Monday, December 30, 2019

Watchpanels, Part the Sixth

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 ...

      6:2 – The chapter title is in quotation marks in the comic, and extends just a smidgen pas the panel borders . . .

      . . . while in the reprints the chapter title is just as wide, without quotation marks.

      At least in 1951, JDs were smoking regular cigarettes, not ball-pipes.  Probably because regular cigs were simpler and cheaper.

      What the heck is that hanging-balls mobile dangling at top of the panels?  It’s also seen in 13:6.

      It doesn’t make sense that Kitty Genovese, a bar manager with some clerical skills, had the money for a special-order dress.

From the chalk outline and the images of neighbors and balconies, it looks like 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.

      It’s a necessary story point, but to me it has always seemed unbelievable that, in Sing-Sing prison, home to murderers and all types of lowlife, prisoners are within reach of “hot cooking fat.”

      In the comic, the epigraph bar has quotation marks around Nietzsche’s words – the quotation marks don’t appear in bound editions.

      In Kovacs’s “My Parents” story, he applauds the A-bomb’s use using the same rationale that Ozzy uses: “saved millions of lives” and “more people would of been killed.”  Perhaps the difference to Rorschach, morally, is that Truman’s use of the A-bomb was part of a long, declared conflict, with strongly defined sides.  On the other hand (or tentacle), the Space Squid was deployed at the whim of one man, unelected, who used it as part of a maniacal scheme to make money and secure his own power.

      I noticed that “My Dream” is dated 5/27/63, but it must be a typo – Kovacs was in the Charlton Home in 1953 – in 1963 he was 23 years old.  The drawing is labeled “13 years old.”  Since this has never been changed in bound editions, I suppose that either I’m the first person to notice (ha!) or this was an intentional “typo” intended by the writer.

      Thanks for obsessing with me.  Six chapters remain.


Monday, December 23, 2019

Walter's Book Is Coming!

Beaming Up and Getting Off:
Life Before and Beyond Star Trek
It's coming!  We're looking for a May release date for the expanded memoirs of Walter Koenig, star of stage and screenplay, director and producer … and famous as the mean ol' Bester on Babylon 5 and the valiant semi-young Chekov in Star Trek.

Here are a couple of screengrabs from the book.
Walter's book Warped Factors came out in 1997.  Here is the entire text of that book, updated and revised, along with ninety-some new pages from Walter's (by turns wry and heartfelt) pen.  He discusses cons, stage work with Mark Lenard, many short films or episodes he's written, produced, or appeared in, and all with a most wonderful point of view.
I sure would like to see The Actor!

Walter writes with a super-engaging voice.  He's seen so much wacky behavior, and produced some himself, mixed with things that cause disappointment, anger, or simply jaw-dropping incomprehension.  The great news is that his adventures have driven him to compassion for us nudnicks -- not despair over the human race (like Ambrose Bierce for example).

Yes, mixed in with Walter's Hollywood adventures are oh-so-human frights and heart-stopping achievements.  And it's so fun to read about them because Walter's style is so compassionate yet sarcastic.

Yes, you'll also read about his comic-book work, and the fan films, and … buy the book and find out!
The book goes to press after the turning of the New Year.  If you like insider showbiz memories, or pop culture, or just plain human beings, you will love reading this book.  Judging only by my five minutes or so of phone chats with him, this is a guy whose time on the Earth has molded a fun person.

BTW, I was thrilled to both edit and design this book.

The Jacobs/Brown webpage for the book is here ...

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Shoppin' Silly, the Amazon Way! #3

We all know that websites, especially sellers, use algorithms to analyze our transactions.  They then tailor “suggestions” targeted to our presumed buying practices.

But sometimes those algorithms produce silly results!
A fine item, this universal remote.  What has it to do with vacuum-cleaner bags?  Why, to turn up the volume because the vacuum cleaner is on!
 I suppose having bought a carpet cleaner, I might wish something to dirty the carpet with?
Similarly, the relation between Keurig-style single-serve coffee pods and carpet deodorizer might be conjectured as reverse cause and effect?  You tell me, effendi!

Anyway, see you on Monday for something perhaps more substantial.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Tomorrow’s Tech … Today!

Tomorrow’s Tech … Today!

Many futuristic inventions have come to pass, while some may never be realized.
            In Star Trek’s “The Devil in the Dark,” Dr McCoy jokes that he’s beginning to think he can cure a rainy day. Weather control is often a feature of pie-in-the-sky techno-futures.  Superman’s Silver Age bottle city, Kandor, even had a mini-sun on a sort of roller-coaster track. 

Of course, some may call it cheating if you’ve got a closed environment, such as Ray Bradbury’s domed cities on Venus, or those featured in Logan’s Run.

            You could call terraforming a type of large-scale Weather Control, as discussed in Dune or as delivered with a bang by Star Trek’s Genesis Project.

            In the 1900s, a German chocolatier, Theodor Hildebrand & Son, produced a series of views of the Year 2000, including a Weather Control Machine:

The classic low-tech example is cloud seeding, originating in the 1940s.  Besides instigating rainfall in dry areas, it’s also been used preemptively, for hail and fog suppression near airports.  Did you know that rockets were used for Cloud Seeding before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in an attempt to prevent rain over the Opening Ceremonies?

            Many conspiratorial types see attempts at Weather Control around us today.  Some warned that the HAARP project in Alaska was also a secret government program to zap the US’s enemies with bad weather vibes.  Similarly, the contrails of high-flying jets are sometimes seen as weather or other climate-control attempts.

            Here’s hoping that in real life, a little humility and awareness of the doctrine of unforeseen consequences will prevent an artificially generated weather apocalypse.  We’re still a long way from Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs’ “Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator.”  Anyway, what if a colony of vegetarians lives downstream?


            Becoming see-through on demand was a property of the Cap of Invisibility, used in various Greek tales of Hermes, Athena, and Perseus.  The concept is also featured in the Dragon Quest RPG and Percy Jackson and the Olympians, after being earlier popularized as the Tarnhelm, in Wagner’s nineteenth-century operas about the morals of power, Der Ring des Nibelungen.

          Other invisi-gadgets abound.  Harry Potter’s got a cloak that blots you out completely, while Elven-cloaks in LOTR are great camouflage if you hide under one.  As of 2012, the technology was under construction.

          And while the One Ring may hide you from mortals, it unveils you to supernatural nasties that are far worse.  Tolkien probably drew this aspect of Sauron’s Ring from such artifacts of myth as Plato’s Ring of Gyges, which was used as the basis for an argument over how an otherwise  moral person might act if they knew nobody could catch them being naughty.

          In HG Wells’s 1897 The Invisible Man, and the TV or movies based on it, the usual emphasis is likewise on the concept of this secretive power leading to moral corruption. 

          However, there are plenty of other invisible folks who get along just fine being able to sneak into locker rooms — such as Sue (Storm) Richards, Violet Parr of The Incredibles, or Danny Phantom.

           The “cloaking devices” of Star Trek and other fiction usually mean non-detectability to sensors and the like, not outright vanishing.  Modern-day research into the idea has resulted in various assemblies of lenses to bend vision around a stationary object.  We are probably far from the day when you can spill “invisible ink” over something and make it fade away! 

See you on Thursday with some more silly Amazon suggestions!


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Shoppin' Silly, the Amazon Way! #2

We all know that websites, especially sellers, use algorithms to analyze our transactions.  They then tailor “suggestions” targeted to our presumed buying practices.

But sometimes those algorithms produce silly results!
Sure, Brahms is a “star”—one of the “Three Bs” of music.  But I bet this was really suggested because Flint, the near-immortal recluse in Star Trek: The Original Series’ “Requiem for Methuselah,” was actually Johannes Brahms (and lots of other famous people) during his lifetime!

Or am I presuming too much sneakiness on Amazon’s behalf?
Has watching 2001: A Space Odyssey driven anyone to drink?

What does a pirate hat have to do with Urban Legends?

See you on Monday for more glory and madness!

Monday, December 09, 2019

Paul Still Isn't Dead! (or so they say)

LIFE magazine decided to investigate the "Paul is dead" controversy, and reported on their findings in their November 7, 1969 issue.

Could it REALLY have been 50 freakin' years since then?  And a salute to the now-defunct Madison Junior High School, Bartlesville, OK, for subscribing to the mag, and then letting us students having the out-of-date issues!

Good ol' Mrs Rush, the librarian at Madison!

See you Thursday.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Shoppin' Silly, the Amazon Way! #1

We all know that websites, especially sellers, use algorithms to analyze our transactions.  They then tailor "suggestions" targeted to our presumed buying practices.

But sometimes those algorithms produce silly results!
Note that I'm suggested to buy this "Security Box" because I bought the Get Smart TV series.  Would liking spy spoofs make me more security-conscious?

Get Smart is likewise the inspiration for vacuum-cleaner bags.  Huh?  Maybe I need to clean up the Cone of Silence? 

Now, this suggestion I can sort of understand.  Yes, I confessed to Amazon that I own a copy of the movie The Sound of Music.  NO WONDER they think I need a drink!  Maybe the "bitters" would cut the saccharine storyline? 

Anyway, that's it for this shopping session.  See you on Monday for something more edifying -- I hope!

Monday, December 02, 2019

Shoppin' in the '70s

One of the fun things you can find when working at thrift store (or shopping at them) is paper ephemera.  Things that weren't meant to be saved -- which is what makes them fascinating decades later.
 I can't assign a hard date.  I can tell you that the "Equal Credit Opportunity Act" was enacted in 1974.
I don't think that this application would work nowadays.  Don't try it.

See you on Thursday with some silly shopping suggestions.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Happy Birthday to Will Rogers and the Great State of Oklahoma!

Believe it or not, I found FOUR copies of this EP for sale at the same time, at a local thrift store.  I cherry-picked the best audio and the best-preserved visuals to scan.

Among the participants in this 1957 celebration of all things Okie is (read the fine print) OKC’s own beloved John Ferguson, aka CountGregore.  (And, yes, I gave John a copy of the CD produced from these files.)

Well, that’s all for this month.  See you here on Monday, December 2nd!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Newlydead Game!

The Newlydead Game!
(August 16, 1979)

… with the star of our show, Bob Eyebank!

Thank you, Arnie the Announcer! and welcome to our show!  As you know, on our show we feature four couples, all of whom have been dead for two years or less.  They answer questions as they think their spouses will answer.  It’s a lot of fun, and we always have a surprise or two!  So – let’s meet our newlydead couples for this evening!

Couple Number One, dead just five short weeks, Ferd and Aphasia Roselawn!

Welcome, Ferd and Aphasia.  Tell us a little something about yourselves.

Mmmf, ggrugh lhmm shgrptl …

Aphasia (cutting in):
Sorry, Bob, but since Ferd died under a steamroller, he won’t be talking much tonight.  You see, we died on a construction site; we got carried away in the backseat, and didn’t realize that it was morning.  The construction crew had arrived and started work.  We heard the rumble of the steamroller.  I was able to get out of the car and run for it, but Ferd’s pants were around his ankels and he couldn’t run fast enough.  He got partway across the parking lot, and …

Rlll  krshh  expp  nnss …

Aphasia (cutting in to translate):
It was a real crushing experience, Bob!

But you, Aphasia?  You don’t appear too flattened by the experience.

Well, Bob, I made it out of the car, but fell into the pit where the foundation was going to go.

So, things sort of crept up on you …

That’s right, Bob.  When we woke up, we were dead.

Couple Number Two, dead three months:  Dwayne and Imogene Fitzwallace!

Hi, Dwayne and Imogene!  How are you?

Dwayne & Imogene:
Fine, Bob, just fine.

And just how did you two buy it?

You see, Bob, we were eloping to Miami and had booked a flight on a 727.  We snuck into the restroom together …

Imogene (blushing):
… to kind of start our honeymoon a little early, you see.

Dwayne (shrugs):
But when the plane crashed, well …

Down the tubes, huh?

That’s right, Bob.

Couple Number Three, planted only last week, Ralph and Delia King!

Hi, there.  Hey – you two look familiar.

Could be, Bob.  Ralph here is the nephew of Senator Sam Ervin, and I was once Miss Black America.

I see.  Welcome, your highness!  What happened to you two lovely young people?

Well, Bob, we went backpacking two years ago in the Rockies.  Atop one of the taller peaks, a blizzard came up.  We made our way down to an old miner’s cabin, but we were snowed in and never got out.

A pair of corpsicles, eh?  Wait a minute, let me figure this out.  This happened two years ago, you say?   But Arnie here just said you were buried last week.  How could this be?

Well, Bob, it was a really hard winter.  Our tracks were all blown away, and nobody knew exactly where we’d been hiking.

So, you were discovered sort of by accident?

That’s right, Bob.

I guess you could say that that storm really put your marriage ON ICE!

Couple Number Four, dead a year and two days now, Billy Don Baker and Cecelia Lewis!

OK, kids, clue me in.  Were you married or not?  I ask because of the different last names.

Billy Don:
Not yet married, Bob.  But almost.  We were engaged …

Thass right.

So, were you in a building that burned down?  I see your clothes are scorched …

Billy Don:
It was like this, Bob.  Cecelia had actually told me that she wanted to break off our engagement.

Aww ….

Billy Don (continuing):
So I got mad and went off to the Magic Rabbit Bar’n’Grill and just got totally plastered.  By midnight I was so demolished that I had to close my eyes to walk straight!

We come from a small town, Bob.  On this same night, I decided to go for a walk and think things over.  So it was just a kinda funny coincidence that I ended up walking downtown, in the neighborhood of the Magic Rabbit.  Anyway, I was walking down the sidewalk …

Billy Don:
And here I come out the back door, drunker than Billy Carter.  I was mad and I wanted a woman.  I stopped to light a cigarette, and then I saw one!

It was me, walking past the alley …

Billy Don:
… But I didn’t know who it was, and I pretty much didn’t care.  So I grabbed her and tore her blouse off –

– And I grabbed the mace out of my purse and squirted him in the face with it.

I can see where this is going.  When the mace that you sprayed, hit the end of his lit cigarette …

Billy Don (nodding):
That’s right, Bob.  We were totally, like, blown away.

Like the song says, “Come on baby, light my fire!”

That’s right, Bob.

Boy, I bet you were really hot under the collar, huh Billy Don? (Beat.)  But, enough of this chit-chat.  It’s time to play … THE NEWLYDEAD GAME!

Well, folks, that's the end of THIS year's BLOG-O-WEEN!  Thanks for stopping by!  See you again on Monday, November 4th, for an Oklahoma special celebration!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Color Herman Munster

"Have a seat," Herman says.  "I'll get the zip-ties."

Come back on Thursday, Halloween, for the final post of this year's BLOG-O-WEEN!


Friday, October 25, 2019

Night in Funland and Other Stories

Scary Books, Kiddies!


Night in Funland and Other Stories from Literary Cavalcade.  Edited by Jerome Brondfield, 1968, Scholastic Book Services.  Cover: Margaret Howlett

      A lot of Boomers can thank TAB (the Teen-Age Book Club) and Scholastic Publishers for a lot of literary insight and exposure, along with some frights.  This anthology includes such classics as

·         “4 O’Clock,” by Price Day, which became a 1962 Twilight Zone episode;

·         “The Vertical Ladder,” by William Sansom, depicting with dreadful reality the inner thoughts of someone dared to do a stupid thing;

·         Keyes’s “Flowers for Algernon”;

·         Shirley Jackson’s brilliant “One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts”;

·         and the stupefying “Contents of the Dead Man’s Pockets,” by Jack Finney—an absolute must-read for anybody consumed with work or deadlines

      Still, I must mock the back-cover blurb.  EVERYTHING is better with italics and an exclamation point, I guess.  By this standard, Winnie-the-Pooh might be summarized as:  A child’s stuffed animal comes to life in his imagination ... and leads an uncanny existence with imaginary companions of its own!

See you on Monday for the final week of Blog-o-Ween!

All original content
© by Mark Alfred