An early afternoon trip to the comic shop this week. I bought three regulars: Usagi Yojimbo 92, Savage Dragon 124, The Walking Dead 27 and one new one: Red Prophet Tales of Alvin Maker. Red Prophet looks like some historical fiction so that is up my alley.

I give a thumbs up to last weeks trade of “Deep Sleeper” by Hester and Huddleston. It is the story of a guy who discovers he can travel on the astral plane and there are some bad things hanging out there. Not great but a solid story and solid art.

One of the most annoying aspects of science fiction TV and movies is time travel. I’ve got no problem with time travel in general but when the stories get written often writers don’t bother to have it make sense. Usually there are two takes on time travel. “You can’t change the past” or “you can change the past”. The “you can change the past” is further broken down into two categories: “there is only one timeline and changing the past changes this timeline” and “there are many alternate timelines and changing the past creates another alternate timeline”.

All three of these approaches have problems but the biggest problem comes when the writers mix and match them. A recent example is the movie “The Jacket” which was pretty good except they spent the whole movie saying that you can’t change time and at the end they changed time. It was a confusing movie anyway so what the hey.

The all time king of the mix and match is Star Trek. In that Joan Collins episode Kirk couldn’t save her because, “that is the way things have to happen”. Yet there are countless other alternate reality episodes where evil beards are worn and they mess with the time stream to their heart’s delight. Alternate realities abound. Time plays by different rules in different episodes of Trek. Not to mention different series.

The “Butterfly’s Wing” hypothesis says that the beating of a butterfly’s wing can set off a chain of events that creates a hurricane. This is why you have to be careful what you do when you time travel because your actions can have “unforeseen consequences”. But if a butterfly’s wing can cause a hurricane than so can your breathing. Time travelers don’t have to do anything but time travel and they will affect things. This should only matter in the “one timeline” take because in the alternate timeline ones why should anyone care. You can just create a new timeline and then go back to your own. Why be so careful? Pull a Homer Simpson and bash a few thing with a club.

All those different alternate worlds. No one ever explains how all these timelines are created. Usually a person creates one by going back in time and changing things but what about when some crazy accident knocks him into an alternate world where people wear evil beards? Where did that one come from? Did some other time traveler make it? Who knows? The writer don’t usually bother to explain such things.

The answer for a lot of stories is that all of the alternate realities exist at once. They are all there just waiting to be discovered. The TV show “Sliders” is an example of this type. They slide from one reality where England still rules the U.S. to another where women run the world. Of course I have a problem with this too. If all alternate realities exist at once there must be an infinite amount of them. Not just worlds where there are huge dramatic differences; this is a literary conceit. But worlds with mundane, not even noticeable differences. For example, I used to work in Manhattan. I would get of off a bus at 40th and 8th Ave. and walk to 28th and Park Ave. That is about a 20-25 minute walk and I had no set path. I would just follow the lights and cross the streets where I could. There were lots of choices. Can I make this light? Should I dash across or just turn downtown? I bet that if I chose differently at any of those corners it would not have mattered. There are billions of butterfly wing beats and few hurricanes; most small choices don’t matter. But there still would have to be an alternate world where the only difference is that I walked one block further east before turning south. Otherwise everything is the same. Multiply this by many days walking and by many millions of people. Infinite alternate worlds all essentially the same. I bet if you traveled to an alternate world you wouldn’t even notice the difference. Except there would be two of you. Unless the other you traveled to an alternate world too. Wait this is too confusing. Anyway, the odds of finding an alternate world dramatically different would be slim. That would be a real exciting show. Traveling from world to world where everything is the same.

I have always found Robert Heinlein’s “you can’t change time” take the neatest. There are no such thing as time paradoxes. If you go back in time to try and kill your mother before you were born something will stop you. It never happened so you won’t be able to do it. But that doesn’t let a writer “threaten the whole time space continuum”. So most stay away from it. It’s must easier to not sweat the details of time travel. Lazy Bums.

Back to you with my report from the comic shop. This week I got Rex Mundi #17, Red Sonja #8 and another on sale trade paperback “Deep Sleeper” by Hester and Huddleston. It is published by Image and is categorized as horror. I’ll let you know how it is.

I was reading my Teen Titan’s Archive again and I came across another of my favorite comic book devises. The boxing glove arrow. It was in every comic book archer’s quiver for decades. Most people make fun of the boxing glove arrow because not only would it never fit in an archer’s quiver but aerodynamics say it would never fly. This are both true and worthy of a good laugh. But what I find most amazing is that it is a boxing glove.

These are super-heros. Even the ones with no super powers spend all of their time punching one and other. With bare fists. Batman doesn’t wear boxing gloves when he goes up against the Joker. Why would an archer put one on the end of an arrow? Because it’s sporting? To be nice to the bad guy? To make it non-lethal couldn’t he just put a rubber ball or some such to blunt it? Nope. A boxing glove is chosen.

I’ve never seen it but I can picture an archer pulling the boxing glove arrow out of his quiver and saying, “Time to get serious” or “Time to take the gloves off”. Then he would pull the boxing glove off of the arrow revealing a bare fisted arrow. No more Mr. Nice guy. That would show ’em. But nobody ever has a bare fisted arrow. Just a gloved one.

Please, no fisting jokes John. This is serious business.

As I was painting the other day I had the TV on. I had my own little film noir festival: “The Maltese Falcon”, “Double Indemnity”, and “The Wrong Man”. As is my habit I mostly listened to them. After all I can’t paint and watch a movie at the same time. I have seen all of these movies before so there are no real surprises but my ear caught something this time that I had not noticed before. It was a phrase used in “The Maltese Falcon” and then repeated in “Double Indemnity”. One character looks at another who is quite disheveled and says, “You look all in”. Having seen both movies before I certainly heard the phrase but never noticed it.

With Texas Hold ‘Em poker being played on TV all of the time I’ve heard the phrase “all in” a million times in the last year or two. It is when a player bets all the chips he has left on a single hand. The phrase pops up all the time in pop culture now to signify that a person is committed one hundred percent. That is probably why I payed attention when I heard something similar in these two movies. Yet the meaning was quite different.

A quick internet search of the phrase “You look all in” brings up a bunch of books in which the phrase is used. Some are period pieces and some are contemporary. Is it really that common? Are people saying it all the time but just not around me? Is it regional and I’m not in that region? Was it common in the 40s and 50s but not now? Where does the phrase come from? You look all in. All in what?

One of my favorite regional phrases I heard when I was a freshman in college back in the fall of 1984. I was going to school in Sullivan County NY and a lot of the students were from the Binghamton area. I began to notice a strange phrase popping up. It was in any normal situation where you agree with some one. The first person says, “I like chocolate” and the second replies, “So do I”. That is unless you come from ol’ Bingy. Then instead of saying “So do I” you say “So don’t I”.

This is how the conversation went:
Me: “I like chocolate”.
Him: “So don’t I”
Me not understanding: “You don’t like chocolate”?
Him not understanding: “What do you mean? I like chocolate”.
Me: “But you just said ‘So don’t I'”.
Him: “Yeah, so don’t I”.

It was like the old “Who’s on first routine”. To his ear “So do I” and “So don’t I” were they exact same thing. I even repeated both phrases and to him there was no distinction between them. I also heard several other people from the Binghamton area say the same thing. But not all of them. The English language is a funny thing.

Thanks to the joys of the internet search (I refuse to use Google as a verb I don’t want my speech to be branded) I looked up that funny phrase and found it is native to around Boston and Central NY. No one seems to know exactly why.