking in a few minutes of dart play. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #054: Nerf-Herder”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #052: Things I’m Thankful For – 2019 Edition

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #052: Things I’m Thankful For – 2019 Edition

It’s about to be that time again. I know it’s likely my article drops after all y’all done gorged yourselves  all day on good foods. But it’s still time to reflect on the year that is almost over, and figure out the bests, the worsts, and what-have-you. As I’ve written on other sites, I like to assemble a list of those things I am most thankful for at the time of writing. A time capsule of positivity, if you will. Except we live in cynical nasty times, so, well, this is what you get. Enjoy it. Hate it. I don’t care anymore!

(Because some people will like to throw stones… this list is purposefully built in random order, and should not be dissected for importance. Jerks.)

1. I’m thankful for Bill Taylor, George Kent, Marie Yovanovitch, Alexander Vinman, Jennifer Williams, Kurt Volker, Tim Morrison, Gordon Sondland, Laura Cooper, David Hale, Fiona Hill, and David Holmes. As of this writing, we’ve no idea if Donald Trump will be impeached or removed from office. And while his blatantly obvious scheming would have me personally hurl the book at his orange mush so fast, it’d break the sound barrier… I am not in the House of Representatives. So, I digress. I am thankful that those above testified openly and honestly about what they saw, heard, and felt about this whole Ukraine situation. Because as it was plainly (and brilliantly) put: “This is America… Here, right matters.”

2. Schitt’s Creek, GLOW, Orange is the New Black, and The Good Place. Somewhere between my terrestrial cable subscription (it’s retro chic, don’t you know) and my Netflix account, I’ve enjoyed an amazing smattering of peak sitcom joy. And those shows listed above all have, at their core, belief in joy. Despite our joyless world, these shows have all touched my heart, and remind me of the good in the world.

3. AEW and NXT. Well, no doubt you knew this one was coming. AEW and NXT have both reminded me what good professional wrestling can be when it wants to. Well-crafted in-ring stories paired with over-the-top-but-still-plausible storylines are literally incomparable to the standard dreck dealt to me by the still-Vince-driven RAW and Smackdown shows. And make note: I will be doing a best-and-worst list of wrestlers / storylines in 2019 before the end of the year. You’ve been warned.

4. My wife and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. While we’ve been a couple now for nearly 19 years, it’s the last ten that have been the legally sanctioned ones. This year, I went all-out gifting the love of my life into a complete stupor. A custom-made Funko (err, Fishko) Pop figure was paired with a cameo video message from my wife’s true bae, Joey Fatone (of NSYNC fame). How did I know I did well? My wife said plainly “Well now I feel a little bad, cause I can’t compete with those gifts.” Damn straight. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #052: Things I’m Thankful For – 2019 Edition”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #065: Reasons To Be Cheerful

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #065: Reasons To Be Cheerful

Some of Buddy Holly, the working folly / Good Golly Miss Molly and boats / Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet / Jump back in the alley, add nanny goats

Today, you may have noticed, is Thanksgiving. I will step away from the issues involving Puritans, Christopher Columbus, and native Americans for the nonce solely because, go figure, Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks.

I’ve never seen more that distracts us from this reasonable goal. The United Nations released a major report on Earth’s environment and where it’s going (spoiler alert: to hell in a plastic bag), while many of us feast today many more go hungry, and we remain stuck with a sociopathic, petulant five-year old brat of a president who acts as though he just broke the neighbor’s picture window. I’m not thankful for any of that, but in the spirit of the holiday I am taking this day off from Bughouse Square duty.

We all need to take a breath, together.

Which, by the way, is the meaning of the word “conspiracy.”

A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it / You’re welcome, we can spare it, yellow socks / Too short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty / Going on forty, no electric shocks

I think those who tell us to appreciate the small wonders of life are absolutely right. Yeah, things suck – they’ve always sucked, they always will suck. But as the 18-wheeler of life comes barreling down the hill aiming to crush us all, it passes by all sorts of stuff that entice us to get out of its way. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #065: Reasons To Be Cheerful”

With Further Ado #070: 2019 Yuletide Gift Guide

With Further Ado #070: 2019 Yuletide Gift Guide

It’s been a busy year and it’s time to either (a) help spread the word or (b) reward yourself for getting through another year.  And either way, my Annual Yuletide Gift Guide  is here to help. Here’s a few ideas for you to chew on, after you’ve chewed on your turkey.

 

BATMAN: THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF THE DARK KNIGHT IN COMICS, FILM AND BEYOND

By Andrew Farago and Gina McIntyre

Insight Editions

This is the type of the book that you start in the morning, and when you look up again it’s bedtime.  This lovingly thorough history of Batman touches all the bases, provides new information and is loaded with goodies.  I must admit it’s a thrill, for example, to be reading about the Batmobile from 1950s comics, and then to fold-out a set of Batmobile blueprints.

$75.00 • 400 pp. • hardcover  • ISBN-10: 1683834372

 

A MARVELOUS LIFE: THE AMAZING STORY OF STAN LEE

by Danny Fingeroth

This one might be the comic-lovers go-to gift for the 2019 season.  Danny Fingeroth takes readers on a deep dive into Stan’s life, stuffing this book with balanced analysis and long-lost stories. It’s a page turner and there’s something for everyone inside.

$29.99 400 pp. • Hardcover  • ISBN-10: 1250133904

 

 

 

Continue reading “With Further Ado #070: 2019 Yuletide Gift Guide”