Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to One and All

In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Dr McCoy says that, by scuttling the Enterprise, Kirk has turned death into a fighting chance for life.

In the case of man's confrontation with the spectre of nuclear annihilation, many songwriters and performers turned possible death into a fighting chance for art -- or, or least, record sales.

My Christmas gift to you, my friends, is an anthology I've put together called The A-Bomb B-List.  None of these songs is on the soundtrack to The Atomic Cafe film, or in the wonderful 4-disc-and-book set Atomic Platters.

Most of these songs, in fact, are from the 1970s and later.  Here is a track list:

1 - Atomic Bomb Blues - Homer Harris 1946

2 - Atomic Baby - Amos Wilburn 1950
3 - Fujiyama Mama - Wanda Jackson 1957
4 - God's Gonna Turn Us To Dust - Johnny Tyler 1960
5 - A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall - Bob Dylan 1962
6 - Eve of Destruction - BarryMcGuire 1965
7 - So Long, Mom (A Song for World War III) - Tom Lehrer 1965
8 - Electric Funeral - Black Sabbath 1970
9 - Damnation Alley - Hawkwind 1977
10 - Your Love Is Like Nuclear Waste - Tuff Darts 1978
11 - Nuclear Attack - Gary Moore 1980
12 - Fylingdale Flyer - Jethro Tull 1980
13 - Einstein A Go-Go - Landscape 1981
14 - Manhattan Project - Rush 1985
15 - If the Bombs Fall - Larry Norman 1986
16 - Christmas at Ground Zero - Weird Al Yankovic 1986
17 - Watchin' Joey Glow - Steve Goodman 1989
18 - Workin' at the Nuclear Power Plant - Penny File 2002
19 - Radiation Song - The Aquabats 2002
20 - Santa Came On A Nuclear Missile - Heather Noel 2003

In a line from Emerson, Lake & Palmer's live 3-LP set, Greg Lake quotes an earlier King Crimson song "Epitaph":  "If we make it, we can all sit back and laugh."

My hopes for you and me is that, despite the last bit of nuclear sabre-rattlings by North Korea and Iran, eventually we too can look back and laugh.  Not at the worries of folks who really thought a nuclear winter was on the way, but in relief that it didn't happen!

Included are disc art and front & back CD liners.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Hunter and The Hunted, Part II !

So here we are with the conclusion to "The Hunter and the Hunted!" by Cary Bates and Andru/Esposito, from World's Finest 181.

In this post, I will prevent ample evidence that young Mister Bates (he was 20 when this story saw print) was a keen student of pop culture when he crafted his tale.

Having escaped from their captor Kralc, who has kidnaped them and brought them to this egg-shapped world called "Orr," Batman and a powerless Superman are trying to find a place to hide.  Even though the citizens are merely standing around and watching them run past, they figure that Kralc, having caught them, probably wants to keep them.

So they duck into the house shown above, which seems like the most Earthlike place they've seen.  Umm, Mr World's Best Detective, why aren't you suspicious that this place is a trap BECAUSE it looks like home?

And, wouldn't you know it.  As soon as they get inside, all of a sudden a bunch of menaces pop in by the same transporter-type technology that brought them here as captives.  The first is the weird robot-guy seem at the bottom of the above page.  As soon as Batman dispatches it, then another threat appears, one only Superman can foil -- which he does, of course.

Then Kralc reappears, with a couple of new faces and a few cracks about how these menaces were "a little test" for our heroes.  The girl's name is Yllas, and she continues the walking tour of the city Azib that was begun by Kralc.

As they wander the streets, Yllas mentions that the heroes are legends to her people.  But why are they considered legendary beings, creatures of myth, when they are real and walking down the streets of Azib?

Well, here's the answer.  In a circus-arena-type setting, the world's finest heroes are introduced to the citizens of Azib (and, presumably the rest of the planet, by video maybe), as "the founders of our race."  Whose citizens promptly don;t believe their eyes, and Supes and Bats have to put up with more tests of their mettle, which they pass with their usual aplomb.

Then comes the award ceremony, where the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel are given awards as the Founders of the Orrian race.  Hmm, think the heroes.  They don't remember having done such a thing.  So, they do a little investigating into "the Sacred Excavation," where the Orrians have just "discovered their roots," and -- PUNCH LINE -- the oldest objects show clearly that they are remnants of the Bizarro World!

(For some reason, the planet's name, Htrae, is not mentioned.)

OK, now that they have at least some crazy idea of where they are -- some strangely mutated Htrae -- then WHEN are they?  Evidently these wild-n-wacky galaxy hoppers brought Orr to the present (1968) by swapping places with Htrae, which is evidently in the future, in Orr's Orr-bit (sorry, I couldn't resist the chance for the pun!).

So, as the proverbial WWII prison camp Allies would say, "Listen closely.  I HAVE A PLAN ..."

The plan makes perfect sense, in a refreshing way.  Both Superman and Batman woo Yllas, but in a bass-ackwards sort of way.  With a bouquet of weeds.  By starting a fight to the death over this girl they've only just met.

Whew!  Thank heaven that Kralc shows up to send these embarrassing Neanderthal-type creatures home!  And also, by the way, he takes Orr home, replacing it with the Htrae, whose inhabitants kindly tell Superman and Batman to vacate the galactic premises.

Now, as to the topic of author Cary Bates' close observation of the current entertainment scene.

Who could read the story's mention of "sacred excavations," and the twist-ending revelation of the artifacts, without thinking of the same kind of revelation in the movie Planet of the Apes, which was released in February, 1968.  Given the "lead time" of comics production, Bates might well have seen the movie a few weeks before weaving that plot point into this tale.

Likewise, in November 1967 Star Trek had aired the second-season episode "I, Mudd."  In it, the ever-resourceful members of the Enterprise crew escape their super-logical android captors by behaving anti-logically.  That's exactly the kind of behavior exhibited by Superman and Batman to get themselves thrown off the planet Orr.

And who could forget Spock's declamation that "Logic is a beautiful flower . . . that smells BAD."  Of course, the space-hopping Kralc's "space hops" are reminiscent of the Star Trek transporter.

See you at the end of the week with an atomic Christmas present.
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© by Mark Alfred