Thursday, September 9, 2010

French Fries Parmesan, please?

I have been very neglectful of this blog of late, but for good reason. I recently started a new job after 17 years in the same place. The curious thing is that, in my old position, I enjoyed writing at home for a change of pace. Now, I write in the daytime - incredibly satisfying, but it does burn up that creative urge. 'Nuff said.

In any case, I wanted to take a moment to share these images from my visit to Syracuse earlier this year. My mother and I went out to dinner to a small Italian restaurant in Liverpool (north of Syracuse) that she had long liked. While eating, I happened to notice something odd about the stained glass windows in the front of the restaurant. Take a look.

That's right - Fry guys from the old McDonaldland characters of the 1970's. At some point, plastic windows from a McDonalds were salvaged and placed in this restaurant. they make a nice enough accent, as long as you don't take close notice of the bug-eyed little sneaker wearing freaks jumping around in them.
That's all. More of a placeholder and a hello than anything real to say. I hope to be back soon.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: No Spoilers, and a lesson in swag

About a week ago, I had the opportunity to see the new movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. This is a good time to state my Rule #1 for this blog: no spoilers, ever. I have no interest in seeing something early to run home and write out my synopsis of the movie or show. If I like it, I like the way they told the story, and I don't think you're going to appreciate it better by reading my truncated summary. The most you'll get from me is "it's good. I think you'd like it if..." In this case, gamers, comic book fans, and music fans are all likely to enjoy this film. From the director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. 'Nuff said.

The funny thing is, only after leaving the theater and seeing the poster in the lobby did I realize I had picked up a ton of swag for the film at Comic Con. in fact, my fiancee and I stood in a line across from the convention center to each get a bag of stuff:
See? Stuff. They were giving it away right at the "stuff" sign. I didn't make it upstairs, so I don't know what kind of party / immersive environment they had going on up there, but it looks like more t-shirts were involved. Here's the free stuff they gave us:

T-shirts, a bag, post cards, free online stuff - all sorts of things. notice the bag says "Scott Pilgrim vs. Comic Con." These are the kinds of things a completist collector of Scott Pilgrim will be wanting to track down.

In fact, if you were really serious about wanting to collect all Scott Pilgrim stuff, you'd have to track down the Comic Con badge from somebody who stood on that line, because they stamped your ID with an oh-so-neat Scott Pilgrim rubber stamp to make sure you didn't come back in line the next day and get another bag of stuff.

If it sounds ungrateful of me to not know I already had all this stuff from Scott Pilgrim (or at least, maybe, that their promotion was unsuccessful in my case) it may help to consider all the free stuff that is given out at the San Diego Comic Con. To help, I laid it out on the living room floor and photographed it:
Free comic books, cards, magazines, buttons, t-shirts, patches, Dexter cheek-scar tattoos, trading cards, Mad Men paper dolls, Archie wedding invitations (both Betty and Veronica), etc. Somehow, I managed to be given four copies of a comic called "radical" over the week without realizing it. Granted, much of these are advertising flyers and catalogs, but it shows how the stuff adds up.
(Collectors note: even though I am not particularly interested in collecting the "Showtime" buttons for Dexter, Weeds, Nurse Jackie, and Californication, it does bug me that I got 3 Weeds buttons and no Nurse Jackie. Just a little bit of OCD manifesting itself...)

A lot of stuff, right? But that doesn't include all the bags I was given there, shown below (with a t-shirt from the "Green Hornet" car garage that I forgot to include above):

Some people list their Comic Con swag on Ebay and try to sell it all for 50, 100, even 200 dollars to recoup their expenses for attending - and I guess people do pay it. Let's face it, if you collect Mythbusters, there isn't all that much different stuff out there to collect, so you'll be wanting their oversized Comic Con bag.

Oh - and to be fair, the above didn't include the free stuff for The Big Bang Theory that I already pulled out into that collection:
No, I don't need four copies of the TV Guide - I'll probably end up giving or trading some to other collectors. But looking at all of this stuff, it occurs to me someone could have a very interesting collection of stuff if all they ever did was go to Comic Con every year and save all the free stuff they got. That would be an interesting cross-section of pop culture.

Hmm. I wonder where those free pogs I got there back in '93 are now...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Post# 150: Our "Secret" Identity Revealed

For our first 149 posts, fancollectorgeek has been curiously anonymous - "curiously" because the only people who likely noticed it was anonymous all knew who was writing it, and no one else likely cared. It has been easy enough to figure out who's writing, either from my Dad's obituary recently linked, or from the many links from the excellent (and personally inspirational) blog of Jim Fanning, Tulgey Wood that identify me by name.

The reason for this (however transparent) anonymity has currently been suspended, making this an excellent time to share the collectible, below, which bears my name:

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell was the sixth person to walk on the moon, in 1971. It also happens that his first and last name are the same as my first and middle - a coincidence, I'm named after my father's uncle, Edgar Mitchell Davis. Still, that coincidence was enough to make me very interested in the space program when I was a kid. I was only four years old when Mitchell walked on the moon during the Apollo 14 mission, but I vividly remember watching it on TV while visiting my grandmother's house in Akron, NY that summer. I had never heard of anyone that had any name in common with myself (well, unless I had heard of Edgar Allen Poe by that age), so I was very interested in his exploits.

When I heard that you could order an autographed photo from Mitchell's website, I decided I wanted to own one myself. Like actors like William Shatner and June Lockhart, many astronauts charge a premium for signed items. The high demand from fans who want to be sure they're getting the real thing makes it a very lucrative sideline for them. It's my understanding that for years Lockhart didn't do autographs at all until finally, in the early 90's, she acquiesced to sign at a Lost In Space convention in Los Angeles for the then unheard of price of fifty dollars a pop. Fans lined up by the hundreds keeping her busy the whole time she was there.

Now, if she was signing at the same rate that Mickey Rooney was (every 12 seconds, five signatures a minute) when he put his scribble on a Fox and the Hound photo for me, she cleared about fifteen thousand dollars an hour that day - slightly less if she took a break to stretch her wrist or get a drink of water.

Nice work if you can get it!

(Just for the record, Mickey Rooney charged 20 dollars a signature, and for charity. not bad).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bazinga-fest 2010

San Diego Comic Con 2010 is officially here, with preview night done and gone. Regular readers know I always enjoy the con, and right now I'm glad to be able to update you on The Big Bang Theory's presence at the show. Judging by the t-shirt vendors, licensees are putting a lot of stock in the show, expecting Sheldon's face to move much merchandise. This is amazing - these t-shirt dealers are a regular feature of the SDCC, and I don't ever remember a single theme dominating so much of their stock all at once - not Star Wars (well, to be fair I wasn't going back in the late 70's), not Harry Potter, nothing. While "Bazinga" far outnumbers the rest, "Sheldon Cooper Supervillain," "Knock Knock Knock Penny," and the friendship algorithm are well represented too. (I have to confess to being a t-shirt snob. I prefer, if I can, to wear a shirt almost nobody else is likely to be wearing. I was given an "Oh My God, they Killed Kenny!" South Park shirt ten years ago, and I'm saving it to wear at least eleven years after the show is off the air.
I wasn't sure if I'd get the new BBT bag at the con, and was prepared to go to Ebay for it, when good friend (and regular reader of fancollectorgeek) Jason Ryan showed up - he had traded his Batman bag for the BBT one just as a favor for me. (Note: good advice to collectors is to know good people. It makes it much easier). The bag is shown here next to the Khan Mego-sized doll I picked up today for size reference. (It's well known that Mego-sized dolls are the standard unit of measurement for oversized bags). If it goes like the past two years, this will be the artwork on the season 3 DVD set (first season to also be available in blue ray!). Does anyone out there know if they're parodying a specific film poster or album cover or something here? Penny vaguely re minds me of Barbarella, but I can't place it...
Jason also nabbed for me these sharpies on lanyards that were given out at the CBS booth to promote the show's move to Thursday night. They made sharpies because, um...I guess smart people like to write with things tied around their neck?
Just the back of the CBS booth. Odd expressions on all the actors. There's supposed to be a signing here tomorrow - we'll see if I get in, or if it turns into another huge siege like last year. Yikes. I'll keep you posted, probably after the show.

Take care!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cheers! (Pretty clever, huh?)

I have been a huge fan of the show Cheers since I first found my parents watching it late one night during its first season - we're talking late 1982 here. (Dates me a bit, huh?) To be honest, I don't really remember if I liked it right away, but I did get into it pretty quick. Back in those days, if you missed an episode, you just might never see it again, and I soon began taping it on Beta tapes, and trading with others who had taped episodes I missed. (It's funny: tapes were expensive then - as much as 10 dollars apiece - so pretty much everybody paused during the commercial breaks to save tape. It was a valued skill to be able to anticipate when the show was coming back on and start up without missing the first seconds of act 2 and so on. Now, in the days of DVD series releases, it's the commercials that everyone wishes they had recorded).

Generally for a sitcom, it's rare for there to be much to collect. The shorter the show runs the rarer (explaining why I treasure everything I've ever found for the 7 episode show Quark. Cheers lasted 11 seasons, so eventually it was not hard to find games, t-shirts, and of course beer glasses emblazoned with the series logo. Of more interest to me is ephemera (which I define as "stuff nobody meant to be saved for long) like the unused show ticket, above. When I first moved to Los Angeles I lived one block from Paramount Studios, and before I had a job I'd wake up early to stand online trying to get into that night's show. I went three or four times before I made it in (Cheers Has Chill, aired March 14 1991 - Rebecca wants to turn the pool room into a tea room). I saved the tickets from the times I didn't get in, I also got to see the Arsenio Hall show once when I was too late for Cheers tickets, with musical guest Iggy Pop.
Back to collecting: also collectible are items from the Bull and Finch pub in Boston, which served as Cheers in the exterior shots of the bar during the credits. I got to visit during my tour of duty as a knee brace salesman soon after I came to LA, a job that let me travel most of the country. This button was a little freebie giveaway, and I know I have a matchbook or two from the pub somewhere. (Sadly, I didn't have a beer when I was there - I had a hamburger. )

This catalog that I picked up there is full of merchandise, and could be considered a collectible now itself. I have always naturally saved stuff like this, and you have to wonder, almost 20 years later, how many of these exist. Either a handful of them or spread out with tourists around the globe like myself, or someone in Boston has hundreds of them in mint condition in boxes in their basement or store room. Either way, they're only a thing of the past, as merchandise is now available online from the pub's website.
Of special interest to anyone who liked my now-classic post on the dilemma of saving and collecting food is this page offering Cheers logo chocolate bars. I wonder if any of these still exist? (And does hanging out in Cheers t-shirts really make you that happy?)

Up next: Penny's last names (Big Bang Theory) and just around the corner, San Diego Comic Con 2010!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Mega-Merchandising Initiation

I'm running exactly a week late with my promised "every Monday a Big Bang Theory" entry. Those close to me know why and I thank you for the support - the rest of you, I apologize if you've been waiting. I'm afraid this first one isn't much, but I just wanted to finally note that just as the show was wrapping their third season on the Warner Brothers lot last May, they finally had Big Bang Theory merchandise for sale in the Studio store. I was lucky enough to receive one of these caps for my birthday. I haven't seen them anywhere else - is it possible they're studio exclusive? Please let me know if you've seen them out in the world.
Otherwise, all they had was a wrack of t-shirts that seem to be everywhere - several odd images of Sheldon with Klingon or Bazinga! references, and the one I like best, reproducing Sheldon's Friendship algorithm, above.
I also had the opportunity to try the peanut butter cookies from the Warner Studio commissary that Jim Parsons said he loved back in the 5 questions interview I reproduced previously (click Big Bang Theory over on the right to see it and earlier entries). While the first one in the pack of three was unimpressive, the other two were delicious - a slight taste of toffee in them, adding a little extra chewiness. Oh, and the pizza was quite good too.

In the next Big Bang Theory entry in a week, I'l recount the Museum of Television & Radio's first BBT event from a year ago January. (Do you see why I'm forcing myself to do a weekly BBT entry? I have many backed up!) I haven't seen the info presented anywhere else, so it may be of interest to fans. For example - do you know any of the potential last names for Penny? They named three of them that night!

Be well.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Shambling soon on a TV near you...

I'm lousy at getting information out there in a timely manner. For example, at the simplest, I have been meaning to write up and recommend The Walking Dead comic book, and talk about collecting comic art, since I first started this blog. Since that time, about 40 more issues have come out, and the book has gone from incredibly popular to mega-super-popular. (Those are my estimates; industry standards may actually label it ultra-super popular). On top of that, it's now being adapted to the small screen on AMC. Given that creator Robert Kirkman wanted to essentially tell in comic form a "zombie movie that never ends" (because when a typical zombie movie ended, he always wondered what happened next to the characters)... given that, a series is a natural way to develop the story. Given that AMC is creating the best dramas on TV now - Mad Men and Breaking Bad - I am really looking forward to the series.

So - I'm way late for any of the above to be news to Walking Dead fans, but I think I'm first with an image of the director Frank Darabont with the comic book (above). I'm not a friend of his, but I could claim to be an acquaintance. We have mutual friends in common, and I often would be at the same events - usually at or related to the legendary Creature Features store in Burbank. I would never expect him to know my name, but the few times we've run into each other he has recognized me slightly, enough to let me say hi and remind him who I am. The last time I saw him was just a few days after he was pegged to direct The Walking Dead series, in The House of Secrets comics in Burbank. He was buying every copy of The Walking Dead available for reference, and he graciously let me take this photo provided I promise not to put it online until a date was announced. I assume he meant a shooting date, and since they're now shooting and it's been announced to air in October, I think I'm safe running it now. Permission is granted to reproduce anywhere provided you leave the copyright notice attached, and please (if possible) link back to this site.
Walking Dead was such a good comic it got me into collecting original comic art much more than I had before. Buying the art for pages is a curious thing to collect: it's taking something you already own and bought for a few cents (a page of a comic) and buying it again, for much, much more money. I got interested in the book just about as issue #24 was on the stands, and it was a great time to buy up some really good pages - like above from Issue 19, the first I bought - for a good price.

One danger of buying online of course, is having a one of a kind piece damaged. I got page 2 of issue 2 - the only piece I ever saw from Tony Moore's original 6 issues at an affordable price, and a great full page splash of main character Rick. It was in Canada, and it arrived, as you can see to the right - with a hole all the way through the outer cardboard, a layer of inner cardboard, an envelope,
and the ART ITSELF. I promised myself I wouldn't write negative opinions here, but I have to tell you, when I tried to file an insurance claim with Canada Post, they eventually just stopped answering my phone calls. Thanks, Sandro...

The funny thing is, I got this for such a good price, it's still a good price even with the damage, and it will display just fine. Oh well.

Starting next Monday, this blog will be updated regularly every Monday and Thursday, with each Monday entry being Big Bang Theory themed until I run out of topics. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Father

My father passed away last month. Besides being a great Dad, he was a world class collector of Theodore Roosevelt. Memorabilia, writings, everything. If Roosevelt was on it, he wanted it, I remember as a kid happily finding a Richie Rich comic I had contained an imaginary story where Dollar the dog helped Roosevelt dig the Panama Canal and happily giving it to m Dad - it went on the bookshelf in the dining room right with the "real" Roosevelt books. (For years my Mom sacrificed the dining room to the Roosevelt library, until us kids moved out and an upstairs room became my Dad's office). It was always exciting to find something for Dad, even game pieces at McDonalds when they had a presidential game in the 70's. The Roosevelt figure you see fallen above was made in 1941. I just found it at the San Diego Comic Con last year, and sent it to my Dad at Christmas. He loved it, and it was amazing to find something that was around since he was a kid that he hadn't come across yet.

Dad's collection was truly world class - arguably the largest, most complete on Roosevelt privately assembled. One of the guiding philosophies of his collecting was that, if something said it had nothing to do with Theodore Roosevelt, it belonged in the collection.

As far as I'm concerned, Dad absolutely "won" as a collector - he not only created something valuable (the best place to research one of our most influential presidents) but he kept the collection together and sold it for a good amount to New York State, where it now resides under his name. A legacy. (The postcard collection alone is linked here). His collection was unquestionably relevant - it is a real pleasure now to see Dad's name listed as a source in documentaries and books about Roosevelt.
Dad loved going to the Flea Market in Syracuse every Sunday he could. I've often noted that part of the appeal of collecting is the hunt, and that was definitely true for him too. My sister said she might go to the Flea Market today in honor of him, and I hope she (and any other family back there into it) does.
Like, I would say, most collectors, Dad started when he was a kid. He treasured the books he had a child, like the one above, and still had many of them in his office now. The top on the left, and the giant's ring on the right (quarter shown for size reference) were treasured possessions that were amongst a very few things he kept atop his dresser or in the top drawer. I will continue to treasure them.
After he sold the collection to New York, he went right on collecting Roosevelt and amassed a fairly decent collection again. A pleasant find as we were looking through this was the book Room For Mr. Roosevelt which is about a family in Syracuse NY that was inspired by TR during his life after the presidency. I'm currently reading it, and finding a surprisingly personal connection to Dad, who also was always somewhat a local historian too.
Late in life, Dad acquired an interest in antique, mostly wooden tools, especially planes - and quickly acquired over 400 of them. For anyone else it would have easily passed as a lifetime, sole obsession, but that just underlines the zest with which Dad embraced his interests. (I swear, one of the last times I was home we went to a book store together and Dad found a wooden plane to buy. Seriously.)

One of the reasons I started this blog was to explore the question "Why do people collect?" I know the answer in part for me: I'm a collector because my Dad was.

I miss you, Dad. Happy Father's Day.

Monday, April 19, 2010

We interrupt these messages...

Sorry folks, I was really on a roll to start posting every three days, but my plans have been put on hold while I return to Syracuse for my Dad, who's in the hospital. He's doing better.

I should be back in Los Angeles pretty soon, and I intend to continue posting twice a week - every Monday and Thursday, I think. Until then, here's this completely non-ironic look at the Spider-man 3 version of Operation. (Spotted in a thrift store in Syracuse).

Monday, April 5, 2010

From Springfield, WIth Love

A recent episode of The Simpsons, "Stealing First Base," Bart experienced his first kiss, or something like that, while receiving mouth to mouth resuscitation. I thought he had his first kiss about fourteen years ago, but since he's only ten years old, maybe that episode doesn't count anymore...

Anyways, the kiss set off a great little montage of iconic cinema and TV kisses. It's interesting how easy they all are to recognize, even with the characters Simpsons-ized and no other context or sound included. I'm sure of all of them except the third - it looks like John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man - but I don't recognize the setting. Did they kiss in some church ruins at one point? I only saw the film once.

This last one is my favorite. If you're old enough to remember this, it was probably one of the biggest laughs ever on television.

Friday, April 2, 2010

When Worlds Collide

Couldn't resist this on Ebay recently. This scene never took place on either Barney Miller or Welcome Back Kotter, but it sure could have. Kotter was set in Brooklyn, and Barney Miller's 12th precinct was somewhere in New York, so it's entirely possible they could've busted the Sweathogs at one time or another.
The truth is, they just ran back to back on the same night, but I loved it when shows crossed over like this. Remember when there was a blackout on every NBC Thursday night show set in New York? I believe it was Friends, The Single Guy, Seinfeld, and Carolyn in the City. Or even further back, when Loni Anderson took the Love Boat to Fantasy Island? (Well, not exactly, but almost). It can get a little complicated: Kramer on Seinfeld sublet his apartment from Paul Reiser on Mad About you. Ursula, the waitress on Mad About You, was twin sisters with Phoebe on Friends. (I recently heard the part of Phoebe was adapted to make her the twin of Kudrow's part on the other show). Paul Reiser's character on Mad About you did a documentary on Alan Brady, the star of the show Rob Petrie wrote for back on The Dick Van Dyke. Morey Amsterdam's character from Dick Van Dyke, Buddy, once appeared on the Danny Thomas Show. Now, the Williams family on The Danny Thomas show once shared a home with the Ricardo family on the Lucy-Desi Comedy hour, which featured the same characters as I Love Lucy, on which little Ricky was once visited by Superman - the real, super-powered Superman from The Adventures of Superman, played by George Reeves. So....Seinfeld lives in the same world as Superman, and every character in between. (Which would've made Jerry's day, he was a big fan of Superman on the show...)

Don't think I'm such a big TV fan I know all this off the top of my head. Out there in the interweb, there's a site where they kept track of all the crossovers ever done on TV here. Between the grid here, mapping how the shows connect, and the key here, it's easy to spend hours seeing how almost every show you watched growing up is connected. And, if you believe the last episode of St. Elsewhere, they're all an autistic boy's imaginings within a snowglobe.

Sadly, neither Welcome Back, Kotter or Barney Miller appear anywhere on this grid - but at least this photo proves their worlds did intersect, somewhere out there in the multiverse, briefly.
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