Odd eBay #2:Die Odder

Greetings everyone!  It has been a while, far too long in fact, but I have returned with more of the unusual, the goofy, and the downright bizarre from the world of eBay!  When you peruse the world's largest auction website you are bound to find some really unusual things.  And so once again I bring you a fresh batch of just such curiosities. 

Starting with this installment, all auctions currently running as of press time will have titles in green while those that are closed but can still be viewed for now are in red.

Exhibit A: Future Writer of Slash Fiction
How much would you pay for a pair of underpants?  Andrew Christian trunks command as much as $27 a pair, so by comparison the $44.99 opening bid price for both underwear and a shirt is a bargain!  Especially considering the vintage of these particular undergarments.  And their pedigree.  We are talking Star Trek The Motion Picture here! 

Okay, so that was not the best outing for the Enterprise crew and the costumes were a bit understated and overly "fashion of the future".  Especially that one poor fellow who had to wear the Starfleet regulation short skirt thing.  What the Hell was that all about?!  Even the melty-faced aliens got to wear long pants after all!  But then perhaps that was the inspiration for this set of awkwardly named "Fundy Undies" from the late 70s.  They certainly put you in the mind of that hapless crewman in his go-go dress.  And while I do not wish to cast aspersions, there seems to be an frightening undertone to the overall design of the packaging.  From the playful rainbow motif to the upper right to the lustful gaze that the boy in the illustration has longingly set upon Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.  One can only imagine what stories of interstellar adventures and late night explorations the vivid imagination of this gazelle-legged youngster is conjuring.

Undobutedly the garment manufacturer who marketed Fundy Undies was trying to tap into the lucritive Underoos market.  While the latter brand enjoyed success with licensed underwear ensambles well into the 80s (we can only lament that the line ended before they could market the planned Jabba the Hutt style for huskier kids), this particular variety fell into relative obscurity.  With a name that sounds like something you would find in a Victoria's Secret catalog and graphics that would give parents pause and children life-long trauma, it is likely that any Fundy Undies purchased during their unsucessful release were returned to retail stores as soon after being presented to horrified children as was humanly possible.

I applaud this and other eBay sellers for giving Fundy Undies at least a chance at collectibles viability.

Exhibit B: My, But You Are Wearing a Lot of Rings!
There was a time in this country when there was no internet.  Yes, I know it is hard for you kids to believe, but it is true.  In fact this country has been around a whole Hell of a lot longer than the internet.  But that is not what is at issue here.  In the days before information on nearly everything imaginable was but a few keystrokes away, people had to rely on other resources to get timely information.  And so it was that in those ghastly days before the Information Super Highway was virtually constructed an abundance of magazines on nearly every subject imaginable littered the newsstands of America.  It was in these halcion days that the market was ripe to support a periodical on the subject of Muppets.  Yes, it is true, the Muppets once had their own quarterly magazine!  Take that Dog Fancy!

What strikes me about this particular issue of Muppet Magazine (Fall 1984) is the cover image.  Naturally the seller of this auction (which sold for $12.75, more than 6.5 times its original cover price) only shows the cover to illustrate the listing, so one can impart a few of the featured stories and determine if it is a nice fit for their collection.  Mr. T, who's star was rising back in 1984, took the cover honors for this issue, but one would expect no less.  Even I would pitty the foolish editor who would not grace the cover of Muppet Magazine with the stern visage of one Laurence Tureaud!  That Mr. T is on the cover and with Electric Mayhem drummer Animal immitating his neclace laden, mohawk sporting style do not so much as raise an eyebrow.  That the breakaway star of The A-Team donned a smart looking sweater for his photo shoot does not leave one thinking that this magazine's cover qualifies for Odd eBay.  No, it is not something so overt as that, or indeed even that parody recording artist Weird Al takes second billing as a cover story (but he is in good company with Gonzo on that score, however).  The curiosity here arises in the looks on Animal and Kermit's faces coupled with the fact that you do not see where Mr. T's hands are situated in the cover photo.

These are, at the end of the day, puppets.  Granted some of the most famous puppets in the world.  Kukla, Topo Gigio, and Lambchop only dreampt of this level of handpuppet stardom.  But puppets none the less.  So it is an easy leap of logic to imagine that, in order to save time and money during the photo shoot, Mr. T took on the role of puppeteer as well as model.  This hypothosis is supported by the obvious discomfort writ upon Kermit's felt face and the peculiar and unreadable emotions that Animal displays.  As for the feature celebrity of this particular issue of the magazine, the whole experience seems to be just a little off-putting.  But being the unflappable tough guy that he is, Mr. T carries it well, barely imparting his discomfort.

Exhibit C: How Could This Not Garner $5?!
Every once in a great while an eBay auction comes along that has what can only be described as "universal appeal".  Some sellers just have a knack for putting out auctions that are garunteed sellers.  And given the nature of this particular auction it is rather shocking that the $4.95 opening bid was not achieved, not to mention the kind of bidding war it should have enjoyed!  The Muppet Magazine backissue went for nearly $13 after all!  Just look at the image below and behold what could have been yours had you been able to bid while this auction was still active! 

While it is sad that the 3.5" square photo (the back of which forever commemorates Fox Photo, a company name that has not been known to consumers in a decade) did not sell I prefer to imagine that this was due to the Christmas holidays consuming much of would-be bidders' time and resources.  It is not that this photo is unsellable, it is that the auction was simply poorly timed.  This is the season of giving after all.  It woudl be downright selfish to spend even a scant fiver on a stunning vintage photograph of an unknown actor in an unknown role of an unknown production of a bygone era.  Downright selfish I tell you!

Honestly, who could possibly resist the siren's call of a listing that read, "1970s PHOTO! Shirtless  Actor Man GREEN MAKEUP FACE & DINOSAUR NOSE! Funny!"?  I sincerely hope this gets relisted in January. 

Exhibit D: Look!  Up In the Sky!  WTF?!
At first glance this figurine from Mexico gives the impression that an Olympic swimmer mistook a vat of blue paint for a training pool, much to his chagrin.  Luckily the auction title and description come to our rescue and assure us that instead this is an unlicensed knock-off toy of the Man of Steel.  Superman has seen better days to be sure.  Even Doomsday did not do as much damage to the Last Son of Krypton as this vintage toy does to his reputation in the super hero community if not to his physical self.  It must be assumed that some kind of cloth cape, which would have served to make identification far simpler was long ago lost in the history of this particular specimen.

While the trademark red trunks and yellow belt do help sell the concept that this was meant to be Superman, the lack of so much as a hint that his familiar chest symbol ever adorned this plastic figure suggests that some form of packaging had to have been used to make it at least somewhat appealing to potential buyers.  But then it is not uncommon to find poorly realized toys that fly in the face of copyright law in various countries around the world.  The poor quality of the figure is only exaggerated by the poor quality of the seller's description.  At first described as "measured 6.00 inches" (tall), it is almost immediately called "4.00 inches".  Furthermore there are conflicting reports on the subject of articulation.  The photo suggests there is no articulation yet it is described both with and without such a feature.  Finally, the descriptions "based on the Superman films of 1978 by Christopher Reeve" and "has detail paint" add further to the questionable nature of such a collectible. 

The most curious aspect of this figure, however, have to be the outstretched hands.  While undoubtedly meant to invoke a sense of Supes about to take flight, closer inspection reveals a hole in each palm.  Was this once some kind of parachuting figure with some kind of eye hooks set into the hands for the parachute strings?  Or were these holes the product of a child who had no respect for his toys?  Either way one is left with the impresesion of Superman sporting stigmata.  Not something you really want to think about too much if at all.  But then that may be why the seller declares that this figure "is unique to the ebay community"!

Exhibit E: It's All in the Name!
Marketing is an all important part of any money making endeavor.  No matter how small.  And one of the prevailing tenets of marketing is to have a name that is pleasing to see and hear to identify the product you are bringing to market.  While fanzines, or 'zines, exist on the fringes of periodicals publication, their producers undoubtedly would still like to take in a few bucks on their sale to help insure the next issue will see the light of day.  Most fanzines tend to be based on science fiction properties, however the Diff'rent Strokes genere is up and coming these days.  Some of the earliest fanzines I had ever seen were Star Trek based so it stands to reason that Star Wars would inspire much the same venues for aspiring writers and artists to espouse their love of the Saga.

There are some fairly clever titles for these ongoing fan endeavors like Who's Scruffy Lookin'? or Bright Center of the Universe.  Others choose to take thier own path and create original titles that invoke the Star Wars univerese but are not derived from actual movie lines.  Some of the better examples include Far Realms, Bloodstripe, Imperium, and Never Say Die.  But for every Kessel Run or Skywalker you get a few titles that illustrate a profound lack of forethought when it came to coming up with an appealing title.  From the Dark Side of fanzine names I give you...

That a fanzine with the awkward title of I Don't Care What You Smell could last at least eleven issues is certainly something to applaud.  Perhaps the creator of this periodcal took the same approach as Leonard Nimoy back in 1975.  When his publisher initially rejected the title of his autobiography I Am Not Spock due to the notion that people do not buy books with negative titles, Nimoy simply said, "What about Gone With the Wind?"  Needless to say, his original title was maintained as a result of that conversation.  The nice thing about self-publishing is that you don't have to justify anything to anyone.  Not even yourself.

According to the description of this auction this is a massive 283 page photocopied GBC bound collection of "Star Wars stories by fans, for fans".  Fifteen such stories are included from a variety of authors with illustrations by no less than eight artists!  The $10 opening bid seems a bargain for that volume of fan produced work.  Especially given that this tome is five years old.  All of that is indeed quite compelling, however this fanzine suffers still from that title.  Add to that the choice of cover art and I Don't Care What You Smell #11 is even a little less appealing.  Perhaps this is just an invitation for fans to conjure up their own fiction using the cover illustration and title as a template.  Consider this a kind of impromptu Cosmopolitan quiz, "Just How Dirty is Your Mind?"  The answer can be found in the story you create from looking at this eBay offering.

But hey!  A least it is not the winner of the Worst Star Wars Fanzine Title Ever award.  No, that honor goes solely to Wookie Commode!

Super Geek-Out #2 At last!

Hello everyone.

Contrary to appearances of late, the JediCole Universe is still very much alive and well.  And to help usher in the return to site content after an overly long hiatus I offer you the latest installment of the ongoing collaborative effort of the United States of Geekdom (of which I am a co-host) and the Midnight Movie Cowboys - Super Geek-Out! 

Due to a cease and desist order from a faceless Hollywood studio and its litigious minions, some careful wrangling of possibilites and justification of actions taken, and the timely intervention of a secret benefactor this particular installment had been long delayed.  And only just barely received a unanamous clearance from all parties to be aired at last.  Keep this in mind as you listen because that is the story we like best to explain why anything that may seem dated material is thus.

Including the Super Special, this is the third incarnation of SGO to go live, with another already in the works.  On this episode Rick, Andrew, Catherine, Stu, and myself explore our own reimagined incarnations of a famous super-hero group, wax geeky, get into a "fight", and otherwise just have a lot of fun in a free-form discussion in which almost anything can happen.

Jedi Justifications #2 - Lightsaber Enlightenment

For this installment of Jedi Justifications (formerly Justification Revisited) I thought it would be nice to revisit the “lost episode” of Justify That (from VaderCast) and expand upon it with a related justification that came to me only recently.  I realize that there is undoubtedly no shortage of Expanded Universe reference to lightsabers, their origins, manufacture, significance of color, and indeed all minutia. So I will again remind readers that the purpose of this series of articles is to revisit my personal justifications and explanations of all things Star Wars.  Look at what follows with an eye unguided by anyone else’s work.  This is simply my take on things which you may embrace or reject as you see fit.

Not Your Father’s Lightsaber

As the introduction suggested, this edition of Jedi Justifications will explore a lightsaber theme.  But not just any lightsaber.  The most unique model in the entire Star Wars saga, that of Mace Windu.  Mace carried the only lightsaber seen in the pair of trilogies that has a purple blade.  Both Ben and Luke (and his father before him) had blue blades on their sabers and Darth Vader carried the red-bladed variety in Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.  With the necessity of replacing his lost saber, Luke introduced audiences to the green blade option. 

While yellow and other colors would appear manifest in toys and comic books, on screen there were never more than these three colors, colors that were cemented into the canon of the Star Wars universe with Episode 1.  Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan showcased green and blue blades, those associated previously with Jedi while Darth Maul favored the traditional Sith red.  Then came Attack of the Clones and with it a fourth color of lightsaber blade, purple!

Look at Me!

It is easy to imagine that George Lucas planned every aspect of the saga decades in advance of actual production of any given chapter.  That is until you begin to read more and more about how each film went from core concept and rough screenplay to the final edited film.  Han Solo was once to have been a hideous bipedal amphibian, Darth Vader was to have a holiday home on a lava planet where he would forlornly feed wild gargoyles like he was an old man tossing crumbs to pigeons in the park, and Yoda looked suspiciously like the Travelocity Roaming Gnome! 

And in that same vein, Mace Windu was not originally intended to have a purple lightsaber.  The clearest indication of this is the "Sneak Preview" action figure of Mace that was produced before the release of The Phantom Menace, as well as the one produced after the film hit theatres.  In both cases the Jedi Master's lightsaber accessory had a blue blade.  After Episode 2, the more familiar purple blade began to appear in toys because the color of his saber's blade had been revealed at last. 

From a production design standpoint the new color was introduced at Samuel L. Jackson's bequest.  Knowing he would appear in crowded scenes filled with lightsaber wielding Jedi Knights, Jackson wanted to stand out on screen.  To that end he requested the unique blade type which certainly makes it obvious where Mace is should he be in any given shot.  While this explains the origins of the blade from a behind the scenes standpoint, it does not do so within the context of the storyline itself.   

There Can be Only One

To explain the presence of the purple lightsaber I found my answers within what was presented on screen.  While at first glance the venerable Yoda would seem to sit at the had of the Jedi Council.  However, if you watch closely there is strong evidence that despite his stature in the Jedi Order, he is not in fact their leader.  That honor goes to none other than Mace Windu (rather appropriate since he was the first character named by Lucas, then as Mace Windy, when he began to develop what would become Star Wars).

When I have shared this observation with Star Wars fans I have been met with raised eyebrows or confused looks.  But upon closer examination it is easy to see how I arrived at this conclusion.  In Episode 1 for example, Mace dominates the Jedi Council meeting on the fate of Anakin Skywalker.  Even the great Yoda defers to Windu as if he is a subordinate.  Prior to Episode 1 it would have been an easy thing to imagine that Yoda was the most powerful and respected member of the Jedi Order.  He was, after all, one of two survivors who still eluded Vader and the Empire.  For that reason I believe it is difficult for most to look upon Mace Windu as the head of the council, but the evidence is certainly there.  Windu has a commanding presence in the Council chambers in all of the prequels, usually having the last word in all decisions.

So, establishing Windu’s station it is then a short leap of logic to explain his unique lightsaber.  The purple-bladed saber is one of a kind, and not just on screen.  Mace Windu carries the saber of his office as head of the Jedi Council.  It was carried by his predecessor and would have been handed off to whoever took his place had the demise of the Jedi not transpired.  Only one such saber was ever produced and solely for the purpose of being wielded by the Jedi who leads their Council.

Mace likely carried either a blue or green saber before rising to the level of Head of the Jedi Council and retired that model during his tenure.  Even in battle the ceremonial saber is put into action as it is practical as well as ornamental. 

This is my justification for Mace Windu’s lightsaber. Again, I am not steeped in the non-film history of the lightsaber or the crystals involved in their production.  I have not researched what others have written on the significance of purple versus red, blue, or green blades.  Nor do I care to.  The lightsaber justification is the one that tends to be the most hotly debated by those who have read a tremendous amount of the Expanded Universe material.  And so I reiterate that this, like all of my justifications, is based solely on what is presented on screen. 

Who Do You Love? #1 - It's Easy Being Green

Isn't it about time there was a new podcast on the JediCole Podcasting Network?  Of course it is!  And to help fulfill that need I offer you Who Do You Love?

So what exactly is this latest podcast all about?  Who Do You Love? is a one one one interview format show in which various fans talk about one of their favorite things.  It can be a movie, a comic book series or character, a writer or director, a science fiction novel, a film, or even a favorite series of collectibles!  But just who are the fans featured on this show?  Why any fan who wishes to do so!  All you have to do is drop me a line at jedicole@yahoo.com with "Who Do I Love?" as the subject line to tell me your singular favorite topic you can talk about at length.  I will get in touch with you to arrange the interview and you will be on an upcoming episode of the show!

For the premiere episode I invited my United States of Geekdom colleague and Half-Ass Roundtable co-host Andrew Farmer on the show.  It is fairly well known that Andy has a long-time love of Green Lantern in all incarnations.  But what makes that love tick?  How did it start and was it love at first sight?  Andy sat down with me recently to discuss all things Green Lantern and you can listen to that discussion in the form of Who Do You Love? #1 right here!

What Would Comic Book Villains Do? (WWCBVD?) Week 6

It is time yet again to delve into the dark underbelly of the caped and cowled super beings.  Yes, the terrible world of the super-villain.  In order to better understand their evil order we will pose simple moral questions to them and take what we can from their responses. 

Scenario:  You are at your weekly poker game with three friends.  Everyone is drinking and having a good time, talking about the past week and what they are up to these days.  Your friends confide in you that they have been making good money “running errands” for a local gangster.  They drunkenly let details drop about a big heist they have planned to impress their new boss.  Throughout the card game almost every detail is about the time and place of the crime is recklessly imparted to you.  What do you do?

Rama Tut: After I have determined what possessed me to play this strange game you call Poh Kurr I would formulate a plan to use my dominion over time to play a game that is truly fun.  Perhaps I would transport the lot of them to ancient Egypt, I got my start there you know, just to mess with their minds.  Nothing is quite so much fun as watching displaced souls wandering through the plaza of a city like Memphis or Hieranknopolis.  Lost in another country and another time with all of their vaunted modern conveniences lost to them.  Or perhaps I might just push them forward in time to the day after they planned their heist.  This is always a good one if the day of the operation is as crutial as the time of day.  If not a full day into the future, even just an hour or so can throw off a well laid plan.  I am really starting to like this Poh Kurr game after all!    

Magpie: Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie, gimmie!  I don’t care what they plan to steal, I want in on it!  I love to steal.  Anything, everything!  I will steal what they steal from them if I can!  I have three storage buildings in town with nothing in them but things I stole that I can’t remember why I took them.  So why wouldn’t I want to be in on their big score.  It doesn’t matter to me if it is money or jewelry, guns or furs, baby bottles or boa constrictors, I want to steal it all!

Batroc: Unless zee heist they plan involves leaping I really don’t care what they are up to.  I have far too many schemes of my own involving zee Avengairs or Capeetan America after all!  And all of my plans naturally involve leaping.  It’z what I do!  It is what I’ve done for zee last 30 years!  Leaping about!  And on zat note, do you know what really pizzez me off?  Zoze young punks you see zees days leaping and hopping from one building to zee next.  Zeir so-called parkour!  Zey act like zey invented leaping or zomething! 

Shade: Anywhere else in the world, with the possible exception of Paris (and then incumbent on my mood), their actions would be of little consequence to me.  After all, absent villainy would there be need of heroics?  Now if this were in Opal City that would be quite a different matter indeed.  In such a case I would take it upon myself to teleport into their midst and exact terrible retribution upon them with my shadow demons.  This may garner me some considerable scrutiny on the part of the O’Dares, but it is of little consequence.  My Opal would be rid of a threat to her purity and would have a compelling new entry for my journal.  And a good excuse to indulge in little absinthe afterwards. 

Arnim Zola:  Well that certainly all depends on what they are planning to steal.  If they have an angle on some high tech merchandise – something publicly known from Stark or perhaps clandestine weaponry from A.I.M. – then I would arrange to get to that coveted technology before them.  I would love to get my hands on some Stark or A.I.M. stuff!  Do you have any idea how hard it is to obtain?  Nobody can get near it!  The closest I have ever come was picking up a stray neutron ray blaster that the Defenders missed when they cleaned out an A.I.M. compound near Los Angeles.  Hercules, the big oaf, had tossed a guard so high that he landed on the other side of the fence and his blaster was still laying in the vacant lot nearby the next morning!  Yeah, I like going out to survey the aftermath of super-hero battles, so what?  It’s called “beachcombing” and you never know what you might find.  I have a genuine Spider-Man web-shooter cartridge I found after he fought the Juggernaut!  What do you have?

Green Hornet: I would endear myself to them, see if I can get “in”.  I am always enthusiastic when it comes to the criminal enterprises of others.  I like to get in the middle of things.  Find out who’s who, work my way up the chain to meet the boss.  It is best to know all of the players when you are counted among them I always say.  I sure hate it when the cops come muscling in on things and break up the whole gang top to bottom, though!  Then I have to drive around with my partner and find some new bunch of crooks to hang out with!

What Would Comic Book Villains Do? (WWCBVD?) Week 5

Nasty.  Nefarious.  Naughty. 

Just a few words used to describe those who embrace or indeed embody evil.  They are the super villains of comics, the requisite “bad guys”.  They are the arch-nemesis, the evil twins, the players on the other side.  And yet how often do we seek their opinions on issues?  Largely this is a matter of personal safety that we spurn them, but when you take the time to pose a pertinent question to such villainous types, you learn a lot about them you might never know otherwise.

Scenario:  You answer the phone in the middle of the night to the sound of a frantic voice.  It is an old friend you have not seen in several months and he begs you to meet him at a secluded corner in town.  Concerned, you agree to his request and find him looking disheveled and terrified.  Looking unnerved he begs you to hide a gun for him until the heat is off and he can take it off your hands.  What do you do?

Hammerhead: Wow, this sure brings back memories!  I remember the first time I needed to hide a gun!  I called my cousin Saulie in the Bronx because he was the only person I thought I could trust.  I was so panicked!  He told me to forget about it, there was no gun.  Saulie took good care of me, you see.  Funny thing, ten years later that gun winds up being used in a robbery.  The guy gets caught and, get this, he winds up taking the rap for not only the two guys I plugged but some broad that was killed before I ever got that gun!  Small world, huh? 

Deathstroke the Terminator:  Certainly I would take the gun to hide.  In my line of work what we call “experienced firearms” are always welcome.  Depending on the type of gun I would either sell it to underworld contacts or file down the serial numbers and reconfigure the rifling before adding it to my personal arsenal.  Though I am rather particular about the guns I use myself, so it will likely be the former.  A few days later I will naturally have to track him down and kill him.  No loose ends as we say in the business.

Arcade:  Naturally I would be only to happy to hide the gun.  And I would hide it very well.  Deep in the bowels of an abandoned warehouse that I have refit with elaborate death traps like animatronic Foreign Legionnaires armed with long rifles, a breakaway bridge over a snake pit, and an oversized version of Whack-a-Mole.  Convincing me to hide the gun is no problem at all, getting it back will be quite another matter!

KGBeast: I would take the gun and hide it for him.*

Kraven the Hunter:  I would refuse and send him on his way with a strict rebuke!  How dare he deign to assume that Kraven the Hunter would hide a handgun for him!  A HANDGUN!  Everyone knows of my disdain for those pathetic weapons.  Now a rifle, that is a whole different story.   A rifle is a man’s gun!  From the Browning A-Bolt to the Ruger M77 these are the guns of choice for a true hunter.  Take the .300 Winchester Magnum (with a Nikon Buckmaster 4.5-14x40 scope) for example.  Ideal for hunting zebra, red hartebeest, or caribou.  It is also highly prized (by me) for hunting Spider-Man.

Gizmo:  I would only be willing to hide a gun for a friend if he did not actually ever want it back.  Certain guns make ideal templates upon which to build more elaborate, and indeed useful, weapons.  By reconfiguring a revolver to accommodate miniaturized kinetic energy accelerators of my own design and adding an amplification matrix to the muzzle I can create a single-shot force ray useful for blasting holes in bank vaults.  Certain types of automatic pistols are useful in creating sonic resonance field generators that can counteract Cyborg’s white sound laser.  I hate that guy and his gadgets!

*KGBeast (continued):  What?  No, there’s really no more to it.  I have many places to hide a gun, no one would ever find it.  I’m KGB, hiding a gun for a friend is elementary stuff!  A new recruit could do it.  Why do you insist on long, drawn-out explanations?

Half-Ass Roundtable II - What the Hell Happened to My Villains?!

Greetings JediCole Universe followers!  We have convened a second Half-Ass Roundtable!  And it's about damn time!  This outing Stu, Andrew, and myself are joined by Rick (of the United States of Geekdom) yet again and Jim (of the Film Thugs Movie Show)!  The five of us are challenged with another topic that was a mystery until we began the show.  Did we sink or did we swim again?  Well there is one way to find out!
And like last time, I don't censor or reign in the hosts or guests.  There is some language that is not appropriate for the little ones and some of the concepts may be a bit shocking to some.  This is a damn good show and the most organic and off the cuff of any show I've been involved with.  If you pass this up for content you are missing something pretty spectacular! 

What Would Comic Book Villains Do? (WWCBVD?) Week 4

We can all pretty easily guess what a super hero would do in a situation where a strong moral code is essential.  But what about their polar opposites?  That is the purpose of this series of course.  So once again we pose a conundrum to a variety of super villains from the long history of comic books.

Scenario:   A car pulls up on a residential block with music blasting so loud that it can scarcely be distinguished as music.  The driver and passengers seem to have no regard for anyone on the block and loiter at the street with no apparent business other than to shatter the idyllic peace of the once quiet street.  What do you do?

Black Adam:  I would pick up the offending car and toss it fifty feet into the air.  Then I would fly over to catch it before it hit the ground and throw it again.  I would repeat this constantly until I managed to get them all the way to vast open fields or a trackless desert.  Then I would lower the car to the ground and, if the occupants survived the journey physically and mentally I would tell them, “Now you can turn it up as loud as you want!”

Anaconda: Me?  I would use my stretching arms and super strength to surround and crush the car and everyone in it!  I love crushing cars, especially with the radio blasting like that.  You get the great visuals of the body and frame crimping and bowing and the sound of the radio up to the point where it is rendered inoperable from the force of my constricting.

Circe: Well if they insist on acting like pigs I will do them a favor and turn them into pigs!  They won’t know what hit them!  One minute they are cruising around in their big fancy car, the next minute their hands are turning into hooves, their noses into snouts, and they are sprouting curly little tails.  I really love turning people into pigs.  I mean come on, I’ve been doing that for centuries!  It’s my thing!  Oh I know!  I’ve heard it time and time again…a good sorceress should be able to turn people into ostriches, trout, or even tarsiers.  Blah, blah, blah!  I just choose to specialize in pigs, okay?!

Asp: If there is one thing I can’t stand it is obnoxious people who play their music so loud that even they can’t hear any discernible lyrics.  Death Adder is like that, always playing his music to loud!  As if that wasn’t bad enough Cottonmouth and Rattler just egg him on!  So I would do like I do when the boys back at Society headquarters play their music too loud.  I would approach the occupants of the car and ask them politely to turn down their music and be respectful of others.  They would probably be dismissive of me and laugh just like the guys I work with.  In that case I will simply fall back on my usual Plan B and just zap the daylights out of them with my venom blast.  That usually does the trick!

Mirror Master: Music is not really my forte.  You might want to ask somebody like the Fiddler.  Now when it comes to light and reflections that is where I come in!  If they had a bunch of flashlights or something I would probably be able to come up with something cool to do.  Loud music really never bothered me that much.  To tell a bit of a secret I’m almost deaf.  Not that good hearing helps you when the Flash swoops in out of nowhere.  You barely have time to register the sonic boom before he has whisked you off to prison!  But I just got this really great idea about the question…I would make  a holographic mirror image of myself to go tell them to knock it off with the noise.  These types are usually pretty tough so if they try to threaten “me” I would make a whole bunch of duplicate images of myself appear.   I would make myself look as menacing as possible (not easy to do in green and orange) and tell them they had better get out of “our” side of town!

Constrictor: You know what the real question here is?  Why can I not get inducted into the Serpent Society?!  Come on!  I’m Constrictor!  My name invokes snakes as well as any of the rest of that lot.  I mean Princess Python got in!  What is that all about?  I guess I’m just the wrong gender.  They have a lot of guys and need more ladies to balance things out.  So that’s how it is!  They can keep their snobby society and their stupid quest for the Serpent Crown!  It’s not like they can split the damn thing between all 20 of them!  At least I got asked to participate in this installment.  Ha!  Take that Serpent Society!  What?  Anaconda AND Asp already gave their answers?!  Damn it! 

JediCole's Open Mic Night Episode 1: Adventures in Super-Collecting

Welcome to the launch of JediCole's Open Mic Night!  This is the second show in the upcoming JediCole Universe Podcasting Network.  On this show I will be engaging casual interviews that are intended to be more like conversations.  After this intial episode the show will feature two such interviews per episode. 

In the premiere episode I speak with Todd Carlton - Star Wars author and enthusiast, convention promoter, and a great friend of your's truly!  It was a great fun to talk with him to make the interview you are about to hear. 

On this episode I discover that I would not be publishing this show until a discount for preordering All-Con tickets would have expired.  So to save my bacon Todd arranged a special pre-order discount of $5.00 off the price of adult, child, or friend of the show tickets through August 31, 2011 if you use the code jedicole when ordering.  So if you want to buy your membership in advance then do it before August 31 and be sure to use the exclusive code for JediCole Universe and USG readers/listeners!  Visit All-Con's website to preorder your tickets today!

If you know anyone who is a figure in fandom who might make a great guest for this show, please drop me a line at the JediCole Universe email!

Star Wars: Return of the Justifications

Welcome to the first installment of Star Wars: Return of the Justifications!  So what exactly is this series all about?  Well several years ago I had the good fortune to be a part of a Star Wars-themed podcast called VaderCast.  It was my first experience in podcasting and in many ways influenced me to keep at it until I was even producing podcasts of my own.  Tim Kennedy, who founded VaderCast, thought highly enough of a peculiar habit of mine to justify elements of the Star Wars saga that were not adequately explored on screen to ask me to share some of them on episodes of the show.  Many were aired during teh show's run but some were recorded in "lost episodes" while still others had yet to be thought up by me.  In this series I will share all of the justifications I have come up with over the years.  Future articles will not have this much background information of course, so they will be more to the point.  

A Long Time Ago...

Back in the summer of 1977 I was going on 12 years old and had one of those life-defining moments.  I saw Star Wars for the first time!  From that moment forward I was fairly constantly thinking about the movie, its characters, and all that was presented in that fertile universe of George Lucas’ creation which had only just begun to be explored.  The depth of possibilities presented within each of the first three films gave my mind plenty to mull over during the years that followed each installment and preceded the prequels. 

When you think too much about the content of each film as I had done from the outset,  you find yourself seeking to reconcile some of the questions, problems, and little inconsistencies that can be found.  With three years between the original trilogy films there were bound to be aspects of the later plotlines that did not seem to jibe with what had come before.  Or things that did not, on the surface, make sense.  Without realizing it I had spent years trying to work out these cinematic puzzles but without ever seeking any answers.  That is until the day I expressed my thoughts on one sequence from Return of the Jedi to my friend Steve. 

I am speaking of the ground battle in Return of the Jedi (which had been described to us by a comic shop employee in 1983 as, “the battle of the Teddy bears vs. the Stermtroopers”) and specifically the Ewok war machine.  I have often referred to this as the “Swiss Family Robinson –style” ordinance that the fuzzy little denizens of Endor’s moon brought to bear when they joined the Rebel assault.  Perhaps because the Scout Walker fouling log roll reminded me so much of the similar use of felled trees in the aforementioned Walt Disney picture, the primitive heavy weaponry of the Ewoks always struck me as a bit silly.  To reconcile this in my mind I had always imagined that perhaps the Rebels helped the Ewoks in the construction of their various log traps.  Steve, however, had a better justification which would in turn set me on the path of justifying all such curiosities within the Star Wars Saga.

Before I share his justification, the only one in this series for which I cannot take personal credit, I want to say that every one that follows this one as the series progresses was inspired by the first.  Prior to this I had never considered trying to work out a logical explanation for some aspects of the films that beg for such explanations.  Steve, inadvertently, challenged me to explore the minutia of the Star Wars saga and provide fill in any blanks I found.  And now, the one that started it all (with a little further extrapolation on my part)…

Short Help is Better Than No Help at All

The various log traps, catapults, and other simple technologies that the Ewok tribe brought to bear when aiding the Rebellion were not something new to them, or indeed the Imperial occupation force.  By the time Luke, Leia, Han, and company arrived on the moon’s surface the Empire had established a growing presence in the forest.  It is not much of a stretch to imagine that an initial landing team had broken ground on the shield generator and landing platform some years earlier.  During those years the presence of Stormtroopers, engineers, technicians, and heavy equipment would not have escaped the attention of the nearby village of Ewoks.  Nor would it have failed to raise their collective ire!

Prior to the arrival of the Rebel detachment the Ewoks would have waged a fruitless guerilla war against the superior forces of the Empire.  At first an annoyance, the conflict would undoubtedly have escalated over time.  Initially the primitive Ewoks would have served to monkey wrench the construction phase of the operation by stealing or destroying equipment and supplies.  When troops were brought in to guard the facilities the occasional soldier would have fallen to an Ewok assault, though the impact would be minimal. 

Swiss Family Romba 

To stave off such attacks it would become necessary for the Imperial garrison to dispatch Biker Scouts to patrol their territorial holdings.  An AT-AT and several AT-ST walkers were also deployed to illustrate the technological superiority of the invaders.  Such actions would have been interpreted by the local villagers as a prelude to a further encroachment into their lands and the potential destruction of their arboreal homesteads.  Traps and destructive weaponry was then quietly built and amassed in the perimeters of their remaining territory.  This would have been a defensive move on the part of the Ewoks as the Empire would have long since shown them the futility of offensive measures.  Should the enemy forces threaten the village itself, at least their advance could be slowed considerably buying time for evacuation.

Once the Ewoks began to keep to themselves the Imperial Forces would have been content to let the savages remain undisturbed.  The moon of Endor served but one strategic purpose, a remote location to house the shield generator protecting the building and deployment of Death Stars.  There was no need to wrest control of the balance of the hemisphere, all that was needed for the business at hand had been achieved.  The indigenous population, posing no real threat to operations, could then simply be ignored.  There were certainly more pressing matters to attend to above the moon.  This would have left the garrison commander a bit confused when troops began to be massed at the base, but this action was likely dismissed at a precursor to the completion of the Death Star.  Like its predecessor it would be home to thousands of troops, officers, technicians, and other personnel once operational. 

Humans Ain't So Bad

Then came the Rebel assault team!  Their intelligence of the Imperial base extended only as far as its location and purpose.  No one would have thought to explore the contingency of an indigenous population or the possibility of recruiting them to the cause of eliminating the latest terror weapon in the Imperial arsenal.  The command team’s unexpected capture by the Ewoks was a happy accident for both parties.  The Rebels gained native guides to aid their attack strategy as well as bolster their forces when they were confronted with a larger troop presence than expected.  The disadvantages of the Ewoks’ defensive measures were greatly offset by the laser weaponry and tactical expertise of their new allies.  And undoubtedly their resolve to join the conflict was enhanced by the presence of a manifestation of their deity.

So the wood-based weaponry that was instrumental in the downfall of the Galactic Empire had long been in place long before it was utilized to its full effect.  What seemed to the Imperial commanders as little more than the posturing of primitives would usher in their doom.  Albeit with considerable assistance from human allies and not without losses of their own. 

With all of that in mind the more curious aspect of the Battle of Endor makes considerably more sense to me.  Check back soon for the next installment of Return of the Justifications in which I take an in-depth look at a particular lightsaber.

What Would Comic Book Villains Do? (WWCBVD?) Week 3

From the darkest corners of the pages of comic books come the villains!  The often deadly foils to the greatest heroes their four color world can offer.  We know they scheme.  We know they hate.  We know they destroy and kill and steal and maim.  But what do the do when confronted with simple moral dilemmas?  Let's ask a few, shall we?

Scenario: You see a co-worker stealing loose change out of other worker’s desks.  He does not know that he has been detected doing this.  You have become good friends with this co-worker outside of the workplace.  What do you do about what you have seen?
Sandman:  A co-worker?  Really?  I’m a super criminal!  I don’t have co-workers!  Okay, yeah, I guess you could call the other members of the Fearsome Five co-workers.  It is a bit of a stretch though.  It’s not like we all got hired by a big company and we are in the same work group or anything.  We just kind of get together to commit crimes and do battle with various super-heroes.  It’s not as organized as it looks, really.  If Green Goblin and Chameleon are working on a scheme and phone up Electro for advice, one thing leads to another and as soon as there are any five of the guys involved we carry out the plan as the Fearsome Five.  Have you never wondered why the roster of the group changes so often?!  I mean it makes sense for the Avengers.  They all have a common goal.  Villains are really more of the “every man for himself” mentality at the end of the day, so teaming up is not something that really works out on a regular basis.  Best just to just let the guy keep to his own devices and maybe hit him up later for some money for a candy bar or something.  It’s not like it’s coming out of his pocket, right?

The Riddler:  Oh how I do love puzzles, conundrums, and the like!  This one presents a most appealing scenario to me.  Anytime you see someone in the midst of petty larceny it is best to play upon any conscience they may have with little tricks that lead to ever crueler manipulation of your knowledge of their activities.  First you drop subtle hints by saying things like, “I think I will take my break at the QUARTER of the hour.”, or “I think I need to CHANGE a few things around the office.”  It is always fun to watch them pretend it does not bother them at all.  Then after that has softened the little thief up a bit start leaving notes that suggest that they are being watched.  Leave voice mails or anonymous emails sent from the public library computers to tell them they are being watched.  It is such sport to see people crack up under pressure!

Sebastian Shaw, Black King of the Hellfire Club: Where you may see a petty criminal I see an ideal recruit for the [Hellfire] Club’s private army.  Utilizing a series of hidden cameras we have long utilized office shenanigans to help pinpoint the type of malicious and shallow people that have proved ideal pawns…um…soldiers in our cause.  You really do need to find the right mentality if you want people to wear a peach-colored hockey mask, a navy and red jumpsuit, and be the first line of defense against Wolverine!

Sinestro:  I would confront him immediately, threatening to turn him over to the boss.  As he begs and pleads I will be secretly tapping his fear to power my yellow ring.  Sometimes you need a quick boost for the ring when the Power Battery is back at home and it is going to be one of those long nights at the office.  After I got a decent charge on the old ring I would let him off the hook, probably even help him look for more cash laying around.

Tiger Shark:  I’d kill him!  Rend that sucker limb from limb and feed his remains to a pod of killer whales!  If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s really wanting a Dr. Pepper and finding my loose change has been pilfered.  It’s not like you have time on your break to find someone to break a single for you.  And everyone knows that the bill acceptor that’s been broken for months will never get fixed!  Yeah, he is pretty much doomed if I catch him.

Solomon Grundy:  Solomon Grundy will handle like he handle all such problems!  ARRRRRRRRRGGHHH!!  Ahem!  Terribly sorry about that, needed to clear my throat there.  Firstly I would approach my coworker and advise him that rooting through other’s desks is morally reprehensible and terribly disrespectful of others.  His reaction to this gesture would color my next step in the process.  Should he appear embarrassed at his actions, admitting he was hoping to supplement what he had in his pocket by borrowing someone else’s change until the next day when he could replace it so he could get a candy bar to carry him through that lengthy report he has to finish then I would tell him to be sure to get that money replaced right away.  If he is belligerent or indifferent I would tell him that I am obliged to report his actions to our employer immediately.  You have to weigh the facts at hand in such situations.  Now if it was someone from the Justice Society or the Justice League, well that would be a different story indeed.  They really bother me!  They get under my skin and soon the rage is boiling in Grundy’s head and Grundy’s teeth begin to grind and Grundy’s fists clench and Grundy must destroy the Justice People!  ARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!

Half-Ass Roundtable I - Where to Begin?

Greetings and welcome to the first ever episode of Half-Ass Roundtable, the first podcast of The JediCole Universe!  JediCole is joined by his HAR co-hosts Andrew Farmer of The United States of Geekdom and Stuart Baulk of The Midnight Movie Cowboys.  We are joined in the inaugral episode by the originator of the USG, Rick Gutierrez.

HAP - The Mascot of Half-Ass Productions
Details on what constitutes Half-Ass Roundtable are outlined at the start of the episode so I won't repeat things here.  Enjoy the fun as the team tackle not one but two (!) topics in one episode.  Content Warning:  I will not reign in myself, my co-hosts, or our guest on any episode of this show.  Some of what is said in the discussions may be offensive to some people but is really some great stuff.  If your sensitivities are too tender for this sort of thing this may not be the podcast for you!

A second episode has already been recorded and will appear on this website very soon.


The Apocrypha #2 - A Job History

Welcome once again to The Apocrypha, your resource for news and stories that never really occured. In the last edition I treated you to a mythological tale that I had written some years ago. This time I have a more recent story that, like the previous one, had its geneis in a conversation with Mrs. JediCole. There really is no more set up necessary as the tale takes care of itself in that department.

Occupation: Stick

     Behind every law, regulation, statute, edict, ordinance, act, decree, or rule is a little piece of history that led to a good idea becoming one of these aspects of a legal system. While it is often a simple matter to extrapolate what circumstance or occurrence may have made such legislation a necessity, it is not generally as easy to discover the story behind the aftermath of rules of law. A prominent case in point that stands proudly on street corners nationwide in spring and summer months are the professional Sticks.

     Sticks, or Stick-Men, are individuals who’s vocation is to act as a kind of ambulatory analogue to a traditional inanimate stick. City ordinances have emerged over the years across the land that limit the use of signs tacked to wooden stakes, attached to aluminum rods, or otherwise connected to sticks for the purpose of temporary or permanent advertizing to the exclusive use of politicians. That is to say if said signs are to be secured in the turf of street corners or medians and abandoned for the duration of their purpose. Such statues are in answer to increasing demands on the populations of larger cities to maintain a level of standards in the beautification of public places. By legally classifying such signage as “litter”, the effective advertizing potential of a sign promoting “Two Large One-Topping Pizzas for $10.99” or “Quitting Business, Everything Must Go” was rendered not only ineffectual but also illegal.

     But for every law there is a loophole and shrewd business people began to exploit the glaring one that accompanied the signs-as-little laws to remarkable advantage. While a wooden or metal stick can be considered refuse a human being, from the standpoint of black letter law, cannot. And thusly was the profession of Stick born. By employing a hapless individual to spend their work day engaged in holding a stick that would in years past have been planted in the soil where they now stand. From announcements of grand openings to the promotion of limited time offers, the signs and their handlers effectively bypass the rules that would have spelled the end of an era in American retail sales.

     Some proponents of the oppressive sign laws cried foul but were soon forced to the resignation that the stringent definition of their legislation required that restricted signage must be effectively abandoned in one location for a prescribed amount of time. A skilled Stick Man never allows the base of their sign to even touch the ground and is commonly seen moving about along a personal territory of anything from one square foot to three linear yards. Even the most lethargic of the professional Sticks at the very least maintain possession of the signs at all times during their shift. Early into the Stick movement the question of vagrancy was raised as a possible means to end the practice but as the Sticks are engaged in the gainful employment of shop owners they cannot be legally considered vagrants.

     Once established as a viable and legal alternative to stationary and inanimate signage, the plight of the Sticks did not end. While public outcry has faded over the last few years with some communities even embracing their local sticks (in Paul’s Valley, OK the local Women’s Guild hand sew and deliver over 100 Santa hats to that city’s Sticks each December) , there are still trials and pitfalls to be faced by those who have made “sticking” their vocation. Many fall prey to the lure of high-paying temporary work directing passing traffic to garage sales.

     While the wages offered are generally higher than average for Stick Men employed by businesses, they tend to lack the amenities provided in the business sector. By law a full-time stick employed by a company of any size must be afforded two paid 15-minute breaks and a minimum of 30 minutes unpaid time for lunch. It has also become customary for employers to provide complimentary water or sports drinks to those they employ as Sticks. No such courtesies exist in the short term, contract work environment.

     But misleading employment offers are the least of the worries of the contemporary working Stick. The single greatest threat to the safety and comfort of these sign holders is “Gorilla Warfare”. The term Gorilla Warfare was first coined in 2007 when a minor altercation between a pair of professional Sticks in the employ of a family jewelry store that was closing after 75 years in business and a vacuum cleaner repair shop guy-in-a-gorilla suit escalated into a small urban war.

     Long before legal precedent led to the genesis of the Stick, the most common live advertizing and promotional occupation was that of the Vacuum Store Gorilla. In an age of increasing automation, animatronic primates have begun to surface but have often proven cost prohibitive. So as in days of old a guy in a gorilla suit continues to be the promotional stunt of choice for vacuum cleaner repair and sales outlets everywhere. While the connection between household cleaning equipment and counterfeit apes may seem inexplicable, the use of a person in a gorilla suit has historical background linked to the vacuum cleaner industry in this country.

     In 1908 a rather perplexed William Henry Hoover was contemplating the best way to introduce his new Model O cleaner to the market. It chanced that his sons Hiram and Malacek were participating in a school pantomime of Noah’s Ark in which the elder boy was portraying a “fierce gorilla of the Africas”. With the play still a week away, Hoover arranged the use of the costume and utilizing Hiram’s acting talents he showcased his “vacuum cleaning device” with the aid of a “tame ape” at the Chicago Exposition of Mechanical and Electrically-Powered Devices two days later. The fanciful gimmick captured the imagination of those in attendance and soon gorilla suit-sporting pitchmen became commonplace in the fiercely competitive vacuum cleaner industry for the next five years.

     It is speculated that photographs of these gorilla-men of old inspired the more contemporary use of fake gorilla skins as a promotional stunt that could be utilized year round. The earliest documented use of a guy-in-a-suit was in 1970 at Hobson’s Vacuum and Home Appliance in Lindale, GA, though earlier attempts may have gone unnoticed. With a distinguished pedigree and lengthy history the formation of GiGS, the International Association of Guys in Gorilla Suits, in 1977 was a natural progression. With a professional organization well established, many older members of the gorilla-suit profession resented the arrival (and seemingly instant propagation) of Stick Men. The time-honored profession of standing in front of a business establishment waving at passersby had quietly tolerated clowns, Statues of Liberty, and even jester-capped teenagers clutching oversized facsimiles of music CDs over the ensuing years. But the arrival of these human sticks seemed to be the last straw.

     In the legendary incident of 2007 Martin Cooper, a 26 year-old itinerant worker from Bakersfield, CA and Dale Enders, a local 19 year-old student were brutally assaulted in western Huntsville, AL after their shift ended on May 17, 2007. It was the eve of the 30th anniversary of the foundation of GAGS and the two were accosted by (reportedly) six two eight gorilla-suited individuals who forced the pair into an unmarked van where they proceeded to administer a savage beating. The chief suspect in the assault was Mike Dougal, a 40 year old professional gorilla-man who specialized in children’s birthday parties but also found work with traveling carnivals and as a vacuum store ape. He was known to have had altercations with the pair of Stick Men who were promoting the closure of Moore and Sons Fine Jewelry which was located in the same shopping center as Vacuums, Etc., Dougal’s employer.

     Though he was cleared of all charges due to well documented whereabouts at the time of the incident he did impart to police that he had made reference to his difficulties with the neighboring Stick Men, who had repeatedly infringed upon his work territory, on the GiGS website forums. Frustration with Sticks was a common topic of discussion on the message boards with complaints ranging from lack of discipline to unprofessional attire to talking or texting on cell phones during working hours. A growing feeling of distrust and resentment was evident in the gorilla man community nationally but was most prevalent among the Alabama membership. Investigators were unable to formally charge any local gorilla men with the crime, though it would leave a lasting stigma on the profession for some years.

     Unfortunately the example set by this unfortunate instance was taken up by gorilla men around the country. From May 2007 to June 2010 (the most up to date statistics available) there have been as many as 25 such assaults perpetuated annually. By February 2008 the term Gorilla Warfare was in common use, replacing the previously used “gorilla on stick violence”. 2010 did see a decline in per-capita incidents, a fact that some suggest is a direct result of the GiGS organization officially denouncing Gorilla Warfare in May of that year, fully three years after the Alabama incident. Ben Yearling, president of the group, has pledged that he will continue to seek an accord between gorillas and Sticks. This coupled with greater community outreach and vigilance on the part of professional Sticks has helped curb the violence of years past.

     As of this writing a non-profit organization, Sticking Up for Sticks has announced that its outreach programs have been nationalized. With a support base that has been bolstered in recent years they have begun to lobby Congress for Federal classification of Gorilla Warfare as a hate crime and for funding to aid victims of such crimes. Despite great strides in the rights of Stick Men in the workplace, few employers of these sign holders offer health insurance benefits, making recovery from physical violence a costly proposal for those in the trade.

     For now it seems that the familiar Sticks that can be found pointing drivers to bargains on dining, goods, and services at strip malls and shopping centers everywhere are here to stay. Once a friendless occupation the Stick Men now enjoy a population of supporters as numerous and vocal as those who still oppose them. Federal Judges in five states have overturned laws and statutes that would have limited or eliminated the position for all time. A cover story on Stick Men in Newsweek, in which reporter Mark Rafferty spent six weeks in the trade, ran in early 2010 and further raised awareness of the ups and downs of this unique modern profession. With a greater awareness and understanding on the part of Americans on a whole the lives of Stick Men everywhere are starting to improve.

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