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BOYCOTT CHRISTMAS!!!

On November 1st I celebrated my 40th birthday. A significant day in my life, my family's life (by default), and the entire world's apparently! Because, apparently, the world has officially gone crazy the day I turned 40...Let me explain... On November 1st of the year 2007 the United States of America unilaterally decided to now entirely ignore Thanksgiving and go straight to Christmas! And why the hell not, I guess? Right? Not enough bucks in selling a few million turkeys and the fixin's that go with it. Turkey is really actually pretty darn affordable per pound. Giblets, corn, pumpkin pie?...all reasonably priced items.

Now Halloween on the other hand generates a nice tidy sum for retailers. You got the costumes (which ain't cheap), the slew of parties which usually involve quite a bit of alcohol (big bucks), and the billions spent on all that wonderful candy! So we go nuts on Halloween and the retailers enjoy this.

But Thanksgiving? Nope...not a whole lot of money required for the families of America to enjoy this beloved holiday and the quality time spent with their loving families, getting together to give thanks for all the good fortune we have.

Not the right "fortune" I guess though, right? In America we want the LITERAL "fortune" not the figurative one.

BUT CHRISTMAS?!! Woo-WEEE!!! That is some HUGE buckaroos spent there my friend...the "literal fortune" and then some! It's estimated that most retailers generate 40% of their yearly income on Christmas sales alone! 40% spent for ONE SINGLE DAY!!! Pretty substantial, hey? Yep, and apparently, because of this, we've (they've) decided to skip Thanksgiving decorations, advertising, songs (I know, there's not many), etc. and go right from Halloween to the Christmas festivities. Each and every year we have--as a nation--tried our collective darndest to get Christmas rammed down the buying publics throats as soon as possible. The most noticeable way was always the tv ads starting earlier and earlier every year. Annoying, right? Yeah, very...but that seemed to be the extent of it for the most part. For the retailers of America there was always that darned Thanksgiving getting in their way! How could they avoid it? The stores would go from their Halloween themed decor immediately to their Thanksgiving decorations. And then on the day after Thanksgiving the blitzkrieg would start! Wee-hoo! There was "Black Friday" where all the idiots would line up at Wal-Marts (camp out even!) starting before the crack of dawn, frothing at the mouth, sometimes getting in fistfights or trampled to death to save a few bucks on the latest Precious Moments figurines.

Well, not anymore. This year we have truly gone to Hell. November 1st, 2007 not only marked my 40th birthday (and let me remind you that November 1st is also ALL SAINTS DAY) but it was also the day and year that Christmas finally, and completely, went from what was supposed to be the most blessed day on earth to what it really is for 90% of our populace...a 60(ish) day extravaganza to uncontrollably piss away a lot of money on a lot of crap no one really needs.

And what, pray tell, happened on November 1st to make me think this you ask? Well, on the way to lunch at my favorite restaurant I almost vomited when Sandy leaned over to change the radio station and said, "Did you hear this yet?" and I gave her a confused look. Her finger tapped one of the buttons and the local station WMYX lit up on the display...it took me a few seconds before I realized what I was hearing!...Yes, you guessed it, Christmas music! "What the...?!" I said, "But it must be just the one song some idiot requested right?" I added. NOPE! This local station--which I will now and forever from this day forth BOYCOTT--proudly announced that from this day until Christmas they'd be playing all Christmas music 24 hours a day! "What the HELL?!!!" I spat! "You have got to be S***ing me!" Nope.

Okay, so it's one a-holeish radio station, right? Sadly, wrong! In the following hours they mobiliozed! It seemed this was an organized decision! As we drove down the street we saw it...it was happening...the Halloween decor came down and what was going up in its place?...Thanksgiving stuff right? That's what always happens...It-it's the next major holiday after all!!! Nope. The Christmas crap was going up all over the place. The florists, the restaurants, the bank, etc. They all decided to skip Thanksgiving and go straight to the Christmas bucks...get a jump on the competition! And the competition took notice! The floodgates opened wide! For in the following days, one-by-one, they all jumped on the "skip Thanksgiving day" bandwagon. "Let's just pretend it doesn't exist," they thought. "People are stupid. They are sheep! They will buy what we tell them to buy."

And sadly they're right. For the most part anyways. People will flock to the stores and they will spend more than they usually do. More than they can probably afford. Our local mall even had a "lighting of the tree" celebration THIS WEEK where Santa himself appeared to greet the children and give the parents an opportunity to purchase their photos of the kids and Santa early! Wow! Thank you Bayshore Mall! You're the greatest.

We're boycotting them, too.

My guess is that at least 30% of people don't even know the real origin of Christmas anymore. And don't get me wrong!...I'm not a "Bible thumper"...not at all! Trust me. But this IS a religious holiday, isn't it? I forget. A holiday that is supposed to celebrate the life of a man who died for our sins...remember? Isn't "Gluttony" one of the seven deadly sins? Yeah, I know, "gluttony's" not one of the Ten Commandments but there is a lot of "Thou shalt not covet..." going on in there and I think spending shitloads of money on boatloads of trinkets and crap is close enough...Hey, I went to Confirmation classes and learned all that good stuff!

But, whatever, bottom line is that somehow I seriously doubt that when Jesus was up there on the cross he wondered how much Gross National Product would be generated on the day we celebrated his birth!

word.

r

THANKS A MILLION!

Hello everyone!

I'm doing something a little different in this week's blog. I'm posting a press release from my buddies over at the CGC (Comics Guaranty Corporation). Steve Borock and I became friends back when I first started THE 3 GEEKS 10 years ago, and since then he has shown me such wonderful support and friendship and introduced me to Paul Litch and the other great people over at CGC. I know that I can always, ALWAYS, count on Steve at every show to have a warm smile on his face and, if we have the time, a beer or ten after hours.

Whether you like the CGC or not, you can't deny they've staked a claim in our industry. They've made their mark! One million marks to be exact....

THANKS A MILLION

Every CGC-Graded Comic Is Now One in a Million. Literally.

CGC is proud to announce that it has just certified its one millionth comic book. A 9.0 copy of Gold Key’s “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” Movie Comics (1970) submitted by collector and restaurant owner Bruce Horste from Canton, MI, has been officially recognized as the one millionth submission certified by the company in its eight-year history.

“This really is a monumental moment, not just for CGC, but for me as well! It is so important knowing that the hobby I have loved my whole life is now better, safer and much more fun, in part because of CGC” said Steve Borock, CGC President and Primary Grader. ”I remember back when Mark Haspel and I, looking at the CGC safe for the first time and seeing about 400 to 500 comic books, saying to each other ‘How the heck are we going to get all these comics books out of here in time?’ We both look back at that day and laugh, knowing that now all the Finalizers combined, grade about that many books in a day.”

Since its official opening announcement in 1999, CGC has experienced an increase in comic book submissions each year, expanding its grading personnel and staff multiple times to meet the hobby’s incredible demand for expert, impartial grading.

“This is insanity. CGC has certified one million comics? It feels like we did that years ago!” joked Paul Litch, CGC Senior Grader and Modern Age Specialist. “Seriously though, this is a huge milestone for all of us here at CGC and the collecting community as a whole. Shawn Caffrey and I have had a lot of fun working with some of the greatest publishers and creators in our hobby. Let’s also not forget the collectors we see at every city we visit during convention season. Without any of these hobbyists, CGC would not be here today.”

“Steve, Paul, and I are not only proud to be part of this from the beginning, but we are so very proud of all our employees that make CGC what it is today,” says Mark Haspel, CGC Vice President and Finalizer. “We feel privileged to have worked alongside them as well as with all the collectors and sellers in our hobby for the past eight years.”

But now that CGC has reached this milestone, what do these numbers really mean? How remarkable is it really?

The process of CGC certification is not that of one or two hobbyists looking at a book, picking a grade and placing the comic book in plastic. It is a monumental task, done not just by hobbyists, but by professionals who love what they do.

The certification process starts the minute a comic book(s) arrives and is signed for at the CGC offices. It is processed by our receiving department and then labeled for grading. The only information that the grader will see is the label. This label will only have a barcode and the invoice number. When the comic book goes through the certification process, the only knowledge the graders have of any specific comic book is that which is on the label, to keep the submitters identify hidden throughout the grading and restoration detection process for reasons of impartiality.

After each book is carefully inspected by a restoration detection expert, pre-graders and finalizer, the comic is then assigned a grade and a label color classification. Any restoration detected is always noted on the label along with the grade.

The comic book then goes to encapsulation where two pieces of safety micro chamber paper are placed inside the front and back cover. Next the CGC label and comic book are placed in an archivally safe Barex inner well before being sonically sealed in CGC’s state of the art tamper evident holder.

Once an invoice has left encapsulation it enters “Q.C” (Quality Control), to ensure that each and every comic book is checked, before being safely shipped to the submitter in our specially designed shipping boxes.

With all this in mind let’s now take a look at the figures:

1,000,000 books certified in 8 years averages out to 125,000 books per year, that’s over 10,400 books per month, over 2600 per week! This averages 520 books per day, that are each looked at by a minimum of 3 graders! The lucky submitter, Bruce Horste, will receive a commemorative plaque and free Collectors Society membership, plus a $200 CGC certification coupon. The CGC crew and management, meanwhile, has been celebrating the achievement and is currently making bets on how long it will take them to reach two million certifications.

"BEE" IS FOR BORING

I love Jerry Seinfeld. My wife loves Jerry Seinfeld. We watch--and have watched--Seinfeld just about every day in syndication and we continue to love it. The man is a genius! THE BEE MOVIE written by Jerry Seinfeld?...not so much. It's a clever, cute idea that never takes flight (that corny little play on words is a sampling of the types of lines in the movie! UGH!). Simply put, the movie was boring.

The premise: A newly graduated young bee learns that he now must enter the job market and that once he picks his job he does it for the rest of his life until he drops dead. And making honey is it. That's all bees do. He wants more. He goes out with the bees ("Flight Jockeys") who gather pollen one day as they have the glory jobs and discovers a big bright new world. He also (inexplicably) strikes up a friendship with a human woman (yes, apparently bees and humans can communicate) and then learns that humans eat, sell, and use enslaved bees to make honey for their own consumption without compensating the bees in any way. So he sues humans for stealing honey and wins. The bees get all the honey back, the enslaved bees go free and all the flowers in the world begin to wither and die. Lesson learned! Bees have a very important function the entire planet depends on. So, our little misguided bee must now go to the Tournament Of Roses parade and hijack a float with roses so they can re-pollenate central park and save the world.

Believe it, or not, the premise isn't half bad...it's the execution that totally misfires. It's choppy at best with no real cohesive flow or rhythm. The jokes are horrible. No characters pop out as being likable or memorable. There were a slew of corny jokes and puns which garnered little more than sparse chuckles from the crowd (I think I counted 6), no real tension or conflict, and poor use of the only semi-funny character in the movie; Chris Rock's mosquito character ( I think he had 2 whole minutes of screen time). Patrick Warburton's voice talent (we love Patrick too!) was completely wasted as a constantly screaming, annoying tennis bum. Not funny. Renee Zellwegger(sp?) also wasted with bad lines and a pretty directionless character in the film. And Jerry's character whined in a high shrill throughout the entire film. The high shrill CAN be funny when used sporadically or timed appropriately, but it seemed as if he talked like this through the entire film...and he talked quite a bit. Way too much, in fact. It's like what The Simpsons has sadly become the last 6 seasons...non-stop banter for the sake of non-stop banter. The writers seem to think they have to jam as much pandemonium as possible into each and every scene! Whatever happened to the old comedian adage about "comedy is timing"? They left the audience no time to breathe in THE BEE MOVIE. And yet, the end result of all the pandemonium and high shrilling?...a very, very bored audience. I had trouble staying awake! My daughter, who is an animation junkie has her head on my shoulder through half the film! And after the film we ran into a family we knew and the mom whispered she almost fell asleep and Sandy's (my wife) eyes popped wide as she exclaimed, "ME TOO!"

Bottom-line: we were very sad that we did not like this movie. We wanted to! We love Seinfeld. Truly. But the movie is not very good. In all honesty I give it a D+ and that's "bee"ing very generous (another sample of the humor). I was SHOCKED today reading the Entertainment Weekly review where they gave it an A-!!! Although they do tend to pander to the studios sometimes, don't they. That's why it's wise to wait a week and read the average grade grid they do. I tend to agree with Renee Rodriguez in general...but I digress.

Save your money folks. Watch reruns of Seinfeld instead.

Word!

r

TURNED 40 THIS WEEK...Hmm...

Yeah...I turned 40 on Thursday. Kinda sucks in a way, y'know? Mortality and all that. Halfway done now and all that. The old "I thought I'd have accomplished more...made more money...had more groupies...etc.,etc." The body aches are definitely more prevalent as the days go by as well. My feet, my neck, back, teeth and the new one this week was my right oblique (could possibly be a cracked rib, too) that's causing me quite a bit of discomfort. Yep, 40.

On the plus side I am alive and still kicking ass! Both figuratively and literally speaking. Pulled in about 20 boards on Wednesday playing hoops (yes, wearing goggles!) and ran from end to end of that damned court like a 20-year-old. Course the 20-year-olds probably aren't wrecked for the entire following day like I am but what the hell.

Also on the plus side is the fact that my wife still supports me chasing my dreams--or delusions--of grandeur. And my daughter still thinks I'm pretty cool and wants to wrestle and play every day with me. And that's pretty darned cool.

So, what does a 40-year-old get for his birthday you might ask? Well, this 40-year-old gets the massage chair he's wanted to get for the past 10 years but couldn't afford. Still can't but for the fact that Relax The Back Store had a 50% off floor model sale! YES!!! It is possible to love a non-living object, people...trust me.

I also picked up a couple new cds by Josh Ritter and James Blunt. I discovered these two wonderful musicians a few months back and am now in the process of acquiring everything they've ever done. Completely original and brilliant, beautiful music. I also picked up the new novel "The Last Days Of Krypton" by Kevin J. Anderson and started reading that last night. So far so good. Great concept and I'm excited about reading this. Also picked up Charlie Huston's newest book; the follow-up to the "Already Dead" vampire novel. Huston's books are incredible! Great characters, brutal but believable violence and paced at breakneck speed. And today we're going to see "The Bee Movie"...hope it's good. It's Seinfeld so my hopes are very high. I'll let you know.

Okay, off to work now on issue #6 of MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS. Things are really starting to heat up for Michael Pointer, a.k.a. Guardian, a.k.a. Weapon Omega!!!

Word!

r

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