Well, last night I accompanied my brother (aka, Ryan, Roundball, The League, and Slappy McGee) to a giant yearly clearance sale at Austin Books. Apparently this event is something like Christmas, New Year, and some kind of back to school sale all rolled into one for the comic reading crowd. It was kind of amazing to see, really, and you could tell by the buzz that the comic crowd felt that they had arrived at an event that was somewhat special. When we arrived there was a line of customers standing in the parking lot, each carrying a heavy arm load of comics and asking each other about what they had in their respective "stacks" (apparently some kind of slang term for the piles of comics that they were lugging around).
And the comics crowd is a strange group when you get them together, folks. It's kind of an assortment of different kinds of social misfits who got picked on or flatly ignored as outcasts in high school for various reasons, but once you put them in a room full of comics with one another, they all kind of blossom and spring to life with a newfound energy, empowered by the fact that they're among their own kind in an enviroment where they're not going to be persecuted or ridiculed for having a better knowledge of fantasy worlds than the real one (in fact, they can be confident that they will be congratulated and applauded for possessing such knowledge). There are probably a few undercurrents of snobbery, competitiveness, and one-up-manship among the comic elite, but at an event like last night's sale, where everyone is raking in a treasure trove of comics for bargain bin prices, the crowd, largely comprised of people who are probably often loners by habit, seemed pretty happy and collegial, interested in one another's purchases and willing to discuss one another's collections and interests in friendly tones. Anyway, a lot of these guys aren't really big on fashion, social niceties, or personal hygiene, but they can gleefully learn you about 3 generations of Justice League backstories faster than you can think of a reason to duck out of the conversation.
And the comic crowd is a fairly tightly knit subculture, apparently. I heard more than one group of people exchanging enthusiatic greetings like long-lost friends, and people discussing the fact that they hadn't seen each other since the last big comic convention. My own brother was singled out by one of the shop's employees as being the owner and operator of The League of Melbotis, my brother's blog site, on which he frequently posts about comic books, comic-related movies, and other stuff like that.
Anyway, it was a fun expedition, and I got a close-up look at a subculture of the local Austin community that one rarely sees outside of a movie theater or a comic con.
Other from the trip to Austin Books, there's not a lot going on. I'm ready for the Labor Day weekend. I'm shaking my head at the fact that the military angrily is demanding that the GAO revise reports that Iraq isn't meeting its security and stability goals, and meanwhile, we can't fly a plane full of senators and a congressman out of Iraq without almost having it shot down by insurgent rockets. There aren't any facts anymore. There's just spin.
Well, I gotta run, but maybe I'll rap at ya later. Peaceful weekend to all you Adventurers, if I don't talk to you before then.