Want to get a song stuck in your head for-damn-near-ever?

Then watch this Garfield short:

It'll lead you to madness, sure, but at least it's bouncy, upbeat madness.

How to quadruple (or more) your blog traffic overnight:

Get included as a blind link in Rich Johnston's column.

(Scroll down to the bit about blogs talking about that Heroes for Hire cover. I'm the word "image." Which is sort of ironic, seeing as I'm one of the few bloggers who didn't actually include the actual image anywhere. And I only really mention it offhandedly. But there ya go.)

So if you're here for the first time, um, hi. Can I offer you a soda or something?

The Dig List: 5/29/07

Semi-regular short(ish) blurbs about what I've been enjoying in and around the pop cultural landscape. Sort of like when I'd do the short thoughts about comics, but a little more wide-ranging.

Juliana Hatfield & Frank Smith: Sittin' in a Tree EP - The regulars out there know full well that my love for Juliana Hatfield and her music runs deep, and that I'll buy anything and everything she releases, the way some people hunt down every single Dylan track they can find, so my opinion will be unfairly biased from the start, but this? This was good. Juliana has done some of her best work lately with other folks (like the Blake Babies reunion and the two Some Girls albums), and this EP with Frank Smith (a band, not a man) is no exception. Her wispy voice and the band's alt-country sound play well together. But it makes sense, since some of Juliana's best solo tracks of the past few years have had some decidedly country leanings, anyway, so it's sort of a no-brainer, really. Like I said, I'm biased going in, but after being left a little cold by Juliana's last few albums, Made in China and live album The White Broken Line, it's nice to see a return to stronger form from the excellent Ms. Hatfield, since this is her best outing since In Exile Deo and the last Some Girls disc. And I'll be checking out more from Frank Smith in the future. Highly recommended.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (the Special Edition version) - And no, I will not call it Episode V. Nor will I call the first movie A New Hope. That one is, was, and always will be Star Wars, and this is Empire, dammit! That aside, all the talk of the Star Wars anniversary this weekend got me nostalgic, and I actually found myself with a few free hours Sunday afternoon, so I popped Empire (my favorite of the series, and the first movie I ever saw in a theater) into the DVD player and geeked out. And yeah, I watched the updated Special Edition from the first DVD release a year or two back, because I refused to buy the original trilogy on DVD again just to get the original versions as a bonus. Besides, honestly? I don't mind the Special Editions so much, and truth be told, Empire probably holds up the best since any changes made seem to be largely cosmetic. Some new background scenery, better looking Wampa, and the real Emperor gets dropped in, but beyond that, nothing too jarring. Not to the scale of Han and Greedo's lunch date or the dance number in Jabba's palace, anyway. And while it suffers a bit from not being a complete-unto-itself story, like the original Star Wars (or, I suppose, Phantom Menace), it still holds up as the best of the series, I think, and even gets me excited for the prospect of watching Jedi again, even though I know that the afore-mentioned dance number, Ewoks, and newly-added ghostly Emo-kin Skywalker await.

Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds and Sensei & Student TPBs - Alright, the Greg Land covers are sort of ridiculous, and the interior art by Ed Benes brings a little too much cheesecake to the party at times (and while I certainly enjoy a little cheesecake of both the literal and figurative varieties now and then, you can have too much of a good thing), but the stories by Gail Simone are exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for in my DC comics: stories that play in that great big sandbox that is the DC Universe and not only use as many of the toys as possible, but use them in new, interesting ways. I don't think that Oracle, Black Canary, Huntress, or any of the others appearing in these two trades were always treated particularly well over the years, even by creators who profess to like them, but Simone elevates them to a much higher (and significantly more powerful) level here, proving they're as good at the game (and when it comes to getting their hands dirty, probably better) as any of the big boys. And I must say that I really appreciate that this is much more of an espionage book than I was expecting... again, it comes down to using the toys in new ways. After so many years of all-out super-heroics, it's nice to see over the past few years that DC has learned to embrace the fact that not all of their characters fall neatly into that particular rubric, hence books like this or Shadowpact or Checkmate. Somehow this title never blipped on my radar over the years. I'm going to have fun playing catch-up with the collections.

It's important to know who's in your posse.

As I've been saying for awhile now, Mr. Mind has a posse.

And now, thanks to Kevin, Bully has one, too.

The stuffing is strong in this one.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that today is Bully's Second Blogaversary. And also the 30th Anniversary of Star Wars.

Which is appropriate, really, since Bully is the Jedi Master of Fun Comics Blogging. There are no coincidences in this world, you know.

So click on the link and wish everyone's favorite little stuffed bull a happy day!

An important message to you, from the editor -- about the new Trusty!

Okay, there's nothing so new about this, not really. I just wanted to use the cover blurb from Amazing Fantasy #15. Sue me.

The blog-cation went well. It was nice to get away from things for a little while, and to take a little time to figure out what I'm doing (and how to do it) with this here blog. For whatever reason, all of the unpleasantness circulating and re-circulating and re-re-circulating in the comics bloggysphere was really getting to me. I don't really know why; it's not like I was being forced to participate in it. And as the record shows, I didn't. Hell, I don't even run an all-comics blog here. I think it all comes down to a matter of purpose.

Trusty Plinko Stick has a purpose, believe it or not - it's my little place to talk about the stuff I find fun in both pop culture and in life itself. Not many people in my family or group of friends share a lot of my interests, I work weird hours that don't allow for maintaining much of a social circle... this is my outlet for that. The fact that I get any sort of audience is truly amazing to me. I'm not getting Bully, Mikester, or Kevin numbers, mind you, but considering the average blog is said to allegedly reach an audience of one... well, I'm doing a lot better than that, and I'm grateful. But I'd be putting this out there even if none of you showed up on even a semi-regular basis. As I said, this is my outlet, and a much needed one at that. Erin loves me, but she could give exactly 1/63 of a damn about my belief that Elliot S! Maggin was the perfect Superman writer. And if it doesn't involve Elmo, Liam won't listen, either. So it's either the internet or keep it all to myself. And I come from a family of extensive talkers... we can't keep anything to ourselves for long.

So to make a long story short (FAR too late), damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. I started this blog to talk about the things I find fun, and that's what I'm going to do. That's not to say I won't ever voice the occasional complaint or rant here - ranting is what the internet is here for, after all - but if you want discussions and debates about the issues and outrages of the day (on any topic, really, not just comics), well, there's a lot of other really great places you can go for that sort of thing, and I encourage you to do so. Me, I just want to bring the fun.

(Though I will go on record that Marvel's salute to the Japanese tentacle fetish genre - Hello, Googlers! - is repulsive on about 23 distinct levels. Just want to put that out there.)

So this isn't a new beginning or repurposing, certainly not on the level of the Amazing Fantasy to Amazing Spider-Man transition, anyway. Maybe more of a refocus. Sometimes you need that.

So what's everyone enjoying these days?

Please be upstanding for the mayor of Simpleton.

A little XTC never hurt anybody.

Interestingly, this is slightly different than the video I'm familiar with... some different fake credits, shots used in different places, and some altogether new footage, too. Ponderous.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

I'm invoking the Official Mark Evanier Cream of Mushroom Soup Picture Post and taking a short break. There's lots of stuff going on in life and work. And The comics bloggyverse is getting me down lately. A lot. What with all the sniping over what comics are aimed at which audience, and all the incessant chatter about that stupid, stupid statue... honestly people, it's looking more like Newsarama out there every day. And although I started this blog to give myself an outlet to write semi-regularly, I'm lately nagged by thoughts that it's kind of keeping me from actually writing anything else.

So it's time to take a blogcation. Take a few steps back and figure out where things are going, or if they're even going anywhere at all. Type to you soon.

Wanna buy a reprint of Seduction of the Innocent?

Because I'm selling one on eBay. It's a 1996 (I think) re-issue from a tiny published called Amereon House, one of an edition of 80. If you're a comics fan and only know Frederic "Boom Boom" Wertham's book by reputation, you owe it to yourself to check it out. It's crap science of the highest order, but fun reading somehow.

I'm also selling the hardcover of Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen's It's a Bird... and the Spider-Man Visionaries: John Romita trade paperback if you're so inclined.

Pretty Sketchy - This am not Bizarro by Ed McGuinness

Haven't done one of these in awhile.

So obviously, this is a Bizarro sketch by Ed McGuinness, acquired at a comic show in Boston around early 2003. Ed had just finished his 876,304,503,457th consecutive Batman sketch before he got to me, and he seemed happy that someone asked for something different.

And in happier news...

New Juliana Hatfield EP (with alt/country band Frank Smith) due out May 29th.

Happy dancing to commence shortly. Line forms to the right.

It needs to be said.

If anyone ever wondered why I seem to dislike so many comic book readers even though I am one myself, it's because their stupid tastes and buying habits force talented creator folks like Mark Waid to make observations such as this one in an interview with Comic Book Resources writer Robert Taylor:

MW: ...The moment all the reviews started coming in they all said, "It's fun." "It's fun." "It's fun." I started to sweat, because "fun" is a death word in comics these days.

RT: If you kill off Hawkeye, people are going to hate it, but at least they are going to buy twenty of it.

MW: That's just it.

"Fun, fun, fun" being our rap makes me worried. Sales were strong on the first issue, but the second issue drop-off was a little steeper than we'd predicted. And I honestly think that was because every reviewer said it was "fun."

"Fun" automatically kills off a lot of your sales. Don't get me wrong; the book's still a success in the current market, and no one at DC has expressed anything but enthusiasm. We certainly seem to have a hit on our hands, George and I. I just hope that the "fun" label doesn't hit us too hard. If so, it's just another sign that current readers don't want "fun" comics.

RT: You should have Blue Beetle raped by his armor or something.

Stuff like this makes me want to say that a whole lot of comic book readers today are sick cretins, and that I'm often ashamed to be even tangentially connected with their ilk, but that may be too harsh.

True, but harsh.

The name doesn't really work at all, but I'm glad they're using it all the same.

I'm not sure when this change actually took place, but I noticed the other night that VH1 Classic changed the name of its Modern Rock programming block from The Alternative to something that brought back some good memories for me: 120 Minutes. Of course, said block is actually 180 minutes long, so the name doesn't make much sense, but still, it's nice to see the nod to history and some brand recognition.

And I see a lot of this sort of thing on VH1 Classic: old shows, wall-to-wall videos, the MTV 20th anniversary tribute day that recreated the first day of MTV programming... hell, there's even some old MTV staff kicking around from time to time. I've seen bald fountain of music trivia Matt Pinfield on there before, and last night I saw a segment with Mark Goodman, one of the original MTV VJs (actually, Goodman is probably the original original VJ, seeing as he was the guy who introduced that first day of MTV programming). It's almost like they're trying to soothe those of us in the 30s and 40s age bracket that grew up on the original MTV, making the transition easier for folks who still equate "VH1" with "I don't so much rock anymore."

But the way I see it, VH1 has long since moved past the "all Phil Collins, all the time" era and is now "all reality shows and comedians snarking about current events and/or the recent past, all the time." And MTV's programming model has always been pretty Menudo-esque: once you reach a certain age, you're no longer welcome. So I'm glad to see there's at least one music channel on cable (digital cable... buried WAAAAAAAAAAAY down in the line-up, but at least it's there) that still remembers us and tries to feed us the programming we want to see. They still slip in the occasional movie, show, or special event, but it's still mostly videos. That shouldn't seem like a novelty, but it is, and I'll take it, thanks.

But please, Viacom, don't take the music away from this one, too. Stop trying to make everything younger and hipper for the 14-23 year old crowd. Hey you kids, stay off of my music channel!

Speaking of 120 minutes, here's an interview with Juliana Hatfield in two (short) parts from what seems to be 1995:

Thoughts while continuing to wade through the "To Read" pile: FCBD edition.

I was doing so well getting through the To Read pile, and then Free Comic Book Day had to go and just about double it again. But like I'm going to turn down free comics? Nope... even if it does make me look like a greedy hoarder, I take one of everything that looks interesting to me. It's the best chance all year to try out new stuff and get re-acquainted with some old favorites at the same time. Besides, I had Liam with me, and I grabbed quite a bit of kid-friendly stuff for him that we'll read together as soon as he learns to be a little less grabby and destructive with books and magazines (the kid can wreck even the heartiest of board books... you should see what he can do to a magazine or catalog if the mood strikes).

Long story short - too late - here are some more brief thoughts about stuff I've read, this time focusing on some of the FCBD books we got.

Unseen Peanuts - Wow. Even dated, weird, or just unfunny classic Peanuts strips are still in a category above almost everything else, huh? My favorite part about this (besides the cover, which mimicked the old paperback collection covers) was that it took me almost an hour to read; it takes me less than ten minutes to read a book I pay $3 to $4 for, and this freebie takes me 6 times that. Fun and economical!

Comics Festival 2007 - Lots of great stuff here - like the Darwyn Cook piece and the funny-but-scarily-true Dinosaur Comics strip, to name two - but I think my favorite was the piece by Bryan Lee O'Malley starring my favorite supporting cast member from the Scott Pilgrim books, Kim Pine. It captured the flavors of the character herself and the book she hails from, but still works well as its own entity. The Frasier to Scott Pilgrim's Cheers, if you will. I'd like to see more.

Amazing Spider-Man: Swing Shift - The Slott/Jiminez story was more fun than any regular Spider-book has been in years, but I got the uneasy feeling from what I was reading that Joey da Q's gonna get his pre-marriage Spider-Man back after this One More Day malarkey. Not bad, and certainly more readable than JMS, but I'd still rather read Marvel Adventures or Spidey Loves MJ.

Amelia Rules - Hangin' Out - The Amelia Rules FCBD books are always highlights for me, and this one was no exception. Lots of good laughs in here - Reggie's definition of "hanging out" and the pay-off of Rhonda's cold were my favorites - and I'm reminded yet again that I need to get the rest of the trades for this series. Didn't care much for the Apathy Kat back-up, though. Kinda generic and just not very funny.

Gumby Special 2007 - More bizarre Gumby hi-jinks from Bob Burden. Very fun story, but I wish they had gone with just one artist. The shifting in styles was just too jarring for me.

Umbrella Academy/Pantheon City/Zero Killer - My niece actually told me to keep an eye out for Umbrella Academy because of the My Chemical Romance connection, which I thought was pretty cool, and cooler still was the fact that I thought it was a lot of fun. Maybe a little derivative of B.P.R.D. (probably because of the Gabriel Ba artwork), but fun. The Pantheon City snippet didn't really go anywhere, per se, but I did like it. Zero Killer, though, is definitely not for me. But as the 'Loaf sang, two out of three ain't bad.

Bongo's Free For All 2007 - I usually end up liking the Bongo FCBD books best, but this year's fell flat for me. I'm not really a Futurama fan, I don't think Bart Simpson-centric stories are particularly fun (even when written by Evan Dorkin, apparently), and Ralph Wiggum is a better supporting cast member than protagonist. I would've preferred a story with the whole Simpsons family, or at least just Homer, and maybe something from the Radioactive Man side of things, too. I didn't dislike this, but I was certainly disappointed.

Wahoo Morris - The lead characters were kinda boring, I wanted to smack the allegedly funny roommate guy, and the supernatural element comes jarringly out of left field at the last second. I get what it's trying to do, but it doesn't do it in a way that makes me ever want to read another issue.

The Astounding Wolf-Man - I think the premise is interesting enough - dude gets mauled by werewolf, but decides to use the curse to be a hero instead of a monster - but this introductory issue didn't exactly grab me. But Kirkman's one of those guys who reads better in the trades, anyway, so maybe I can give this another shot somewhere down the line. And the Jason Howard artwork was quite nice, I thought, so there's another reason to give this the eventual second chance.

Starman trade paperback eBay blow-out! (If five books constitutes a blow-out, anyway.)

I'm selling off my Starman trades on eBay, seeing as I have the original issues and actually prefer that format for this series. Also, we're hopefully moving soon, so the less stuff to bring, the better. Anyway, bid early, often, and honestly on:

Vol. 1 - Sins of the Father

Vol. 2 - Night and Day

Vol. 6 - To Reach the Stars

Vol. 7 - A Starry Knight

Vol. 10 - Sons of the Father

Hot reading action! Or, brief thoughts on recent comics.

I made a pretty good stab at cutting down the "To Read" pile over the past few days. At least until I got that pile of Free Comic Book Day books, anyway (speaking of which, anyone get a spare copy of the Buzzboy/Roboy Red book? I couldn't find that one and I really wanted it). So here are some super-brief thoughts (a sentence or two, Tegan-style) on the books from my recent DCBS order.

Supergirl & the Legion of Super-Heroes #s 28 & 29 - So Waid and Kitson left earlier than expected... anyone know why? Anyway, despite a mid-storyline creative team shift, still good fun, and that allays my fears about the new directions a bit (though I still say they should give the book to Christopher Bird).

All Star Superman #7 - Probably the issue of this series I've liked the least so far (probably because it wasn't a done-in-one), but still better than just about everything else around, so I'll not complain. Even with my misgivings, there are lots of great moments (I'd love to own the Sun-Eater original pages; such a brilliant sequence), and I'm looking forward to learning about Zibarro, the imperfect Bizarro.

Green Lantern Corps #11 - More space-faring, Hal-less Green Lantern fare, and I'm digging it. Loved the interplay between Soranik Natu and her new partner, Guy's completely justifiable anger, and the Kilowog subplot; I just wish they'd let John Stewart join the regular cast and use Mogo more sparingly, though.

Optic Nerve #11 - I was afraid I'd be lost here, having read part two of this story when it came out last year, but I got back into the swing of things quickly, and I was happy to see all the characters get what they more or less deserved. Though at a whole calendar year (or more) in between issues, I think Tomine needs to stick with single issue stories from now on.

Brave and the Bold #3 - A book that plays in the entirety of the DC sandbox where no one gets their head punched through on-panel? Non-asshole Batman, nervous rookie Blue Beetle, the Lord of Time, the Fatal Five, and one of the better last page splash panels I've seen in years? Yes, please; I'll take two.

Spirit #5 - Sure, Carrion and Julia are creepy, but they were back in the Eisner originals, too; maybe not to this degree, but still, it was definitely there. Consistently one of my two favorite books published by DC right now - the other being All Star Superman, and this was actually better this month - and it had one of the best lines ever in any book not called Nextwave: "Don't be stupid, kids need sugar like hobos need bathtub gin!"

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #1 - I wished it had been an original story, rather than a slightly different take on the premiere episode of the cartoon, but it was a fun introduction to the characters, and this is probably the best that Chynna Clugston's artwork has looked on any of her major company projects.

Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #1 - All set-up, but it was a lot of fun, and great to see Wieringo drawing both Spidey and the FF again. Parker came through with some great beats in the script, including one of the best-ever Thing/Torch practical jokes, and the interaction between Spidey and the Impossible Man. Can't wait for issue 2.

Marvel Adventures Avengers #12 - Ego the Loving Planet is a great concept on paper, but it didn't quite play out as well as I was hoping it would. Still a lot of fun, but it didn't quite manage to recapture the inspired lunacy of the MODOC issue. But to be fair, that's a lot to live up to.

Johnny Hiro #1 - Book about a guy in bunny slippers forced to save his girlfriend from a Godzilla knock-off? Sold. Hilarious book, well drawn, well-paced, smart, and fun in every sense of the word. The non Morrison-and/or-Cooke highlight of this shipment.

I'd buy this in a heartbeat.

Links and something to watch.

Two from the Onion A.V. Club: 15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has or Will and 13 Failed Attempts to Start Film Franchises.*

Speaking of one of the latter, here's the best end credits sequence ever:

One of the most clever headline misdirections I've ever read: Skywalkers in Korea Cross Han Solo. Someone at the AP gets a cookie for that one.

Free Comic Book Day is fun and all, but Dave Carter is hosting the third annual Free Comic Book Month over at Yet Another Comics Blog. Enter and hope you get picked, because Dave has good taste when it comes to figuring out books other people will like (he's 2 for 2 with me, helping me discover The Sandwalk Adventures and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane).

Chris's Invincible Super-Blog is dead. Long live Chris's Invincible Super-Blog!

*Still waiting on Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League. Or Doc Savage Against The World Crime League. Or even William Shatner Against The World Crime League. Someone needs to fight the damn World Crime League already! They're shifty.

I'm a bit scared to put them all in a pile, for fear of being crushed should they fall.

Okay, between the birthday, a bigger-than-usual DCBS shipment, the stuff I got in trade from Lone Star Comics, and books from the New York Comic Con I haven't gotten around to yet, this is what my comics "To Read" pile looks like at the moment:

Single Issues:
  • All Star Superman #7
  • The Brave and the Bold (current series) #3
  • The Spirit #5
  • The Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #1
  • Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #1
  • Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #s 28 & 29
  • Green Lantern Corps #11
  • Jonah Hex #18
  • Optic Nerve #11
  • Marvel Adventures Avengers #12
  • Johnny Hiro #1
  • Adventure Comics #411
  • The Brave and the Bold (original series) #116
  • Green Lantern: Mosaic #s 2 & 3
  • Legion of Super Heroes (V3, the Baxter run) #s 17, 18, 19, and Annual #1
  • E-Man #9
  • Ambush Bug Nothing Special #1
  • Legion Lost #s 4, 5, 6, and 7

Collections/Original Graphic Novels:
  • Shazam Family Archives Vol. 1
  • Runaways Vol. 7: Live Fast
  • Agents of Atlas
  • Marvel Adventures Spider-Man Vol. 3: Doom with a View
  • Marvel Adventures Spider-Man Vol. 5: Monsters on the Prowl
  • Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds
  • Birds of Prey: Sensei and Student
  • JSA: Fair Play
  • Invincible Vol. 7: Three's Company
  • Every Girl is the End of the World for Me

Also, I'm still picking my way through the giant Locas: The Maggie and Hopey Stories and Marvel Visionaries: Jack Kirby tomes when time and mood strike.

Um, holy crap? I used to make fun of people who'd get so far behind in their comics reading, because honestly, how long does most of this stuff take to go through? But now, I'm starting to see how it can happen. I'm going to need the spare time Burgess Meredith had in that one Twilight Zone where he was the last man alive on the planet. Only without the whole armageddon thing, please and thank you. And though I can read without my glasses, I'd prefer to keep them intact, too.

A Nearly Perfect Comic Book Cover

As part of the birthday weekend, I went to a semi-regular comics, toys, and collectibles show at a K of C hall in South Attleboro, MA, on Sunday. It's nothing fancy, and the "toys and collectibles" part always seems to be better represented than the comics (though it paid off this time, as I finally got my hands on that Doctor Who action figure I wanted), but usually a good place to pick up some fun books for cheap, and since my work schedule hardly allows me to go any more, I check it out whenever I actually get the chance.. For example, Adventure Comics #411, which I picked up for a buck.* Not the sort of thing I was looking for, admittedly, but check out the nearly perfect cover. I think you'll agree with my handily numbered reasoning process that I needed to get it.

1. Bob Oksner draws Supergirl. You can't deny the cuteness there, even in the lame-o hotpants costume. Added bonus: by this point, Kara was a college graduate, so it's not nearly as creepy as admiring an Oksner Mary Marvel, who as you'll recall, is underage, ya perv (by the way, shouldn't someone remind DC of that before Countdown hits the stands?).

2. Big, goofy-lookin' alien. In a cape. I'm not made of stone here.

3. Word balloon (cover word balloons always get bonus points) where character naively sets up story premise. Love it.

4. Blurb that not only has the stones to call the cover story a "thriller," but also promises a Silver Age Legion of Super Heroes reprint. Always a good thing.

5. (Not Shown) Did I mention it was a measly buck?

So as you can see, the cover of Adventure Comics #411 is Nearly Perfect by DC standards. Really, the only thing needed to achieve true perfection is go-go checks across the top. I think I'll add them.

There. Perfect.

*Other dollar finds: an issue of E-Man (one of the Modern Comics reprints, but still) and a 100 page issue of The Brave and the Bold. DC 100 Pager for a buck? Happy birthday to me!