Thursday, June 02, 2005

Spare Change

Anna, our lovely Siberian that I last wrote about here, is apparently saving up for something special. Over the past few days, I have discovered that Anna has been hoarding spare change; I discovered this when I heard her clawing at the carpeting under my recliner while I was typing. Curious as to what she found so fascinating, I crawled behind the chair to sneak a peek just as she came out from under the chair carrying a quarter in her mouth. I followed her from the upstairs library down two floors to the basement, where she placed the coin in a quarter with, as it turned out, another 64¢ in change that she had apparently accumulated over an unknown period of time. During the next two days, I found three more treasure-troves of coins and watched Anna search out another 57¢ in change to add to her savings account. I finally discovered where much of the change was coming from: Anna has learned that there was more change to be had in the cushions of the living room sofa, and had pushed the cushion forward just enough to enable her to get to it.

What did she plan to buy? I have no idea. I thought we were meeting her financial needs pretty well without any need for additional feline investment. I also have no idea how she learned that there were coins to be had in the sofa, since we really haven't sat in the family room downstairs a single evening since Anna joined us back in November (we spend most of our evening time in the upstairs library, which has become our impromptu family room/media room since we added the 61" DLP Samsung almost two years ago now). Perhaps she can smell the coins... I dunno. At any rate, I have tried to track down any remaining change and put it out of her reach, since I'm now worried that she'll swallow the coins and do some damage to herself.

I've never heard of another cat that saved coins; if anyone has any more information on this rather distinctive character trait, please clue me in.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

For Love of Comics

Today, a customer came in to pick up a couple of issues of The Punisher. As I was ringing him up, he mentioned that this completed his run of the series; he was proud of the fact that he now had every issue of the current Punisher run. I asked him what else he read.

"Nothing," he said. "Just The Punisher."

I didn't say anything--everyone has his own entertainment quirks--but I was a bit mystified. I can never remember a time when I went into a comic shop and picked up just one comic book. I would be more likely to eat just one potato chip, just one M from a pack of M&M's, just one jelly bean, than to buy just one comic book. Sure, there are characters that I enjoy more than others--but I really enjoy comic books.

When I was a kid, I never thought of some comics as being just for girls and other comic books as being just for boys; I was just as likely to grab a Little Lulu or Wendy the Good Little Witch as a Strange Adventures or Batman or Adventures into the Unknown or Fantastic Four. The character or the premise was less important than the comic book itself; it was the blending of words and pictures that captivated me. (Of course, I was much the same when it came to television in those days; while I had shows that I enjoyed more than others, I could always find something to watch on the six channels we received--three network channels from Atlanta, three from Chattanooga--because less desirable television was still better than no television at all!)

I loved the three-packs I found at convenience stores and department stores that contained those old Israel Waldman IW and Super reprint books; it wasn't too long before I could recognize the distinctive Ross Andru-Mike Esposito cover art on some of those collections, although at the time I couldn't figure out why the same dramatic art couldn't be found inside the books as well. I relished the discovery of a big stack of Charlton comics (for some reason still unknown to me, I tended to find Charltons in large clumps--it was as if, rather than being distributed with the regular weekly shipment of comics that the rack jobber brought in, the Charltons were held for months at a time, until there were enough of them to fill up an entire rack). I could be amused for hours with a hefty pile of Archie comics--particularly if they included a handful of those wonderful Bob Bolling Little Archie comics. I really enjoyed the Marvel and DC pre-hero and non-hero anthology books; Strange Tales Annual #1, with its heaping helping of monster and sf reprints, was as much fun for me as Strange Tales Annual #2, with its Spider-Man & Human Torch team-up story. War books, hot rod comics, movie and teevee licensed books, Classics Illustrated... heck, in a pinch, I could be amused by a bunch of romance comics (the only genre I thought of as being somehow inappropriate for young boys... although I still read 'em when there was nothing else around).

Of course, there were no comic book shops when I was a kid. In fact, there were no comic book shops when I was a teenager, nor were there any in this area when I was in my early twenties. The closest we came was Cantrell's on Lee Street in Atlanta, where a huge assortment of back issues could be found (most at premium prices, alas); in my hometown of Rome, I could count on Liberty Hatworks & Newsstand on Broad Street to have the best assortment of new comics, with Conn's Grocery coming in a close second. And I don't think I ever, ever went into one of those stores and came out with just one comic book... I never had that level of self-control.

And I'm pretty happy about that. If I had bought just a single comic on each trip to the store--if I had focused only on books starring a single character--think how much I would have missed! I don't collect comics--I consume entertainment, and it's hard to find more entertainment than is contained within a big stack of comic books...