Monday, August 13, 2018

Bookmarks I Have Known, #1

One of my sillier passions is accumulating bits of paper ephemera to use as bookmarks.

These are from the tippling side of the fence:

This public-service wallet-sized card was distributed freely to convenience stores in the 1980s by the OK Highway Safety Program.

I don’t know how I came across this semi-legal document.  It looks like an affidavit swearing you’re old enough to tipple.

The final two gems come from the wide world of public cleaners.

Everyone needs proper collar spacing, right?

And this seems like the perfect out for almost scrubbing a hole in a spotted shirttail.

That is all for this week, friends.  See you next Monday!

Monday, August 06, 2018

Poison Ivy Comes a-Creepin' Around!

I just finished a fun book by Linda Barnes, the 1990 Coyote, featuring her PI character Carlotta Carlyle.

The version I read is the original 1990 publication, with this cover:

As true-blue Super Blog readers, you too see something familiar in the cover, yes?
  1. Go-Go Checks
  2. Font like a comic-book font
  3. A red-haired, sly-lookin' gal
It took me about 30 seconds to place the gestalt.  Why, the cover design is imitating the debut of Poison Ivy in Batman #181, from 1966!

Look for yourself, as represented by my own copy:
Or for a closer look:
You can't convince me that this was unintentional!

So, kudos to the folks behind this cover design:
Keep your own eyes peeled, campers.  The Silver Age is all around us!

See you next Monday.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Tomorrow’s Tech … Today!

 Tomorrow’s Tech … Today!

Many futuristic inventions have come to pass, while some may never be realized.

          One angle on cloning is the idea of growing perfect spare organs.  If your heart is likely to fail, why not have a new one waiting in a vat somewhere?  The well-known 1997 photo supposedly showing a human ear growing on a mouse actually depicted a construct of mold-injected cow cartilage.

          Sweden’s Karolinska Institute has fitted nine people with new tracheas grown from their own cells on decellularized scaffolds.  (Literal) grow-your-own cartilage, skin, and bone are already being marketed, as at University College London’s Department of Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine.

          In fiction, however, organic spare parts often come from unwilling donors.  As narrated by John Byrne in the 1987 World of Krypton miniseries, Krypton fought its Clone War over body farms and the question of humanity.  Larry Niven’s 1967 story “The Jigsaw Man,” first printed in Dangerous Visions, concerns a society that condemns people to death over things such as traffic violations, in order to harvest organs for the well-to-do.  The concept is still resonant in books, as in Michael Marshall Smith’s 1998 novel Spares.

           Taking the spare-parts idea to its farthest extreme, the computer RPG Xenogears theorizes that humanity was begun to provide spare parts for an immense bioweapon (called Deus, no less).


The concept of weaponized sound has been around since the storied Battle of Jericho. 

          In more recent times, fictional examples include Warhammer 40k, Kate Bush’s 1986 song “Experiment IV,” and Ayn Rand’s Project X in Atlas ShruggedThe Men Who Stare at Goats  depicted Barney’s song as musical torture (accurate, no?); but what could be worse than A Clockwork Orange’s perversion of the music of Ludwig van? 

The use of Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) as a weapon is also a tenet of some New World Order conspiracy theories.
          In 1990, it took a month of blaring rock music for the US Army to spur Panama’s Manuel Noriega to surrender.  BBC news reports alleged a similar employment of western music against Iraqi prisoners during the Second Persian Gulf War in 2003.
          The offensive use of pulsed sound waves is a reality. 

The Long Range Acoustic Device has been invoked for such mundane goals as dispersing birds from airports or wind farms, or for more ad hominem tasks — against political protestors and Somalian pirates.  A plane with an LRAD device was sighted above the 2012 Olympics, but it’s not known if the device was deployed.  Extremely high-power sound waves can disrupt or destroy the eardrums of a target and cause severe pain or disorientation. This is usually sufficient to incapacitate a person. Less powerful sound waves can cause humans to experience nausea or discomfort.  The next time you yell at somebody to turn down their loud music, you can back your request up with science!

See you next Monday!

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Giant Space Amoeba Returns!

            Yes, the 1968 Star Trek episode “The Immunity Syndrome” was actually the return of a space amoeba!

            I’m going to assume that you, dear reader, are familiar with “The Immunity Syndrome,” a second-season Star Trek episode first shown in January, 1968.

            When I re-read some of my old comics, I was bemused to come across a story which could certainly make a casual consumer think that the Trek story was ... ahem ... inspired ... by this comic-book tale.

            The third story in April 1959’s Action Comics #251 is “The Giant Amoeba of Space,” a Tommy Tomorrow tale set in 2059.  The story is by Otto Binder. The art is by Jim Mooney, who would soon take a big step up in reader visibility as the artist for the Supergirl feature in Action, although her origin (in the next issue, #252) was drawn by Al Plastino.

            As you can see, some of the same language from this comic is used in the Trek story.

MCCOY: That is an amoeba.

KIRK: Yes, I remember my basic biology, Doctor. You mean to tell me that that thing is a giant single-celled animal?

MCCOY: Yes, for lack of a better term. It's a very simple form of life.

             My only question as I look at this three-shot from “Immunity Syndrome” is: Where is Dr McCoy’s other leg?

            In the Star Trek episode, they learn that shooting energy at the blob only feeds it.  In “The Giant Amoeba of Space,”  the Space Patrol figures out, just in time, that bombing the thing will only split it into a bunch of new space amoebae. So they try:

 Robots …

 … a “loaded” comet, a giant space net, and a giant harpoon.  But nothing stops the thing, and it’s on a course ... for Earth!  (Another trope used in Star Trek, in The Motion Picture of 1979.)

             Wait, here’s an idea ... freeze it!  Unfortunately, the only way this can be done is ... gulp ... from the inside!

             ... Just as the Enterprise sends a shuttle and later enters the blob itself.

            But, as perhaps is appropriate given its “pioneer” status, the comic-book tale comes up with a funnier ending.  After Tommy Tomorrow has started the deep-freeze process from inside the Space Amoeba, he won’t have time to get out ... yet he does.  How?

With itching powder!

Of course, nowadays, we might locate the expulsion a little differently, like a giant space-fart.

And that’s our tale of the Space Amoeba which might have inspired a Star Trek episode!

See you next Monday!

Monday, July 16, 2018



            Here are some of my observations while traversing Watchmen for an extended period.  These particular notes refer to that squidgy-faced guy, Walter Kovacs, later known as Rorschach.

1:7:3 – In Annotated Watchmen, Leslie Klinger says that Rorschach’s jagged word balloons are reflections of the distortions in his voice caused by the mask.  However, in 1.10 and 1.11, his speech balloons are just as jagged when his mask is up.

03 - Swollen Teats Watchmen 02 - 26.jpg

2:26:6 – Note that while R’s journal talks about “heads between teats,” in the panel Blake hits the wall “art” with his head between the teats of the nekkid girl on the wall.

 5:11:1 – Even the food stain on the plate in Kovacs’s counter is mirror-equal!

 As you can see in 6:6-7, at least in 1951, JDs were smoking regular cigarettes, not ball-pipes.  Probably the ball-pipes are a more expensive habit!

Somebody tell me! What the heck is that hanging-balls mobile which dangles at top of panels 3-4-5 on page 8 of Chapter Six?  It’s also seen 13:6.

07 - Kitty G - Watchmen 06 - 10.jpg

Please read all of page 10.  How did Kitty Genovese, a bar manager with some clerical skills, have the money for a special-order dress?

Look at the chalk outline of Genovese’s body in the New York Gazette in panel 6, then read the bottom row of panels, as Kovacs says that this world’s Kitty Genovese died outside – Kovacs says, “outside her own apartment building.”  On our Earth, the attack commenced outside, but the actual rape-murder took place inside her building, in the rear hallway.

 6:12 – It’s an interesting story point, but it’s unbelievable that in any prison, anywhere, the prisoners are within reach of “hot cooking fat.”

In Kovacs’s “My Parents” story, he applauds the A-bomb’s use, with the same rationale that Veidt proclaims for his mass murder.  Perhaps the moral difference to Rorschach is that Ozzy’s act was a secret one, in an undeclared war.  It was also an action chosen by a single man who is evidently blind to his own egomaniacal side.

“My Dream” is dated 5/27/63, but this must be a typo – Kovacs was in the Charlton Home in 1953 – in 1963 he was 23 years old.

This is how panel 3 on page 25 of Chapter 10 appears in the original comic.  Notice the out-of-place quotation marks in the lowest speech balloon.  Everybody knows you don’t use quotation marks in comic-book speech balloons!

Well, Annotated Watchmen reports that the words in question aren’t in Alan Moore’s submitted version of the script – they were added after the fact.  This is the reason for the funny pasted-on appearance & quotation marks in original comic – Just like Mr. Spock’s famous airbrushed eyebrows, it’s a change added when the thing was supposedly already done.

On the other hand, we have this explanation from Dave Gibbons, in Watching the Watchmen (Titan Books, 2008): “I missed the third word balloon and it was added by DC Editorial” (page 265).

This panel also jarred me in the original – it’s in 10:27:6.  This about it ... what does “all the rats running of you” even mean?  This was a plain boo-boo by Dave Gibbons, who also lettered this beast.

You can see the black lines between the lettered words ... to me this looks like ol’ fashioned white correction tape.

The oversight was corrected in bound printings.

Gibbons’s comments about this one, also from Watching the Watchmen: “DC had rearranged the words in the second balloon and then, realizing Alan’s original order was, unsurprisingly, better, had swapped them back again” (page 265).

Well, that’s my somewhat blemished take on some aspects of Rorschach in Watchmen.  See you next Monday!

Thanks for spotting stopping by!

Monday, July 09, 2018

Celebrating the Big Show

Beginning a sometime series about showbiz ….

Circus-Carnival Songs

          Here’s an incomplete list of pop songs concerning showbiz and circuses.  Happy hunting!

 Bring on the Dancing Horses - Echo and the Bunnymen

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves – Cher

 Palisades Park – Freddy Cannon

Tears of a Clown – Smoky Robinson

Circus – Britney Spears

The Carny – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

The Night the Carousel Burned Down – Todd Rundgren

Freakshow – The Tiger Lillies

 Life Is a Carnival – The Band

The Show Must Go On – Three Dog Night

 Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite! – The Beatles

Circus – Tom Waits

The Kid – Peter, Paul & Mary

Spinning Wheel – Blood, Sweat & Tears

The Skeleton and the Roundabout -- The Idle Race

The Flying Wallendas - Drive-By Truckers
Carnival Time - Leftover Salmon
Eastern European Carny Man - Drive-n-Cryin

Tightrope - Justin Hayward

Goodbye Cruel World – James Darren

The Tears of a Clown – The Miracles

 Paxton's Back Street Carnival - Strawberry Alarm Clock

 The Clown – Conway Twitty

 Spinnin' and Spinnin' -- Syreeta Wright

Molly – Biff Rose

Dreams – Grace Slick

I Want Out of the Circus – Cracker

Ha Ha Said the Clown – Manfred Mann

Human Cannonball – Loudon Wainwright III
Funhouse – P!nk
On a Carousel – The Hollies

See you next Monday.
All original content
© by Mark Alfred