80 Years of DC Comics, Part One: A Comics Life in Moments

80 Years Episode 1 Website LogoPresenting the first episode in an all-new podcast miniseries from Pop Culture Affidavit, 80 Years of DC Comics. Throughout these twelve episodes, I am going to be taking a look at the various genres of comic books that DC Comics has produced in its 80-year history. For my first episode, I start off easy by talking about superheroes. More specifically, I go through 10 moments in DC Comics published during my lifetime that have I’ve enjoyed or that have had some sort of impact on me. So while it doesn’t necessarily cover all 80 years of the company, it’s a personal look at DC, company I’ve been very loyal to since I started seriously collecting comics more than two decades ago.

Of course, you can download the episode from the same iTunes feed used for every episode of Pop Culture Affidavit, or you can listen here:  Pop Culture Affidavit Presents 80 Years of DC Comics, Part One:  A Comics Life in Moments.

Below are scans of the ten moments I talk about, in brief, in the episode (btw, some of these are spoilers for the stories they are from).

1. Batman Confronts Silver St. Cloud (Detective Comics #475):

Silver St Cloud2. Donna Troy Reunites With Her Adopted Mother (The New Teen Titans [First Series] #38):

Donna Troy Reunion3. Ordinary Citizens Reacting to Merging Earths (Crisis on Infinite Earths #5):

Crisis 5 Old Couple4. Bruce Wayne Has Some Bad News (Detective Comics #620):

Detective 620 Last page5. The Atom and Green Arrow Kill Darkseid (JLA #14):

JLA Death of Darkseid6. Batman meets … Batwoman? (The Kingdom:  Planet Krypton):

The Kingdom Batwoman7. Rose Wilson Chooses Her Family (Teen Titans #1/2):

Rose Wilson Ravager8. Darkseid and The Infinity Gauntlet (JLA/Avengers #2):

Darkseid JLA Avengers9. “Superheroes.  Kill.”  (Final Crisis #3):

Final Crisis 3 final page10.  Danny Chase’s Sacrifice (The New Teen Titans: Games)

Teen Titans Games Danny Chase

We Wrote the Book on Savings

consumers catalog

The cover of the fall 1991-1992 Consumers catalog. The company stayed in business until the mid-1990s, although my local store was gone by then.

I think that I am at the point in my life where I don’t get upset if I go to the store and something is out of stock.  Oh sure, it’s a minor inconvenience and the solution usually leads to me getting in the car and driving to another, similar store down the road.  But when you are a kid, this is a hard lesson to learn.  You don’t have a car and you don’t know much about the stores in your area beyond what you have seen whenever your parents have taken you, so showing up to TSS only to find out that the action figure you wanted was completely sold out can be absolutely devastating, even if it provides you with much-needed lessons about how you’re not always able to get what you want instantly.  Now, I’m sure that if you ask a number of people in my generation how they learned this lesson, they’ll tell you a variation on the same story–they wanted a toy, they asked mom or dad to take them to the store to get it, it wasn’t there.  Or they may say one word:  “Consumers.”

Consumers was a catalog-based store that was founded in Canada as Consumers Distributing in 1957 and expanded over the course of a couple of decades, adding stores and then buying out other, similar retail outlets, something that helped them to pop up with more frequency during the 1980s.  The idea behind the store was similar to its main competitor, Service Merchandise:  the company published a catalog and then anyone who wanted to buy something from the catalog would head to the local retail outlet–usually at a mall–and pick it up.

That is, if they actually had anything.

The G.I. Joe page of a 1980s Consumers catalog. Photo courtesy of YoJoe.com

The arrival of the Consumers catalog twice a year was an event.  My friends and I would grab it out of the mail and skip right to the toys and games section.  Open before us was a display of everything we ever wanted, from G.I. Joe figures and vehicles to every Nintendo game that we’d ever seen advertised anywhere.  Plus, the prices were much better than what you would get at Toys R Us–not that Toys R Us was overpriced or anything, but any time you can say, “Hey Mom!  The Legend of Zelda is only $45 and not $60!  Can we get it?” you have a better shot at getting what you wanted.

That is, if your parents were completely gullible, which mine were not, but that didn’t stop me from trying.  Unfortunately for those who actually got this ploy to work, going to Consumers was usually a bust because they would head to the store, find the item on display, give the cashier a ticket and most of the time discover that said item was currently out of stock.  According to the Wikipedia page on the store, this led to the company creating what was then an innovative inventory checking system, where they were able to look up the item you wanted on the inventory of every store in the area, which is something that we take for granted in today’s retail world.

But the prevailing perception was that most of the merchandise at Consumers was non-existent and as much as the company tried to change that, I don’t think it really helped.  It also didn’t help that the Consumers store in the Sayville area was in the Sun Vet Mall, a mall that was closer than any of the malls in the area but was clearly third-tier, especially when compared to the South Shore Mall and Smith Haven Mall, which had big-name department stores.  Sure, Sun Vet had The Gap, which was convenient when I was in junior high and high school, but its anchors were a Rickel Home Center and a PathMark, so it didn’t exactly scream “Galleria” if you know what I mean.

The Consumers store was located in the corner of the mall near the Gap and McCrory, both of which have since left, and whereas the other malls always were bustling, Sun Vet always seemed half dead and while the mall’s pizzeria was excellent and Sun Vet Coin and Stamp always was good for a few back issues, you only went there if you absolutely had to or if you were like me and my friend Jeremy, who would ride there on our bikes when we were teenagers simply because we had very little else to do.  Whereas Service Merchandise would be a huge store that was part of a brand new shopping center down the road, Consumers was shoved into that corner and while the first few catalogs would get people there, the store was pretty dead within a year or two, especially as we’d taken to dragging our parents back to Toys R Us or anywhere else where we knew that would have what we wanted in stock.

So in a way, it was a learning experience about being more strategic in begging for toys and other stuff as well as being more patient, and perhaps that is why so many of us are more intelligent these days about where we shop.

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 43: Yet Another Rambling January Podcast Episode

Episode 43 webpage coverSo it’s Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanuaaaaaaaaaaaaary. Blah. BUT, thankfully I’m here to bore you all to death … I mean, get you pumped up for another year of pop culture randomness! Join me for 40 minutes of rambling where I talk about Christmas, highlights from last year, and what I’m looking forward to this year.

Show notes and pictures are available at http://popcultureaffidavit.com, which is also where you can see regular weekly blog entries about the randomness that is pop culture.

You can download via iTunes or listen here:  Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 43

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 42: Closing the Door on 1994

Episode 42 Webpage CoverIt’s the end of the year and that means it’s the end of my year-long series, “1994: The Most Important Year of the Nineties!” I close things out with another grab bag that features music, movies, television, politics, and the Internet and then give a final, closing statement about why 1994 is the most important year of what’s proven to be an incredibly important decade.

You can download it via iTunes or listen here:  Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 42

And for your viewing/listening pleasure, here’s some things that were covered in the grab bag or at least mentioned at one point or another …

Dave Matthews Band: “Best of What’s Around”

Hammer: “Pumps and a Bump”

Weezer:  “Buddy Holly”

Beastie Boys: “Sabotage”

Scenes from The Ref

Opening credits to Party of Five

BoDeans: “Closer to Free”

Live: “Selling the Drama”

Live: “Lightning Crashes”

The trailer for True Lies

A call from The Jerky Boys

Dave Matthews Band: “Ants Marching”

Real McCoy: “Another Night”

When you care enough to send the very best

A rack of greeting cards of various categories. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

“Do you have any cards for granddaughter and husband?”

“Oh my God, you’re the reason we still do this,” I muttered under my breath as I scanned the rack of Christmas cards.  I’d already been there ten minutes longer than I wanted to; hell, if I’d had a choice, I wouldn’t have even gone to Hallmark to begin with.

As I get older, I’m failing to see the need for buying Christmas cards.  I’m not talking about the cards that you buy in a box or customize with a photograph or two and mail to people you haven’t seen, heard from, or spoken of in at least a decade; I’m talking about the individual cards you give along with a gift to people you are going to see on Christmas Day to whom I can say “Merry Christmas.”  Is a card really that necessary, especially when it’s going to wind up in the trash sometime before New Year’s Day?  And why, if I am complaining about having to buy Christmas cards, did I wind up dropping $34 in Hallmark?

I think it probably boils down to the idea of obligated tradition, a “We’ve always done it this way” thing for Christmas that is probably one of the few things keeping the greeting card industry afloat.  Because if you’ve actually stopped and thought about it, there are very few people who actually want to buy Christmas cards and that’s because we’re all secure in our feelings toward each other.  Unfortunately, we cater to the insecure and the manipulative, either to shut them up or avoid drama, and if you haven’t mastered the art of manipulation yet, I can confidently tell you that there are five types of people that you have to look out for.

The Indexing Continuity Freaks.  I’ve already given you a glimpse of these people at the very opening of this post, but let me go a little further in depth here.  These are the people who own accordion files where they keep greeting cards for every different type of person and every possible occasion that may be celebrated.  Is your second cousin-in-law a secretary?  Here’s a Secretary’s Day card!  Does anyone possibly celebrate Arbor Day?  She does!  Is anyone going to be able to tell that you’re giving the same card to your grandmother this year that you gave last year?  This person, of course!  Look, I understand the mentality–after all, I’ve been known to obsess over how exactly to organize my comic book collection from time to time (alphabetical by title?  Should I put all the parts of a crossover together?  Do I arrange things pre-Crisis vs. post-Crisis?)–but there’s a point where it gets ridiculous.  Not only that, but greeting card companies have been catering to these nuts for years.  I can’t look for a plain birthday card for my sister without having to sift through shelves of “sister and deadbeat boyfriend,” “sister and her 10 cats,” or “when are you going to settle down, sister” cards.

The Backhanded Complimenters.  There was a point, a few years ago, that I stopped buying mother-in-law cards.  Why?  Well, first, there were only three mother-in-law cards that existed and I’d bought all three of them (see also: Hanukkah … do stores in the South really not think that Judaism is an actual religion?); furthermore, they were all so insulting.  If I’m buying a card for someone and it has to say something inside, I’d like something nice and simple, not some screed about how tough it is to get along with your mother-in-law.  The “Daughter” and “Son” cards are just as bad.  I mean, I understand that the woman or man your son married did not spring forth from your womb, but do you really need the quotes?  Does anyone, other than the Indexing Continuity Freak, really want to open up a card and find out that they’re a sub-category or that they’re “loved?”  Even Roger Maris had his asterisk taken away, for crying out loud.

The Emotional Momenters.  You know who I’m talking about.  They’ve bought you a gift that’s very nice, but they spent more time on the card and while you open the envelope, their eyes grow with anticipation, waiting as you read the card and searching longingly for the first sign of tears.  It’s a calculated move they use every holiday and they are outright disappointed when the card doesn’t have the desired effect.  After all, they read every card in the store in order to choose the right one, so you’d better cry.  Oh, you’d better cry.  And if you don’t?  Then, cold shoulder it is!  These people are the hardest to please because not only are they looking for just the right reaction, they are examining the opening and reading of the card so closely that you have to time everything just right or they’re going to know the moment you’re faking.  There’s no way you could read a card that quickly and react like that!  I watched your face as you read slowly–you didn’t mean it!  Emotional Momenters are powderkegs of dramatic irrational crying waiting to go off, so make sure you practice.

The Comedians.  I love a good funny greeting card.  Love them.  But I can’t stand the lowbrow ones.  Maybe it’s the fact that I’m, oh, I don’t know, smart, but when I’m giving my wife an amusing card for Christmas, I’d prefer not to have to have her read a card about sex acts out of a bad porno movie. Furthermore, why does every joke about Santa involve reindeer poop or yellow snow?  There is such a thing as a smart joke; can’t I get a card that tells one of those?  People who give these cards most likely will present them to you in front of people who would easily get offended by said jokes and therefore, you wind up doing that nervous laugh that says, “Okay, I see how funny this is but you obviously have no social skills or you wouldn’t have given me a card involving 50 Shades of Gray in front of my 80-year-old Born-Again Christian grandmother.”  Please … if we all stop buying poop joke cards, maybe they’ll stop making them.

The People Who Didn’t Pay Attention in English Class.  I teach high school English.  Whenever I assign a novel, the first question is, “How long is it?”  Well, either that or students open the book, look at the last page, then look at the first page and celebrate the fact that the book begins on page four instead of page one (because that makes such a difference).  These people seem to think that quantity begets quality; therefore, these people are more likely to buy greeting cards that have multiple pages of sappy sentiment, as if that makes them better than something that is simply stated.  Thankfully, I married someone who majored in English and knows better, so the two of us get simple cards–that is, if we remember to get cards at all.  I’m convinced that nobody who buys these long-winded cards actually reads said long-winded cards.  They just see a lot of words, grab the card, pay for it, get in their IROC with a “Tommy & Gina 4-Eva” license plate frame and speed off into the night.

One year, I’ll actually not buy cards at all.  I’ll rip the Band-Aid off and allow for the disappointment of “Oh, you didn’t buy cards?” to wash over me until it’s repeated enough times over enough years that people forget I ever gave anyone a card.  That won’t be this year, though, because I’m too lazy to deal.

Pop Culture Affidavit, Episode 41: The Pop Culture Affidavit Christmas Countdown!

Episode 41 Webpage CoverBECAUSE NOBODY DEMANDED IT, it’s time for yet another Christmas episode! And this year, I’m saving you from the barrage of crappy Christmas “classics” out there with my own TOP TWELVE COUNTDOWN of CHRISTMAS FAVORITES! Plus, a special long-distance dedication!

You can download the podcast from iTunes or listen here:  Pop Culture Affidavit, Episode 41

And here, for your viewing pleasure, are the thirteen songs that I play on the countdown …

Bob Rivers, “It’s the Most Fattening Time of the Year”

Everclear, “Hating You For Christmas”

Run DMC, “Christmas in Hollis”

“Weird Al” Yankovic, “Christmas at Ground Zero”

The Kinks, “Father Christmas”

Sarah McLachlan, “Song for a Winter’s Night”

The Carpenters, “Merry Christmas, Darling”

Ramones, “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”

Wham!, “Last Christmas”

Elton John, “Step Into Christmas”

The Waitresses, “Christmas Wrapping”

Bob Rivers, “The Twelve Pains of Christmas”

The Pogues f/Kirsty MacColl, “Fairytale of New York”

Pop Culture Affidavit, Episode 40: What Happens When People Start Being Polite and Start Gettin’ Real

?????????????We’re nearing the end of 1994: The Most Important Year of the Nineties and in the penultimate episode of the series, I’m showcasing what is one of the most important television series of the Nineties, The Real World. Specificlally, I take a look at season three: San Francisco, which starred Judd Winick, Pedro Zamora, and “Puck.” The episode includes a run-down of the history of The Real World up to that point, a look at the season and then a look at the season’s legacy as well as Winick’s 2000 graphic novel, Pedro and Me.

You can download the episode from iTunes or listen here:  Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 14

If you are interested in watching the entire San Francisco season of The Real World, MTV has it available online:  The Real World: San Francisco

Also, you can buy Judd Winick’s Pedro and Me, it is still available on Amazon:  Pedro & Me: Friendship, Loss, and What I Learned

Also, here’s some of the stuff featured in the episode …

A compilation of the intros to the first twenty-two seasons of The Real World …

The “Why Doesn’t MTV Play Videos Anymore” sketch from Brian and Maria …

The Puck Eviction …