Thursday, December 28, 2006

Holiday Roulette - The Epilogue...

Hey, gang, I'm back. Hope you all enjoyed your Holidays and that Santa (or the Chanukah Aardvark or Whomever) brought you everything you wished for. Since I promised to let you know how everything worked out with my ordering gifts online for the first time, I thought I should fill you in on the results of my first (but, sadly, probably not my last) game of Holiday Roulette.

As you may recall, coming into the home stretch, there were still more than a half-dozen ordered items that had not yet arrived here at the Weinwords corporate offices. Well, Amazon came through like a champion. On the final mail day before the holiday, several books and a DVD or two ordered from them arrived in perfect condition and just in time. Items ordered from various other sources, however, did not.

A long out-of-print British edition of a book my wife really wanted, ordered from one of those ancillary Amazon people, arrived with the mail on the 26th, although it had been ordered a week-and-a-half earlier, while a DVD ordered from another Amazon ancillary that same week-and-a-half earlier had arrived within 48 hours.

A trio of DVDs ordered 10 days earlier from finally arrived on the 27th, although when I ordered them, I had paid extra for 2-5 day delivery. When I went to check my account to find out where the heck the DVDs were, it turned out DDDVD had not charged me the extra money as I'd asked, but simply sent the disks by their standard free shipping system, which can take up to two weeks to arrive.

The saddest of all the missing merchandise, however, was a handmade necklace I had ordered for my wife back in August at the World Science Ficition Convention in Anaheim. The artisan had sent the necklace to me First Class Mail, receipt signature required, on December 10th, but the package never arrived. I checked my local Post Office several days before the weekend and, while they had received evidence on the 13th that the package had been sent, they had no evidence that it had ever arrived at their branch. As of today, it still hasn't arrived. In another week or two, the seller can put in a claim for the loss and she has promised to make my wife a new necklace to make up for the lost one, but it's still terribly sad that all that effort has come to naught.

So what have I learned from all of this? Well, for one thing, I'm gonna do my online ordering a lot earlier next year. I wonder if I can still have all those lumps of coal shipped by freight?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Tidings of Kumquats and Joy...

As time permits over the next few days, I promise to regale you with the mixed results of my first attempt at Holiday Roulette, as mentioned several posts below. But seeing as how it's after Midnight and the stockings have yet to be hung by the chimney with care and there are umpteen presents still to be wrapped, permit me to pause for only a moment to wish you and yours the happiest of holiday seasons and the best of all possible things in the year to come.

As Dickens (or was it Fenster?) was oft noted to say, "May your favorite Diety/Force of the Cosmos bless us. Every one."

And have yourself an eggnog or two on me while you're at it.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Boy, That Was Quick...

Thanks to all of you who responded so swiftly (and so clearly) to my previous post. While I'm still confused to some extent (I'd swear I had a few dozen hits on this site BEFORE Mark Evanier posted I was blogging), it does seem obvious that Mark -- and those of you who've since linked to this humble site -- are responsible for its initial success. I thank you for your time and interest, and so, I'm sure, does Mark.

I think I probably owe him a lunch for this.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Okay, I'm Confused (Like That's News)...

I've been here blogging for less than four days now and according to the little tracking thingy I installed, I've had about 1500 hits on this site so far. What I wanna know is...


How did you people find me? I had several dozen hits in the first few hours I was up, long before any of my friends may have mentioned on their blogs that I was here, also before I sent out mass mailings to those friends and others to tell them about my blog. And yet you came, by the dozens, by the hundreds. Now I'm not complaining, mind you. In fact, I'm thrilled beyond my power to describe that you folks seem interested at all in what I might have to say. But how did you find me?

Please explain.

Oh, and in terms that are idiot-friendly, if possible.



As part of my continuing efforts to drag myself into the 21st Century, I have unwittingly found myself playing a dangerous new game for the first time this year. I think I'll call it Holiday Roulette. The way you play is simple. In the days and weeks (and, in one case, months) before the Holidays, you attempt to do as much of your Christmas shopping as possible online for a change. You scour the various websites diligently for days, seeking out exactly the right gifts for those near and dear to you. You then order said DVDs and books and whatnot from reputable dealers all over the Internet. You pay sometimes exorbitant rates to make certain your precious packages will be delivered by December 22nd at the latest, as promised, and then you neurotically spend the next several weeks checking your mailbox every few hours in the perhaps futile hope that the gifts will actually show up on time.

As I type this, it is now officially December 22nd, and at least half a dozen of the presents I ordered have yet to arrive. I've received notices from each and every one of the sellers telling me my merchandise has indeed been shipped, so where the heck is it?

Granted, it'll be a darn sight easier for me to wrap those tiny IOUs than the presents themselves, but it's the principle of the thing, dammit. One should not have to trade the crush, bustle and claustrophobia of the Mall for the nail-biting suspense of the Mail and dealing with UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service.

If the packages don't arrive by Saturday, I'm gonna have to put on my Kevlar undies Sunday and brave the madness of the Mall. So, if I haven't blogged here again by Monday, would somebody please do me the kindness of searching for my body under the remains of the giant Christmas tree at the Topanga Promenade?

And, for the love of God, please don't giftwrap me before you bury me.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

By The Time I Get To Phoenix...

Just realized I should probably mention that I'm going to be one of the comics guests along with my old buddies George Perez, Mike Mignola and Steve Rude (among others to be named later) at the Phoenix Cactus Comicon the last week of January, specifically January 27-28. I'll remind everyone when it gets closer to the date, but if you happen to be in that area that particular weekend, drop on by and say hi.

I'll be looking for you.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Oh, the Weather Outside Is Frightful...

Okay, it is officially too damn cold in Los Angeles when you realize that the hairy guy bagging your groceries at the local Vons is actually a Yeti.

I'm just saying...

Don't Cry For Me, Max Bialystock!

One of the first things you'll learn about me as we spend time together here is that I love Musical theater, absolutely adore it (and, yes, I'm straight, thank you very much for asking). Whenever I'm in New York, I spend every available evening catching every musical that I haven't already seen (and often some I already have). Here in LA, my wife and I are longtime season ticket holders for a wonderful organization called Reprise that, three times a year, puts on classic or little seen shows with minimal sets but overwhelming enthusiasm. So far this season we've seen Gershwin's "My One and Only" with Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park with George" and Richard Rogers' "No Strings" yet to premiere in February and May. We'll talk more about Reprise in the months to come.

Suffice it to say, I'm always checking the show biz trades and online services for any news about Broadway. So imagine my surprise when I read that tonight -- yes, this very night -- a new lead with be stepping into the role of Max Bialystock in the Broadway production of the musical version of "The Producers!" Now the original film is arguably the funniest movie ever made, and the original Broadway company starring Nathan Lane was not exactly chopped liver. Once again, Lane stepped into a role made famous by the late, great Zero Mostel, and almost made it his own. Lane had done so before in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and, I'm firmly convinced, will do so again someday in the role of Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof."

Since Lane departed the Broadway cast, the role has been assayed by, among others, Jason Alexander, the wonderful Brad Oscar and TV's Richard Kind, all well-suited to play an overweight, middle-aged Jew with a bad combover. So who takes over the role tonight? Are you ready? Sitting down? Good.

Because tonight, and for the next three months, Broadway's Max Bialystock will be portrayed by...Tony Danza!

Yes, THAT Tony Danza.

Now please don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that Mr. Danza isn't a talented performer. I saw him in the title role of "Fiorello!" in the Reprise production out here, and he was pretty darn good. But, a short, slender Italian playing a fat Jew? I'll have to be convinced.

Frankly, I'm expecting to hear any day now that Carol Channing will be taking over the part of Leo Bloom.

One Giant Leap for Lenkind!

Truth to tell, I’m a bit of a Technophobe. Look up Luddite in the dictionary and you’re likely to find a picture of the back of my head. If I’d been born ten years earlier, my VCR (already in and of itself pretty much obsolete) would still be blinking 12:00. I don’t own an iPod, a Blackberry, a Blueberry or a Boysenberry, though I will admit to being totally at the mercy of a Tungsten III Palm Pilot (model discontinued, of course) that my wife gave me for Christmas a few years ago. For the most part, technology and I just don’t mix very well. I can almost never figure out intuitively how to get the most benefit from any electronic gadget I’m handed, and by the second page of any manual I attempt to read, I’m firmly convinced I’m reading Sanscrit. Not a combination devoutly to be wished. That I’m able to use my computer at all is a miracle in and of itself, and therein lies a tale.

Many years ago, I sold my first script for an animated series, an episode of the original Transformers show called “Webworld.” The day the check came in, my friends Marv Wolfman, Diane Duane, and Bob Greenberger said to me, “Oh, good. You’re got extra money. You’re going to buy a computer.” I started to protest, but they added, “No, no, that wasn’t a suggestion. That was a statement of fact.” And they proceeded to drag me, almost literally kicking and screaming, to the computer store downstairs from the DC Comics offices. “Can I help you?” asked a smiling salesperson, as we entered. “Yes,” said my three friends as one, pushing me forward, “He wants to buy a computer.” I stood there, flatfooted. “And what sort of computer are you looking for?” asked the clerk. “You know the phrase ‘user-friendly?’” I stammered. “Of course,” replied the clerk. “Well,” I finished, “I’m looking for one that’s idiot-friendly.” The salesman beamed. “Oh, you want a MacIntosh.” He was, of course, absolutely right. And thus was I thrust headlong into the latter half of the 20th Century.

Now here we are, just past the threshold of the 21st Century, and everyone is blogging. When I first heard the word, I assumed it was something one did after a night of particularly heavy drinking. I’ve since been informed I was wrong. It now appears blogging has replaced letter writing and the telephone as the principle means of communication in this fast-paced world, and who am I to disagree?

So here I am, once again bringing up the rear, the last lonely straggler to take that E-ticket ride into the future. Still, with your kind permission, I’ll be popping up on this page as often as I can to regale you with my latest adventures (and believe me, I do still have my fair share) or maybe just to tell you about the latest movie I’ve seen or the newest book I’ve read or even just to say hi. I’m not sure I can make it every day but I promise I’ll be here as often as circumstances permit.

Here’s hoping you’ll join me.