Leonardo da VinciSo, if you follow me on Goodreads or see my status updates on Facebook of what I’m reading and where I’m at in the books I’m reading you know that I’m currently reading Walter Isaacson’s “Leonardo da Vinci”, the outstanding biography of the original Renaissance Man.

I had no idea that there were plans to make an adaptation of the book until I read about it in one of the newsletters I subscribe to from Book Riot. And in an interesting little twist, Leonardo DiCaprio is set to produce and star in this planned movie.

Leonardo DiCaprioWhich brings me to an even more interesting twist. The other day, while reading the book, I got to wondering how Mr. DiCaprio came be named Leonardo and if there was any connection to Mr. da Vinci. According to Book Riot, Mr. DiCaprio “got his first name because his pregnant mother was looking at a Leonardo da Vinci painting in a museum in Italy when the future star kicked for the first time.”

Now THAT’S a kick in the gut…

Emergency ShelterAccording to this article from The Bradenton Herald via the Emergency Management Magazine website, folks in Southwest Florida, Central Florida and the Tampa Bay area will find the availability of emergency shelter during the next hurricane to be in short supply. Some of the shortages cited in the study that the article is based upon are staggering.

Looking at these predicted shelter shortages, I would say that if a destructive hurricane (category 3, 4, or 5)  is coming your way and your home is in one, both, or all of these areas it might be best to evacuate as soon as possible and drive north until you’re out of the path. Otherwise, your chances of finding emergency shelter in your area look to be greatly reduced.

If you missed it, you can read about the first part of day one at the North Texas Comic Book Show right here.

After getting my main mission accomplished, I was able to relax a bit and enjoy the show.

First up was Jim Shooter’s one-man-panel on storytelling. When Jim Shooter was 14 years old he began selling comic book stories to an editor at DC comics, who had no idea at first that the writer sending him these great stories was barely a teenager. When I was 9 years old, I was reading Superman, Superboy, and Legion of Super-Heroes comic book stories written by Shooter, who was 5 years older than me, and loving them! Of course, I didn’t know that at the time.

Here’s a couple of photos of Jim Shooter expounding on aspects of storytelling.

Jim Shooter on Storytelling

Afterward, I just meandered around visiting the various seller’s booths remembering when I paid 12 cents for a comic book that now sold for $2,400 and walked down “Artists Alley” admiring some of the comic book drawings.

Next up was the staple of every self-respecting comic book convention – the costume contest. They had one for kids and one for adults who were still kids. I’ve never competed in one, but I could see myself having fun doing that, so don’t take that previous sentence as a snarky poke at those adults who were letting their inner child out to play.

Here are some photos of some of the contestants.

Wonder Woman and Maelficent

Can you name all of them in the comments?

Then it was on to the final panel of the day; the Secret Wars reunion panel composed of writer/editor Jim Shooter, penciller Mike Zeck, and inker John Beatty. This was one of my favorite parts of the convention and these three gentlemen spent about 90 minutes telling us how the comic book came about, why they made some of the changes to established characters that they did, how hard the project was, how fun the project was, and sharing little-known behind-the-scenes stories while answering audience questions.

Here’s a photo of, from left to right, John Beatty, Mike Zeck, and Jim Shooter during the panel.

John Beatty, Mike Zeck, and Jim Shooter

By the time this panel was over, I was too. It was time to make my way to my nearby hotel, get something to eat and crash for the night so I could be fresh for the next day at the North Texas Comic Book Show.

I enjoyed lunch at Panera today with two of my co-workers. After I filled my cup with unsweetened black iced tea, I noticed the cup looked a little different.

Upon closer inspection, I found this rundown of how many teaspoons (teaspoons are easier than grams) of added sugar are in a drink that size, with no ice, depending on what drink on the list you were having.

Both of my co-workers are young men in their early 20’s, and neither of them like the taste of cola drinks, so thank goodness for that. Every time we’ve been out to lunch together they both have ordered water to drink. But one admitted that he LOVES sweetened iced tea.

I mentioned to them that I grew up drinking sweet tea and did so until my late 20’s. At the time I was trying to lose some weight and my physician recommended cutting out cokes, which I drank almost all the time, and trying to have my tea unsweetened. Giving up the cokes was not as difficult as I thought it might be, but it took me quite a while to even tolerate unsweetened tea, much less enjoy it.

But one of those funny things happened as over time I drank more and more unsweetened tea; I found I now hated the taste of sweetened tea. If a server accidentally refills my glass with sweet tea, I almost gag when I take a sip and realize it tastes sweet.

Now, as I pointed out to my co-workers, that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a sweet tooth because I definitely do. I have to constantly watch myself to not overindulge. But for some reason, sweetened tea is absolutely repulsive to me, and maybe that’s a good thing.

By the way, extra points to the first reader who comments with the name of the late actor-comedian who made the title of this post one of their signature phrases. I’m guessing no one will unless they google it, but we’ll see if anyone as old as me reads this blog, lol.

I’m happy to say I have my ticket to see Black Panther: The IMAX Experience this Saturday at noon. I’ve been a fan of this character since he was first in the Fantastic Four comic book back in 1966 when I was 11. That character, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, has undergone extensive changes over the years, but has always maintained the regal demeanor expected of a ruler.

This looks like it will be a, forgive the pun, marvelous movie!

I arrived at the convention center on Saturday for the North Texas Comic Book Show at 8:30 am for a 10 am “doors opening” time. There were already a few people in line to get their tickets, but I already had mine so I stepped outside to get a shot of the exterior of the convention center.

Exterior shot of the Irving Convention Center

It was 44 degrees outside and the wind was brisk, so I took several quick shots with my “real” camera” and my camera on my phone and then headed back inside quickly to the welcome warmth.

I got in line to exchange my tickets for wristbands and then joined the now much longer line of attendees waiting for the doors to open. I did not spend the extra $20 to get in an hour early, but later I would wish that I did.

Jim Shooter signing my bookI finally entered at 10:02 am and immediately went looking for the line where former Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief and writer for the Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars series, Jim Shooter, was signing. After standing in the very long line for about an hour (the last 15 minutes of that spent enjoying conversation with Mr. Shooter as he talked to the two men in front of me and myself while he signed their books), I finally stood in front of him and presented my book and a couple of prints I purchased for his autograph. He kindly signed a dark interior page of my book with a light marker, then the prints, and then the Certificates of Authority (COA’s) to prove he signed said items, should I ever wish to sell them. He graciously shook my hand, said it was a pleasure meeting me and hoped I would have a good time at the convention.

Fortunately, the other two men who were the artists (penciller and inker) on the series were right next to Mr. Shooter, so I quickly got in the short line for Mr. John Beatty, the inker on the series. I only had to wait about 15 minutes and then got so involved in talking to him that I forgot to take a photo of him signing the book and COA’s. I took note of the fact that Mr. Beatty purposely left a space between Mr. Shooter’s signature and his (also in a light marker on the dark page) so that the penciller, Mr. Mike Zeck would have room to place his, holding the usual order of credit appearance as writer, penciller, inker.

Mike Zeck signing COA'sThen it was over to the line for the penciller of the series, Mr. Zeck. The wait in this exceptionally long line was about 45-50 minutes. I’ve always liked Mr. Zeck’s art so I picked up a print of a Captain America drawing he had done that I had admired for years to have that signed as well. We only spoke for a few moments while he was signing, because there were a lot of eager fans behind me who were also waiting anxiously for a chance to have their various books and prints to be signed.

So, after 90 minutes waiting for the interior doors to open and then another 90 minutes in line to get the three most important autographs I wanted from this show, I considered the paramount purpose of my visit to have been accomplished and could take time to enjoy the seller booths, artist alley and panel discussion that were to come over the next two days.

Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars TPB signed by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck, and John Beatty

I’ll write and post about the rest of the show over the next few days, but here’s a panorama shot of the floor on Day One from the top of the bleachers.

North Texas Comic Book Show Day One Panorama Shot

This appeared in my situation update this morning:

Asteroid 2018 CB Close Approach

  • Asteroid 2018 CB will safely pass earth at a distance of about 39,000 miles (less than one-fifth the distance of earth to the moon) today at around 5:30 p.m. EST
  • 2018 CB is estimated to be between 50 and 130 feet in diameter (for reference this is larger than the asteroid that entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013)
  • Asteroids of this size approach this close to our planet maybe only once or twice a year
  • This is a 0 on the Torino scale

The Torino Scale is a method for categorizing the impact hazard associated with near-Earth objects (NEOs) such as asteroids and comets. – Wikipedia

Asteroid 2018 CB

Since it’s well past the appointed hour, it looks like the astronomers were right, but one day some pool-playing cosmic entity is going to use Earth to spin a shot into the corner pocket and then…

North Texas Comic Book Show logoIt’s been a while since I’ve been to a Comic Book Convention, so I’m especially looking forward to going to the North Texas Comic Book Show this weekend for my first visit to this event. I marked this on my calendar back in November in case I was still here in Austin, so I’m really glad I’m getting to go.

I haven’t read any newer comic books in the past 16-17 years for various reasons, so I have very little visibility on books, artists, or writers from that time period. I have, however, been buying relatively inexpensive kindle collections of old comic book titles I used to read from the time I was a kid until 15 years ago or so. It’s been a nice stroll through time for me.

One of my favorite story runs was the Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars, a 12 issue story that changed a great deal of the Marvel Universe back in 1984-1985. And at this weekend’s North Texas Comic Book Show the writer, artist, and inker from that series will all be on hand to hold panel discussions and sign autographs over Saturday and Sunday. I bought this dead-tree collection of the issues so I could have each one of them autograph it to add to my collection.

Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars collection

In addition, legendary comic book artist/writer Jim Starlin will also be making a guest appearance. There will also be cosplay events, which are always fun to take photos during. Other comic book artists such as Michael Golden, Al Milgrom, Mike Grell, and many, many other comic book luminaries will be appearing which should make for a fun weekend, something I could really use!

North Texas Comic Book Show ticket

Customers at Best BuyBest Buy announced recently that they would stop selling music CDs in all of its stores by July of this year, while Target is considering moving to a consignment only deal for any music CDs it sells. The news has a lot of people asking if music CDs will be no more.

When I heard the news I stopped and started rummaging through my memory. The last time I bought a music CD was in July of 2016 in Rapid City, SD at the James Taylor concert I attended. And I only bought his CDs because my wife asked me to so she could play them in the car (we have an ancient vehicle that does not allow you to plug in your digital music device to listen to music through the speakers). But I can’t even recall the last time I bought a music CD for myself. I do a lot of individual song downloads digitally to my iTunes account; not so many of entire albums because I seldom want to listen to every song on an album.

James Taylor in concertAt the cabin, I have a couple of good-sized boxes of music CDs that I have accumulated over the years. And every time I get t spend a few days at the cabin I take the time to rip songs from those CDs to iTunes, then place the CDs back in a box. Why? Why not sell them? It’s true that I could definitely use the space in my office that those boxes take up.

But as much as I enjoy digital music, photos, videos, books, etc. I also have this fear that one day, they will be erased, corrupted, or in some form or fashion be unable to be played or viewed. In other words, the technology will fail in some manner.

It’s silly, I’m sure. But I worry that it will happen.

There’s also another reason.

Stack of CDsI used to have a ton of vinyl record albums and 45’s that ended up being sold at yard sales for a buck because, “Who needs ‘em? I’ve got my music on little reel-to-reel cassette tapes.” Then I had cassette tapes that eventually bit the dust from non-use as in, “I don’t need these cassettes because I have my music on 8-track cassettes with much higher quality.” And soon after it was, “My music is on these high-quality CDs, so I don’t need those 8-track cassettes anymore.” Now it’s, “I can carry my entire music library with me digitally in a device only slightly larger than those old reel-to-reel cassettes, so I don’t need these bulky CDs.”

CDs in a rackAnd yet, over the past few years, there has been a resurgence of audiophiles who only want to listen to music on vinyl records. Just think; if I had saved those albums for forty years I could be making a fortune by selling them now. Maybe the same thing will happen in another 40 years with reel-to-reel cassettes, 8-track cassettes, or even music CDs and my grandchildren could become millionaires from my boxes of CDs.

I could be sitting on a ton of money.

But, this is the digital Age of Aquarius and so digital downloads have prevailed and will make the music CD obsolete as a mass consumer delivery method for musical content. Such is the way of progress; the old making way for the new…and the better.

When was the last time YOU bought a music CD?

Last night before bed I scheduled my post about the anniversary of The Family Circus comic strip to post just after midnight and went to sleep. I awoke this morning and wanted to check my overnight stats, but when I tried to log in I found that my blog was hacked. Someone changed my login credentials, both username and password, which I discovered when I tried to change my password through the usual means and was presented with a username I’ve NEVER used.

When I discovered it I was eating breakfast before leaving for work and did not have time to devote to solving the problem, so I spent most of the day dreading what someone might be doing to my blog or what they might be posting under my name.

So, as soon as I arrived back at the hotel I contacted my hosting service and found a way I could go in through “the back” so to speak using my hosting credentials to reset my username and password for the blog. While in the files I looked around (even though I’m nowhere near conversant enough with my database details to know what I was looking at) to see if I could find any obvious changes or dates/times when this could have happened.

Nothing.

I’m at a loss to explain how it might have happened. I haven’t added any new software to the blog; I’ve kept WordPress itself updated as each new release comes out; my password was rated strong (my new password is rated VERY strong), and I’ve never given my username/password out to anyone.

I was also confused as to why anyone would bother to do all this and then do nothing over the following 12-18 hours to make use of the site…until I read this. Seems like there are other reasons for hacking into a lowly WordPress blog.

Anyway, that’s the best I was able to come up with and I’m just glad I was able to get back control of my blog. Oh, and for good measure I removed the login meta links from my blog pages, just to remove the temptation of anyone who might be so inclined to try and use them. The upside is that I learned some new ways to work behind the scenes of my blog. But if any of my friends or computer whizzes are reading this and have any further information as to what might have happened and why I’d love to read it.

In the meantime, stay safe out there.

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