Thursday, February 28, 2008

This Shouldn't Bother Me But...

It's three days later, and this is still sticking in my craw. Basically, what happened was this...

Monday, my good buddy Bob Skir and I stopped for lunch over at the Sherman Oaks Galleria branch of the Fuddruckers hamburger chain for a quick lunch. Deciding I wanted something other than a burger for a change, I studied the huge menu on the wall behind the counter and decided to order the Chicken Tenders platter which included (according to the menu) a bunch of Chicken Tenders (always preferred to the Chicken Toughs) and two side dishes. The price (again, according to the wall menu) was $7.99. So the perky young woman behind the counter asks for my order, I order the Chicken Tenders platter with onion rings and baked beans as my two side dishes (Hey, I said I didn't want a burger, I never said I wanted to eat healthy) and the young woman rings it up and tells me my bill comes to $9.73.

Now, I'm no math whiz, but even I know that the California State 8.25% Sales Tax doesn't bring the total up to over nine bucks. I mention this to the young lady and she explains that, no, the Chicken Tenders platter isn't $7.99, it's actually $8.99. I point to the menu behind her and point out that the posted price is $7.99 and, by law, they have to sell the item for the price listed. She, in turn, asks me if I'd like to speak to her manager. I tell her, you bet I do.

So over comes the manager, a somewhat older woman in her mid-thirties, and we go over the whole thing again. She explains that, yes, indeed, the basic platter price is $7.99, but it costs fifty cents each for each additional side, bringing the total to $8.99. Totally confused now, I mumble something about that still not seeming right, but since Bob and I are up against the clock, trying to make an afternoon movie, I just fork over ten bucks, collect my change, and go sit down to await my meal.

While sitting there with Bob, I recount what I just told you and he says that doesn't sound right to him either. Bob goes over, checks the menu, and comes back to tell me that, no, the menu specifically states that a platter is a main dish and two side dishes. Anything more than that is an additional fifty cents.

Really getting annoyed now, I decide to go talk to the manager again, and turn just in time to see her leaving the restaurant, purse in hand (obviously on her way to lunch at some establishment that doesn't rip you off), leaving me to stew in my own juices (which, frankly, probably makes me tastier in the long run than the meal I finally had).

So there you have it. For the sake of a buck, Fuddruckers has forever lost both my considerable good will and my ongoing custom. Seems like a pretty bad deal over all, don'cha think?

This has been another exciting WeinWords consumer warning public service announcement.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Penny Wise

For as long as I've lived out here in Southern California, I've frequented a retail chain called the 99¢ Stores. They proudly advertise that nothing in the store ever costs more than 99¢. Ever. In fact, one of the things I always found most comforting about the 99¢ Store was its consistency. Most items were indeed 99¢, the remaining items were sold in increments that added up to 99¢. So a dozen eggs, for example, was 99¢. So was a six-pack of Shasta Cola. Bottles of Hydrogen Peroxide were two for 99¢, a vast assortment of candy bars were three for 99¢, and so on.

Some of my fondest afternoons have been spent cruising up and down the myriad aisles of the 99¢ Store with my bosom buddy Harlan Ellison, picking up various items from the shelves and loudly querying one another as to what the price of such items might be and constantly being astonished by the inevitable answer. (Well, Harlan finds it funny. But then Harlan is also fascinated by bright, shiny baubles and cheese.)

So imagine my horror when I dropped into the store this week to discover that this country's undeclared recession has finally reached my beloved 99¢ Store as well. Suddenly, it's now a half-dozen eggs for 99¢. Four cans of Shasta Cola for 99¢. Bottles of Hydrogen Peroxide are now 59¢ apiece. And candy bars are now 39¢ each. Granted, much of the merchandise available in the store remains unchanged. A big box of Sun-maid Raisins or smaller six-pack of Sun-maid Raisins are still 99¢, for instance. Most of the plates and glasses and tools and generic drugs and socks and toys and whatever are still 99¢ but the automatic comfort level is gone. No longer can I just pop into the store and pick up a six-pack of soda and three candy bars and a roll of duct tape and a dish towel and a new dog food bowl and think to myself, "Well, that's a quick five dollars plus tax." Now I actually have to do math.

Did I ever happen to mention just how much I hate math? Thanks a bundle, George W. Bush!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Open For Business

Should any of you Gentle Readers ever chance to Google me (and if you do, it usually helps to buy me dinner and a couple of drinks first), you'll discover over a hundred thousand hits to my name. Now, while many of these will take you to a variety of articles about or interviews by your humble blogger, an astonishing number of them will link you to a famous quote of mine. That quote is:

"A true friend is someone who is there for you when they would rather be anywhere else."

It's a quote that first appeared a number of years ago in Reader's Digest magazine and has since shown up on literally thousands of websites, on various pocket calendars and, to my utter astonishment, several years back on a bumper sticker available for sale online. None of which was perpetuated by me.

Earlier this week, an old friend of mine started a new page over on MySpace and, I was quite honored to discover, had listed me as one of her heroes. Looking at my name, I suddenly noticed that it was click-on-able (which is now officially a word) so I did so and saw that I was also listed on several hundred other MySpace pages. About half of the pages listed me as a hero or a favorite writer or someone they wanted to meet. The other half (you guessed it) all referenced my quote.

So I thought about this for a few days and, flashing back to that bumper sticker someone was selling years ago, decided that if my quote had affected so many people so deeply, perhaps it would be wise of me to make it available to them in a more permanent form.

Thus it is, with no small amount of trepidation and a great deal of pride, I present to you Len Wein's Weinworks, a new online store designed to sell that quote (and more cool thoughts in the future) adorning all sorts of fine clothing and other giftworthy items. Just click here to go to the store and see what I'm talking about. Eventually, when this post finally scrolls off the page, you'll be able to click on the link to the right of the page to get there.

But, for now, go take a look and tell me what you think. Remember, we're only a few months away from Arbor Day, and you know what a gift-giving frenzy that is.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Little Help Maybe?

For years now, I've been shaving with Wilkinson Sword razor blades, most recently their twin-blade Protector series. So imagine my horror and chagrin when I got down to my last package of carefully-horded blades, only to discover that Wilkinson Sword razors no longer appear to be sold anywhere in the USA. Thus, to my Gentle Readers north of the border up in Canada or across the wide Atlantic in Great Britain, I humbly ask:

Do they still sell Wilkinson Sword where you are, and if they do, might it be possible for me to advance you the money to purchase a bunch of blades and then send them to me? If so, please drop me a line here and let me know.

Now that the Writers' Strike is over, thank Heaven, I really need to trim my strike beard.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Indiana Jones Trailer

Okay, let's be honest. You know you've been waiting for this every bit as eagerly as I have. So here it is. Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Giving Help Where One Can

Just got the following missive from novelist/mensch Clifford Meth. Cliff was the person principally responsible for seeing to it that my old friend Dave Cockrum got some sort of financial recognition for his co-creation of many of the new X-Men before he passed away last year.
Interested in owning some of Dave Cockrum's personal comics collection and helping his widow Paty at the same time? Dave's entire collection -- Golden and Silver Age books as well as his X-Men file copies -- are becoming available, a few dozen at a time. The details can be found here.
Obviously, if there's anything you can do to lend a hand, I urge you to do so. This industry still owes Dave a debt it can never fully repay.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Marketing Savvy

Okay, we both know you've probably watched as much TV as I have and listened to as much radio and read as many magazines and seen as many billboards, right? And what do all those mediums have in common? Right again. They're all supported by advertising. So, after a lifetime of logos and slogans and trademarks and theme songs, how muc hof it has sunk into your unconscious. How much do you really know about those "two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun" and "those tiny little tea leaves in Tetley Tea"?

Well, here's your chance to find out. Just click on this handy little link to take the CramerSweeney Smart Marketing IQ Test and see how well you do.

Oh, stop whining. You knew the job was dangerous when you took it.

So Long, Steve

By now, many of you have heard that the comics industry lost Steve Gerber this week. Steve was the noted co-creator of Howard the Duck and Omega the Unknown, among many other weird and wonderful characters. He was also my friend.

I first met Steve during those halcyon days of the early '70s Marvel Bullpen. He was sharp, funny, acerbic, and always had a cigarette in his hand. That irreverence and wit made him the astonishing writer so many of us came to envy and admire. Those cigarettes ultimately killed him.

We had an odd bond, Steve and I, since we had both built our reputations somewhat by chronicling the adventures of iconic marsh monsters, me by creating and writing Swamp Thing, Steve by turning Man-Thing into one of the most offbeat books in Marvel history. One day, over lunch, we realized each of us had grown tired of a particular Marvel title we were writing. We went back to the office and asked then-Editor-in-Chief Roy Thomas if we could swap books. Roy quickly agreed. Thus, I managed to write all of one-half issue of Daredevil before some now-long-forgotten scheduling conflict forced me to turn the title over to my old buddy Marv Wolfman. Steve, on the other hand, went on to turn The Defenders into one of the single most surreal super-team series ever.

I didn't see Steve much after I moved out here to LA, aside from the occasional encounter at some convention or another. I always regretted that. The last time I ran into him was about a year or so ago here in town. I was in the company of fellow blogger Mark Evanier when Mark picked Steve up to join a small group of fellow writers for dinner. I, unfortunately, had other commitments that evening and had to beg off. But I promised Steve we'd get together the next time he was in town. That next time now, sadly, will never occur.

Mark has a much more detailed and articulate obit for Steve over on his blog, which you can link to over on the right, so might I direct your attention there. I have to go say a final farewell to an old friend.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Quick Question

Over the past few weeks, I have started a couple of blog entries about a few different performances I recently attended -- The Odd Couple and Mandy Patinkin in Concert, specifically -- and, being who I am, for a myriad of reasons, I never got around to finishing and posting them. So my question is this...

Are you Gentle Readers interested enough in what I have to say about said evenings for me to finish and post them, or should I just delete the unposted posts and look to the future? Majority rules.

Drop me a line and tell me what you think, okay? Inquiring minds want to know.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

George Lucas in Love

Some of you may have already seen this somewhere or another; for those of you who haven't, and for those of you who want to see it again, it's very well worth your time. One of the best pieces of amateur filmmaking I've seen...

And, once again, thanks to Astro City creator/scribe and old buddy Kurt Busiek for pointing the way...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Looks Like Another Perfect Day

It's been unseasonably cold in Los Angeles for the past month or so. Tuesday morning the temperature was only 36 degrees, which for Southern California is almost downright Arctic. It's been so chilly, in fact, that I have taken to wearing my comfy quilted down vest and the wonderful wool scarf knitted for me a few years ago by my dear friend Liz Mortensen even when I'm in the house. So imagine my surprise when I bundled up this morning and stepped outside... discover that it was currently a balmy 86 degrees in Woodland Hills. Tee-shirt and shorts weather. Bikini time. Yes, Gentle Readers, that's a 50 degree temperature swing in just 5 days.

And people wonder why I love LA.

The Theater's in the Very Best of Hands

Last night, my lovely wife Christine and I, along with our dear friends Bob Skir and Jim Newman, went over to the Freud Playhouse on the UCLA campus to see the Reprise! production of the musical Li'l Abner, starring Eric Martsolf as Abner, Brandi Burkhart as a prefect Daisy Mae, Michael Kostroff as Marryin' Sam, Fred Willard as General Bullmoose, Jamie Luner as Appassionata Von Climax, and Cathy Rigby (yes, that Cathy Rigby) as Mammy Yokum. The show was, to coin an unfortunate phrase, more fun than a sack of squirmin' squirrels. That all the various Reprise! casts manage to stage a show with such elaborate dance numbers in little more than a week's rehearsal time never ceases to amaze me, and this cast was certainly no exception. This show's got a lot of great singing, a lot of great dancing, and a whole lot of laughs.

Sitting front row center as we always do, I did, however, notice something that might not be quite so obvious from a few rows back. The stunning actress Tanea Brooks, who portrays Stupifyin' Jones (and, brother, I do mean stupifyin') looks exactly as if she had been drawn by Abner's cartoonist creator Al Capp; same style of eyes, lips, body, you name it. It just made a memorable character that much more memorable.

There isn't a whole more I can add that my good buddy and master blogger (now why does that sound dirty?) Mark Evanier hasn't already covered in greater detail over on his exceptional website, save to mention that Li'l Abner will be playing at the Freud through next Sunday, February 17th, so if you can lay your hands on some tickets before then, you really ought to. It's an evening well worth your time.

If you'd like a little sample of what I've been talking about, why not click on this handy-dandy link right here and take a quick peek backstage at the production for yourself?

Who says we're not a full service blog?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

So No One Told Me Life Was Gonna Be This Way...

Okay, I'll admit it, this made me laugh. Talk about giving new meaning to the term Super Friends...

And thanks to super-talented Superman writer and Friend of the Blog Kurt Busiek for alerting your humble blogger to its existence.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Heartbreak Hotel

Well, today was that day again, the day when 100,000 desperate comic book fans, in anticipation of this coming July's Comic-Con International, all attempt to book the 17 available San Diego hotel rooms at precisely the same time, which is not unlike trying to stuff 100,000 pounds of potatoes into a 5 pound sack. It is, I think I can safely say without fear of contradiction, the worst annual experience of my life. Trust me, those poor people waiting for the starting gun all those long years ago to begin the Oklahoma Land Rush had it easier than we do. At 9 AM Pacific Time, the floodgates open, and the TravelPlanners, Inc. website is instantly overwhelmed.

I logged on precisely at 9, waited forever for the site to load, and started trying to book a hotel room, all while constantly dialing and redialing the site's phone number in hopes of speaking to an actual person. All I got for two-and-a-half hours was a busy signal on the phone. On the website, I fared little better. Every time I would click on a hotel I wanted and begin the registering process, at some point along the way, the site would hiccup and throw me back to the beginning. When I would go back to the hotel I had attempted to book only a moment before, it would now read as full, so I would go on to my second choice, the site would hiccup, I'd lose the booking, go to my third choice, hiccup, hiccup, ad infinitum, ad most assuredly naseum. This went on for over two hours, until I finally managed to book one of the few hotel rooms still remaining. This was far from my first choice, far from my fiftieth choice. Let me put it this way. San Diego is 200 miles south of Los Angeles and, as near as I can figure it, I'm currently booked into a hotel room about six blocks away from my house.

Rumor has it that next year there will be a whole lot more rooms available, since several new hotels will have finished construction and there will be fewer competing conventions in town. Let's hope so.

Frankly, this sort of stress makes me want to take up stamp collecting.


Friend of the Blog Jim McClain informs us
Len, New Frontier will be released on February 26. It's not out yet.
So obviously what I got yesterday was an advance screener. Nonetheless, the DVD will still be terrific whenever it comes out. I checked and you can still order it from by clicking on the link down to the right so it can be delivered into your hot little hands just as soon as it's released.

I'm just saying...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ghost of Shameless Self-Promotion

For someone who isn't writing nearly as many comic books these days as I would like to be, I find it somewhat amazing -- and frankly a little amusing -- that there doesn't seem to be a month gone by that there isn't something by me out there on the comic stands. This week, for example, I'm told that DC is releasing another one of its 80-page-giant Countdown specials, this one featuring Jack Kirby's brilliant OMAC, One Man Army Corps. One of the stories reprinted in this volume is an issue of DC Comics Presents that features a team-up between Omac and Superman, written by your humble blogger and illustrated by the incomparable George Perez. The story's called "The Once-and-Future War" and I recall it being a whole lot of fun. Pick it up if you have the chance. You won't be disappointed.

And while we're on the subject of stuff with me in it, you might also want to get your hands on the new DC Animated feature, Justice League: The New Frontier, just recently released on DVD by Warner Bros. It's based on the groundbreaking graphic novel by writer/artist Darwyn Cooke, and it's a knockout. There are a number of extra features on this two disk set, from audio commentaries by many of the film's creators, to detailed histories of the Justice League itself and the legendary Legion of Doom, featuring interviews with many of the industry's most prominent creators. That's where you'll find my smiling face, nattering on about all sorts of comics history, as well as those of such stalwarts as Paul Levitz, Stan Lee, Mark Waid, Mike Uslan, Denny O'Neil, Mike Friedrich, Marv Wolfman, and the proverbial host of others.

If you're interested in picking up a copy of New Frontier, might I suggest you click on the little link to the right and order it through If you go through my link, Amazon will send me a few cents of what you spend, and that helps with the upkeep, such as it is, of this here blog. And not just this particular DVD, by the way. As I may have mentioned here before, anything at all you order through Amazon by going through my link, sends a little parking meter money my way. I note that a few of you Kind Readers have already taken advantage of this and I thank you more than I can easily say for the consideration.

Anyway, check out any or all of the above if you can and let me know what you think, okay? You know how lonely I get waiting to hear from you.


Well, I just voted and I feel terrific about myself, as an American and as a human being.

And you...?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Tuesday

This Tuesday, February 5th, is Super Tuesday here in not-so-sunny California. This basically means that California is one of 24 states holding its Presidential Primaries or Caususes or Calluses or whatever they care to call them tomorrow, helping to determine which propositions and candidates will be on the November ballot.

Now, as I may have mentioned here a time or two in the past, I'm not by nature a particularly political creature. For many years, I assumed, like so many others out there have, that the American political process was getting along just fine without me mucking about with it, so I did my best to stay out of its way. These past seven years, however, have changed that opinion in me. God, have they ever.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, arguably one of the most brilliant men ever to hold the highest office in this land, once famously said, "People ultimately get precisely the form of government they deserve." If so, what does that say about us and our country at this moment in time? Of course, Jefferson also said, "Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny." So perhaps he's answered that question for us.

I am a proud Liberal Democrat, and expect to be one for the rest of my life. I have no idea what any of your political leanings are, Gentle Readers, nor frankly do I care. What matters to me is that, should you happen to live in one of those 24 aforementioned states, you get off your shiny duff some time on Tuesday, and go vote. I honestly don't care if your vote cancels out mine, line by line, item by item. That's part of what makes this process so wonderful. In the end, assuming those tyrants don't mess with the electronic voting machines again, the majority vote will rule.

Which is as it should be.

When I first heard about Super Tuesday, comic book geek that I am, I hoped it was a day to celebrate superheroes. And, perhaps, in a way, it is. Here's your chance to become a real American hero, my friends.

All you have to do is vote.