Well. We had the Brownie Troop over to Jasperwood this evening, as well as the parents. Noise level: sounded like ponies being fed into industrial shredders. Twelve kids hyped up on sugar, the genial roar of kitchen conversation, slamming doors, shrieks of outrage and delight, the occasional tear, small kids who weren’t part of the troop bawling in the corner because they dropped their cake and the dog got it. The dog got lots tonight; now he’s sitting downstairs staring at the wall, regretting everything, and (G)Nat is on the sofa, pasted flat with exhaustion. I have King Hell Headache #6. But it’s all good.

Tried to get into the Strib’s mainframe today via the web-browser-java-emulation program. Didn’t work. Tried everything. Nothing worked. Called technical support. Got a harried tech who sounded like her pants had caught on fire early in the day and everything had just gone downhill from there. She asked what I was using, and I told her a Mac, with Safari, and she sighed in despair.

“Okay, you need to empty out your cache. Go to where it says Safari on the menu bar –“

I stopped her, and said I had emptied the cache, restarted the machine, and duplicated the problem on four machines in two operating systems, including two flavors of Mac OS X, and had checked it with four browsers – Safari, Firefox, IE for the Mac, and IE for Windows. So I was thinking this was a network setting problem, perhaps?

In other words, this isn’t going to be one of those sessions where you have me click on a button that says “Enable Java.” Let’s talk some serious troubleshooting. But we couldn’t. Eventually I was told that a Trouble Ticket Had Been Created. I hate hearing that. It makes you suspect that clearing away the existence of the ticket takes precedence over clearing away the actual problem. Sir, we have generated the form we will use to cover our posterior. I asked to speak to the person in charge of Mac problems, but she couldn’t help, either. So much for filing remotely, then.

At the office I spoke to our Main Tech Guy, who couldn’t help at all. But he asked me to show him exactly what I was doing on my machine, which no one had asked.

Turns out I was entering an invalid URL. They’d changed the URL since the last time I had to get into the system.

Well, there you go.

I wonder if I should call anyone about the Trouble Ticket, or just let it hang out there for the rest of our natural lives, shave-and-a-haircut style longing for the unmistakable finality of TWO BITS.

For some reason I can't explain, I am filled with great warm nostalgia for the comic books of my childhood. It'll come to me. I'd been meaning to post this - it's in the folder of April Bleat Art, so here it is. In my Rifftrax commentary I said I had a Spider-Man plastic pillow as a kid. Well, I did, and this was it:

They smelled. They also came packed so tight you had to use a gas-station airpump to inflate them. If you were not around in this era, which is perfectly fine; middle-age is not mandatory for all - you may wonder what the phrase "shake a Forbush at" means. I wonder if there's a wikipedia entry on it . . . well, of course. Good Lord. That's Comic-Book-Guy dorkism at its most potent and distilled, right there; you could ask a girl out on a date and she would know, somehow, that you had that page in your browser history. It didn't matter why. The fact that you'd looked for it was enough.

Perfect Wikipedia moment: the page is actually about Forbush Man, and is redirected from Irving Forbush. Who was Forbush Man.

I hadn't thought of that for many years, partly because I don't want strange attractive women to point and laugh, but it just shows the power of the stuff you read between the age of 12 and 16. I'll be damned if I remember much of "Dead Souls" beyond the plot, but I remember that pillow.

Except for the Revell model ads, the non-Marvel ads were always stupid:


Starter sets for budding counter-culture kiddies. These posters will decorate your things with meaning, and meaning is very importnat to terribly earnest youth. You could say a message, which was important, because the Times called for Messages. (With meaning.) The totems of hip - zodiacal mumbo-jumbo, Easy-Rider imagery, Peace, Love, Ecology - could be purchased en masse, along with incense and patches and light machines, so you could sit in the basement and listen to your older brother's Steppenwolf records and tell the new kid who'd just come over after school that "Inna Gadda Da Vida" was really "In the Garden of Eden." Everyone would agree that it was all pretty heavy.

It's the "Galdalf Products" that gets me - they assumed, probably correctly, that the kids were "into" Tolkein, which had extra hip cachet because Led Zeppelin had mentioned Hobbit stuff. (Starting in the late 60s, adolescence became the place where the pre-adolescents and post-adolescents found fertile common ground, and we've been plowing it ever since.) Every kid who loved that book imagined it in great detail, carried its characters and their adventures around in their heads. You could never get your Dad interested in that stuff, could you? He had a low wizard-tolerance. So when you saw a company named Gandalf, it was a great thrill: someone else out there got it. They knew.

It was lonely for geeks back then.

Anyway, comics on my mind. No reason.

HEY, IT'S IRON MAN TODAY. IRON MAN. I wish I could be there. It looks great, the reviews are good, and the character is one of the underappreciated warhorses of the Marvel stable. He was one of my favorites as a kid; he was swank and tragic, unlike Spidey, who was nerdy and tragic.

Everyone had a crack at ol’ Shellhead. Kirby did the cover:

Don Heck did the art . . .

Followed by Ditko, who really wasn’t made for this title. Especially when he was inked in a most unDitko style.

Seems likely Ditko did Mr. Doll - and there's a frightening character - and Dick Ayers did Iron Man. I'm pretty sure Ditko did the "Mysterious Mr. Doll" letters, as well as the Crimson Dynamo letters above. Speaking of which: this was another cool thing about Stark. He fought Commies. After he turned the Crimson Dynamo and convinced him to join the West, Nikita the K was infuriated:

Again with the burying. Everything was burying with this guy. He wa most happy when he could plant tulips in the fall; he'd glare at the sack of bulbs and shout I WILL BURY YOU and for once he'd do just that, right there, on the spot. His wife let him do it, because it made him happy. How was your day, dear? Good. Today I buried many things. That's nice.

Dig the TV cartoon theme: Tony Stark, he makes you feel / he’s the cool exec with a heart of steel.

Better than Hulk. Hulk angry! Hulk treated as though is camp pop-art object!

Man, the junk we watched as kids. Of course, they watch junk today, but it’s not this crudely done. Those cartoons look like someone used pinking shears on colored cellophane.

New column up at Startribune.com. See you at buzz.mn!