Thursday, July 24, 2014

RANDOM TRIVIA & THOUGHTS ABOUT 75 YEARS OF BATMAN

Batman's first comic book appearance
July 23, 2014 has been designated Batman Day to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Batman's debut.

I first became familiar with Batman through the Superfriends TV show. As I have mentioned before, the TV show was never in reruns in this area until Me-TV came to town earlier this year. However, we did have The New Adventures of Batman cartoon of the late 70s. One local TV station did air the movie on late night TV occasionally and I did have the View Master reel of the episodes "The Purr-fect Crime /Better Luck Next Time."

I liked just about all of the superheroes but for some reason I liked Batman, probably because he doesn't have super powers. You might say Batman has a scary outfit and PLENTY OF BLING (or as the Joker said in the 1989 movie "those wonderful toys"). He didn't fly, but he had a cool car, boat, plane and helicopter


When I was nine, my parents bought me the book Batman: From the 30s to the 70s, an anthology of great Batman comic book stories. We got it at a discounted price because the dust cover was missing. Above is the dust cover art by Carmine Infantino.

ROBERT LOWERY - WORST BATMAN EVER
Of course, I have went on record saying that I disliked The Dark Knight movie. I only saw half of Batman Begins, but I liked it much better than The Dark Knight. However, my vote for worst Batman is an actor from Missouri. Robert Lowery was the second Batman First off, the costume is awful. My father made me a Batman cowl and cape out of an old dark blue and white polka doted table cloth my mom was throwing away. I looked more like Batman than Robert Lowery did. The main thing about Lowery is his lack of enthusiasm or excitement. He sounds like he is reading straight from a cue card.


Most hardcore Batman fans hate me because not only do I love the TV show, my favorite movie is the 1966 movie. ONE HINT...THE WORST IS YET TO COME!  My second favorite Batman movie is Batman and Robin starring George Clooney and my third favorite is Batman Forever with Val Kilmer. Fourth is the 1989 movie and fifth is Batman Returns. I hate the dead serious "Dark Knight" stuff. Some of you will just have to get over it!


Speaking of Batman humor!


World's Finest comics featured Batman and Superman teaming up. It also featured many of the notorious DC "Imaginary Stories." In this one Batman blames Superman for his parents death and goes after him with a vengeance. You may not be familiar with the story, but one panel of this story has become pop outside of the comic book story. Robin tells Batman he is out of control and Batman slaps him. That panel has become a popular meme on Facebook. People change the words in the balloon for various reasons. This is the original version.

THE ORIGINAL BATMAN SLAPS ROBIN PANEL
TRIVIA: What other character did Adam West and Val Kilmer both play before they played Batman? Doc Holiday. Warner Brothers tried to sell a Doc Holiday TV series with West in the staring role during the 50s Western boom. He played Doc Holiday in episodes of Lawman, Sugarfoot and Colt 45. None of the three networks showed interest. West has joked that the networks didn't think TV viewers were ready for a coughing and wheezing hero. Kilmer, of course, played Holiday in Tombstone. Another added Batman connection: In the 1939 movie, Frontier Marshal, Doc Holiday is played by future Joker Cesar Romero.


The man pictured above is Olan Soule. He was the voice of Batman in cartoons from 1968 til 1984. First in the Filmation Adventures of Batman and then on The Superfriends. After 1984, he switched to voicing Professor Stein, the mentor of Firestorm. The voice of Batman was taken over by Adam West. Soule also appeared on the TV shows Captain Midnight, Dragnet and The Andy Griffith Show. The voice of Robin was Casey Kasem.


While on the subject of Batman cartoons, let's straighten something out. Many articles, websites and reference books have claimed that the character of Bat Mite, who was played a prominent role in the 70s New Adventures of Batman cartoon series from Filmation, was created for that series. Nope! He was one of several attempts by DC to copy successful elements of the Superman comics. Bat Mite was supposed to be a good version of Superman's villain, Mr.Myxlplyx. Batman got Ace the Bat-Hound much like Superman had Krypto the Super Dog.


And yes, Batman even had to marry his nosy girl reporter, Vicky Vale, in a cover story. Bob Kane claimed he modeled Vicky after a girl he met at a Hollywood party during the filming of the first Batman serial (which featured Bruce Wayne's first girlfriend, Julie Madison) named Marilyn Monroe.


Incidentally, Lewis Wilson and Douglas Croft (pictured above), who stared in the first Batman serial, are the youngest actors to play Batman and Robin. Wilson was 23 and Croft was 16. Croft and Burt Ward are the only actors to play Robin, who were in their teens (Ward was 19 when the TV show started).


No, this isn't the Joker from one of the serials. The villains in the serials were a Japanese mad scientist and a typical movie serial "hooded" mad scientist. This is the inspiration for the Joker. It is actor Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine in the 1928 silent movie, The Man Who Laughs. Batman comic writer gave this same photo to artist Jerry Robinson, who drew the version you see on the right.


Last but not least, this is a 1966 children's record of songs about Batman. It credits "Dan and Dale." In reality it is the rock group the Blues Project and experimental jazz musician Sun Ra doing the music. This was the same year Blue Project released their Projections LP.  The Who, The Kinks and Jan and Dean also recorded versions of the theme song.


Let's leave with these words of wisdom from Batman.


      

Sunday, July 20, 2014

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL JAMES GARNER


One of my favorite films of James Garner's. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the trailer, just this TV promo.

Here is the trailer for Support Your Local Sheriff



Another of my favorite James Garner films.

WHAT THE NEWS MEDIA DOES NOT UNDERSTAND ABOUT COMIC BOOKS

SUPERMAN & BATMAN HAD SONS
I have been thinking about writing a post about this subject for quite some time. As a person who has worked in journalism and the news media, I feel I can make and accurate constructive criticism, unlike some people have unfortunately been forced to work with (i.e, scummy talk radio people).
This has to due with the coverage of a subject I have loved all my life: comic books.

The news media coverage of the comic books has improved since the dark days of the 50s comic book controversy, when the newspapers and radio commentators were calling comic books "trash." There is a generation that grew up reading many of the older characters, so when a story comes along about a "shocking storyline." The biggest news recently has been "Archie Andrews will die taking a bullet for his gay friend, Kevin." Next came the story "Captain America is being replaced by a African-American." Even stranger is some outlets reporting "Thor gets sex change."

This leads idiots on Facebook to whine that the evil media is corrupting our kids and it is the end of America (Or as they say Murica).

The truth complicated on both sides. First off, these stories are usually used as filler, at the end of a newscast or filler for the entertainment section of a newspaper. These are written quickly without very much research into the subject. The story is also simplified to just give the idea, so the details of the story are left out.

The main thing that is left out of these stories is that comic books have what are called alternate universes. This has been going on since the early days of Superman and Batman. Archie is no exception. Archie has cashed in on popular trends over the years. He was a Man from UNCLE-like  secret agent, a superhero and X-Files-like paranormal investigator. In the 70s, Betty was a soap opera heroine in a alternative storyline called Betty Cooper, Betty Cooper, and Jughead has even taken up time travel like Dr. Who. The Life with Archie title was revamped as an adult themed storyline about a grown Archie married to Veronica after apparently divorcing Betty. It is this older Archie Andrews who bites the dust in the current issue of Life of Archie. My guess is this wasn't a big success, so this will be the last issue. However, in the regular Archie titles, he will still be in high school, drinking malts with Betty and Veronica.

The Captain America and Thor stories make more sense to the long time fans of the characters, when more details are given. Captain America is injured and his long time sidekick, the Falcon, dons the famous red, white and blue outfit while Cap recuperates. This wouldn't be the first time Cap was replaced. While he was frozen in ice, there was another Captain America in the 50s. They wound up fighting it out in 1972.

After Watergate, Steve Rogers decided quit being Captain America and became a superhero called Nomad. Several people tried to be Captain America and failed tragically.

At one point in the 90s, Captain America was replaced by the government and he had to take on another identity. In a graphic novel called The Truth: Red, White and Black, Steve Rogers found out the super-soldier serum was tested on an African-American soldier before him. So really, nothing new for Captain America.
THUNDER THIGHS (Sorry I had to do it)

Thor is a woman??? Nothing new there either. The idea that someone else picks up the hammer isn't new. In the 70s and 80s Marvel series, What If, both Thor's girlfriend, Jane Foster, and X-Men's Rogue have picked up Thor's hammer.


Of course, this is not the first time the news media have left out details about a "shocking development" in a popular comic book.  In 1988, DC Comics had readers call a toll free number to vote if they wanted the Joker to killer Robin in a story arc called Death In the Family. Fans voted to have him killed. What wasn't reported in the media, what was neglected by the media was the fact that this was not Dick Grayson, but a new (and very unpopular) Robin named Jason Todd. Dick Grayson had become Nightwing in 1984 (and like Falcon, he was Batman for a few issues when Bruce Wayne was hurt).

Also this wasn't the first time Robin had died. He was killed in 1964 (above).


Then again, Batman died, but that was after he replaced Commissioner Gordon and he married Catwoman. Confused yet? This was my first exposure to the alternate universe concept. I received several comics books one Christmas. One of them was the issue above with Batman in a coffin.



Truth is this had happened before too.


In DC Comics Earth-1 featured the modern superheroes and Earth-2 featured the Golden Age versions. Some may remember a few months ago, there was a story about a upcoming "gay" Green Lantern. It was the son of the Earth-2 Green Lantern, which you wouldn't have known from any of the mainstream news media stories.


In 1992, the big news was the death of Superman, but that had happened before too.


After Superman's return to life, the news media was a buzz with his marriage to Lois Lane, which DC had already done to death (an early story of this scenario was turned into an episode of the 50s TV show). They even conceived several Super-babies.


DC also had Lois dying after marrying Superman and committing suicide.


Then again, Superman killed Lois once.



Also, the recently media mangling of the Captain America storyline isn't all that shocking considering that in one early 70s story, Lois Lane had Superman use a machine to turn her into an African American woman.

Now, you are probably saying, "Why didn't the news media cover those stories?" It all goes back to my earlier points. Before the late 80s, comic books were seen either as stupid kids stuff or trash that will corrupt kids. In the late 80s, there was a boom among Baby Boomers that collecting comic books were a great investment. They were not just something on a newsstand, they were big business. Also, many people in the media were of the Baby Boom generation and had grown up with these comics. It was apart of their lives. These characters are icons that are old enough to be our grandparents.

At the time, these other stories were done, it was simply to grab the attention of a kid at the supermarket newsstand. Essentially, that has been the complaint of the death of Superman and death of Robin stories. DC issued commemorative issues and they sold so well that they are pretty worthless now. 

Yet, going back to what I stated earlier, much of the confusion goes back to a lack of research on this subject. To many reporters, there is just one Archie, one Superman, one Batman, one Green Lantern. There is also no knowledge of comic book history and it's alternate universes. That is part of the real world.  It isn't as important as political bickering or plane crashes. Why bother?

Because you can still end up with egg on your face if you screw the story up. Us comic book geeks will nail you for your mistakes. Also, the people who hate any form of entertainment media will want to use it as an excuse to censor the industry much like Dr. Frederic Wertham did in the 50s. Even if it wouldn't come to that, you still have cranky adults who would forbid their kids from any enjoyment of comic books because of what they heard in a badly researched news report on comic book. Even if it is about comic books, we in the news media need to get the facts straight.

My opinions are why I'm considered the Super-Villain of the Ozarks!!! Mwu-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

FORMER OZARKS JUBILEE USA & JAZZ MUSICIAN CHARLIE HADEN DEAD

This is from KYTV's website. It features a story KYTV's Steve Grant did about Charlie Haden in 2010.

TRIVIA FACT: Charlie Haden was the father-in-law of actor Jack Black.

PUSHIN TOO HARD IS A COOLER SONG THAN CHICKEN FRIED

I realize the last "cooler than" post probably lost some people, but it was a personal vindication for me. Now comes another apples to oranges "cooler than" but I it is a point I feel I have to make. The Seeds 1966 hit "Pushin Too Hard" is cooler song than "Chicken Fried." I posted about my disdain for the song "Chicken Fried" on the old blog.


Why this comparison? These are two totally different songs. True, but there was a time in the recent past when these songs were part of a battle at the local location of a popular chain restaurant. I began going there after I would get off from work. It was a stressful time for me at my job. Part of the stress was due to the fact that some of the people, who worked at the radio station where I was employed, didn't like that I frequently made fun of a competing radio station. I'll let you think about the absurdity that situation. It was kind of like the CEOs at K-Mart not wanting anyone to disparage Wal-Mart.

Back to the subject of the post. I would go to The Buffalo Wild Wings location on Battlefield Road in Springfield to blow off steam and because it was near my apartment. One reason I liked to got there was they had a Touch Tunes jukebox. This jukebox isn't bound by a limited number of CDs or records, but you can find just about anything in one of these (with a few exceptions). It is kind of like a giant Ipod on a wall.


I find when I'm in a bad mood, there are certain songs that I want to hear that make me feel better.  So I was pleased to find that one of my all-time favorite songs could be played on the Touch Tunes jukebox: "Pushin Too Hard" by the Seeds.

I discovered the song when I was eight years old on a compilation LP of my older sister's called 24 Original Happening Hits (above). When I was eight years old, my third grade teacher, Mrs. Torquemada (not her real name), hated me. She treated me like dirt. One day, I decided to play this record to see what it sounded like because I had always been intrigued by the cover art of dancing people without faces. I heard a song with a guy snarling these words:

"All I want is to just be free
Live my life the way I wanna be
All I want is to just have fun
Live my life like it's just begun
But you're pushin' too hard
Pushin' too hard on me (too hard)" 


This song summed my life at eight years old, and pretty much the rest of my life. I also loved the fuzztone guitar solo in the middle of the song, which I always described as giving me the same sensation as chomping down on a piece of tinfoil while sticking your tongue in the prong on a 9 volt battery. Every time I hear it, I have to play air guitar to it.

So I was thrilled to find "Pushin Too Hard" in a modern jukebox. I began playing The Seeds only Top 40 hit every time I was at  Buffalo Wild Wings. The Touch Tunes jukebox had a section that listed the most played songs at that location and I had succeeded in making "Pushin Too Hard" one of the most played songs at the Battlefield Road location of Buffalo Wild Wings. That also made me some enemies.

At that time, there was a group of regulars that would be at BWW when I would be there. The nicest way I could say it is the group was made up of redneck goober guys in their late teens and early 20s, one or two attractive girls and a foursome of marauding fat girls.

This last group were the worst. If they saw you put money in the jukebox, they would run up and ask you what you were playing. When you told them what you were selecting, they would scream in your ear, "DON'T PLAY THAT! PLAY "CHICKEN FRIED"!" The nerve of these young women to ask me to play THEIR FAVORITE SONG with MY MONEY was maddening. Obviously, there were some people just stupid enough to comply with their demands, because "Chicken Fried" would play usually about four times in the two hours between the time I arrived after work and closing time. If you refused they did something that I called "song jumping." The jukebox has a feature where if you pay extra money you could "hear your song next." They would use their own money to "jump" my selections, including "Pushin Too Hard."
  
Why do I believe "Pushin Too Hard" is a cooler song than "Chicken Fried"?  One word: conformity!  "Pushin Too Hard" is in-your-face rebellion at it's best. It is the musical equivalent of a middle finger. It is Brando saying "I don't know. What ya got?" when the girl at the soda counter ask what he is rebelling against in The Wild One, it is Peter Fonda tying up the preacher in Wild Angels, it is Jack Nicholson telling the crabby waitress to "hold the chicken between your knees" in Five Easy Pieces, it is the Delta House gang disrupting the homecoming parade at the end of Animal House, it is Andy Travis putting the KISS Spirit of 76 poster over a funeral home calender in the pilot of WKRP in Cincinnati, and, for that matter, it is The Seeds performing "Pushin Too Hard" on The Mother-In-Laws (watch the adults faces).  The Seeds "Pushin Too Hard" paved the way for The Sex Pistols "God Save the Queen," Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It," The Beastie Boys "Fight For Your Right" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

"Chicken Fried" is a checklist for people wanting to live the small town, redneck, square in the post 9-11 America (or is it Murica). It is the equivalent of those dumb memes posted every day on Facebook by the people you didn't like in junior high school. I'm surprised it doesn't mention watching The Waltons or Little House on The Prairie reruns on satellite TV.


Which brings me to another reason I don't like "Chicken Fried." I hate most country music anyway, but "Chicken Fried" is part of a trend I dubbed the "cut-and-paste" country song. All of these songs have identical lyrics. I was surprised to find out that Zac Brown, himself, has criticized this trend.
Granted, there were several songs of the same theme as "Pushin Too Hard" in the late 60s, i.e: "Let Me Be" The Turtles, "I'm Not Your Steppin Stone" The Monkees, "Talk Talk" The Music Machine, "Satisfaction" The Rolling Stones. The difference is the lyrics are different not exactly the same.

Every crappy country song these people played on the Touch Tunes jukebox was indistinguishable from "Chicken Fried."  They may have called them "Country Boy" by Aaron Lewis or "Dirt Road Anthem" by Jason Aldean, but they are basically "Chicken Fried." I will go further that these songs are barely removed from "Dixieland Delight" by Alabama. 

As I mentioned, my love for the song "Pushin Too Hard" by the Seeds goes back to childhood. When I was younger, I heard a longer version of  "Pushin Too Hard" on oldies stations. I cannot seem to find a version of this. It was not on the original LP. Sadly, most oldies and classic rock station no longer play the song. Even worse, Touch Tunes has removed The Seeds masterpiece rock anthem from their jukeboxes. Unfortunately, "Chicken Fried" remains in the jukebox and is only a one credit play. There is some horrible injustice about the disrespect for a song as cool as "Pushin Too Hard" and idiots liking "Chicken Fried."

RIGHT, CASEY??


 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

HAPPY FIFTH OF JULY!

Sorry I wasn't around to wish everyone a Happy 4th of July, so instead I'll wish everyone a Happy 5th of July.

The play, Fifth of July, takes place in Lebanon, Missouri. It was written by Lebanon native Lanford Wilson. One of his uncles lived next door to my grandparents. When the play began its initial run on Broadway, the star was Christopher Reeve. However, people in Lebanon, will never mention Christopher Reeve when they talk about this play. They will refer to it as "the one John Boy was in." This always made me mad as a kid because you know I like superheroes more than I do The Waltons.

This is why I'm considered the Super-Villain of the Ozarks!!! Mwu-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
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