Friday, July 10, 2009


Saying Michael Jackson isn't culturally relevant seems as silly as claiming Elvis or the Beatles or Bob Dylan aren't culturally significant. Yet two weeks after his death, it still seems to be hip among my friends and the interweb to poo-poo Michael Jackson's cultural relevance. I think that stance was difficult to uphold in the days after he died (especially considering he basically broke the internet in the hours immediately after the announcement of his passing), and has not gotten any easier since. Perhaps Jackson hasn't been musically relevant in a good 15 years, but his cultural significance has remained by virtue of the quality of his '80s music output and his personal and legal issues in the interim.

How else do you explain the sales figures still being reported from Billboard regarding how much Jackson music is moving even now? From June 29 through July 05 (Billboard uses SoundScan to capture data on a Monday to Sunday calendar), Jackson's solo catalog moved 800,000 copies in the U.S. alone. That breaks down to roughly 650,000 physical albums and 150,000 downloaded albums.

SoundScan also reports Jackson owns the top album spot this week with Number Ones, and he holds the top two spots on Billboard's Top Comprehensive Albums chart with Number Ones and Thriller.

Jackson died on a Thursday, so posthumous sales the week of his death really only account for sales made Thursday evening through Sunday night, yet he held eight of the top ten spots on the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart. This week, he has captured all ten spots at the top of that chart. (Numbers one through six and eight through ten are solo, number seven is a Jackson 5 album.)

Despite the fact that I'm amazed so many people didn't have Jackson's music in their collections already, and even more amazed at the shot in the arm Jackson's death has meant to the sales of physical albums, I don't understand how you make a case for his cultural insignificance. I would argue that his last relevant album was 1991's Dangerous, but culturally his entire musical output, his position as a fashion icon, and the freak show quality of his both his celebrity and personal life solidify his relevance.

The holy trinity of '80s pop, consisting of Jackson, Madonna and Prince, will always have cultural relevance as well, regardless of child abuse scandals, adoption problems, or record label lawsuits.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Geek is Good

Some updates on Deus ex Comica: The Rebirth of a Comic Book Fan...

I had a blast a couple Sundays ago meeting and chatting with folks and selling copies of the book alongside my friend and editor John Booth at the Akron-Canton Comic Con. I got to chat with people like local artist and comic fan Chris Martin (looking forward to his show at Red Light Galleries in Akron’s Northside District) and with comic artist Tommy Flick, who also had a table at the show.

If you have been checking out the sidebar of the blog, you may have noticed that Deus ex Comica is now available through, and available once again through Discount Comic Book Service (thanks, Zack!).

Also, today Wired Magazine’s great GeekDad blog ran a review of the book that was especially gratifying. I’m really excited about what the author of the review, Curtis Silver, had to say, particularly since he came at the book from a DC fan’s perspective. Stay tuned for an interview on GeekDad coming soon!

If you've read and liked Deus ex Comica, please consider taking a moment to rank and review it at Amazon, Lulu, and/or GoodReads and recommending the book to a friend. I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed my book and appreciate the support!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


We said good-bye to Vinnie today. His last “Vinnie Here” column ran in the bulletin today. Before Mass started, we sat down in the pew and read the final conversation that Father and Vinnie had to share with us. And the kiddo saw Father up near the alter preparing for Mass, and he went up there by himself and told Father he was sorry Vinnie died and that he liked Vinnie and that Vinnie was a good dog. Then the kiddo came back to us, sat down, took a pencil out of the pew and drew a little halo and wings on the picture of Vinnie that has accompanied all the inspirational columns in the bulletin week after week and year after year now.

In his homily today, Father talked about how hard it is to deal with loss, and how amazing it is the way four-legged friends become family and so important to us. After both Father and much of the congregation composed ourselves, he also told us the story of how the internet is a funny thing... how it can get you into trouble. Like it did for Father on Friday. He read the story in the Akron Beacon Journal about shipping dogs from the overcrowded Summit County shelter off to a Buffalo shelter. He then got on the internet and looked through the dogs available in Akron, but none of them connected with him. But from that site there was a link to a Labrador rescue site in Dayton, and the very last dog on the list was The One. Looking a lot like Vinnie, this female dog made her way into Father’s heart.

Father told us how he kept enlarging and then minimizing her picture, over and over. Then he picked up the phone, figuring that no one would be around on the day before the holiday. But someone did pick up, and Father chatted with them about the dog. Then Father told them he didn’t really know when he could make it down to Dayton... and the person on the other end said, “But I’m headed to Pennsylvania on Sunday afternoon
and have to go right through Akron. I could bring her if you’d like!” And that’s how we came to have a new church dog. Not one better or worse than Vinnie, not a replacement, but simply a new member of the family.

This week we’ll be headed out to PetSmart to pick up a gift card and the kiddo will be making a welcome home card, because we want to make sure Minnie knows, just like Vinnie, that she is loved and she is home.