Monday, August 26, 2019

It's an Astounding Piece of Americana!

In the summer of 1974 I produced the following messterpiece, on a 15½-by-21½-inch posterboard:

I shall now proceed to explicate its components.


The circle and its hollow center are tracings of a 45rpm record.  The four panes are ...

·         12 o’clock:  Image from “Wardrobe of Monsters,” art by Gray Morrow.  Story by Otto Binder. I encountered in Eerie # 15, June 1968. (Note the bottom-left panel.)
·         3 o’clock:  Image from “Head Shop,” art by Jose Bea.  Story by Don Glut.  I encountered in Eerie #51, September 1973.
·         6 o’clock:  Another image from “Wardrobe of Monsters,” Eerie # 15, June 1968.  (Note the trop-center panel.)
·         9 o’clock:  Image from “The Graves of Oconoco,” art by Pat Boyette and Rocke Mastroserio.  Story by John Benson.  Also from Eerie # 15, June 1968. (The last panel.)

THE PSYCHEDELIC HAND:  is a tracing of my own hand, at that time.  The illustrated interior was inspired by Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I first finished reading on April 25, 1974.  You’ll recall that when Mr Dark is searching for Jim and Will, the boys’ faces are tattooed on his palms.

THE SNAKE:  is a freehand drawing.  But its head is the skull from the Visible Man model kit.


The swastika windmill sitting atop a hearse is inspired by the windmill seen at the end of the original 1931 Frankenstein.


The bottom circle contains an image cribbed from the 1973 cover of that monument of tripe, Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

The human silhouette is from some self-help book which I cannot now recall.

The Porky Pig is a common one, like this.
The Groucho Marx caricature is copied from the 1973 Manor Books printing of Groucho and Me.

The Batman face is from the over of an 80-pg Giant, Batman #198, cover-dated January 1968.  
And here’s an insert.
The hand is merely a sketch of the infamous rubber hand I bought at a novelty shop, and took with me on a choir trip to Galveston, TX, where it featured in many gag photos.

What’s on the other side, you ask?
Why, it’s a scotch-taped Beatles collage!

Well, this will have to hold all y’all for the month of September.  We’re takin’ a break until October, when we’ll dive into ...


See you then!


Monday, August 19, 2019

Monday, August 12, 2019

It's a Way Out Word Search!

Way Out Word Search

After the resounding success of the Lord of the Rings Word Search (solution here), I decided to make up another one.  Unlike the first one, this was not done “freehand,” I used a handy-dandy program, Discovery Education’s Puzzle Maker.

Here are the words used, in alphabetical order:


And the Word Search (print it out):
You can find the words in any ol' ding-dang direction … sideways, backwards, up and down.  But every word is in a straight line with all letters contiguous.

The answer next Monday!  See you then!

Monday, August 05, 2019

Celebrating the Big Show, Part 4

Notable! Controversial!
Carnival & Circus Movies!

Films set in carnivals or circuses are legion, perhaps because of showbiz’s own narcissism.  Here are some of the most notorious.

            The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)This triumph of expressionism tells the creepy story of a puppetmaster who sets up at the town fair.  He uses his hypnotic powers of control, forcing a somnambulist to kill at his bidding.  The silent film remains disturbing today.  Its off-kilter sets, inhabited by title character Werner Krauss and the sneaky Conrad Veidt, conspire to draw the viewer into a dreamy Neverland of queasiness and murder.

            Freaks (1932)—After helming Universal’s surprise-smash horror film Dracula (released on Valentine’s Day, 1931), director Tod Browning was given a virtual carte blanche for his next film, to be shot for MGM.  Launched from the 1923 story “Spurs,” Freaks is a pre-Code film that’s now infamous for its unflinching depiction of human oddities, as they live their everyday lives as circus freaks.  The film was withdrawn from release after only three weeks by MGM, and denied release in England for 30 years.  Freaks outraged filmgoers and critics with its storyline too:  A sexy “normal” trapeze artist and her strongman lover lay a plot for her to marry and murder a midget for his inheritance.  However, the pair doesn’t make allowances for the way midget Han’s circus associates stick up for him.  The banquet scene in which the freaks welcome Cleopatra into “the family” is a well-known scene of showcase and spectacle.  But most disturbing of all to 1930s audiences was the revenge of the freaks on Cleopatra, after they uncover her scheme:  The Human Torso inching through the rain with a knife between his teeth; legless Johnny Eck scuttling on his hands.  The result of their vengeance, though marred by 1930s makeup, is still a triumph of tit-for-tat, as the freaks turn the “normal” Olga into … watch for yourself!

            The 1960 low-budget film Carnival of Souls is just weird, telling the story of a gal who wakes up after a car wreck to find herself in an uncertain reality, including wandering an abandoned carnival pavilion.

            What do you get when the world’s biggest rock supergroup decides to pile into a bus and make a movie about wherever they end up?  The 1967 trainwreck-of-a-tale Magical Mystery Tour, presented by the Beatles originally on BBC-TV.   While redeemed by the title song and others like “The Fool on the Hill,” “Blue Jay Way,” and many more, the film itself is an example of what happens when creative geniuses dive into projects with no preparation or concept of their final goal.  Among the scenes are a strip show and a final song by the Fab Four, in tuxedoes strutting before a night-club crowd.  Roll up!

            The Day the Clown Cried (1972)—This unreleased Jerry Lewis film tells the WWII story of a clown who accidentally insults the Reich and is arrested.  Eventually the clown finds himself leading children to the gas chambers, the ultimate evil clown.  The controversy surrounding this film led to Lewis’s donating its print to the Library of Congress, with a stipulation that it not be released until 2025.

            Vampire Circus (1972) tells of a travelling circus and a lot of vampires, as they arrive at a small Austrian town.  Highlights include animal acts and erotic gyrations on the stage between a “tiger woman” and her handler.  Well, that and dismembered bodies, Gypsy fortunetellers, and a vampire battle in an underground crypt.

            The 1980 historical drama The Elephant Man  was set in Victorian England.  Its title character:  Joseph Merrick, a man horribly afflicted with Proteus syndrome, which caused out-of-control growth of some body parts.  He was a freak-show exhibit when discovered by surgeon Frederick Teves, who attempted to research the man under the deformity.  In 1983 English rocker Bruce Foxton released a song “Freak,” based on this movie.

            Funhouse (1981) tells the sad story of a bunch of weeded-out teens who decide to spend the night in a funhouse, never imagining that they’re trespassing in the realm of a deranged murderer who wears a Frankenstein mask.

            Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) was released by Disney after much surgery both before and after production.  Disney spent $5 million after the original wrap, including a new score by James Horner.  The film starred two 12-year-olds who aappear noticeably older in some scenes than others, due to reshoots.  Based on the American prose classic by Ray Bradbury, the story originated as a screenplay written in the early 1960s to star Gene Kelly.  The novel spins a moving tale of friendship and father-son love, both of which come under attack from the denizens of an evil carnival.  The eventual ending is an all-too-common case of too many Disney cooks spoiling the broth.  Nevertheless, the oily, sinister Mr Dark is the role Jonathan Pryce was born to play.

            Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) actually features aliens from space masquerading as clowns.  Still, but they do transform their spaceship into a carnival tent to lure their victims.  Beware Jojo the Klownzilla!

            Clownhouse (1989) is controversial because its director was convicted of the sexual abuse of the 12-year-old star, Nathan Forrest Winters.  In this twisted tale of threes, three escaped mental patients kill three clowns and replace them.  The psychos then lay siege to three boys who are stuck at home alone.

See you in the movies, kids!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Watchpanels, Part the Fifth

One compulsive reader’s observations ...
after gazing into Watchmen for the umpteenth time


All right, I’ve got photons in my teeth and my wrist brace on ...

      In this balanced view of Rorschach’s unbalanced life, we see on page 11 that even the food stains on his dirty dishes are symmetrical!
      On the last panel of page 21, Joey is reading the lastest issue of Hustler.  After some squinting, I think I deciphered the ad on the back of the mag,
      Obviously, the tagline of the ad is, “FOR SMOKERS WITH BALLS.”  *insert rimshot*
      This guess was proven when I encountered the B&W version of this panel in Annotated.
·         The quotation ends with a period.
·         The epigraph box in the comic gives the writer’s name as “Wm. Blake.”

·         The second “tyger” is capped in the rebound edition.
·         A question mark appears at the end of the quotation.
·         Blake’s first name is spelled out.
      There’s an amusing misprint on two pages of the supplemental materials.
     Did you notice it? 
      The book-title sidebar should read “TREASURE ISLAND,” not ‘TREASURY ISLAND.”
      And take a look again at the other side of the page.  If pirate comics are all the rage, and superhero comics fizzled in the early 1940s, why does the “DC Bullet” include Superman’s name?  Of course, the answer is that this is an authentic image from “our” world.
      I made my own version of what the DC Bullet might have looked like in the Watchmen world.  What do you think?
      I want to make two observations about this brief piece of the last page of Chapter 5’s supplemental material.
      I wonder if the title of Max Shea’s book Fogdancing was inspired by Ben Mears’s Air Dance, from Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, published in 1975?
      Secondly, notice the typo in the first sentence of the paragraph at the end of this image.  Do you suppose that “the time of this writhing” was a subtle clue to the nature of the Space Squid?

      At any rate, “writhing” was corrected to “writing” for the bound versions.
      The last thing to be found in the comic, on the paperclipped note about the "next issue," doesn’t appear in the reprints.

      That’s all for Chapter 5.  Seven chapters left!

See you next Monday for the next silly or profound ruminations on the Super Blog!

PS you may find all previous observations about Watchmen under the rubric WATCHMENUTIA on the right-hand sidebar.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Moon-Day, Monday ... So Good to Me!

50 years ago, the paper of record, the Tulsa World, provided its coverage of the exciting Moon landing and Moon walks.
I only kept the front page, not the whole section.  Boy, how exhilarating it was to be an American kid those days!

And a Brit won a wager over the timing of our Moon landing.

My favorite note is pointing out that the staid, official Tulsa World staff had a sense of humor amidst the celebration and seriousness.

Look at the date slug.  What day of the week it is?  Why, it's MOON-DAY!

Many happy Moon-day return to you all, and I'll see you back here next Monday!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Superman Music Source Uncovered!

Here’s the final update on the Adventures of Superman music I have scored (get it?) over the years.  While rummaging through the dankest corners of the Fortress of Markitude, I came across the original paperwork from “Vintage Soundtrak,” the source of my compilations of AoS music.

First off, here are those two comps:

01. Mysterioso (2:13)
02. Wax Museum (1:32)
03. Build to Sting (0:18)
04. Frantic Rhythm (1:53)
05. Violin Scream (1:19)
06. The Getaway (0:57)
07. Fight (3:13)
08. Jump the Fence! (1:19)
09. Queasy (1:34)
10. Deserted Village (1:33)
11. Rip Through Fear (1:03)
12. Face at the Window (1:44)
13. Eerie Oboe (1:22)
14. Flute to Finale (0:53)
15. Night of Terror (2:29)
16. Sad Romance (1:20)
17. Monkey Mystery (1:18)
18. Airport (0:37)
19. Slow Carousel (0:46)
20. Radio Waltz (1:43)
21. Tango (2:09)
22. Silsby Pastorale (1:43)
23. Life and Death (2:28)
24. Romantic Interlude (1:54)
25. Blue Melody (1:41)
26. World of Tomorrow (3:10)
27. Menace (1:34)
28. City Desk (1:21)
29. Sword of Damocles (2:56)
30. Cat Burglar (1:28)
31. Atlantic Rollers (2:09)
32. Solemn Moment (1:31)
33. Sea Power (1:35)
34. Scotland Yard (2:59)
35. Prelude to Crime (0:24)
36. Crime Doesn't Pay (2:47)
37. Changing Moods I (3:01)
38. Changing Moods II (2:48)
39. Humorous In & Out (0:34)
40. Chameleon Moods (2:40)
41. Free for All (1:35)
42. Hope Abandoned (2:47)
43. Arctic Wastes (2:25)

01. Eerie Night - F G Charrosin (3:10)
02.  Tragedy - Unknown Artist (1:26)
03. Lost in a Fog - Ronald Hanmer (1:25)
04. Dismal Swamp - King Palmer (1:37)
05. Mists - Unknown Artist (1:18)
06. The Tell-Tale Heart - Jack Foulds (2:48)
07. The Ghost Walks - F G Charrosin (1:41)
08. Stealthy Footsteps - F G Charrosin (1:49)
09. Confusion - F G Charrosin (1:17)
10. Rebellion & General Havoc - Edward Carmer (1:34)
11. Disorder - Edward Carmer (1:20)
12. Desert Caravan - Granville Bantock (3:02)
13. Storm at Sea - Unknown Artist (2:52)
14. Tenebrae - Unknown Artist (3:05)
15. Condemned - Unknown Artist (3:02)
16. Dramatique - Unknown Artist (1:03)
17. Tumult & Commotion - Miklós Rózsa (1:20)
18. Mechanical Monster - Unknown Artist (1:50)
19. Danger Ahead - Unknown Artist (1:45)
20. Men of Steel - Miklós Rózsa (1:39)
21. Informal Interview - Ronald Hanmer (2:38)
22. Bits and Pieces - Ronald Hanmer (0:58)
23. Just Whimsical - Ronald Hanmer (1:40)
24. Way Out East - Ronald Hanmer (2:59)
25. Dagger in the Dark - Ronald Hanmer (3:06)
26. Magic Necklace Cue - Modest Mussorgsky (2:00)
27. Seven Souvenirs Cue - Modest Mussorgsky (1:44)
28. Catacombs - With the Dead in a Dead Language - Modest Mussorgsky (3:58)

It was in late 1991 or 1992 that I ordered a couple of cassettes of music from Vintage Soundtrak.  One of those tapes was out of stock, so they sent me another.

Here is the order form they enclosed:

Note that you could order WITH or WITHOUT Dolby processing!

And they enclosed a very informative note on how they dubbed the music.

Following are the summary pages of their offerings.  Full of nifty info!

Boy, I wish I could go back in time and order all of those puppies!

Well, that’s about it, Super-Fans!  Tune in again for more excitement ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­next Monday!

All original content
© by Mark Alfred