Cephus' Corner

A Place to Share my Geeky Side With the World. Comics, movies, TV, collecting, you name it, I indulge in it.

Guess I Won’t Go Back There Again

October 21st, 2014

Collectors+Gather+Strand+Stamp+Show+6WpgeiG1IZwlI suppose I’m lucky that I live in an area where there are a couple of stamp shops, or at least they pretend to be stamp shops.  I haven’t walked into any of them recently because I haven’t really collected stamps in a while, but since I’ve gone a little nutty of late and gotten a considerable number, I was running low on a couple sizes of stamp mounts, I figured I might as well stop in and see what I could see.

Now I wish I hadn’t.

Bringing Back Memories: Linn’s Stamp News

October 18th, 2014

lsn-headI was talking to a friend today and he brought up something he read in Linn’s Stamp News and that brought back a lot of memories.  See, I used to subscribe for years and years and years to Linn’s, back when it was a weekly full-size newspaper and I actually gave a damn about modern stamp issues.  I still have a couple of boxes out in the garage filled with back issues.  I used to love going over the pages every single week, but that was before the dark times, before the Internet, which largely killed it, and the enjoyment I got from it.

Collect What You Like

October 14th, 2014

collect

Recently, I was involved in a discussion about what kind of stamps people collect.  I’m someone who collects mint stamps almost exclusively, others enjoy used stamps.  Some people like complete covers and documents, others like just stamps.  It really doesn’t matter what you collect so long as you collect what you like, but there are people who get really upset if everyone doesn’t do what they want to do, like it’s a personal affront to their collecting.

The Post Office Doesn’t Care

October 11th, 2014

Uncancelled Stamps

Recently, I got an order of stamps from a new dealer who was recommended to me and while I’m extremely pleased with the stamps that I got, I was about to throw away the envelope and I noticed that the stamps hadn’t been cancelled by the Post Office.  For an organization that is in perpetual need of money and has to keep raising rates, apparently they don’t care about doing the easiest part of their job, keeping people from re-using stamps.

The Waning and Waxing of Collecting

October 4th, 2014

nationalI guess my collecting goes in cycles.  I didn’t realize until a day or two ago that I’ve kind of wandered away from collecting stamps, until I got an e-mail from Delcampe saying they hadn’t seen me for a while and wanted to know what was wrong.  Well, nothing was wrong, stamp collecting just faded from my radar for a while.  It wasn’t because I disliked it, I wasn’t tired of it, I just… lost focus and interest.

And that’s not really a bad thing, I don’t think.

Lack of Excitement Bop

July 1st, 2014

homer-excitedNow I know that I can be pretty negative and critical of fans, in fact, I’ve turned it into an artform of sorts.  I had someone recently ask me what I’m excited for, what I’m really jazzed about and my answer is simple.  Nothing.  I don’t get excited about things, at least not overly excited.  Maybe it’s because I’m old.  I know that when I was younger, I looked forward to things, I sought out information about things, but today, I don’t bother.  Things are going to come out when they come out, I’ll see them when I see them, buy them when I buy them and that’s the end of it.

I just don’t get being excited about things anymore.

Your Stamps Are Worth Nothing

May 18th, 2014

kilo1Nothing drives me quite so crazy as the never-ending flood of people showing up in stamp collecting forums thinking that this cache of stamps their father or grandfather left them is going to be worth a mint.  It drives me crazy for two reasons, first that these people expect that they can show up in a forum, having never participated or shown an interest in the subject matter before and expect that the forum participants will drop everything they’re doing and research values for them and secondly, that these people expect that just because something is old (and maybe not even that), it’s got to be worth a lot of money and a windfall for their wallet.

Both of these are wrong.

Why I’m So Negative: The Hobby Edition

May 9th, 2014

Being Negative

I posted something on negativity over on my other blog but I thought I needed to touch on it again here with regard to hobbies.

Without going into the same spiel, I want to say that no matter how much you enjoy a thing, whether it’s a political position or a hobby or anything else, it can always be improved.  Nothing is ever perfect and it’s only by examining it critically and rationally, with an eye toward making it better that we actually can make it better.  Far too many people want to pretend that there just is nothing bad, everything is great, the world is perfect and can’t be made any better so let’s not even mention the bad, it doesn’t exist.

I point out a lot of places where hobbies can, and in my opinion should, be made better but I’m always met with resistance by people who are ultimately fanatics. Fanaticism is, like it or not, the downfall of most hobbies.  So long as you are a fanatic, utterly obsessed with your hobby, you’ve lost any objectivity when it comes to quality. If you love Star Wars and will buy anything that someone stamps a Star Wars logo on, regardless of quality or price, you are part of the problem.  If you can’t talk about the issues with a particular franchise because your emotions are clouded with your overwhelming love for that franchise, you are part of the problem.

There are lots of people who are part of the problem.

With action figures, there are lots of people who can’t be bothered with the problems that have existed for years, such as piss-poor case packs, bad quality sculpts, cheap paint applications and an ever-decreasing complexity.  Just keep those hunks of badly-formed plastic coming or they’ll go into withdrawal!

How about stamps?  Get them by the ton, even if you don’t need them and don’t have the time to look at them!  Shove them into albums!  Mindlessly support the post office because you can’t imagine new stamps not coming out every five minutes!  Buy, buy, buy, buy, buy and then buy some more.  That way you can sit around and whine that you can’t recoup on your “investment”.

With board games, it doesn’t matter if the same game has been released a dozen times before with a different name, you have to keep buying!  Buy buy buy!  Buy everything Kickstarter has to offer at the highest level of commitment so you can have those useless extras that you’ll never look at again!

Birds, let your emotions rule the roost!  Don’t worry about what you can afford, don’t worry about what you can reasonably maintain, fill the house from top to bottom with as many birds as you can get, bankrupt yourself with bird toys, fill every second of  your day with baking bird bread and other treats, then complain that you’re totally overwhelmed!  But wait, there’s another bird in need on Craigslist!  Get it!

These are all problems, yet most people just don’t want to talk about them.  They want to pretend everything is great, the world is wonderful and nothing could possibly improve their fandoms.  People need to be realistic when it comes to their fun and it’s an unfortunate reality that most simply are not.  It’s why I don’t fit in anywhere because I am a realistic person and most fanboys hate the realistic.  They want to live in a fantasy.  That’s not me.

I guess I have to continue being negative because that’s the only way things improve.

Dealing With Reality: Hobby Edition

April 2nd, 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-alt-reality-key-image10359059I spend a lot of time over on my other blog talking about reality and how everyone ought to be well-versed in what actually happens in the real world no matter how unhappy or disappointed it might make them feel.  Whether we like it or not, there are both good points and bad points to everything that we do.  There are good things about our jobs and bad things about our jobs, good things about our relationships and bad things about our relationships and most importantly for this article, good things about our hobbies and bad things about our hobbies.  Yet far too many people refuse to acknowledge or address the bad parts of their hobbies.  They’d rather clench their eyes shut and pretend there is no bad.  That’s just not realistic.

Recently, over on an action figure forum, they were talking about the availability of new action figures at retail.  People complained that with each new reset, there were no new action figures being put on the pegs, this made it much harder to find figures in the “wild”.  I pointed out that, at least locally, every new reset reduced the amount of real estate in the aisles.  The local Walmart, which used to have a full aisle of action figures, is down to a single 16′ section.  Actually, I think it’s less than that, maybe 12′, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, I don’t want to be dragging out a tape measure in the store.  The local Target, which used to have an aisle and a half of figures is now down to less than an aisle.  Toys R Us, which used to have 5 complete aisles for action figures, is down to about 3.5 aisles and half of that is clearance. I have no idea if they’ll shrink their selection down to 2-3 aisles once they clear out the back stock.

ClearanceEven though one or two of us, including the site owner, were talking about and agreeing with this turn of events, the majority of people on the site refuse to even consider the possibility that the action figure collector’s market has a problem.  Nobody wants to figure out how to solve issues, they just want to pretend that the issues don’t exist and they’re willing to insult and attack anyone who persists in talking about these “mythical” problems.

The same goes with stamp collectors.  I know I’ve mentioned that there was a discussion about the end of the post office and I said that I had no problem if the post office went away entirely. It does very little good in the world, people need to adapt to the new reality, get e-mail, pay bills online, etc.  If they need to mail a package, there are other companies out there that specialize in it and do it very well.  As for printing little sticky squares with pictures, that’s largely gone the way of the dinosaur, most postal clerks will put printed labels on your packages and letters unless you strenuously insist otherwise. It’s just easier and more efficient.  We don’t really need stamps anymore.  Stop making them.  There are 150 years of worldwide stamps out there to collect, there doesn’t need to be thousands more every year. However, these people keep wanting to support a dying system, more our of habit than rational reason.  Buy stamps!  Stick them on things!  Put them in the mail!  It doesn’t matter if it slows things down, makes for more work, they can’t keep collecting them if they don’t keep mailing them!

It reminds me of an old argument I heard back when I was into furry fandom, close to 30 years ago now.  There were people who advocated buying every furry comic, every furry drawing, every furry product that you could find, just to “support the fandom”. It didn’t matter how awful the art was, how badly written the comic was, if it was furry, you had to own it!  Sorry, I don’t buy that.  Fuck the fandom.  I buy what I like.  If people want me to buy their products, they need to produce things that I like at prices I’m willing to pay.  That’s how capitalism works.

vinylLook at the music industry.  Vinyl largely went away 30 years or so ago when the industry went to CD.  Today, CDs are being phased out in favor of wholly digital music.  Yet there are enough people out there who still like music on vinyl that there is a small group of manufacturers who put out music in vinyl.  In fact, I just heard a rumor that some of the original Godzilla soundtracks are going to be re-released on vinyl.  It’s not my thing, but hey, I’m glad that there is still a significant following out there.  That’s not really the case for action figures or modern stamps though, those things are being phased out because they just don’t sell and a minuscule number of collectors who will buy anything, not just the things that are worth buying, won’t change that.

In the end, we ought to just deal with the reality of the situation whether we like it or not.  If it’s a problem, we can band together and fix it.  Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that there are no problems doesn’t actually make the problems go away.  Looking only at the bright side of life tends to get you broadsided when the dark side comes to call.  Yet if we’re not willing to actually acknowledge the problems, we can hardly expect to address them.  Maybe if more action figure collectors had acknowledged the problems a decade ago and tried to rectify them, we wouldn’t be in this situation.  Maybe action figures would sell better if they weren’t so badly case packed.  Maybe the industry could have worked to find a non-oil-based solution and had it in place today.  We may also have to face the fact that the traditional action figure may no longer have a place in our modern kid-driven marketplace, that, like the tin toys of the past, these just might not be viable or interesting to kids in the modern world and that companies can no longer stay in business selling to an ever-shrinking demographic.  We might have to acknowledge that the end of the action figure has come, except for very small and relatively expensive niche manufacturers.  That’s reality.  Deal with it.

My Hobbies are not Your Hobbies

March 26th, 2014

hobby-onOn the most recent episode of The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast, at least as of this writing, they had a discussion about gateway games and where you go with people who have played gateway games and want to go further.

Honestly, maybe I’m not a hobbyist gamer, I don’t know.  It is one of my hobbies.  It is not something that I am fanatical about.  I am fanatical about nothing.  I have a lot of hobbies, none of them are things which I spend all of my time on or focus on to the exclusion of all else.  In fact, I don’t even understand people who spend all of their time fantasizing about playing games or collecting stamps or reading books or whatever.  These are things that I use to fill my free time, things which I get enjoyment out of, but not things that I would ever focus on like I see so many people do.

Yes, I’ve talked about this before but I keep running into people who make me scratch my head.  Are there people with one and only one hobby?  Seriously? Do they really have a single interest and no others?

Cephus' Corner

A Place to Share my Geeky Side With the World. Comics, movies, TV, collecting, you name it, I indulge in it.