Well, Joyce and I saw STAR TREK Into Darkness (along with son Matthew) Friday night. Even my lovely non-Trekker bride was able to follow things, and laughed at the right lines. I think it's a pretty fun ride, even though the whole lens-flare thing appears no longer a style choice but a nervous compulsion.
Back in college, a local channel showed episodes of Star Trek every afternoon, and there were plenty that I had missed the first time through on NBC. One of these was "The Galileo Seven," with its cliffhanger ending.
At least, for a college kid less savvy to story construction, it was a cliffhanger!
Anyway, it was a Friday afternoon and time to send off my girlfriend Joyce home in her car to her folks for the weekend. While she was packing, I was waiting downstairs in the dorm's lounge, where "The Galileo Seven" was on.
I had never seen this episode!
She wanted me to walk her out and say goodbye AT THE EXACT TIME as the climax of the episode, with the shuttle's engines failing after liftoff.
So I grimly walked out on the Galileo Seven as they went burning back into the atmosphere, and told Joyce goodbye and sent her off with a wave. It would be a year or more before I got the chance to see this episode's ending.
If that's not the self-sacrifice of true love, then what is?
It took me several viewings to realize that the "Seven" in the episode title was NOT the serial number of the shuttlecraft, but the number of people on it.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Never mind the whys and wherefores, as Gilbert and Sullivan used to say ... because I read an art book about Cold War tensions, that must mean I need to sew somebody up!
And because I read a book on Superman, I need a writer's style guide??
You tell me!
Monday, May 13, 2013
SoonerCon 22 is going to be at the end of June, here in Oklahoma City.
Among almost a hundred panels and activists, video room, Exhibitor's Hall, Art Show (the biggest in the region), and other things, we're having a little thing called a masquerade.
Bernina of Oklahoma City has graciously donated a great prize for Best in Show at the Masquerade:
The Bernina 215 sells for over $1100. We'll have some Bernina gift certificates as smaller prizes too. So if you know anybody in this neck of the woods who's a costumer, they should plan on SoonerCon!
See some of you there, I hope!
Monday, May 06, 2013
This book is a real disappointment.
BOTTOM LINE: A book that mocks the subject matter and makes fun of the subject matter’s devotees is a stupid idea and depressing to contemplate.
From the title, which is hipster-speak for “ooh, secret dangerous stuff about to be revealed!” -- it isn’t; to the last pages, wherein we learn that the book only has a bibliography, not endnotes; it’s sad to see so much obvious effort expended for just another uninspired and, in fact, mocking, tale of Superman’s history.
A big downside is the smarmy. snarky tone taken by Weldon, which may or may not be a job requirement for his NPR gig.
Surprisingly, there are only a handful of actual errors in this book:
· Page 45 - composer Sammy Timberg’s name is given as Timber (lumberjacks rejoice!)
· Page 99 - we have a case where an opening bracket “[“ is closed by a parenthesis “)” instead of a second bracket
· Page 100-101 - in the retelling of how Superman and Batman learned each other’s identities in Superman #76, Weldon says “a bright light” is what lit up the darkened stateroom, when in the story the light comes from rising flames from a fire that they are changing to battle
· Page 105 - Jimmy Olsen’s stretchable alter-ego, Elastic Lad, has NEVER had the word “The” on the front of his shirt
· Page 121 - Superman’s lost Kryptonian love, Lyla Lerrol, has her last name misspelled “Lerroll” on this page but it’s spelled correctly elsewhere
· Page 125 - in his narration of the Superman Red/Superman Blue story in Superman #162, Weldon mistakenly says that the resulting twin Supermen have outfits that are all-blue and all-red, when in the story the yellow parts of their costumes stayed yellow
· Page 142 - How can you say “Elliott S. Maggin” when everybody knows it is “Elliott S! Maggin” (with an exclamation point)?
· Page 165 - Amalak the space pirate is called a “low-rent villain” when in fact he appeared seven times, almost killing Superman several times; Amalak believes his home planet was destroyed by Kryptonians
· Page 178 - Is it Plexiglas or Plexiglass?
· Page 264 - The TV programming block was called “Kids WB,” not “WB Kids”
· Page 289 - What Superman eats is not “beef burgundy with ketchup” but SPECIFICALLY “beef bourguignon with ketchup” - this is important because this specific phrasing has even been a life-or-death (!) secret code between Lois and Superman
· Page 304 - In Superman Returns, Lois DOES NOT have “conversations with her husband” - especially since in the previous paragraph Weldon tells us that Lois is “engaged” not married
One way in the book is accurate is in its explanation as to why Superman Returns was flawed from the start. Aside from its disturbing depiction of Superman as a creepy Super-Stalker (let’s X-ray vision my ex-girlfriend’s life and use Super-hearing to eavesdrop on her!), the Superman we knew and loved would never put himself first and run away from the people that need him.
Another disappointing aspect of this book is the paucity of its index. For example, Sammy Timberg’s musical theme is mentioned several times, since it appeared in the Fleischer shorts and on the radio shows. But the composer isn’t listed, even by the way his name is misspelled in the text. A slightly bigger name, President John Kennedy, is also missing.
So, in summary, this is an unnecessary telling of Superman’s story with nothing really new and a disturbing snarky hipster tone. If you are going to put this amount of effort into a book, why condescend and make fun of the stuff? One disturbing example is that after his summary of “The Superman Super-Spectacular,” after JFK stood in for Clark Kent, Weldon takes a dump on our childhood by saying, “1964, ladies and gentlemen.”
I wish I had NOT spent the money to buy this book.
I can’t wait for the day that the “ironic” mindset becomes outmoded.
Monday, April 29, 2013
On April 18, 1938, Action Comics #1 went on sale, and we should all know a little about the cover character by now.
I grew up in the 1960s, the time of George Reeves syndication and Filmation TV cartoons and Curt Swan’s heyday.
Superman was my hero, and rode the top of all my friends’ estimation too. There were other heroes -- Daredevil, Batman, Spider-Man, and all the other four-color guys (I always liked Herbie the Fat Fury too) -- but Superman was the guy.
As a fictional character whose adventures were written for him and thus predetermined, he always made choices that ended well in the end. He had strength when the solution was a super-punch; he had a super-brain when strategy was necessary.
I really enjoyed stories where he outwitted Luthor or Brainiac and didn’t just beat them up.
So, Superman’s appeal to an American kid? He did what was right. He knew what to do. Girls liked him, but he was also able to keep them at arm’s distance. He had cool friends. And nobody ever picked on him.
Now, Clark Kent was another story -- he was often picked on by Lois or other characters. But that didn’t really get under our skin because we knew The Secret -- He wasn’t just that mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper. He was also the impenetrable, unstoppable Superman!
He did what was right, and he treated everybody fairly. He helped kids and didn’t look down on them. He had a smart dog who always obeyed.
As a white-bread kid (Wonder not Rainbo at our house) who grew up believing in rules and that right deeds were rewarded, Superman was for me!
Nowadays, I look around at see a society that most of the time makes up its own rules, and most of the time can’t agree that a given deed was a right one. My childhood memories of Superman, on the one hand, make me yearn for a simpler idea of life where right and wrong were so easily determined, and when the bad guy lost out (often by the unforeseen results of his own misdoings). One the other hand, I take resolve from the idea that most of the time I (or anybody) CAN do something positive, in most circumstances.
As Elliott S! Maggin put it, “There is a right and a wrong in the universe, and most of the time that distinction is not hard to make.” Unlike Superman’s fictional adventures, the reality we face can be messy and hard to figure out.
But MOST OF THE TIME it is NOT THAT HARD to make a decision that will help somebody.
- Let somebody onto the highway in front of me when they are running out of merge lane? not a problem
- Open the door for somebody (man or woman)? I will do that
- Unload the dishwasher? I live here, don’t I?
- Tell somebody they dropped some of their change? It’s when I hope they would do for me
And that’s the key, most of the time. And here we get into the reality that Superman is a shadow of…
Plenty of my friends don’t believe in my lord Jesus, and many do. But most wouldn’t argue with that guidance for living, the (second) most important rule: Treat other people right. Help them. Most of the time, that is not hard to figure out!
As Glen Weldon says on a new book about Superman: "Superman changes as our culture changes. The only thing about him, in fact, that has remained untouched, inviolate, since Action Comics #1 hit the stands in April 1938, is his motivation. That motivation is at once the simplest of them all and the hardest to unpack: He is a hero. Specifically:
1. He puts the needs of others over those of himself.
2. He never gives up."
Happy “Birthday,” Superman, you’re my second favorite hero! Even if current reworkings or “re-imaginings” change you from my childhood memories, those memories are still around. And those comics still exist, too! (Even if I can’t afford some of them.)
In case you wanted to know … the reason the title of this post is “Superman” at 75 and not “Superman at 75” is simple -- because the icon may age, but not our hero!
Monday, April 22, 2013
This is my second compilation of songs about the U.N.C.L.E.verse and coveres of themes from the series. I was thrilled and honored that Bob Short (Oscar-winning makeup artist for Beetlejuice and graphics guy for Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.) said he liked the cover design, noticing that it harked back to his graphic work for the reunion movie's "title card":
These are the cuts:
01. The Men from U.N.C.L.E. Speak - TV Classic Themes 25th Anniversary (0:17)
02. The U.N.C.L.E. Theme from "Solo" - Jerry Goldsmith & Studio Orchestra (1:19)
03. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Brian Fahey Orchestra (2:40)
04. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Television's Greatest Hits (Tee Vee Toons) (1:24)
05. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Cult TV Themes (Hallmark Collection) (2:38)
06. Meet Mr Solo (Nat-King-Cole Style) from "Solo" - Jerry Goldsmith & Studio Orchestra (3:06)
07. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - The Film Studio Orchestra (2:10)
08. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - The Revengers (2:08)
09. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - The Clee-Shays (1:54)
10. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - David Lloyd & His London Orchestra (2:05)
11. Meet Mr Solo - Hugo Montenegro (2:24)
12. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Newton Wayland & Houston Symphony (1:18)
13. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Groove Machine (2:33)
14. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - The Montague Orchestra (2:45)
15. Meet Mr Solo - The Revengers (2:13)
16. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Ulterior Motive Orchestra (2:05)
17. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Frank Chacksfield & Orchestra (2:41)
18. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Dick Dia (2:10)
19. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Tilsley Orchestra (2:24)
20. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - The Agents (3:13)
21. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - The Reg Guest Syndicate (1:46)
22. Meet Mr Solo (Samba Style) from "Solo" - Jerry Goldsmith & Studio Orchestra (2:06)
23. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Arthur Fiedler & Boston Pops (1:18)
24. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Parris Mitchell Strings with Brass (2:32)
25. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Wade Denning & The Port Washingtons (1:46)
26. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Ray Martin & His Orchestra (2:36)
27. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - American TV Dramas (2:05)
28. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - The Kaos Killers (2:51)
29. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - The Gallants (1:57)
30. Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Daniel Caine (2:45)
31. The Man from THRUSH - The Revengers (2:44)
32. Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theme - Jerry Goldsmith & Philharmonia (1:16)
33. Meet Mr Solo and End Credits from "Solo" - Jerry Goldsmith & Studio Orchestra (2:23)
34. U.N.C.L.E. Pen sound - Original TV Soundtrack (0:14)
35. U.N.C.L.E. HQ alarm - Original TV Soundtrack (0:16)
Thanks go out to Bruce Button, who shared some of his own theme collection with me.
Hope you like it! Open Channel D!
I had forgotten that this file EVEN HAD a password.. try pofdcgj -- it's a nonsense string that will open the file in a folder with another nonsense name.
This is the file with no password.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Here we have another compilation disc, of Super themes & variations. Nothing but DC's Main Man (and I don't mean Lobo). It comes complete with am amateurish "LP-to-CD" statement that was probably unnecessary.
Anyway, these are what's in there:
1) Movie Theme - Walter Murphy2) Superboy TV Theme
3) Superman - Herbie Mann
4) The Adventures of Superman TV Theme
5) Sound from Krypto / Movie Theme - Let's All Dance with Super Friends cassette
6) Superman the Animated Series TV Theme (extended)
7) The Batman / Superman Adventures TV Theme
8) Movie Theme - Gotham's Greatest
9) Comic Book Heroes / I'm Your Superman - Rick Springfield
10) The New Adventures of Superman TV Theme
11) The New Adventures of Superman Episode Title Music
12) The New Adventures of Superman TV End Credits
13) Movie Theme - Super Hero Music cassette
14) It's Superman - The Supermen
15) You've Got Possibilities - The Supermen
16) TV Theme - Ruby-Spears
17) Movie Theme - Cinema Sound Orchestra
18) The Superman / Batman Adventures TV Theme
19) Superboy TV Theme (Filmation cartoon)
20) SuperPup TV Theme
21) Movie Theme - Fleischer cartoons
22) Theme from Superman (original) - Wonderland Space Shuttle
23) Movie Serial Theme
Most of these are the fruit of decades of thrift-strore digging. Hope you enjoy the result .
Monday, April 15, 2013
Here are more covers from my library of 1100+ books. These have a theme of "Mysteries from the Past."
In the de Camps's book, we learn about the wonders of places such as Maccu Pichu, Stonehenge, the plain of Giza, and many more.
This book is also known in paperback as Citadels of Mystery.
The de Camps were wonderful people, if you can judge from ten minutes' interaction at a convention in the 1990s. The book is non-speculation, but a descriptive one. The wonder you feel is simply amazaement that people (whatever theis technological level) were able to figure out and build these things. Always insightful and witty, the de Camps are the way to go when you want just the facts, ma'am.
Now, the Bords are very mystical and veddy, veddy British. They love to give you mist-covered landscapes. This book is very much in the school of ley lines and cosmic siginificance.
This book talks about mysteries such as the famous chimney tower in New England that is ascribed to the Vikings but is older (it's like Dr Fate's tower with no doors), and the so-called "Indian" mounds of the Mississippi Valley, and other things. Of course some of those mounds were designed and built by American Indians, but some are older and, well, strange. This book looks at things like that.
Now go out there and READ! Just not Erich von Däniken...he's too silly.
Friday, April 12, 2013
The above suggestions are more reflections of the idea that if I want to see an art book about 1950s America, then I must be in the market for medical supplies because obviously I am expecting Nuclear Winter any second now. (Don't tell North Korea).
I think I've figure out these two textbook-type suggestions. Note that they are based on my buying a book on Superman that is part of a series "Icons of America."
I bet you that SOMEWHERE the "Icons of America" series is part of the reading list for a college class. Which makes it a textbook and therefore Amazon figures I want to buy EVERY OTHER textbook they sell!?!?
Monday, April 08, 2013
Best Friend Ever!
Soon after my folks moved in at my birth in 1956, the Hefners moved in across the street. At our house, Robert was the oldest, then Sue, a year younger, then me, nine years younger than Robert and eight years after Sue. At the Hefners’ house, Debbie was the oldest, then Pam a year or two younger, then Tommy, who was about six months younger than me and therefore in the next-lower grade. I think the age spread between the Hefner kids may have been about six years.
In this photo we are on the steps of the Hefner house. Tommy’s the one all bundled up while I look like Red Skelton’s “Mean Widdle Kid.” I am about 1½ years old and Tommy just turned one.
The story goes that I used to push Tommy off the porch until he got big enough to push ME off. After that we got along better.
When we were in second and third grade, we would play Superman (after the George Reeves syndicated show). At that time, Tommy wore glasses and I didn’t. So, he got to be Clark Kent/Superman. Hardly seemed fair.
By the time we were around eight years old, Tommy had spent a year wearing an eye patch for amblyopia (aka “lazy eye”) and no longer wore glasses. However, I then needed them.
The sensation of wearing glasses for the first time was disturbing. I had ridden my bike up to Dr Fooshee’s office to get my first pair when they arrived. My perception was so different that when I hopped on and pedaled away, I tumbled my bike two or three times before I got used to seeing things in a new way! When I was much younger, Mom had let me wear her glasses for a few seconds. The floor as perceived through her lenses was about a foot higher than it really was, and I kept trying to step up to it!
Anyway, now I was the glasses wearer and Tommy wasn’t.
In our neighborhood, the garage floors were somehow more polished and smoother than the driveways. When we spotted an open garage door and empty space within, we would whip into the driveway and into the garage, hitting our coaster brakes and leaning into the skid. We could whip a perfect 180-degree turn and end up still upright with our feet down on each side of the seat. This was our patented Bat-Turn.
Speaking of Bats … When Batman came on for its two nights a week, one night it would be at my house, and the next at Tommy’s. His parents were gracious enough to let him keep an HO car set on the floor of the living room by the sliding porch door, and we would wipe out on the HO track as we watched the Riddler or King Tut get decked by Batman and Robin.
When it came to role-playing, I was at another disadvantage when The Man from U.N.C.L.E. swarmed into our ken. When we played U.N.C.L.E., Tommy was blond while I had dark hair. That meant that HE got to play the cooler guy, Illya Kuryakin.
Then, in 1969, my world ended.
More on that later.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Taking a week off to go to my brother-in-law's memorial.
See you next Monday.
See you next Monday.
Monday, March 25, 2013
This is another of those fictional takes on history, laying out a possible explanation of the JFK homicide. The main character of the book, Bob Lee Swagger, is evidently a franchise character for Mr Hunter, though I don’t know any of the author’s other seventeen books.
Swagger is a seventies-something guy who is asked to investigate the hit-and-murder of a guy; this leads him into the JFK mess. “The Third Bullet” of the title is a Mannlicher-Carcano bullet mounted on the cartridge of a very accurate rifle fired by a super-marksman from the Dal-Tex building, with Oswald as the patsy, LHO thinking that he himself is an assassin run by a Russian agent.
The idea is that a top-of-the-line American spymaster is worried that (ex) General Edwin Walker, that right-wing agitator, will gain enough influence to drag the country into a full-fledged Vietnam war. When puppetmaster Meachum learns that Oswald in his attempt to emigrate to Russia/Cuba claims to have taken the April 10, 1963 shot at Walker (it missed), Meachum decides to enlist him to try again and do it right. This would eliminate Walker as an agitprop agent of the warmongering, Red-baiting Right Wing.
(HUMOROUS ASIDE: I think it amusing that Microsoft WORD allowed the use of the word “agitprop” without suggesting a correction. In other words it’s in MS WORD’s basic dictionary.)
It’s simply a coincidence that Oswald happens to work at a building that JFK’s motorcade is scheduled to pass in front of. So when the JFK route is announced, Meachum decides to up the ante. Instead of killing Walker to try and forestall a Vietnam conflict, why not kill the president who might implement it? Besides, Meachum is certain that LBJ would never have the gumption to enter into such a shootin’ war. (History tells us how that idea worked out.)
When our hero Swagger starts to unravel the big ugly ball of twine, the now-retired spy decides to shut him down, too. And so a battle of wits transpires.
While this is an interesting book and a perfectly absorbing tale, is is lacking in several aspects when compared to the historical events it attempts to “explain.”
The first thing that bothered me is just an opinion, I guess. This book’s depiction of Lee Oswald is second only to Stephen King’s 11/22/63 in depicting Oswald as a petty, venal, loser screw-up whose only use to the world was as a patsy.
Now, I don’t know whether a psychological/behavioral analysis of LHO would disprove this description, but still! It is the epitome of author-as-bully to describe somebody this way. It’s like drawing a mustache on a portrait that you yourself are painting! Oswald might have been a creep for real, but the hatred that drips from the pen in these one-sided characterizations reminds me of a thirteen-year-old teenage girl with acne, all alone on prom night, drawing “XXX” across the yearbook picture of the popular girl while saying to herself, “THAT will fix her!”. Such abuse of the writer’s craft shows a streak of pettiness in the writer, in my opinion.
Of course, the author of this book and Mr King of Maine both feel justified because, IN THEIR VIEWPOINT, Lee Oswald REALLY WAS the King-Killer, at least in intent. This makes him fair game for authorial bullying, I guess. Surely such an obvious thing was noted by editors and commented on. Was this characterization intentional, anyway? or did it drip unbidden from an authorial unconscious?
I am sure that there is a fraction of the American people that believes that we would now be living in the Millennium, if only that rat-bastard Oswald had not slain the Golden King and allowed that other rat-bastard LBJ to ruin everything. But this is an emotional viewpoint, an article of faith, that may lie unexamined in the bedrock of some folks’ feelings.
In mine own views, this is really more the mark of a foaming-at-the-mouth hate-speech-writer than the attributes of a novelist whose work I want to read more of.
As elegant as Mr Hunter’s theory-of-assassination might be, it lays out the events as an improvised hit by elements already in place for a hit on General Walker, a team whose boss is stuck by inspiration when learning that JFK is comin’ to town.
The problem with this idea is, it doesn’t explain the elements (before and after the hit) that were undertaken by other people to fake and obfuscate.
· The imposter Secret Service agents on the Grassy Knoll.· The replacement of the limo’s windshield before it could be investigated as evidence.
· The funny business with the autopsy and the forging/replacement of government records/photos/x-rays.
So, as a book it’s interesting and well constructed. As an alternate theory it’s about 50 percent short. And its depiction of Oswald shows the worst sort of authorial bullying.
What do YOU think?
Thursday, March 21, 2013
I don't know why I need a combination suture/needle, but maybe because I like an art book about the Cold War, Amazon figures I will lose a finger...
And I don't know what an Emmylou Harris album has with Sherry Fiester's fascinating book , Enemy of the Truth. The book is a forensic anyalyst's look at some of the known aspects of the JFK murder. And the recommendation is a "country" album. Huh?
PS, note the uncomfortable abbreviation of Enemy of the Truth's subtitle.
Monday, March 18, 2013
I loved watching Beany & Cecil cartoons as a kid. I guess you could say I was part of their “second wave” of fandom, because I ONLY knew them from cartoons.
As a kid I had no idea that they started out as puppets.
Now, do you see that hollow space in the center of the propeller? The propellers originally had caps that fit over this little cavity. This small hollow space was to put secret messages into.
This merchandising card gives you an overhead view of the cap -- the white thing in the center of the red was where you put the propeller to wind it up. And you can clearly see the hinged cap for the top of the “secret message compartment.”