August Rambling

GayProf noted Perry when he wrote: “Numerous songs en vogue right now celebrate women consuming alcohol to the point of blacking out, hooking up, or hurling (not always in that order). ”

Because I was out of town, I managed to miss a couple of significant cultural anniversaries. One was the 50th anniversary of the first real Marvel superhero comic, the Fantastic Four, by Stan Lee and Jack “King” Kirby. Mark Evanier explains why it had a November cover date. Check out this hour-long Kirby documentary. And here’s a link to the intro to the FF TV show.


The other was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lucille Ball. I watched most, if not all, of the episodes of every single one of her ongoing series, from the seminal I Love Lucy (1951-1957; 8.9 out of 10 on the IMDB scale), which started before even TV Guide and I were born but lives through the clever concept known as the rerun; to the star-studded (and too long, in my recollection) episodes of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (1957-1960; 8.6); to The Lucy Show (1962–1968; 7.3), which was the one with Lucy as Lucy Carmichael, Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz in the earlier shows) as Viv, and Gale Gordon as Lucy’s testy boss, Mr. Mooney.

Then there was Here’s Lucy (1968–1974, 6.8), where “Lucy Carter, a widow with two teen children [played her real kids with Desi Arnaz, Lucie and Desi Jr.] takes a job as a secretary for her stuffy brother-in-law [Gale Gordon, again.] Finally, there was Life with Lucy (1986; 6.0) “Lucy Barker, now a grandmother living with her daughter’s family” Gale Gordon also appeared in this show.

They declined in quality somewhat – Life with Lucy was particularly bad, as I recall – but if I didn’t quite LOVE Lucy, I liked the woman from upstate New York (Jamestown) quite a bit.

I believe this was Lucy’s favorite scene from her first series.

As you may have noticed, Katy Perry becomes the second artist, following Michael Jackson, to send five songs from an album to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, and during his birth month, no less. An accomplishment to be sure, though the charts don’t reflect the same level of sales they used to. (Similarly true of top-rated TV shows: the numbers are far less than they used to be.) Not incidentally, GayProf noted Perry when he wrote: “Numerous songs en vogue right now celebrate women consuming alcohol to the point of blacking out, hooking up, or hurling (not always in that order). “

In pictures of models, “there are women (and occasionally men) contorted into positions that, were you to see actual people in them, you’d find curious or peculiar or perhaps even alarming.”

Natalie Cole with the Allman Brothers. Check out the sidebar for David Crosby, Graham Nash, and others.

On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data could reproduce the voices of humans with perfect fidelity. Brent Spiner can do the same with the voice of Patrick Stewart.

My new Kickstarter fave: Stripped is a documentary love letter to cartoonists and comic writers who’ve delighted newspaper readers for decades. Since 2008, 166 newspapers have shut down, leaving the future uncertain for many syndicated cartoonists. Amidst this industry upheaval, Stripped follows 60 cartoonists, including luminaries like Jim Davis, Scott McCloud, and Jeff Keane, as they navigate the uncharted waters of a new digital world.

Having seen the trailer for the Spider-Man movie reboot, I have no reason to actually see the movie. The first two movies with Tobey Maguire were great; even own them on DVD.
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Two music legends died this month. Jerry Leiber of the songwriting duo Leiber & Stoller wrote more songs than just about any pop composer. Here’s a list of most of them. Listen to Big Mama Thornton singing “Hound Dog”, some four years before Elvis Presley. Also, hear Charlie Brown by the Coasters; coincidentally, Carl Gardner, leader of the Coasters, died a couple of months ago.

Nickolas Ashford, who died August 22, was the songwriting partner and husband of Valerie Simpson. Ashford & Simpson wrote songs for Motown artists, Aretha Franklin, and others, as well as performing themselves. Hear Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell do You’re All I Need To Get By. Also, here’s a song originally performed by Ray Charles, I Don’t Need No Doctor (live) by Humble Pie.

The Jerry Leiber Cover Story on Coverville.

The Salon story about Leiber and Ashford.

GOOGLE ALERTS

Roger with the hula hoop

Rollie Roger Green T-Shirt

Roger Green, the proprietor of Hair by Roger, said noise and vibrations from the work were spoiling the salon’s ‘peaceful environment’. A spokesperson from United Utilities said: “We are fully aware of the impact this scheme has had on the community…”

“The Black Boardwalk Cat is a distinctive animal that has acquired an unusual place in the hearts of many university employees and students,” said Roger Green, associate professor of political science and public administration.

Forgotten Book: THE THROTTLEPENNY MURDER, Roger J. Green. My contribution this week to Pattinase’s Friday’s Forgotten Books is a book I read in 1993.

Former Wisbech Mayor and Wisbech Standard editor, Roger Green who died in a road traffic collision on the A47 Wisbech bypass…. This particular Roger Green got a LOT of coverage.

G is for Gabriel, Peter Gabriel

As it turns out, I have TWO copies of Peter Gabriel’s third album in German, on vinyl.

Somehow, I was largely unaware of the music of the “progressive rock” group Genesis, which was formed in the late 1960s, until its 1974 album. The title track to The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway [listen] got a bit of airplay in this area. Shortly after this album, lead singer Peter Gabriel left the group over personal and artistic differences, with Phil Collins taking over the lead vocals of Genesis. Gabriel would eventually initiate a solo career.

His first album (1977) was called Peter Gabriel and featured the song Solsbury Hill [listen], which was about his departure from Genesis, as well as the first version of Here Comes the Flood, which Gabriel claimed was overproduced; from the version on his greatest hits album, he may have been correct.

His second, less successful album from 1978, was also called Peter Gabriel, and featured D.I.Y. Fans dubbed the first collection Car and the second, Scratch, based on the album cover features.

But it was his 1980 third album, called Peter Gabriel, referred to as Melt, that really captivated my attention. The first song, “Intruder”, “featured the reverse-gated, cymbal-less drum kit sound which [Phil] Collins would also use on his single “In the Air Tonight”…. Gabriel had requested that his drummers use no cymbals in the album’s sessions, and when he heard the result he asked Collins to play a simple pattern for several minutes, then built ‘Intruder’ around it.” Another great song is “I Don’t Remember” – “I have no memory of anything at all.

The hit was Games Without Frontiers [listen]; this version is pitched higher with the treble is adjusted. I must admit that I heard the lyrics “Jeux sans frontieres” as “She’s so funky, yeah.” Oy.

This album was also realized in German; “alternate takes of some of the instruments seem to have been used occasionally, and the mix is somewhat different.”

As it turns out, I have TWO copies of this German-language album on vinyl. When I worked at FantaCo in the early 1980s, the boss gave each of us a copy of the album, but, for reasons now lost to me, one of my colleagues was angry about the gift, didn’t want it, and gave it to me. So, one of my LPs is still factory-sealed.

Here are Spiel ohne grenzen [listen] (“Games without frontiers” in German) and Biko [listen]. The latter song is about Stephen Biko, “a noted anti-apartheid activist in South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s,” who died in police custody in 1977. Gabriel’s song was one of several about Biko but among the most significant.

Peter Gabriel’s fourth album, from 1982, was called, you guessed it, Peter Gabriel. However, his US distributor slapped the title Security on it. The big hit was Shock the Monkey [listen]. This album was also released in German.

The next year, Peter Gabriel Plays Live came out, filled with previously released songs plus the minor hit I Go Swimming.

Peter Gabriel would go on to even greater commercial success, but that’s another tale.

ABC Wednesday – Round 9

Summer Song: Summerfling by k.d. lang


Kathyrn Dawn Lang was born on the 2nd of November, 1961 in Consort, Alberta, Canada, which means she turns 50 this year. For reasons more complex than I need to note here, I always associate the country singer turned chanteuse with an ex of mine.

Anyway, this is a lovely song from k.d. lang’s 2000 Invincible Summer album, Summerfling, which came out well past the time I broke up with my ex.

The X-Men Chronicles Cover: SOLD!

FantaCo had asked Wendy Pini to do the X-Men Chronicles cover. Wendy and Richard Pini were known for doing the Elfquest comic book, and had done a number of in-store signings. She called back on May 21, 1981, to decline, but she gave us Paty Cockrum’s number at Marvel so that we could contact her husband Dave.

From here.

Lot 92038 Dave Cockrum The X-Men Chronicles Painted Cover Original Art (FantaCo Enterprises, Inc. 1981)….
Auction: 2011 May New York Signature Vintage Comics & Comic Art Auction #7033

Auction Ended On: May 5, 2011
Item Activity: 12 Internet/mail/phone bidders
700 page views

Dave Cockrum The X-Men Chronicles Painted Cover Original Art (FantaCo Enterprises, Inc. 1981). This Bronze Age beauty is but the third Cockrum X-Men-themed cover we’ve offered to date. Most devoted 1980s Marvel fans will remember the Chronicles, which was packed with good information on the team and its creators. The X-Men issue sold 50,000 copies, a record for a fan magazine at the time.
As a note of provenance, our consignor, the publisher of this fan-favorite publication, bought this iconic cover directly from Cockrum after the issue was published. This mixed media masterwork has an image area of 10.5″ x 15.75″, and the piece has been matted to an overall size of 23.5″ x 19″. The art is in Excellent condition.
Cockrum, Dave: Dave Cockrum was born in Pendleton, Oregon, the son of an Air Force officer. After spending six years in the U.S. Navy, he moved to New York and accepted a job at Warren Publishing, his first professional work. After Warren, Cockrum became a background inker for Murphy Anderson at DC comics. Eventually, he got his first big break, landing the dream job of penciling the Legion of Superheroes. His groundbreaking work on The Legion’s character designs and costume changes lasted for over a decade. His tenure at DC was short lived however, as a dispute led him to work at Marvel. At the House of Ideas, Cockrum co-created, along with Len Wein, The New X-Men, the franchise that went on to give Marvel enormous financial success in the following decades, introducing such characters such as Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, and Mystique. He later went on to create the comic book, The Futurians, which had a short run as a monthly series and then as a trade paperback. In his later years he drew covers for the Blackhawk relaunch, and worked for Valiant, Defiant, Broadway and Claypool Comics. Dave Cockrum suffered from diabetes and finally succumbed to his illness on November 26th, 2006 . Comic Art
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I’ve told the story of this cover before:

FantaCo had asked Wendy Pini to do the X-Men Chronicles cover. Wendy and Richard Pini were known for doing the Elfquest comic book, and had done a number of in-store signings. She called back on May 21, 1981, to decline, but she gave us Paty Cockrum’s number at Marvel so that we could contact her husband Dave.

As editor of the publication, I had arranged with Dave, the artist who helped revive the X-Men, to have the cover drawn and sent up to us. Unfortunately, Dave got a little behind. So I took a train from Albany to NYC, to the Marvel offices, and met Dave. He gave me the painted cover – WHICH WAS STILL WET! He was very pleasant and apologetic. I carried the cover carefully on the subway back to the train station, then back up to Albany.
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So I have an odd emotional attachment to that cover. It’s not that I wanted to buy it, certainly not for $7,767.50. But it did hit my nostalgia bone.

MOVIE REVIEW: Crazy, Stupid, Love.

This grand romantic gesture about grand romantic gestures conjures up the bittersweet magic of first loves, lasting loves, lost loves and all the loves in between.” – Betsy Sharkey. DEFINITELY TRUE

The Daughter was still away, and the Wife, surprisingly, suggest we see TWO movies in one day. Was she kidding? That’d be the kind of crazy idea I’d come up with. But after the 12:10 pm showing of The Help, we went home to have supper, then went out for the 6:40 pm showing of Crazy, Stupid, Love.; crazy, stupid, punctuation. It had gotten mostly positive reviews. And this would become a mini Emma Stone film festival.

So we went to see C,S,L. and we both loved it! And now I’m trying to deconstruct why. Part of it is that it got right to the storyline without a lot of exposition. In that first scene in the car, we recognize that Cal (Steve Carrell) is very happy in his marriage but that his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) is not. He ends up at a bar and takes Don Juan lessons from Jacob (Ryan Gosling), with some unintended consequences.

So I decided to get lazy and go to Rotten Tomatoes and clip the top critics’ remarks to see how they matched up with mine.

“It’s romantic, touching, a little risqué and screwball, yet reassuringly down-to-earth.” – Colin Calvert. TRUE

“A multi-threaded and well-organized comedy full of pleasant surprises and appealing characters.” – Eric D. Synder. TRUE

“This grand romantic gesture about grand romantic gestures conjures up the bittersweet magic of first loves, lasting loves, lost loves, and all the loves in between.” – Betsy Sharkey. DEFINITELY TRUE

“I laughed all the way through, thanks to both consistently clever dialogue and deft delivery from Carell and Gosling, who clearly relished a chance to flex his comic muscles.” – Elizabeth Weitzman. Mostly TRUE. I didn’t laugh every minute, though the woman sitting across the aisle two rows up, may have.

“Adult dramas and comedies should at least have a toe in their audience’s lives.” – Ann Hornaday. I think the movie does do that, for the most part.

“A Midsummer Night’s PG-13 sex comedy.” – Carrie Rickey. Not only is this TRUE, I had already concluded that the big scene near the end when A is after B and B is after C, etc. was Shakespearean comedy, but then thought that was too pretentious; maybe it wasn’t.

“The movie suffers perhaps from too many characters and subplots but all the actors appear to have fun with their characters.” – Kirk Honeycutt. I balk at the first part. I’ve watched movies with too many subplots – “I can’t remember – who is THAT?” – and this was not one of them, at least for me. But the second part is TRUE.

“‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ is a sweet romantic comedy about good-hearted people. Imagine that.” – Roger Ebert. OH YEAH, TRUE.

So I liked it, perhaps more than I expected, A- or, at worst, B+ territory.