Monday, July 24, 2017

Kryptonuptials - Part 1

by Mark Alfred

Part the First

            What was once unthinkable became established fact.  In Superman (volume 2) #50, December, 1990, Clark Kent and Lois Lane became engaged; in Action #662, February, 1991, he revealed his Superman identity to her.  Within the span of a few months, DC Comics has breached a formerly sacrosanct barrier, unbroken since Superman #1 in 1939, when Lois characterizes Clark as “a sob story,” but marvels over his alter-ego, “Superman!  What manner of being are you?”  With visions of a red-blue-and-yellow streak filling her dreams, past-days Lois had little time for the Caspar Milquetoast at the next desk – except for those times when she was trying to prove he was Superman.
            In 1991 we saw Clark and Lois working as a super-team, as Lois covered for Supes while he dashed away to save someone’s day.
            In the mind of an old fan like me, the thought rose unbidden:  Is this new set-up a dream?  Induced by Red Kryptonite?  Acted out by Kandorian doubles?  Then I figuratively slapped myself, exclaiming, “No, no, no – that was the OLD continuity.”       Still, although the events following Superman #50 were epoch-making – and eventually wiped from existence by those spoilsports at DC – the concept of a Lois-Superman marriage had been often played with before.  Like C C Lewis’s suggestion that earlier legends of a dying-resurrecting god were but foreshadowings of the reality of Jesus’s life, the reality of Mr and Mrs Superman was an earlier era’s plot twist, to be suggested then explained away.
            Here are some of my favorite super-marriage adumbrations from the past.

The Marryin’ Kind?

            Like many longtime bachelors, Superman of yesteryear nevertheless harbors a secret yearning for home, hearth, and a little woman.  When Red Kryptonite makes his face turn colors to match his emotional states in Action #317 (October, 1964), he turns green with jealousy when he and Lois document the marriage of an astronaut.

 “How I envy them, too!” he thinks.  ‘If only I could be married some day ... our own home ... quiet evenings together ... Oh, how I wish I could enjoy wedded bliss like that lucky guy!”  In Lois Lane #81, after rescuing Lois from a convict’s clutches, he ruminates, “My darling ... If only you knew the secret dream I’ve treasured all these years.  How wonderful it would be to take you home to my Fortress ... as Mrs Superman!  But if we were married, I’d constantly be afraid that some vengeful super-enemies would endanger your life while I was away!”
            In November, 1965, in the letter column of Action #330, a reader asked why our hero couldn’t marry Lois in front of the whole world – but “as Clark Kent, because his foes don’t know his secret identity.  Right?”  “Wrong!” came the editorial sneer.  “The Phantom Zone villains and the Superman Revenge Squad know the Man of Steel is Clark Kent.”
            As longtime super-readers know, there have been plenty of others who learned that secret.  But that can’t-marry-for-wifely-safety argument was often invalidated by DC’s own stories.  The above-mentioned tale from Lois Lane #81, featuring a convict kidnapping Lois, arose because the crook thought Superman’s “girl friend” was the perfect hostage.  How much more dangerous could it have been to be Superman’s spouse?
            The post-1986 continuity avoided such dilemmas by making sure that the public came to know Lois not as “Superman’s girl friend,” but only as Clark Kent’s fiancĂ©e.  To the general world, the reporter is only an acquaintance of Superman, all the more-so because she’s engaged to his buddy Clark Kent.
            For decades the Superman titles teased us with the question:  Will he or won’t he marry?  But editorial assurances appeared in letter columns like Lois Lane #75 or Action #329 (October 1965).  The latter teased, “We don’t know yet WHEN he’ll marry or WHO the bride will be, though.  For proof that he WILL wed and have children, see the November issue of Superman, which features the first in a series about his descendant, the superman of 2965.”
            Sure enough, Superman #181 introduced that in-continuity super-descendant  The editors were quick to offer Klar Ken T-5477 as proof that Kal-El would someday take a bride and engender offspring.  We had previously been assured in February, 1963, in the letters column of Superman #159, that:  “Inasmuch as it is a basic law of genetics that dominant characteristics are inherited, it stands to reason that any offspring produced by Superman and Lois would have super-powers.”
            In the 1950s and 1960s, we youngsters came to grow weary of such coy games as the “competition” between Lois and Lana Lang for Superman’s eventual affections.  Even me, a super-idolizer par excellence, began to wonder whether the Man of Steel would wed before I entered the Social Security rolls.  In the letter column of October, 1960’s Action #269, one brave reader suggested that a marriage for Superman would enhance, not weaken, his appeal.  A similar adventurous soul wrote a letter that appeared in issue #76 ( August, 1967) of Lois Lane, asserting, “Can’t you see that you’ll GAIN, not lose readers, with the most publicized, spectacular wedding comicdom has ever produced?”  The editorial reply reminded us that Superman couldn’t just up and ask the gal.  “He ask to ask the editors and publishers, too.”
            A letter in Lois Lane #87, cover-dated October, 1968, contained an interesting speculation:  Since Bizarro No. 1 is married to Bizarro-Lois, then it’s logical that Superman will never marry Lois.  Bizarros do the opposite of their Earthly counterparts, get it? 
            Apparently yours truly is the only person who took the opposite tack.  I’ve always joked that when Superman and Lois tied the knot, Bizarro and B-Lois would have to get a divorce.
            An editorial tease from February, 1969, in Lois Lane #90, sniffed, “But don’t figure you can always have a safe bet that the wedding won’t take place.  One of these days we might just spring it on you.”
            A few years prior, in May, 1964, this letter and response appeared in Lois Lane #49:  “When will you marry off Lois Lane and Superman?  My mother tells me that when she was a girl she faithfully followed every Superman story, hoping to see Lois become the Man of Steel’s bride.  She was amazed to learn that he still hasn’t married her.  Will Superman ever marry anyone?”  The letter’s reply was, “Be patient, friend, If you don’t see Superman make the Great Decision while you’re still a reader, we promise you that your daughter will see the big event.”
            Let’s see ... I was eight in 1964, a typical reader.  I have daughters born in 1983 and 1990.  I guess that you could say that the 1996 marriage happened in the time frame projected in 1964.  Pretty sneaky, eh?  All that time, in the 1960s and 1970s, we thought it was all a tease!
            Despite the desires of Lana Lang’s fans, it’s always been evident that Lois is the one for Superman.  As he says in two different stories of Lois Lane #73, in April, 1967, “We make a great team!” and “Lois, when the time comes, you won’t need a magic wand to win me.”  In January, 1970’s Lois Lane #98, Superman shows Lois (and we voyeurs) some changes he has recently made to the “Lois Lane Room” in his Fortress.  The main attraction is “The Lois Lane Honeymoon cottage,” complete with fireplace and windows opening onto a (fake?) blue sky.

             It’s all made very maudlin by the fact that, at this point in the story, Lois mistakenly thinks she’s going to die from a massive dose of radiation THE NEXT DAY!
            But, assuming that all parties are healthy and of sound mind, how to make those wedding bells ring, for true and for always?  That’s the question!  In some stories we see that Lois has resolved to win Superman’s heart fair and square, without deception or trickery.  For instance, that “magic wand” reference in Lois Lane #73 came about because Miss Gzptlsnz of Zrfff was the antagonist.  Masquerading as a girl named Dody, she posed as Lois’s fairy godmother and offered to use magic to make Superman marry her.  The motivation?  If Supes is off the market, then her fella, Mr Mxyzptlk, might spare some attention for her!  But the virtuous Lois will have none of it.  She deducts who Dody really is, sending the distaff magical troublemaker backwards via a sneaky Scrabble trick.
            Lois’s great flaw (aside from impetuosity) is the strange way that her devotion to Superman blinds her to the good qualities he displays as Clark Kent.  In July, 1951, he sighs in Superman #71, “The same old trouble!  She’s so smitten by my Superman identity that she can’t see me as Clark Kent!”  In August, 1958, in Superman #123, Lois dismisses a proposal from Clark with, “It’s sweet of you, Clark, but I could only marry you if you were really Superman!”
            For us constant and once-constant readers, though, it was plain that the road to matrimony for Lois and that super guy must inevitably wind through Clark Kent.  For example, this letter and response from Lois Lane #100, April, 1970:  “If Lois ever does marry Superman, will he wear the same costume to the wedding?”  “He probably will wear a suit and tie – plus a pair of Clark Kent glasses.”
            Yes, it’s Superman’s hope to win Lois’s heart in his Earthly identity.  This would prove it’s the man, not the power, that she loves.  When Clark is believed dead in September, 1968’s  Superman #210, Superman eulogizes him, “As Clark’s best friend, I know his dearest dream was to marry Lois Lane some day.”  He continues in silent thought, “After the wedding, Clark would have revealed his greatest secret to Lois.”
            We readers kept grasping at straws such as the one tossed to us by Superman in October, 1970’s  Lois Lane #105, when he thinks, “Won’t she flip one day, when she finds out I really am Superman!”  Note the hopeful use of “when,” not “if.”

 Tune  in the Same Time Next Week,
for the Next Installment in Our Saga!

Monday, July 17, 2017

From 1975, It’s ... Star Track! [part 2]

This silly skit was wrestled into final shape by yours truly, based on the profound question:

What if the Enterprise encountered Noah's Flood on a far planet, and the whole thing were a Gilbert-and-Sullivan musical?


Captain Crook, Dr McClown, and Mr Spot have met Noah's wife.  Noah is missing, and up on the ship Chief Engineer Shoddy has detected a massive rainstorm on its way.  Mrs Noah, the typical Jewish mother, decides that Mr Spot looks eligible and ask if he's married.

NOAH’S WIFE:  No?  Then, have I got a girl for you!

(She turns and calls.)

NOAH’S WIFE:   Delilah!  Where are you honey?  Delilah, come here!

(A luscious young thing, poured into a slinky dress, undulates from behind the Ark.   She is blonde, slender, and firmly packed.   She speaks with a southern accent so syrupy you could spread it on your cornbread.)

DELILAH:   Yes, Mama?

NOAH’S WIFE:  C’mere, Delilah.

(Mr Spot turns and catches sight of Delilah.   His Adam’s apple starts dancing; his fists clench and unclench; he starts to slobber.)
  Here, we resume our story ...

DELILAH (purrs):  Oohh!

(She sighs and comes closer.   She lifts a finger to trace the curve of one of Spot’s ears.)

DELILAH:  Look at his ears, Mama! Aren’t they somethin’?

McCLOWN:   What’s the matter, Spot? Your human half too much for you?

NOAH’S WIFE:   Young man, meet our Delilah.  Delilah, meet – what’s your name, honey?

SPOT:  I – uhh ... I’m –

(Music up.)

“I’m Called Mr Pointy-Ears”

SPOT:  I’m called Mr Pointy-Ears, never-smile Pointy-Ears,
Though I could never say why.
But still I’m just Pointy-Ears, sad-sack old Pointy-Ears,
Green-skinned and pointy-eared I!

I’ve got brains and logic, and feats astrologic,
I play chess and use the Spot pinch;
My heart’s made of granite, but back on my planet,
I’m someone my folks want to lynch!

So, pity poor Pointy-Ears, half-Vulcan Pointy-Ears,
Always so quiet and shy!
I’m only green Pointy-Ears, sad-sack old Pointy-Ears;
Watch Mr Pointy-Ears cry!

(Music ceases.  Spot falls to his knees, sobbing.  Delilah kneels beside him, stroking his hair.)

DELILAH:  Oh, you poor deah!

KROOK:  Groans, can’t you help him?

McCLOWN:  I’m a doctor, not a voice teacher!  (He fumes.)  I don’t know, Jim.  My guess is that his Vulcanian spawning cycle is coming on.

KROOK:  You mean ...

McCLOWN:  Yup, it’s the time of the pon farr.  One look at her, and he’s Shirley Temple with ears!

KROOK:  Not again!

SPOT (rising slowly to his feet):  No, Captain, I’ll – I’ll be all right.  (sniffs) I beg your forgiveness for this gross display of human emotion.

NOAH’S WIFE:  Oh, such manners!  Would you like to stay for dinner?  I’m sure my husband would like to meet you!

(Meanwhile, McClown takes a few steps, looking around, and steps into a pile of buffalo bagels.  Trying to scrape off his boot, he asks:)

McCLOWN:   Uh, ma’am, may I ask why all of these animals are hangin’ around in the first place?

NOAH’S WIFE:  Well, Noah doesn’t tell me much; but as I understand it, the price of fur coats is goin’ through the roof in a few months, if we can corner the market.  We just gotta keep ’em dry.

SPOT:  Fascinating.

NOAH’S WIFE:  But my crazy husband goes around talking about voices out of the sky.  (points behind her)  We had this thing half-built, and he measures it.  Thirty-nine cubits.  So, “Tear it down,” he says.  “It’s got to be EXACTLY forty cubits,” he says.  And now the voice is telling him, we forgot armadillos.  So I’m sitting here waiting for my crazy husband to come back with a set of preserved pairs!

(Krook’s Communicator beeps.  He flips it open.)

KROOK:  Krook here.  What’s up?

SHODDY’S VOICE:  Shodd here, Cap’n.  Meteorological readings indicate a low-pressure front in the upper atmosphere, and it’s headin’ straight for ya.

McCLOWN:  What the hell does that mean?

SPOT:  It’s going to rain.

SHODDY’S VOICE:  Aye, I just said that.

KROOK:  Shoddy, how much time do we have?

SHODDY’S VOICE:  Estimated time before the storm reaches you – twenty minutes.  But, Cap’n, we’re havin’ a spot o’ trouble with the matter-gain relay circuits.  If ye wait for the storm to get much closer, I dinna know if I can pull ye through!  As I said, ye have twenty minutes at most – an’ not a second more.

McCLOWN:  Twenty minutes!  Holy Moses!



McCLOWN:  Never mind.

KROOK:  Thanks, Shoddy.  Krook out.  (closes Communicator)  Well, gentlemen, I’d say ... we have a problem.

SPOT:  Captain, couldn’t the sensors of the Paralyzed be of some help to this poor woman?

KROOK:  How’s that?

SPOT:  Mr Guru could try to locate her husband’s life-form readings.  Then Mr Shodd can use the Transporter to beam Mr Noah here.

KROOK:  I see.  Good idea.

SPOT:  Naturally.

KROOK (flipping open his Communicator again):  Krook to Paralyzed.

SHODDY’S VOICE:  Paralyzed here, Captain.  What is it?  We’re standing by to beam you aboard.

KROOK:  Not yet.  We’re not ready.  How much time do we have?

SHODDY’S VOICE:  Ye have ten minutes, and not a moment more.

KROOK:  Shoddy, can you use the ship’s sensors to pinpoint an old man for us and beam him to these coordinates?  He should be within, say, a 50-mile radius.

SHODDY’S VOICE:  Just a minute, Captain.  Wait – we’ve got a readin’ for a 600-year-old man, with two armadillos.

NOAH’S WIFE:  That’s him!

KROOK:  Beam him here, please, Shoddy.  We’ll keep in touch.  Krook out.

SHODDY’S VOICE:  Aye, sir.  Paralyzed out.

KROOK:  He should be here any minute now.

(Offstage:  the familiar hum, a flash of light, and a hearty “Hi-ho, Silver!”  NO:  just the familiar hum and a flash of light.  A doddering old man totters around the corner of the Ark, carrying a scaly bundle under each arm.  Each bundle looks suspiciously like a dirty basketball trailing a licorice stick.)

NOAH’S WIFE:  Noah!  You’re here, finally!  Where’ve you been?  What took you so long?  So ... this is an armadillo?  Wipe your feet!  Want some chicken soup?  (to the Paralyzed three)  Thanks – come back some other time, will you?

(Noah, his wife, and Delilah enter the Ark.  Delilah offers a special wave to Spot.)

KROOK (turning to McClown and Spot):  Well, gentlemen, I think our task here is finished here.

McCLOWN (with a silly grin):  I hope we gave them a good sendoff.

KROOK:  Let’s get back to the ship.  (flips open his Communicator)  Shoddy!  We’re coming home.

SHODDY’S VOICE:  You had us worried, sir.  One minute to the thunderstorm.

SPOT:  Captain – with your permission, I would prefer to remain behind for an hour or two.  This climate would afford an unparalleled opportunity for the study of atmospheric conditions extant on primitive planets, and their overall relation to –

SHODDY’S VOICE:  Mr Spot, how long can you tread water?

KROOK:  Three to beam up.  Krook out.

(They sprinkle glitter over themselves.  Curtain.)

The End

... As you may imagine, the biggest single laugh came with "I'm a doctor, not a voice teacher!"

As far as costuming, we did it on the cheap.  We wore black pants rolled up.  We bought sort-of-shimmery shirts, and hand-sewed TREK emblems.

As you can see from this photo taken ten minutes ago, I also used a blue magic marker to color the neckline.


Thanks for visiting this corner of Memory Lane.  See you next week for a new article on Supes and the ol' ball and chain.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

MA-81 - 45s & Favorites, Disc 15

It's ... no, not the Monty Python "It's ..." man, but, another conglomeration of wide (or undisciplined?) musicality from 1970 to 1989.

01. Woodstock - Matthews' Southern Comfort (4:26)   1970
02. Sweet Mary - Wadsworth Mansion (2:40)   1970
03. One Fine Morning - Lighthouse (5:16)   1971
04. Pretty as You Feel - Jefferson Airplane (4:30)   1971
05. Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie (3:14)   1972
06. Fundamentally Yours - Stackridge (2:36)   1973
07. After the Goldrush - Prelude (2:07)   1974
08. Naked Man - Blood, Sweat & Tears (3:59)   1975
09. Right Time of the Night - Jennifer Warnes (2:50)   1976
10. Goofing Off - Sparks (4:23)   1977
11. Love Is the Answer - Utopia (4:13)   1977
12. Viva Pompeii - Triumvirat (4:17)   1977
13. King Tut - Steve Martin & The Toot Uncommons (2:11)   1978
14. Typical Girls - The Slits (3:56)   1979
15. Walking in the Rain - Flash and the Pan (3:27)   1979
16. Under Heavy Manners - Robert Fripp (5:16)   1980
17. Johnny Are You Queer - Josie Cotton (2:45)   1981
18. Curly Shuffle - Jump 'N the Saddle Band (2:55)   1984
19. Wouldn't It Be Good - Nik Kershaw (4:32)   1984
20. Night Song - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (4:13)   1987
21. The Moon's a Window to Heaven - Hiroshima (4:01)   1989

It's just hard to imagine a wider panorama of the musical Zeitgeist (leaving out Country music), except the other installments in our series.

Track 6 sounds like a song from the little brother of Badfinger, in a good way.
Track 10 should be on the jukebox of every bar on Friday nights.
Track 16, perhaps the most experimental, is from an LP of the same name (sort of) by Robert Fripp, with guest star Absalm el Habib (you'll know who he is).
Track 20 was also featured in a 1986 episode of The New Twilight Zone.
And, Track 21 is infamous to some because of its placement in Star Trek V.  But if you can (like me) put a blindfold over your mind's eye to listen, it's a pretty, beat-driven nocturnal serenade (one of my favorite topics).

MA-81 - 45s & Favorites, Disc 15

Be back on Monday, meine freunde.
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