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United Parcel Service: Going Halfway Is OK By Us

10 Mar

March 10, 2014

mail innovations logo

The United Parcel Service (UPS) has a brilliant new delivery plan that is guaranteed to save them a fortune. It is ridiculously simple. They take your package and do not deliver it. Genius! They call it Mail Innovations and despite the name, it is not innovative. What other service does that? Why, the United States Post Office, that’s who!

And that’s the problem.

I ordered a book from Barnes and Noble on February 20th. As a member, I get free 1-3 day shipping. Great! So far, so good. This was a Thursday and on Friday the 21st I was informed by email that UPS had picked up my package and the estimated delivery was Monday, February 24th. When it did not arrive on Tuesday I followed the link they sent me and tracked it. Or to be more accurate, I tried to track it. The trail led to a dead end.

On Friday the 21st, the UPS not only picked up but delivered my book… to a US Post Office sorting facility in Staten Island, and not, as you would expect, my home in Brooklyn.  It turns out that UPS has a shipping service called Mail Innovations in which they pick up your package, zoom it across country, and deliver it not to you, but to your local post office, and they make the final delivery.

Sound stupid, right? I live in a large apartment building and UPS trucks stop here at a set time every day, sometimes twice a day. We are actually part of the UPS’ regular route.

And also, you may have realized that my local post office is not in Staten Island, another borough on the other side of Gravesend Bay, across the Verrazano Bridge, and most definitely not 8 blocks away.

Mail Innovations is an unholy alliance. UPS has generally been reliable, and the post office has been as dependable as your average election year promise. I always have trouble getting deliveries from them and usually go to the post office to complain. No good can come of Mail Innovations.

So when the book did not arrive on Tuesday I knew I had to go to the post office. I tracked the package on the post office site and they had the package arriving in Staten Island and, for the next three days, nothing. No movement. And on Wednesday, still no movement. This was four days of limbo, and so far I had been waiting five days for my guaranteed 1-3 day shipping. (I did not count Sunday.)

Average US Post Office facility.

Average US Post Office facility.

I went to the post office with a printout of the tracking, such as it was, and what did I learn? Nothing. They looked all over the post office and it was not there. They then sent me to the automated machine to track it and it spit out the same information- nothing for three days. This was, I must tell you, the same information they found when they looked it up themselves.  They then told me to call an 800 number and I could more information.

No I could not. The 800 number was automated and even less help then the post office tools. I then wrote a complaint on the website, sent an email to my local post office to complain, and lo and behold, the next day all kinds of shipping info became available. None of it good. After it finally left Staten Island, it arrived in Brooklyn, bounced around three different zip codes and two sorting facilities, and twice was in a nearby (but not my zip code) post office before bouncing away to the edges of the borough.

And then, on Saturday, March 1st, over a week after it left UPS and was handed over to the post office, my guaranteed 1-3 day delivery package was delivered to me.

Mail Innovations, like a chain, is only as strong as its weakest link. And as usual, the US Post Office is the weakest link.

Thanks a lot UPS.

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The Saturday Comics: Gotham City Uncensored

26 Feb

February 26, 2014

Saturday Comics on a Wednesday?  Why not? After all, new comics don’t come out on Saturday either.

sat com logo

bb197

The Brave and the Bold 197 (1983), written by Alan Brennert, is one of my favorite Batman comics. With all of the changes in DC continuity over the last few years (OK, decades) this story is way, way out of continuity, but at one time it filled in an important part of DCU history. This is a tale of the Earth 2 Batman. Earth 2 was once the home of the Justice Society, as well as older versions of Batman and Superman. This was also the exclusive home of Huntress and Power Girl. This story tells of an older Batman, nearing retirement, and how he fell in love with and married Selina Kyle, Catwoman. The story is so good it was even reprinted in a volume of the Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told. Regardless of whether or not it fits into the current New 52 era, this issue is great reading and worth if for the Joe Staton art. For some reason it has been going up in value. You can’t find an issue on eBay for less than $10. But if you are a comics or Batman fan, this issue is worth it.

If you prefer, for just a little more, you can get the hardcover collection that contains this story and a few more, but be warned, you’ll be missing out, since there is a very slight (but interesting) change to the artwork.

Joe Staton inserted a joke into the splash page. He never expected it to get printed. He fully expected the editor to catch it, have a laugh, and take it out. But it somehow made it into print.

This scan is from my own copy.

This scan is from my own copy.

See it? Staton put in a pedophile joke, right there on the shoebox.

I don’t see how the editor missed it. I’ve had this issue for years and I spotted it long ago. But I never knew the story behind it before and luckily, Comic Book Resources already got to the bottom of it. Via CBR, here is the explanation from Joe Staton himself:

Actually I think the label was more “PED-ophile”.  Commission Gordon was holding a shoe box and at the time I thought is was funny that you might see “pedophile”  as meaning “foot lover,” not a good pun, but not such a bad name for a shoe company.

Anyway, I put it in, but back then, DC had a pretty tight editorial process so stupid jokes and personal bits were normally caught and properly disposed of.  Unfortunately, not in this case.  My stupid joke was actually inked and even printed.  Most people seemed not have even noticed it, but it looked tacky.

Later when editor Mark Waid told me that the story was going to be in a collection, I asked him to erase the label and he was happy to do so.  It was my stupid joke and I’m very grateful to Mark for letting me set it right, especially since this was one of my best jobs, on one of the very best scripts that ever came to me, with one of the very best inking jobs I ever got.

Thanks for letting me clear that up.

Mystery solved!

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More o’ Dem Funny Words!

12 Jan

 

January 12, 2014

A couple of days a go I picked out a list of funny words from a much larger list of not-so-funny but allegedly funny words. It occurred to me today that a particular word was left out: Boner. Now there was a time when that was a perfectly acceptable word for screw-up or mistake but that time has passed. Boner is mostly thought of in a funny sexual context. We all know, for example, the Joker’s boner.

jokers boner 4

 

You can find the rest of the Joker’s Boners right here.

And now I have a couple more examples. This first one is a book illustrated by all-time classic illustrator and author Dr. Seuss.

BONERS01

 

And here are some earlier boners. The first one is really my favorite. Check the author.

untitled

“Boners. By Those Who Pulled Them.” There is no way that today there could be an innocent explanation for that. Everyone goes right to the prurient. And why not? That’s funny!

Gay is another word that has taken on a whole new context. It used to simply mean “fun,” like in the Flintstones opening.

“We’ll have a gay old time!”

So in this era of giggling and guffaws, can a book like this ever be published with a serious title as “Gay Time?’

I think not.

gay-time

 

 

 

 

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