Mr. Sensitive

September 30, 2011

FSX Friday Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 16:42

Stocks were mixed this week (Dow +1.3%, S&P -0.4%, Nasdaq -2.7%), but there’s no doubt about the tenor of the quarter that just ended.  The major indices slid 12-15% during a period when governments dithered and markets suffered.  The Family Stock Index underperformed for the week (-4.3%) and for the quarter (-20%) to finish at a six-week low of 1000.75.  I could say that it wasn’t my fault (I was in the middle of the FSX pack), but since I pick the stocks, everything is really my fault.  That’s what Brinkley says, at least.  I will have more to say about the quarter sometime this weekend, unless Katie makes me go to the fair, in which case I will almost certainly be too grumpy to write.

Advancers

  • Mario the Elder (PBY +3.8%) and Mario the Younger (SUP +2.3%).  It was a banner week for the Marios, as they survived the Buckeye transplant and finished at the top in the Brinky Cup and in the FSX.  It could herald the beginning of a fourth-quarter Marionaissance, and it almost makes me wish I had named my son Mario, too, if only so that it would be forever impossible for anyone on Katie’s side of the family to know who is being referred to in conversation.
  • Nicole L.  (COL) +2.3%.  What happens if the groom does see the bride in the wedding dress before the wedding?  Is it worse for the groom to get an accidental glimpse or to seek a peek on purpose?  Can the groom look at the dress if he wears it himself?  Katie and I just completely ignored this superstition before our wedding; is that why I’m fat now?
  • Nicole B. (NI) +1.4%.  If you can’t be a Mario, I guess you should try to be a Nicole.  Slow and steady won the third-quarter race for Becks, as her market philosophy of doing less bad than everyone else finally paid off.  She’s never gained more than 6% in any given month, but she’s never lost more than 0.6%, either.  Now Nicole’s methodical pursuit of independence has finally loosed the bonds of Team Charlotte and freed her to…move back in with her mother.  I hadn’t thought about it before, but don’t they run most races on circular tracks?
  • Jenny (LEN) +1.0%.  She’s pulling straight As on her first midterm progress report, and the Jenny Is Pretty Darn Smart bandwagon keeps adding passengers.  I’m staying on the Jenny Is Smart But Sloppy bandless wagon for now, but I’m beginning to feel a theory coming on.  If Jenny should have been on the gifted track to begin with—she was sick the week of testing in second grade—then her disinterest in academics may have been due to lack of intellectual challenge rather than laziness and a mayfly attention span (as some here may have previously suspected).  We’ll see how this year plays out—it’s the last chance to instill some academic passion before Jenny is swallowed by the numbing chasm that is middle school.
  • Marcus (MCS) +0.6%.  It seems like Marcus only ever makes the A/D list on the D side, but here he is at the end of September wrapping up the second-best FSX performance of the third quarter.  Maybe I’m confusing my own view on the Marcus market—constructive to bullish—with his own perma-bear stance.  Of course, I would probably be more bearish if found myself the target of a world-wide mold conspiracy.  At least shark cabal can’t get to me on this side of the shoreline.
  • Brinkley (BCO -0.2%) and Katie (CATY -1.6%).   Both were winners on a relative basis, at least.  Strange that these two nocturnal foes should trade so similarly during a week when Brinkley has supposedly imposed his sleepless will on his mother.  A more suspicious person than I might wonder whether there’s not some sort of dark business afoot.  It’s fortunate that I’m so trusting, else I might suspect that Brinky is being subjected to the vapidity and banality that is that new 90210 show Katie watches, and worse still, that he likes it.  But I know my wife wouldn’t do that to my son, and so I’m not worried.  I just need to do a quick Google search or two before I move on to the real decliners; do you think there’s a hyphen in nanny-cam, or is it just one word?

Decliners

  • Justin (WOLF) -4.1%.  I applaud Justin’s bravery, going to live with his almost-in-laws for some indefinite period of time.  My mother- and father-in-law are the best and I would never do that (as much for their sake as mine).  Alas, while the ladies may appreciate bravery, the market prefers knavery, and in this case, is still waiting for a clear view of Justin’s plans for the future.  It’s waiting on the same thing from me, though, and I’m eight years further along.
  • Lisa (LSI) -10.5%.  Sorry I made you take an interest in football, Lisa.  I wish I could take the market’s lashes for you, but I have an 80-cent stock, so you’re on your own.
  • Reagan (REGN) -12.1%.  In addition to sweaty kickiness, Reagan inherited from her father some unhelpfully high academic standards.  Her first progress report was unimpeachable from my perspective, but Reagan presented it like a failure.  First, she told me that she only got an S on all the behavior categories, but that it’s okay because her teacher told her that they don’t give Os anymore.  She showed me where it says that on her report card in case I didn’t believe her.  Clearly Reagan believes that she should have gotten all Os anyway (O was for Outstanding), and secretly she should have gotten Ps (for Perfect, of course).  She is also not secretly upset that she didn’t get 4s (above grade level) on all her academics, even though I don’t see how the teachers could have determined she was above grade level on everything this early in the year.  Some people, like Katie, exclusively blame themselves for their failures, and some people, like Hitler, exclusively blame others.  Reagan and I blame others and ourselves; so we try to destroy our enemies, then we work harder.
  • LULU -12.7%.  Katie’s clandestine Operation Dumb-Down does have its casualties (apart from the obvious one—America’s future).  Lulu has been forced to sleep on me at night, and I am, like Reagan, something of a sweaty kicker.
  • Lucas (LEI) -20.7%.  If not for poor, abandoned Zero, Lucas would have been the worst performer of the third quarter, down more than 54% in the past three months.  The good news is that middle school doesn’t last forever.  The bad news is that it feels like it does.  The worse news is that it’s followed by high school.  I hope you weren’t expecting something uplifting from me—I hated middle school.
  • Zero (FRZ) -25.1%.  This month was the second-worst for any member of the FSX this year (after me) and put the capper on the second-worst quarter in the history of the index (me, again).  Who would have thought that the dissolution of Team Charlotte would hit Zero the hardest?  It won’t be so bad now that it’s just the two of them.  I have fond memories of all the time Katie and I spent together, just the two of us, before all these other people showed up.  The most important thing to remember is this: if she needs to brush her teeth, just tell her.  Good communication is the key to a healthy marriage and minty-fresh breath.
Name Ticker 9/30/2011 Change
Brinkley BCO $23.31 -0.05
Charlotte ICE $118.26 -3.84
Dustin DST $43.83 +0.13
Icarus FLOW $2.21 -0.09
Jenny LEN $13.54 +0.14
Justin WOLF $2.56 -0.11
Katie CATY $11.38 -0.19
Lee MSTR $114.07 -1.34
Lee LEE $0.78 -0.06
Lisa LSI $5.18 -0.61
Lucas LEI $1.30 -0.34
Lulu LULU $48.69 -7.08
Marcus MCS $9.95 +0.06
Mario T.E. PBY $9.87 +0.36
Mario T.Y. SUP $15.45 +0.34
Marisa MOLX $20.37 -0.32
Nicole B. NI $21.38 +0.29
Nicole L. COL $52.76 +1.21
Reagan REGN $58.20 -7.99
Ruby RBY $3.44 -0.24
Wilson WILC $5.94 +0.07
Winston HWD $10.15 -0.52
Zero FRZ $1.25 -0.42
Zondro ZQK $3.05 -0.30

Get In The Car, America

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 10:49

I need to rip Rick Perry, on the off-chance he’s going to implode soon and I won’t get to rip him for the next year like he needs to be ripped.  He was on CNBC this week.  Not only did he sound like a crazy person, and not only did he sound like an ignorant crazy person, but he sounded like an ignorant crazy person who was damn proud to be an ignorant crazy person.  In other words, he sounded exactly like the fella he took over for in Texas.  Of Ben Bernanke, Perry has famously said that if the Fed Chairman came to Texas, “we would treat him pretty ugly.”  This week he refused to apologize for his prior call for prairie justice—never admit that you’re wrong about anything is rule no. 1 of the Bush II playbook—and he announced that Bernanke and his “money-printing” policies would be out if he were President.  That is the ignorance talking.  In a time before ‘political leader’ was an oxymoron, the Congress decided that monetary policy should be de-politicized; while the President does nominate the Fed Chairman, that Chairman, once in office, is not not not supposed to do the bidding of any current or future President.  Perry is speaking as though the Fed Chairman is a Cabinet official—the same as the Treasury Secretary, I suspect—and serves at the pleasure of the President.  That is 100-percent not the case.  Well, maybe only 70 percent, but you get the idea.  The Fed Chairman’s position is more analogous to that of a Supreme Court Justice than to that of a Cabinet Secretary.  Of course, the Fed is not a Constitutionally-protected entity like the Supreme Court and is a creation of Congress, but it is absolutely not an arm of the Executive Branch.  And Perry is an idiot.  He also said, wonderfully, “Having a job and the dignity to take care of your family is at the core what I think is hurting America today.”  Of course he didn’t mean to put it that way, but his garbled statement is closer to what he means than it is to what he meant to say.  If Americans just understood that jobs are for the Chinese and dignity is for rich people, it would be a better world for Republicans everywhere.

We already had this guy in the White House.  I’m not impressed with the job President Obama has done, especially his management of his own party and the political process in Washington, but we already did crazy Texan and it didn’t work.  America needs her girlfriends to step in and set her straight.  One of them—the sassy one that’s a little chubby but always tells the truth—has to get all up in America’s face and say, “Girl, that man Rick is no good for you.  He’s just like your Daddy and he’s going to treat you like shit just like your Daddy did.  What you do is you go upstairs and pack a bag, and in ten minutes you meet me out front of that busted trailer he’s got you living in.  Then you’re going to stay with me for a couple days and if he calls, you let me answer it.”

September 29, 2011

One-Party Talks

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 13:57

Whenever the news media remember about North Korea they mention the six-party talks that the North Koreans maybe do or do not want to return to, or possibly from.  I’m already confused at that point because I can’t think of five other countries that would want to talk to North Korea (China, Japan, South Korea, the USA, and…West Korea?).  The most effective approach is the one that Brinky has adopted with respect to the agreed-upon napping arrangement–one-party talks.  How it works from a diplomatic standpoint is that I put Brinky down for his long-established afternoon nap and he stands up in his crib and begins talking to himself–in baby–about how he’s unilaterally abrogating our second-nap agreement.  With probably some baby rudenesses thrown in.  Well, two can play at baby brinksmanship.  I am unilaterally abrogating the baby monitor.  Kim that in your Jong-Il and twist, boy.

Operation Simba – Strategic Depth

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 13:14

Brinkley has come into his own as a strategist in the eighth month of our conflict.  I was going to say that he had achieved a breakthrough this week, but in fact my inclination to call it that belies my crippling insistence on linear strategy rather than deep strategy.  Katie and I had divided our forces from the beginning of Operation Simba–always a risky move against a powerful enemy–rotating front-line duties during the day (me) and at night (Katie) so that neither of us would have to take fire 24 hours at a stretch (and really, if I had to take 24 hours straight it would necessarily stretch into 36, as I don’t have the option to opt out of daytime duties).  What Brinkley finally realized is that our divided command could allow him to penetrate our defensive line at two points simultaneously, piercing tactical and operational depth of defense and compromising the strategic depth where critical decisions are made–that is, if he’s up to it.  Yesterday he proved that he is.  He stayed awake from 11 a.m. to almost 8 p.m.–Reagan still can’t always do that–and I had totally lost my composure by the end of the day, thinking about whether I could put enough duct tape around the lid of the garbage can that I was going to toss him in that he wouldn’t disturb the neighbors, but not so much that he couldn’t breathe.  It seemed like a dicey plan, so I called it off at the last minute.  When Katie got home from work, Brinkley refused to let up and by 7 p.m. she was hors de combat on the couch.  Then he was up again at 3 a. m. this morning and has fought through the day to this point with only a 90-minute nap from 7:40 to just after 9 a.m.  Katie and I are past coordinating maneuvers and are undoubtedly undermining each other’s separate initiatives.  If he can keep this up, he will get all up in our strategic reserves–if they even still exist–and leave us paralyzed.  Then he will be able to eat all the magazines in the house, which is all he really wants to do.  I think it would be too hot inside the garbage can now, else I might resurrect that idea for this afternoon.

September 27, 2011

Brinky Cup Standings – Week 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:44

Week 3 of the Brinky Cup was dominated by women and darkness; Jodi Ann reversed last week’s debacle and then some, with Charlotte, Ruby and the evil twins close behind.  Jodi Ann may be tough to beat so long as Marcus doesn’t further sabotage her by keeping the Brinky Cup rules secret.  In fact, I suspect that her Week 1 struggles may have been due to an unwitting failure to support the Steelers in her heart.  Dark Mario picked more aggressively against his good twin and was rewarded for it; I was already solidly against myself.  In the overall standings, it’s a Mario Party and no one else is invited.  After leading for the first two weeks, Lisa had a sub-.500 Week 3 but remains within striking distance, while Katie and Jenny manage to already be behind by double-digits.   Here are the complete Week 2 results:

  • 13-3 (1):  Jodi Ann
  • 12-4 (1):  Charlotte
  • 11-5 (3):  Dark Mario, Dark Lee, Ruby
  • 10-6 (2):  Mario the Elder, Mario the Younger
  • 9-7 (3):  Lee, Marcus, Reagan
  • 8-8 (2):  Brinkley, Justin
  • 7-9 (4):  Jenny, Katie, Lisa, Tara

Brinky Cup Standings:

 

Games Back
Dark Mario
Mario T.E.
Mario T.Y. 1
Charlotte 2
Dark Lee 2
Lisa 2
Ruby 3
Tara 5
Jodi Ann 6
Lee 7
Justin 7
Brinkley 7
Marcus 8
Reagan 8
Katie 10
Jenny 11

September 26, 2011

Marvel UK – Doomed To Death

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 15:52

In a feature article in the March 1993 issue, Wizard declared that “the 90s should be remembered as the decade when Marvel UK finally lived up to Stan Lee’s old billing of the Marvel Bullpen as the House of Ideas.  Be warned,” the article concludes, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”  It is a deliberately ambiguous position, and not typical of Wizard’s fawning fanboy style in those days.  (The magazine’s tone would swing to the other extreme after five years of sharply declining circulation, becoming so poisonously cynical that it was hard to understand why they even bothered to keep publishing.)  The article focuses on Paul Neary, a fellow I only remembered as Alan Davis’ long-time inker, but who was also evidently the editorial director of the Marvel UK imprint.  He comes across as already bitter, as though he understood perfectly well that his imprint was crapping out one steaming, four-color dump after another, but drawing the paycheck and wearing the boss-man pants was a payoff worth holding his nose for a few years until the Yankee saps wised up and called it off.  Paycheck and pants did not, however, provoke enthusiasm.  And it’s easy to see why.

Let’s start with Death’s Head.  Death’s Head is a cyborg bounty hunter created during the 1980s to get on your nerves.  He has the speech patterns of a Bulgarian caricature and he jokes constantly; of course, his jokes aren’t funny, but it’s okay because he means for them to be ridiculous, not funny.

Death’s Head is a Howard the Duck sort of character, the kind whose first appearance is a revelation, whose fifth appearance is an insult, and whose tenth appearance is a reason to kill.  And kill, mercifully, is what Marvel did.  It was a perfect bad-joke ending to a bad joke.  If only Marvel hadn’t been serious.

In 1992, Marvel released the first issue of a four-issue mini-series called Death’s Head II, in which a mirthless cyborg bounty hunter named Minion kills Death’s Head and absorbs his abilities, unintentionally uploading some of his victim’s zaniness in the process.

Minion/Death’s Head is a one-robot commentary on the battle between wistful levity and soul-crushing seriousness that was being fought out on the comic book sales charts at the time.  Lobo came about in much the same way, as a parody that the fans read uncritically as straight-up meaningless violence—and they loved it.  Death’s Head II #1 sold out and went to a second printing (with a much cooler silver-ass cover).

The Marvel executives smelled blood—or gold—or golden blood—and they decided to go all-in.  Not only would they publish an ongoing Death’s Head II series after the mini wrapped, but they would make it the flagship title of a new comics universe, and Death’s Head II would be the mirthless prototype for every series that followed.  I’m 100 percent sure that the executives thought that Death’s Head II was the name of a character, which of course it isn’t.  There’s Death’s Head, and there’s Minion, and they wanted a book about Minion which they called Death’s Head II.  I love executives.

The executives thought that if the fans liked remorseless, oblivious killing (they did), they would like it even better with the X-Men guest-starring.  So the X-Men guest-starred.

This sold fantastically.  Meanwhile, the original Death’s Head II mini-series was scorching on the secondary market.  Clearly, demand was not sated.  So Marvel went House-of-Ideas all over your ass and burned the midday oil looking for words that mean darkness and death, only that was hard, and darkness and death were already available, so boom—ideas!

This is the spirit of Marvel UK in a nutshell: if there’s not enough death, add more death, and if there’s too much death, add more death.

First there was Death’s Head, then there was Death Metal, and so naturally there was also:

All the comic math I know tells me that ugh times stop multiplied by no gives you exponential perfection.

Exponents mean subtlety.  And by calling this series Death3 , Marvel is declaring that Death’s Head, Death Metal, and Death Wreck are identical quantities, so that the product of the three can be expressed as any one of them to the third power.  And there’s ‘Death’ in the family even if no one dies, because everybody is already death!  Subtlety!  And math!

So what else was there to do?  You already had death to the third power—could it be that the bar was set too high?  Not when the world is so wonderfully full of death and crap.  First you get Alan Davis to do you a purty drawing, even though it means all your characters will have Cheshire Cat Alan Davis-face.

There now, those characters can’t suck that bad if the guy from Excalibur is willing to draw them all flying out into the beautiful, pumpkin-colored sky.  And look, only the guy at the top right with the glowy hand has Alan Davis cat-face.  Do you think Alan Davis died a little inside when he had to draw Death’s Head and all his Deaths on one page?  I certainly hope so.

If you can’t get Alan Davis to do any more work for you because you’ve killed too much of his soul, you can always get Wolverine to make an appearance.  Good old Logan is usually up for anything, and he’s typically a good sport about it.

Or not.  Maybe it’s because he’s not into big guns and hi-tech mysticism.  Or maybe it’s because they’re making him do the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes dance.

And if you can’t get Wolverine, you can bet that Cable’s available.  Hell, he worked exclusively for Rob Liefeld for a long time, so you know he’s not choosy.  Just don’t tell him what he’s going to be doing in the comic.

And you won’t have to lie about it if you have no idea what’s happening yourself.

I don’t know which is worse sometimes—knowing that something terrible is happening or having not the first clue what is going on.  As bad as the conceptual framework was—robots, guns, and robot guns—the art was up to the challenge.  The challenge being hurting feelings while teaching nothing.

Is this the worst art you’ve ever seen?  What is the blue robot lady fighting in the upper left corner?  A cave painting?  No, it’s not the worst, because this happened:

Paradise lost indeed.  I wish I had a higher resolution image so we could figure out what is coming out of his arm, but alas, high-resolution pictures of Die-Cut #4 are illegal in most states.  Bear in mind that these are covers.  The cover is what the artist spends the most time on.  Presumably the interior is nothing but blank pages, stained with tears.

I’m being unfair, of course.  Sometimes it’s perfectly clear what’s happening on the cover.

Everyone on this cover is taking a dump, including the guy in the ‘Marvel UK’ box in the upper left corner.

And this gentleman is using his robot penis arm to mate with a giant, wingless bird made out of gray tissue paper.

And here, Tony Stark has awoken from a night of hard partying to find that he has wandered into a Renaissance fair.

And this is a zombie attack, duh.

Somehow, it didn’t work.  Read this catalog of 1993 Marvel UK publications out loud (and by read I mean scream) and tell me you don’t want to read them all:

  • Battletide
  • Battletide II
  • Black Axe
  • Body Count
  • Cyberspace 3000 (don’t worry, I bought this one last and I’m totally going to read it!)
  • Death’s Head II
  • Death Metal
  • Death Wreck
  • Death3
  • Death Metal vs. Genetix
  • Death’s Head II and the Origin of Die-Cut
  • Die-Cut
  • Die-Cut vs. G-Force
  • Gun Runner
  • Hell’s Angel
  • Dark Angel
  • Dark Guard
  • Killpower: The Early Years
  • Plasmer
  • Motormouth
  • Wild Thing
  • Super Soldiers
  • Warheads
  • Warheads: Black Dawn

And last but probably not least, the crossover that was supposed to integrate the Marvel UK universe into the mainline Marvel U.  They rolled out all the stops for MyS-TeCH Wars, didn’t skimp on the caps lock, and even made sure to get Hulk a new pair of his favorite purple pants.

All to save the world.  Problem is, the world is somewhere over the Hulk’s shoulder.  I don’t know where they are.

They should have called it MyS-TeCH WarZ with a capital Z.  I don’t know who dropped the ball there, but I can only hope he was fired, preferably before everyone was fired.

The Marvel UK imprint was wound down in 1994—even Bart Sears’ Ominous Press (publishers of Brute & Babe comics) managed to outlast it.  In the end, Death Metal had it right.

Perhaps it should have been ‘destined to destroy, doomed to die.’  Or ‘doomed to destiny, destroyed to death.’  Success is such a fragile flower.

September 25, 2011

Flying Piranha

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 14:15

Just a warm-up:

Also, did you know that I am not now and will never be able to spell piranha without looking it up or using spellcheck?  It’s just one of those things I can’t do, like flying under my own power or wearing pants.  And you might think, eh, no big deal, he can’t need to use the word piranha very often.  But you would be wrong about that, my friend.

September 24, 2011

What You Always Wanted Me To Do

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 18:19

Do you know what you always wanted me to do?  You always wanted me to tell you about the entire top 100 best-selling comic books for February 1993 as reported by Diamond Distributors so that you would never forget what was popular at that crucial time.  Well, I’m finally ready to give you what you wanted, no one.

1.  Stormwatch #1 (Image)

Stormwatch is bad-ass, and this cover is bad-ass, and I don’t want to hear your sniggering.  Fuji?  A super-strong Japanese radiation cloud in a containment suit?  Winter?  A Russian with a white ponytail who flew his team’s space station into the sun to keep the Aliens from reaching earth (yes, those Aliens)?  Battalion?  A black guy leading the team?  Take that, racism!  And what about Hellstrike?  Well, Hellstrike was lame.

2.  Spawn #10 (Image)

Guest-starring Cerebus.  Cerebus sucks, and not surprisingly, so did Spawn #10.

3.  Darker Image #2 (Image)

What do I remember about Darker Image #2?  Do I remember nothing, because Darker Image #2 was solicited and never published?  Right in one.  I love you, Image.

4.  Rai & The Future Force #9 (Valiant)

Rai #0-7 were some of the best comics published in the last two decades (#8 was only so-so) and then Shooter was booted and there was a new Rai and he was leading a lame team, one of the members of which was later revealed to be a goddamn Spider-Alien.  Print run on this one was nearly one million copies, inexplicably.  Even more inexplicably, it would appear that, after consulting my database, I own 11 copies myself.

5.  Pitt #4 (Image)

This one did eventually make it into stores, never mind that it was so late that it had to be cancelled and resolicited at least twice.  I love you, Image.

6.  Venom #3 (Marvel)

Hard to believe that Venom could outsell Spider-Man and the X-Men, but the proof is now in quarter bins at comic book stores all around the country.

7.  X-Men #19 (Marvel)

8.  Uncanny X-Men #299 (Marvel)

9.  Magnus: Robot Fighter #24 (Valiant)

I have no idea why Magnus #24 is so high on this list.  The people who orchestrated the Kennedy assassination don’t know why Magnus #24 is this high.  The Illuminati don’t know why Magnus #24 is this high.  It’s the greatest mystery of all time.

10.  Wildstar: Sky Zero #2 (Image)

Wildstar was an awful character.  Is that a red Starro on his chest?  What the hell, Jerry Ordway?

11.  Hellstorm #2 (Marvel)

Daimon Hellstrom (yes, I spelled that right) is a pretty interesting dude.  Warren Ellis wrote the last year of this book and he and Garth Ennis had a funny back-and-forth in the letter column.  This issue, however, was not so good.

12.  Supreme #6 (Image)

13.  Fantastic Four #375 (Marvel)

14.  Image Swimsuit Special #1 (Image)

15.  X-Force #21 (Marvel)

16.  Spider-Man 2099 #6 (Marvel)

I can’t believe that the 2099 title outsold Amazing Spider-Man and adjectiveless Spider-Man, especially as far along as issue #6.  It helps me understand why the editors of the regular Spider-titles signed off on the Clone Saga the following year—what did they have to lose?

17.  Namor: The Submariner #37 (Marvel)

Had kind of a plaid holochrome cover.  You really had to be there.  I bought one for Reagan at Heroes Con this year for 10 cents, so at least she could understand.

18.  Punisher 2099 #3 (Marvel)

19.  Wild Thing #1 (Marvel UK)

Just soak in the impossibility of whatever in the hell is happening here.  I’m working on something big to explain (or un-explain) Marvel UK and how it is responsible for many of the worst comic books ever published.  Get excited, because it’s going to literally set your face on fire.  Don’t you hate that?  When people say literally when they mean figuratively?  It’s pretty funny, actually, when still-living people tell you something was so embarrassing that they literally died.  But this isn’t funny, because I am going to totally ignite your face.

20.  X-Factor #89 (Marvel)

21.  Wolverine #68 (Marvel)

22.  Bloodshot #4 (Valiant)

23.  Amazing Spider-Man #376 (Marvel)

24.  Hardware #1 Direct Edition (DC/Milestone)

25.  Blood Syndicate #1 Direct Edition (DC/Milestone)

The Milestone imprint was a separate creator-owned universe that was the brainchild of Dwayne McDuffie and Denys Cowan and focused on black and other minority superheroes.  It’s best remembered for producing Static, of the Static Shock! cartoon, and the characters are now being integrated into the wider DC universe.  These guys did some good work, but they were crushed by the bursting of the bubble just like the Valiant, Ultraverse, and Comics’ Greatest World superhero universes.  And they tried just a little too hard to be whatever it was they were trying hard to be.

26.  Doom 2099 #4 (Marvel)

27.  Spider-Man #33 (Marvel)

28.  Eternal Warrior #10 (Valiant)

29.  Secret Defenders #2 (Marvel)

30.  Silver Surfer/Warlock: Resurrection #2 (Marvel)

31.  Simpsons Comics & Stories #1 (Welsh)

I never understood this.  Somehow, this tiny company called Welsh Publishing (who?) got the rights to publish comics featuring the Simpsons, except they only published a single issue before Matt Groening’s people took back the license and started the Bongo imprint.  The Bongo version of Simpsons Comics is still being published, now on issue #170-something.  Wouldn’t you like to know what was up with this single issue from Welsh Publishing (who?)?  Or maybe it’s just me.

32.  Legionnaires #1 (DC)

It’s not as bad as it looks for DC.  Superman was dead this month and none of his titles were published in anticipation of the Reign of the Supermen story arc beginning the following month, a month in which DC took the top five spots on the sales chart.  Of course, Legionnaires did outsell Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Justice League America, so maybe it is as bad as it looks.

33.  X-O Manowar #33 (Valiant)

34.  She-Hulk #50 (Marvel)

Another enhanced holocrap cover.  Otherwise, She-Hulk and Namor would be partying together in the deep 100s, along with Quasar and Sleepwalker.

35.  Solar, Man of the Atom #21 (Valiant)

36.  Death: The High Cost of Living #2 (DC/Vertigo)

This book would eventually sell for as much $10 in the secondary market, while every book from #1-35 was dollar bin fodder within a year.  I think this was the point when Neil Gaiman started to listen to all the people who were telling him how he’s a genius, and it’s really not far from there to dressing up in a cape for your Entertainment Weekly photo shoot and having your name legally changed to New York Times Best-Selling Author Neil Gaiman.  (That last one isn’t true…yet.)

37.  Harbinger #17 (Valiant)

38.  H.A.R.D. Corps #6 (Valiant)

39.  Ghost Rider #36 (Marvel)

40.  Supergirl/Team Luthor Special #1 (DC)

41.  Ravage 2099 #5 (Marvel)

42.  Black Axe #1 (Marvel UK)

43.  Predator: Race War #1 (Dark Horse)

44.   Shadowman #13 (Valiant)

45.  Archer & Armstrong #10 (Valiant)

46.  Super Soldiers #1 (Marvel UK)

47.  Death’s Head II #5 (Marvel UK)

48.  Sandman Mystery Theatre #1 (DC/Vertigo)

This book is about the Golden Age Sandman, Wesley Dodds, and has nothing to do with the Gaiman-penned Vertigo flagship.  But I bet Neil himself believes that retailers ordered this one so heavily because they thought he had something to do with it.  And I bet he’s right.

49.  Midnight Sons Unlimited #1 (Marvel)

50.  Web of Spider-Man #99 (Marvel)

Spidey’s going to put on Spider-armor made of mirrors in the next issue—get excited!

51.  Incredible Hulk #404 (Marvel)

52.  Spectacular Spider-Man #199 (Marvel)

53.  Ghost Rider/Blaze: Spirits of Vengeance #9 (Marvel)

54.  Silver Surfer #79 (Marvel)

55.  Sandman #48 (DC/Vertigo)

Boy, it was really good sometimes, though, wasn’t it?

56.  Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #44 (DC)

LOTDK outsold Batman and Detective?  I would never have guessed that.  You learn something every day, I guess.  Well, you probably learn bunches of things every day, but I already know a lot more things than you do.

57.  Aliens: Colonial Marines #2 (Dark Horse)

58.  Superman Gallery #1 (DC)

59.  Morbius: The Living Vampire #8 (Marvel)

I’ve always been a little bit in love with a certain Michael Morbius, and I was very excited when he showed up in Marvel Zombies last year.  Is that weird?

60.  Ren & Stimpy #5 (Marvel)

This series became a huge secondary-market success, with the first issue selling for as much as $25 and even #5 pushing up towards $10.  Now it’s worthless, but I think it’s a decent buy if you can pick up the early issues for $1 or less (you can).  The later issues, #40-44, are especially tough to find, and I’m always on the lookout for extra copies.  No jokes when it’s investment time.

61.  X-Men Adventures #6 (Marvel)

Based on the Saturday-morning cartoon.  Indescribably bad.

62.  Excalibur #64 (Marvel)

63.  Punisher War Zone #14 (Marvel)

I was surprised when all the Punisher titles were cancelled in 1995, but if this is the best Frank could do at the height of the boom, the real surprise is that War Zone made it all the way to issue #41.

64.  Batman #491 (DC)

This is the issue where Bane helps all the villains break out of Arkham Asylum, setting up the gauntlet that Batman is forced to run during Knightfall, which officially begins in #492.  This issue got real scarce real fast when its significance became clear; now it sells for cover price, but that’s more than can be said about most of the comics on this list.

65.  Batman: Shadow of the Bat #11 (DC)

66.  Dracula: Vlad the Impaler #1 (Topps)

67.  New Warriors #34 (Marvel)

68.  Iron Man #291 (Marvel)

Based on this analysis, Robert Downey Jr. should be playing Namor or Morbius in the Avengers movie next summer.  Do you know how much I would pay to see him as Morbius, especially with the 1970s Morbius pig-nose?  Well, not much, but that’s only because I’m poor.

69.  Warlock & the Infinity Watch #15 (Marvel)

70.  Thor #461 (Marvel)

71.  Punisher #77 (Marvel)

72.  Spider-Man Classics #1 (Marvel)

I have no idea what this is, but I will bet that two things are true about it: (1) it isn’t classic, and (2) I own at least one copy of it.

73.  Detective Comics #658 (DC)

74.  Punisher War Journal #53 (Marvel)

75.  Enigma #2 (DC/Vertigo)

76.  Avengers #361 (Marvel)

Maybe the Avengers should be guest-starring in a Morbius movie.  Think about it, Joss.

77.  MyS-TECH Wars #2 (Marvel UK)

No, I didn’t have caps lock on by mistake.  Just wait for the face-burning Marvel UK post and you will un-understand.

78.  Next Men #12 (Dark Horse)

The full title of this book is John Byrne’s Next Men #12, but I hate that and I don’t accept it.  What kind of a preening clown puts his name in the title of a book?  Not just on the cover—in the official title.  John Byrne does.  Guess who else does that now when he deigns to work in the piddly comic-book business that launched his illustrious literary career?  You get one guess.

79.  Darkhawk #26 (Marvel)

If you hate on Darkhawk I will fight you.

80.  Dark Horse Comics #7 (Dark Horse)

Seems like not a lot of thought went into naming this book, but it was probably harder than you think, since Dark Horse Presents was already taken.

81.  Captain America #414 (Marvel)

Who would have been a better Morbius, Robert Downey Jr. or Chris Evans?  The answer: Hugo Weaving.

82.  Guardians of the Galaxy #35 (Marvel)

83.  Marvel Comics Presents #126 (Marvel)

84.  Marvel Comics Presents #125 (Marvel)

85.  Justice League America #73 (DC)

This indignity was necessary for the JLA, even if it didn’t seem so at the time.  If the sales had not been so bad at this point (and for the next few years), DC would never have agreed to give the team to an actual crazy person like Grant Morrison.  No Grant Morrison on JLA means no Grant Morrison on New X-Men.  No Grant Morrison on New X-Men means a far less meaningful world than the one in which we live today.

86.  Grendel: War Child #7 (Dark Horse)

87.  Hardware #1 Newsstand Edition (DC/Milestone)

88.  Blood Syndicate #1 Newsstand Edition (DC/Milestone)

89.  Daredevil #315 (Marvel)

90.  Silver Sable #11 (Marvel)

91.  Punisher Armory #6 (Marvel)

92.  Ray Bradbury Comics #1 (Topps)

93.  Batman Adventures #7 (DC)

94.  Nightstalkers #6 (Marvel)

95.  What If? #48 (Marvel)

96.  Avengers West Coast #93 (Marvel)

Avengers West Coast #93 is one of the most important comic books ever published, because it fed directly into U.S. War Machine, the funniest comic book of all time.  This is it, this is “These flying piranha were just a warm-up!”  This is, “I’m with you, Mash!”  This is the meaning of life.

97.  New Titans #96 (DC)

Do you think issue #97 came in at the #96 position on the next month’s chart?  I sure hope so.  I hope so so much that I’m afraid to look.  I don’t want to jinx something that already happened in 1993.

98.  Darkman #1 (Marvel)

Yes, that Darkman.

99.  Codename: Genetix #4 (Marvel UK)

100.  Incomplete Death’s Head #4 (Marvel UK)

Whets your whistle for the upcoming face-fire, doesn’t it?

Speed Of Light

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 15:32

If you plan to be flying at the speed of sound, you should listen to, obviously, Speed Of Sound, and enjoy your thoughtful, sensitive trip.  The speed of sound is approximately 768 miles per hour, as the bird flies.  For my part, I prefer the speed of light, which is approximately 67,061,520 miles per hour.  If you plan to be flying at the speed of light, however, you should listen to The Song Remains The Same.  You’ll run into something, hard, but you won’t mind.  That’s just basic physics.

September 23, 2011

FSX Friday Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 16:58

The numbers speak for themselves this week: S&P 500 down 6.5%, Dow down 750 points, gold off $150, and the FSX down 7.4% to within sight of its 52-week low—just whip your hair and you’re there.  On Wednesday I tried to write my macro paragraph for this week’s update and ended up with so much material that I decided on a separate post.  I tried again yesterday and the same thing happened.  Instead of a third shrill screed on economic policy and political ineptitude, I’m going with my gut.  Here’s my snapshot view of the market:

  • Many stocks are cheap, especially multinationals paying 2-5% dividends and sporting the balance sheets to back them up;
  • Execution risk is prohibitive for high-growth high-multiple stocks like CMG and AMZN, which are fully priced if they execute to perfection but will be crushed if they are perceived to slip even a little bit, a la NFLX;
  • But all stocks are going to get cheaper in the short term;
  • Gold is a good bet, but only if you can stomach the short-term volatility;
  • Oil is cheap, especially West Texas Intermediate;
  • Treasuries are in a bubble as indefensible as Internet stocks circa 1999.

Okay, maybe just one short screed.  Have you noticed what a lousy job the Republicans are doing shooting holes in Obama’s effort to close tax loopholes for rich people and big corporations?  This is what their masters pay them for, and they’re stinking up the joint so far.  ‘Don’t raise taxes on job creators?’  That’s all you’ve got?  Bush cut taxes for those people during the last decade and the only jobs they created were in China—end of argument.  The corporatists are going to have to hire a new political party at the rate this is going.  Do you think the Dixiecrats are still available?

The Family Stock Index might as well have taken a late-summer vacation over the last two weeks; at today’s closing level of 1045.21, it appears to have scarcely budged from the 1045. 33 close on September 9th.  Of course, the FSX has been budging all over the place during that time, soaring 8.0% last week and then giving every bit of it back this week.  On the bright side, we’re more than five percent above the lows for the third quarter.  On the dark side—my side—unless we put up a 20% gain next week, we will log our second-straight negative quarter in Q3.  On the bright side again, the FSX rose 19.6% in the fourth quarter last year, so we may be moving into a period of seasonal strength and an overall gain for 2011 is hardly out of the question.  I’m not really looking much farther forward than that, as I’m planning to hide in a cave somewhere from New Year’s Day 2012 until Election Day in November.

Advancers

  • Reagan (REGN) +10%.  One up, 23 down, and surprise, surprise, it’s Reagan in the green.  Maybe we won’t have to wait until 2040 for President Reagan II after all.  I figured we’d have amended the Constitutional qualifications for the nation’s highest office by now, actually, so as to make way for a Schwarzenegger administration.  After the country got a look at the cow housekeeper he put a baby in while married to an almost-Kennedy, that scenario went up in smoke.  But the mental groundwork had been laid, and so getting Ray Gun into the Oval Office by 2028 at the latest should be a snap.  Or rather, getting her elected should be a snap.  Getting her to move out of this house will be the real challenge.

Decliners

  • Zero (FRZ) -3.5%.  I told Reagan yesterday that Zero’s continued market slide had pushed him into last place in the FSX for the year and I suggested that she should chip him off some of her 100% year-to-date gain to show that she cares.  I said she could put a few percentage points in with the necklaces she and Jenny are sending Charlotte and it would move him up to the middle of the pack again.  “Okay”, she said, clearly not listening.  “How many do you want to do?” I asked.  “How about 50?” she replied.  “50% is a lot,” I said.  “That would be half of your gain for the year.”  “Wait a minute…half of mine?  It’s my percentage thing?  Um, how about just 20 then?”  Ladies and gentlemen, your next President of the United States!  And she’s already thinking like a Republican.
  • Mario the Younger (SUP) -8.3%.  The market is clearly overreacting, as the worst-case scenario for next week hardly justifies an 8% drop in the stock.  There might be some hard feelings, sure, but Mario can always get another dog.
  • Marcus (MCS) -12.1%.  The Steelers pounded the Seahawks 24-0 last weekend, and I doubt it was even that close (our local game was Cam and Carolina Newtons versus somebody, and I didn’t watch).  But this gridiron laugher belied a chilling threat, as it was later revealed that Marcus had failed to tell Jodi Ann that picking against the Steelers in the Brinky Cup is not allowed.  As a result, she picked the Seahawks to win, and I failed to intercept the potential jinx before it was locked into the Brinky Cup spreadsheet.  If the Steelers hadn’t won that game, the three of us—Jodi Ann, me, and Marcus—would have been at fault.  Not the players, not the coaches, not the officials—us.  Jodi Ann can plead ignorance and I can blame Excel, but Marcus would have been at the mercy of Dark Mario.  Dark Mario has no mercy, and on top of that, he’s going to be really put out about his dog, so really, MCS—and the world—got off easy this week.
  • Lisa (LSI) -12.9%.  Speaking of Dark Mario, he is a bad loser in addition to being merciless and possibly bereaved.  Lisa is still leading in the race for the Brinky Cup after the second week of the season, and winning the Cup really brings with it more risk than reward.  Technically, it brings no reward.  And other than causing the Steelers to lose, there’s scarcely any endeavor fraught with more risk than one that causes Dark Mario to lose at something sports-related.  I suggest that Lisa aim to finish a few games behind Mario in the standings.  That way, she avoids his initial wrath, and when I strip him of the title based on some fabricated technically, she can step right into the winner’s circle.  As I said before, there’s nothing in the winner’s circle, per se, and it’s more of a theoretical circle than an actual circle, but still.
  • Zondro (ZQK) -13.0%.  Brinky has always been strong, but now he’s fast, too.  It’s one thing when you can come to the baby and another thing entirely when he can come to you.  Can Zondro stand to lose an ear, or even a tail?  Maybe.  What about his whole face?  Clearly, the market thinks no.
  • Ruby (RBY -20%) and Winston (HWD -21%).  The unlikeliest pairing since McCain and Palin (or me and nice pants) kicks off its week-long tour and the market is in a full-blown panic.  Forget Greek default and Chinese inflation—here’s a disaster that everyone can understand.  Remember, the market sold Ruby aggressively when she was preparing to take on Brinkley, and he poops in a diaper.  “What if she actually puts a diaper on him?” Reagan asked.  What if, indeed?  “What if she puts him in Brinky’s clothes?” Jenny wondered.  The market is practically frothing with unresolved fear.  Based on this week’s price performance, the most likely scenario seems to be that one of them eats the other and chokes to death on the fur/hair.  On the off-chance that’s too extreme, this could prove to be a buying opportunity.

 

Name Ticker 9/23/2011 Change
Brinkley BCO $23.36 -2.55
Charlotte ICE $122.10 -2.88
Dustin DST $43.70 -1.95
Icarus FLOW $2.30 -0.16
Jenny LEN $13.40 -0.40
Justin WOLF $2.67 -0.28
Katie CATY $11.57 -1.03
Lee MSTR $115.41 -6.19
Lee LEE $0.84 -0.00
Lisa LSI $5.79 -0.86
Lucas LEI $1.64 -0.26
Lulu LULU $55.77 -1.99
Marcus MCS $9.89 -1.36
Mario T.E. PBY $9.51 -0.80
Mario T.Y. SUP $15.11 -1.36
Marisa MOLX $20.69 -1.11
Nicole B. NI $21.09 -1.09
Nicole L. COL $51.55 -4.66
Reagan REGN $66.19 +5.99
Ruby RBY $3.68 -0.91
Wilson WILC $5.87 -0.45
Winston HWD $10.67 -2.79
Zero FRZ $1.67 -0.06
Zondro ZQK $3.35 -0.50
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