It's not what you think

You're thinking, yeah, yeah, seen it before. It isn't that hard to do. You select an area and desaturate the color in that area. It seems to be a lot of folks' favorite image editing trick. But that's not what's going on here.

If you follow the link back to her Flickr photostream, you'll see several other angles on the same people, including one taken for the San Francisco Chronicle. It's a gray Santa suit, a gray wig, gray body paint, and gray contact lenses. you have to get really close in to see the only color she couldn't cover, the pink corners of her eyes.


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Fragments of the whole

Well, it's only been, what, ten weeks? I don't have an excuse: I'm just a lazy slug. That and I have too many web pages to update.

The ARTC show the weekend of the 24th went very well. If you weren't at the Academy Theatre, you missed out. (Don't you just hate messages like that?)

Hallowe'en has come and gone, thank goodness. I really hate Hallowe'en, and always have. Did no partying, my children are too old to go trick-or-treating, my porch light is burned out so we had no visitors. Just another quiet evening at home watching NCIS reruns.

The userpic accompanying is a crop from a photo included in a recent (!) publication of Clayton State University, in celebration of their 40th anniversary. It was neither credited nor labeled, since no one there has any idea who those people are. They know it was taken on Clayton campus because of the distinctive "bent tree" in which one of us is sitting. The tree is still a campus landmark even though it was removed to make room for the new library. A plaster replica stands near one of the entrances, but it isn't the same.

The picture was taken in 1973, and is a portrait of the student newspaper staff at the time. I was the editor. The university archives have no publications from that time. I could lie and tell you it was a phenomenally good paper, since no one is in a position to contradict me.

Interesting to be part of the "lost history" of Clayton State. 
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The Great Price Increase of 1961

The Great Price Increase of 1961

For most of their history, comic books had been priced at a dime. Oh, there were Nickel Comics, and the annuals were generally priced at a quarter, but these were definitely exceptions to the rule. Not that there hadn't been inflation anyway; that dime bought you a 68-page mag in 1940, a 60-pager in 1944, a 52-pager in 1950, and a 36-page issue by the time the Silver Age started.

Dell Comics made the first move effective with their February 1961 issues:

Although Dell persisted with the 15 cent price for over a year, it's not hard to see that they had troubles, especially as the rest of the industry held out until the end of 1961. First, they began advertising contests on their covers, and eventually, in mid-1962 they dropped their prices to the new standard of 12 cents.

As far as I can see, the other publishers mostly went to 12 cents around the December 1961 issues, but you could see that a change was coming. In the March 1961 issues, DC began putting a box around the price, noting "Still 10c". That was dropped in favor of just "10c" with the August issues, and then in December we finally saw the new price-tag of four-color entertainment:

Archie, Marvel, and other publishers pretty much changed their prices at the same time. Not surprisingly, this resulted in a significant dip in sales. Of the 36 titles reporting sales in both 1961 and 1962, only seven reported increased sales in 1961, and three of those I'm a little suspicious of; the ACG titles Adventures into the Unknown and Forbidden Worlds apparently reported identical sales in both years while their Unknown Worlds book showed a 500-copies-per-issue increase.

What comics did the best? It looks like Archie comics were the most successful at retaining readers, with the flagship title only losing a couple hundred copies per issue and backup titles like Betty and Veronica, Jughead and Archie's Pals & Gals actually picking up a bit in sales. On the DC side, only Justice League of America increased sales, from 335,000 per issue to 340,000.

On average, all titles lost about 8.7% in sales, but the decline was far from uniform. The Superman line's losses ran from about 5% (Lois Lane) to 12.5% (World's Finest). Batman's books other than WF declined from 15.5% (Batman) to 18.5% (Detective). The Silver Age DC heroes fared better with Flash dipping 11.5% and Green Lantern losing 5.9% (from a smaller base).

What really got hammered? Three DC titles dipped by over 20%; Mystery in Space, House of Mystery and My Greatest Adventure. The only DC war title I can find sales for those years, Star Spangled War Stories, dipped by about 4.9%.

Some of these numbers make sense if you think about them. Wonder Woman didn't decline all that badly; down 6.5% in this market was practically up, so the two female-oriented books that we have stats for, Wonder Woman and Lois Lane, both did better than average. Girls that bought those comics didn't find their budget as pinched as might their brothers because they only had two heroines to choose from. It's not surprising that the war stories didn't do as badly as some of the others; they were probably purchased by older readers on average. Sugar and Spike, the only comic on the list designed for very young readers, suffered a pretty steep drop of 18%. Ditto with the monster-oriented issues like House of Mystery and My Greatest Adventure; the kiddies who read them were more price conscious.

What about Marvel Comics? Well, Fantastic Four didn't report sales for 1961 and 1962, but we can see that their two monster titles got crushed. Tales to Astonish slipped by 25% while Tales of Suspense declined by over 31%. So there is certainly ample evidence that Stan Lee's incredible Marvel Silver Age was half inspiration, and half desperation. In 1963 both those titles featured superhero stories and gained back all the readers they had lost in 1962.

Note: Most titles would gain sales over the next few years, although frustratingly, the main publisher (DC) did not report sales for 1963 and 1964, making it hard to gauge the recovery apart from other effects.

posted by Pat at 6:51 AM Comment |

Read the whole thing.

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Aftermath of polyp surgery

Oreta is fine.

Surgery took a little longer than expected due to the discovery of a deviated septum -- which Dr Patel went ahead and fixed, while he was in there.

But some of Oreta's sinuses below, behind and between her eyes were all but completely blocked by polyps. Dr Patel is very happy with the outcome, and it should leave Oreta able to breathe better than she has in years. It should also positively affect her sense of smell, which has been missing in action for years as well.

We don't know what the anaesthetic was, but it must have been pretty good. Two hours after surgery, Oreta was still groggy and unable to wake fully.

As of now, she is much more like her old self, and very appreciative of everyone's well-wishes. So am I. Thank you, one and all.

Presenting: A numerical film festival

That is, movies whose titles end with numbers that do not designate sequels.

"The Wild One"
"Tea for Two"
"One Two Three"
"Nineteen Eighty-Four"
"The Deep Six"
"Return of the Secaucus Seven"
"Dinner at Eight"
"Secret Agent X-9"
"Five and Ten"
"Ocean's Eleven"
"The Dirty Dozen" (So I cheated. Pickin's are slim.)
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