Little more than halfway through ten days of work with no day off and a crazy/busy personal family schedule. We really need a second car. I know how Wambi feels.
Jungle Comics #66 (June 1945).
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
It's Sunday, so that means it's Don't Mess With Texas Day!
Why would a Scottish pop band not focusing on country or western music name their group after the most embarrassing state (after Kansas) in America? Actually, they didn't!
The inspiration for the band moniker Texas came not from the state but rather the 1984 film Paris, Texas. Oddly, there exists a number of pop-culture references to the film by various music groups. It appears that Paris, Texas the film is to musicians what Catcher in the Rye the book is to serial killers. The movie must strike some special chord with creative music types. Singer/Songwriter Sharleen Spiteri is on record as acknowledging that the band name may have diminished their chances to be heard in America as anyone observing the group's title would assume they were a country band and dismiss their work.
I Don't Want A Lover was the first big musical hit for Texas way back in 1989. The rock blues influence of Johnny McElhone (formerly of the New Wave bands Altered Images and Hipsway) and Sharleen was strong on the debut album, Southside. The song I Don't Want A Lover is notable for rising to a respectable place on Top Ten music charts and then several years later unexpectedly breaking into the charts again.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
On April 22nd a suspect was apprehended in the April 18th assault of a woman in Linda Vista. That was fast! I encourage everyone to let the boys in blue know how much we appreciate their good work in finding the alleged attacker.
Story via KGTV 10 News.
UPDATE: He didn't do it.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Last Saturday on April 18, 2009, shortly after 6:00 a.m. in the vicinity of Linda Vista Road and Fulton Street a female friend was walking to the bus stop on her way to work when she was ambushed and viciously assaulted in what Police are calling an attempted rape.
Her attacker shoved a gun to the side of her head and started to drag her away. She fought back. At least one shot was fired by her assailant that narrowly missed hitting and probably killing her. She was beaten with the pistol and received numerous injuries before her attacker fled the scene. Eventually, she was assisted by some people in nearby apartments.
She is hurt, traumatized and it is likely that she will not be returning to work for some time. She is fortunate to be alive. It is without reservation that I can attest my friend was respected and liked, if not loved by everyone who knew her. Her fellow employees are taking up a collection for her at work. This woman has some healing to do, might be out of work for a while and she and her family should not be worried about whether the electricity will be turned off during her recuperation.
Here is the initial news report: Suspect in Linda Vista Assault Still on the Loose.
The first follow-up report is mostly about public safety: Protect Yourself from an Attack with Self-Defense Training. I appreciate that the choice to fight an attacker was addressed. She was hurt and could have been killed, but common wisdom states that if taken from the scene of an attack the odds of survival drop precipitously.
The suspect was described as male, of slim build, dark-skinned, in his late 20s and wearing a white, hooded sweatshirt. It was reported that he fled the scene in a dark-colored compact vehicle. This is an initial description and may not be fully accurate.
I'm sure the Police will be doing all they can to apprehend this criminal. If the age of the attacker is as reported it is doubtful this is the first crime this person has perpetrated and he is in a database somewhere. It is during events like the recent attack that one wishes television crime shows were not so fanciful and that DNA tests would quickly identify a suspect in a matter of hours. A check of the San Diego Police Department crime statistics maps reveals a number of sexual assaults in the vicinity over the last month but it isn't possible for civilians to determine if they are related. The stats for that particular area are not any greater or less than those for nearly any section of the city so it would be foolish to speculate and better left for Police to determine.
While often it is the steady hard work of dedicated and trained individuals in Law Enforcement that solves crimes sometimes they are closed by the average person connecting some dots and passing the word along. I'm hoping that if the Police are unable to swiftly resolve this crime then maybe some civilian will help. For example: One could help by noticing that someone matching the description of the attacker and driving a similar car didn't come into work Monday. Then when they showed up on Tuesday had lots of scratches about the face and arms.
Anonymous tips can be sent in via the San Diego Crime Stoppers site.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Sunday is Don't Mess With Texas Day!
Texas is a band that due in large part to singer/songwriter Sharleen Spiteri has creatively always sought inspiration from decades of music. Their output is somewhat eclectic in nature. They don't just jump on whatever trend that happens to be popular at the time, rather they experiment with different styles. This is typically some time after the music they are referencing has dimmed in the public consciousness. The band has been variously blues, pop, pop-urban and alternative. Sharleen Spiteri cites Motown legend Diana Ross as one of her influences and this is particularly evident in the 1999 album The Hush. Several tunes are direct homages to the vocal styling of Ross. That unique Diana Ross pacing and tone can be clearly heard in the songs When We Are Together and Black Eyed Boy from their album The Hush.
So go ahead and spend a few minutes listening to When We Are Together. Like most music videos ever it's kind of pointless but it does have Sharleen splashing around in a pool, so there is that.
Admittedly, Texas and their music are not everyone's cup of haggis but I usually enjoy their work. I found out a little while ago that Sharleen Spiteri recently released the delightfully retro solo album Melody. While on break from the group in 2008 she worked on her own project. Many of the new tunes on Melody are stylistically reminiscent of the mod atmosphere of Swingin' 60s London. Melody features Spiteri on a trip into the ancient past, accomplished by channeling the artistic spirits of the talents of Nancy Sinatra, Dusty Springfield and even Petula Clark all while retaining her own unique voice.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
This solicit has been showing up in the recent DC Comics titles this month. Yes, it's stupid.
I'm cynical enough that I'm convinced comic book companies put out these sort of advertisements just so suckers like me post and comment on them. Yeah, Okay. It worked. Other and far more qualified and caring critics will be commenting on why the members of the JLA are so serious about Supergirl's breasts. I imagine there will be plenty of "Caption What The Guys Are Thinking" contests going around for everyone to play with.
For my efforts though it's going to be interesting to see how people are going to insert their own words in the redacted spaces in the "memo" from Dan Didio to Ian Sattler.
Why do I think it's going to be along the lines of Gang-Orgy, Supergirl and YouTube?
Friday, April 17, 2009
Illustrations from the May 1945 issue of the National Police Gazette. A time of grand-standing, politically power-crazed Government oppressing the brilliant by crushing dissent, fear-mongering, pandering to the gullible and telling the easily manipulated there was a bogey-man under the bed. People think they have it bad today...
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
From the July 1977 issue of Cosmos science fiction magazine is a short article by art director Jack Gaughan. In it he briefly reminisces about his time working for Will Eisner. Included with the article as the centerpiece of the magazine was an original work by Eisner featuring the Spirit and a few of the cast in a scene referencing the Spirit's science fiction adventures. I've never seen that particular art anywhere else so I thought I'd share it with the Eisner fans.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Forget Easter, Sunday is Don't Mess With Texas Day!
Texas, the pop-rock band formed in Glasgow, Scotland way back in 1988, that is!
I've followed Sharleen Spiteri and Texas for several years, ever since I discovered a 60mb video for Say What You Want hidden deep in the data folders of a promotional CD advertising a sports car. While the band and Sharleen as a solo artist get little to no airplay or exposure in this country, American audiences may be familiar with the band's music via various movie soundtracks such as Titan A.E., Ever After, Picture Perfect and the title theme for the sitcom Ellen.
Here is a song from 1996 from one of my favorite albums, White On Blonde. Good videos from the band are rare so this one with photos of Sharleen will have to suffice. I don't think anyone will really mind though. Enjoy!
Saturday, April 11, 2009
There are worst ways to live than following the modern Christian Commandments. With the exception of the two entries based on magic they are a pretty good guide for getting along with others and having a nice life.
Yet if the previous two Presidential administrations have taught America and the world nothing else it is how dangerous and foolish it is to interpret the Decalogue, dare it be said, liberally. America is walking the same path sowed with mines that many other countries have tread upon and we are ignoring the warning signs. A successful theocratic Government is as much an impossible dream as a successful utopia. The Utopian format fails for the same reason one based on religion would: Human nature. Selfishness, laziness and greed for power will always undermine even the most perfect system. A Government based on religion is particularly vulnerable, as the expressions of fealty by those in charge play and prey off of the beliefs and gullibility of the populace. Freedoms and basic human rights are restricted or vanish all in the name of what is 'right' or what is interpreted that God would want. That a select number, usually in a privileged position few people can attain, would be able to wield ultimate authority over the thoughts and actions of millions based on an interpretation of the 'truth' is mind-boggling, rife with hubris and arrogance. It is a crime of oppression.
For nearly the last two decades America has served as a perfect modern example of why Church and State must remain separate. Americans suffered under increasingly bizarre policies brought about by applying fanciful interpretations of right and wrong. Those in charge increasingly eroded the barriers between Church and State through a desire to increase a power base. This was done by pandering to the variously gullible, hopeless, hopeful and the unbalanced members of a large and influential religion.
It was a spectacular modern failure. The abuses and corruption were made all the more heinous as those responsible for misdeeds on occasion used a book as a shield and cowered behind an altar. It was our Government that pretended to lead a Christian nation by applying Christian ideals as solutions to moral and ethical problems. It was a Government that all but declared Holy War against the extremist nations who strictly follow their own version of a deity. It was our Government that allowed magic to trump science, superstition and opinion to replace facts. It was a Government that declared a few cells in a test tube "sacred" but had no ethical hesitations when it came to torturing soldiers and civilians captured in foreign battlefields. Along with patriotism (which is intimately tied into Christianity in this country) religion was used to mollify, deceive, quell dissent and excuse behaviors.
The greatest advances in this country as a people have all resulted in us evolving away from Iron Age superstitions and the last 8 years has very nearly undone centuries of progress. The separation of Church and State needs to be maintained and moreover, restored. It was what our founders wanted.
Blog Against Theocracy 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
It was with some skepticism that I sat down to watch the apocalyptic sci-fi drama Knowing. Surprisingly it turned out to be Nicholas Cage's best film in years. It isn't a great film but it is entertaining and isn't on the level of dreck he's been doing for years.
Themes familiar to SF fans abound. Ideas from Clarke's Childhood's End to Signs to the Mothman legend and even some Men in Black paranoia appears but the film doesn't do a bad job of it.
Knowing is about a college professor who through his child discovers a several decades old text of seemingly random numbers. The number sequence of course is actually a prophecy of micro and macro disasters as sent years ago to a child by the otherworldly, terrifying and angelic Mothmen in Black. The child, bombarded by voices from the future, goes mad and changes from an eccentric kid to a raving hermit preparing for the end times. Nicholas Cage plays the typical educated skeptic but avoids the usual cliche of refusing to believe the evidence until the end when he achieves enlightenment. Fairly quickly Cage accepts the evidence before him and takes it upon himself to help wherever he can. His attempts meet with mixed results and the movie takes a turn when Cage figures out what the final sequence of numbers foretells.
As expected in a film about the destruction of humanity, religion, or to be more accurate, mythology plays a large part in the film. This is particularly evident in the final scene of the film and even prior to that during the climax one gets the idea that the character played by Cage is merely humoring his father in the interest of familial peace.
I'll be adding Knowing to my DVD collection when it hits the store a few months from now in an exception to my usual No Cruise/Cage/Costner rule.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Sunday, April 05, 2009
This Marvel house ad has been appearing in a few magazines this month. I can only speculate that this means the story arc that will ultimately conclude with the return of Steve Rogers as Captain America is going to begin.
I'm curious as to why the star is inverted, the familiar symbol of Captain America corrupted and referencing a pentagram. Does this mean that Marvel is going to continue using Mephisto as their own "Black Lantern"? When a reboot is required, when someone needs to be brought back from the dead is a contract with the devil going to be used as the plot device to accomplish it?
This appears to be the case.
From what I've read and seen in online chats with comic professionals, Marvel and DC are working somewhat parallel in regards to their respective universes. Deceased or forgotten characters can be returned as a Black Lantern without messy retcons or cheesing off the fans too much. Admittedly, this is only as effective as the execution of the story. Depending upon the popularity or story requirements of the reanimated character they can be freed of the Lantern influence and live again either as a member of the Corps or a citizen of the DC Universe in some other capacity be it supporting character, villain, hero or otherwise. The same, after a slug-fest of some sort presumably, could be done with returning a Marvel character to the most marketable or fan favorite status quo.
For Marvel's purposes, Mephisto is serving as the big reboot device. Someone agrees to a bargain and Monkey's Paw style, they get their wish. As one source in the industry notes, this is good for years of cross-overs. Want dead heroes or villains back? Easy, just call up the Devil and get it done. One More Day aside, Marvel can't really get away with this easy out more than once unless there is an over-all plan already in place. Of course, for the characters nothing will go to smoothly and there will rarely be any happy endings. The Devil doesn't play fair. Over time all the heroes and villains and regular people who made their desperate bargains will come to realize that they were manipulated and the bill remitted by Mephisto will come due. Let's face it: There is an entire story arc to be had from someone wishing the Hector Ayala White Tiger to be alive again even as someone else makes a bargain for him to be dead.
Eventually, all this bargaining and "soft-reboots", as a source let slip, will lead to the cosmic-level Mephisto War mega event a few years from now. This could be Marvel's opportunity to merge the 616 and Ultimate Universes, do some house-cleaning and refresh the stable of characters without starting from scratch. It is I'm told, "planned to be a cross between Inferno and Heroes Reborn but without the horrible creative missteps and suckage." I'd take this thing with a grain of salt, though. It reads like typical hyped solicitation.
Yet erasing decades of stories is risky. Companies rightly worry about turning off what fans they have remaining. DC balked when resetting their universe at Day One after the 1986 Crisis event and the Heroes Reborn debacle showed how resistant fans were to sweeping wholesale changes even during the 90s, surprising considering the main readership didn't care how good a story was as long as there were plenty of giant guns, bandoleers and pouches. Marvel also became hesitant in the execution of the Ultimate line. Reading Ultimate X-Men in its entirety reveals an evolutionary dead-end and not for fictional humanity. What started out as a unique vision quickly became indistinguishable from the regular line of X-Books.
Hopefully, the Mepshisto War won't have the rushed, half-assed climax that seems to be typical of the last several years of mega events that plague the comic book companies. But it is at least two years and several mini-series yet distant, so maybe the editors will grow some berries and reign in the egos of their superstars and the creative teams will manage to pitch and accomplish a cohesive, fun and exciting story by then.
Friday, April 03, 2009
While out shopping at a grocery store I found a copy of The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle (Written by Hugh Lofting, Publisher F.A. Stokes, 1922). While the wife browsed for snacks I checked out the donation table where customers drop off books to be sold for a modest donation to whatever worthy cause the store is supporting that month. Typically the table is usually overstocked with old travel books, regional geographical survey pamphlets and religious tracts. But this time around far more interesting fare had been donated by some unknown customers. There were a number of mainstream paperbacks, a few scholarly texts and other types of novels but the real prize on the table was the Dolittle book.
It was in great shape, boasted a color plate on the cover and it was full of ink illustrations. But the bonus was the color frontispiece (a copy of which was also the cover illustration). The frontispiece is about a character in the Dolittle book and is titled The Popsipetal Picture History of King Jong Thinkalot. The page tells a story and the layout is similar to a modern six-panel comic book format. Included on the next page is a tanslucent text overlay. When the page is turned over onto the frontispiece the text overlays a corresponding panel and describes each scene. The author, Hugh Lofting, is credited elsewhere as the artist for this book.
I've included each page separately and one showing the combined effect of the overlay. Click the pictures to make Gub-Gub-sized.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
From the team that brought us UFO comes the science fiction classic Space: 1999, exploring the adventures of the crew of a moon base, stranded on site when the moon was blasted into deep space by an atomic explosion. This two year British import featured the real world husband and wife team Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, most familiar to American audiences as having been featured in the Mission: Impossible television series from 1966 t0 1969.
The title sequences from the first year of Space:1999 are cool. It always featured groovy noise and the best FX money could buy in 1975. Due to editing, each opening sequence was marginally different and unique. Not only did the sequence inform viewers how the moon was thrown out of Earth orbit but also included a mini-preview of the upcoming episode. Today the preview would be considered a 'spoiler' but back in 1975 it was a tease, a taste of awesomeness to come. The second season title sequence in my opinion is actually kind of inferior and the music far more jarring to the ear. Yes, I had the Space: 1999 toys.
Space: 1999 - Breakaway. Originally aired on 17 November 1975.