Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tokyo Tower

Suddenly, without warning, I link you to the Official Tokyo Tower English Site. It is kind of amazing. You can also take a peep at the Japanese site. It has a LOT more stuff, if you care to wade through it.

The Wikipedia page (yes, yes, sure) on Tokyo Tower has some more background. And I'm proud to say that I once wrote a scene that took place at Tokyo Tower. I doubt my vision had a whole lot to do with reality, but that's not always what's important.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ye Olde Internet

I thought I should add a few words about "If The Internet Had Existed 75 Years Ago", and appending them to the entry itself seemed like it would disrupt the flow of it.

Long-time readers of my work may recall seeing this piece on my LiveJournal several years ago under the title "If The Internet Had Existed 70 Years Ago". Got to keep up with the time, y'know. In fact, the sharp-eyed among you may have already noticed that the new version was posted at the exact five year anniversary of the original. I live for things like that.

The simple origin of this bit of nonsense was that it struck me as a fun way to satirize Internet discourse. I chose the time period in question simply because the pop culture references were quite antique, yet still recent enough that some people might recognize them. I didn't hold a lot of hope that many would get my joke. It was just something I did to humor myself.

As you can see, that entry garnered a lot of positive feedback when it was new. I was so pleased with it that I later converted it into a print article for OWARI #12. I've been waiting for the right time to publish it on the blog, and its anniversary became that moment.

The piece has been revised a little since that original LJ post. I don't expect it to receive nearly as much notice as it did the first time around, but it's one of my works that truly deserves to find as wide an audience as possible.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

When Three Was Two

One of the sublime joys of "greatest hits" CD compilations is that they often come with a retrospective of the musical act in question. Some of these are low-key, while some are bit...effusive at times. You don't need to oversell to convince someone of the importance of, say, Bob Dylan. The Thompson Twins, on the other hand, are a trifle more challenging.

The author of the liner notes to Thompson Twins Greatest Hits (1996) stepped up his game for this assignment. I wonder if he perhaps laid it on too thick? Some choice samples of his thoughts on the Thompson Twins:

...without question, the most creative, the most clever, the most adventurous, and the most human of the synth-pop league. was the Thompson Twins who (some would say) single-handedly pushed [pop music] over the edge, formulating a new dimension in sound.

By being themselves, the Thompson Twins created a safe haven for those of us who didn't necessarily fit into society's so-called set of rules and regulations.

What do you think, class?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

If The Internet Had Existed 75 Years Ago

RENFIELD4EVA! - I was wondering if I could get some honest feedback on my Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi RPS. NO FLAEMZ PLZ!
Frank Meriwell's Brother - WOAH! I'd rank it right up there with that AU N/C fic where King Kong made it back to Skull Island with the girl. It's just that good!
AnnDarrowFan - C'mon now dude, that Kong story lacked credibility on the most basic level. Do you honestly think that crack pilots could miss a gorilla that size? And then that the gorilla could do a perfect swan dive off the Empire State Building into the ocean *with* Ann in his paw? I mean, the whole thing was TOTALLY unbelievable. Anyway, I haven't read the Karloff/Lugosi story yet, but I will try to next week.


emo surrealist - I was listening to some of my Al Jolson records today. Man, I'm so disappointed in him. He used to be one of my favorites, but he hasn't released anything in awhile. What's up with that?
Kid Katzenjammer - Jolson is just another example of an artist who lost something when he became too popular. He's a sellout and I'm ashamed to say I was once a fan.


scruffy urchin - I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS!!!!!!! Billy wanted to go to the store and asked me to tag along with him. While we were there, Billy swiped an apple and Old Man Clancy spotted him. He yelled at us, so we ran! Billy got away, but I got caught! I didn't even do anything and now Old Man Clancy says I have to pay him a dollar for all the apples that have gone missing in his shop! WHERE AM I SUPPOSED TO GET THAT KIND OF MONEY?????
I_AM_DRACULA - Bummer! I'll tell you what I was thinking though. We could set up a thread where people could donate money to you via Paypal to help out. In fact, I took the liberty of sending you three whole cents just a minute ago. ;)


Jor-L - Hi fellas, my name is Jerry and my pal Joe and I have gotten together to create an exciting new adventure character. It's top secret stuff right now, but I was wondering if anyone would be interested in hearing more about our idea.
The Major - Greetings Jerry, and welcome to the board. You might find this hard to believe, but I have just started my own publishing company. It is devoted to the new type of magazine called "comic books." The difference in my periodicals is that they will feature ALL NEW material. I am a published author in addition to being a veteran, so I have an "eye" for talent. Please drop an e-mail to me (my addy is in my profile) because I would like to discuss this new character. Who knows? Perhaps you and Joe have created "the next big thing!"


LoneRanger803 - OK, wrestling question this time. Who do you think would win in a fight between Frank Gotch and Strangler Lewis?
Man O' Bronze - Gotta give it to Gotch. He would own Lewis, no doubt.
Ask Me About Physical Culture - You forgot George Hackenschmidt and Stanislaus Zbyszko.
emo surrealist - Um, you know, my old man says wrestling is fixed.
LoneRanger803 - DON'T BE A H8R!!!!!!1!!!111!!


Morlock Man - You know what I liked? The movie METROPOLIS. What a great film!
The Scientifictioneer - OMG WTF YOU LIKE THAT OLD SKOOL SH!T??????


TalkiesAreTheDevil - Guys, you will *not* believe this! First, they throw talking into our movies and RUIN them! NOW, I am hearing word that filmmakers are thinking of making more and more films in COLOR! Ugh! Don't they understand that this will destroy the purity and integrity of film? Color will make everything look unnaturally bright and unrealistic and will distract from the stories and performances. Everyone will get so hung up on the latest color techniques that we will lose sight of what we all LOVE about going to the movies. I have set up an online petition against color films and I hope everyone here will sign it! Save the classics!
Chaney Rulez! - ...The hell is up with those guys? I signed, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. Color = Fad. Bank on it.


TheHorrorInsider - Through my special sources, I just found what are apparently early still photos from the next Dracula film. Check the link.
RENFIELD4EVA! - Oh He's so UGLY. The bald head, the pointy ears. What are they thinking? Dracula is supposed to hew to a very specific design and this isn't it. I am SO afraid of this one now.
Varney The Vampire - Uh, guys? Those are pictures from the first filmed version of DRACULA, the 1922 NOSFERATU. That's Max Schreck as Count Orlock. It's definitely not from any new Dracula film.
I_AM_DRACULA - Varney's right, that's definitely NOSFERATU there.
TheHorrorInsider - Sorry guys.
scruffy urchin - But TheHorrorInsider is never wrong.


Colin Clive Is God - I just got back from a screening of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (phear me, for I am 1337). All I can say - ELSA LANCHESTER IS HAWT!
Im-Ho-Tep Rising - Man, true. I saw it and she is definitely teh sex.


The Shadow Is Love - Anyone pick up the new issue of THE SHADOW yet?
Hugo Danner - I did, and I was very disappointed. I have every issue since the very first one and this was, without a doubt, the least involving issue by a WIDE margin. IMHO, Maxwell Grant is losing it. If this keeps up, I may have to drop the title. I don't care if there is talk of adapting it into a radio series.


Franz Gruber - Hey everyone, n00b here! I live in Germany and I am a big genre fan. I get to see all the latest stuff because my dad is friends with our country's leader. What do you guys think of Adolf Hitler?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My World : The Phantom Rogue

The Phantom Rogue

The Phantom Rogue isn't in the super villain game for the power, and he isn't in it for the thrills. He's in it for the money. Cold hard cash, please. True, he took control of a splinter faction of Third World once, but that was just the means to an end. He's after riches, pure and simple.

The Phantom Rogue has no special powers or gimmicks, though he sometimes leads people to believe that he does. No, his primary abilities are incredible greed, astonishing sneakiness, and an improbable ability to escape from danger at every turn. It's assumed that he adopted his "ghost" trappings to reflect his elusiveness.

The Phantom Rogue's true identity is unknown. He has impersonated assorted people, both real and of his own invention. Among his best-known capers are the time he stole Miles Major Memorial Stadium using a dirigible and holding the United States for ransom with the Stupendo Death Ray. He has run afoul of Captain Satellite several times, but always manages to find some means of escape.

The Phantom Rogue owes a huge debt to the villains of old movie serials. His primary inspiration comes from characters with names like "the Scorpion" and "the Wizard". You know the type - they wear hoods and speak in dubbed-in voices to hide their true identities. I also have found some bits of Steve Ditko's Ghost villain from the 1960s Charlton Captain Atom comics have crept into the Phantom Rogue over time.

Monday, February 15, 2010

When De-Evolution Came To Pass

It was one afternoon a number of years ago, and I had just gotten off work. I made a trek to the mall, and stopped by the music store to look around. I was restless and looking for something different. For whatever reason, I thought, "Hey, I always liked the song 'Whip It'. Maybe I'll check out some Devo." There was a Greatest Hits CD for the band there, so I bought it.

I fell in love with Devo's music that day. Since then, I've bought a lot of their stuff. I had always "liked" Devo, but getting exposed to more than just two or three of their songs put me over the top. Then I became a fan.

This entry is not about Devo.

The music store where I purchased that CD - the Lake Charles Sam Goody (formerly Musicland) - closed in December. Its mall rival Sound Shop was shuttered several years before that. Lake Charles Music shut down their CD section, ending what had once been Harvest Records. The last location of Zypien's Music was demolished to make way for a Raising Cane's restaurant. Today, I can't think of a single music store in the immediate area. Not one.

I held out some hope that the F.Y.E. store in DeRidder would survive, due to a lack of nearby competition from places like Best Buy. Alas, it was not to be. I stopped by Tuesday to see banners advertising the store was closing. I made it back by on Saturday to try to pick up as much as I could of things that I had wanted. I may try to make it in one last time, but I know that every visit might be my last. And when it is gone, that will be all.

There are people far more eloquent than I on both the pro and con side of this story. I just would like to say that, without the immediacy of seeing a lot of things right in front of me, I don't know if I would have risked money on them. Would I have even bothered getting into Devo if it hadn't been readily available right when I wanted it? I can't even begin to answer that question. Even a couple of days might have made a lot of difference.

Yes, I know all about downloading, and online retailers, and big chain stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy using music as a loss leader, and great prices, and all of those things. But for me, the thrill of discovery - the magic of taking the chance on something new and it paying off - is something I'm not sure can ever be replaced.

I mourned the loss of records when the world left them behind, and I still miss them to this day. Oh, they're still around, but much harder to find, and really, not many folks care anymore. Now, record stores are rapidly joining them as a bygone of an era when the music actually, y'know, mattered. But time marches on, and nothing I do will stop it.

Goodbye, record stores. We had fun.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

These Are A Few More Of My Favorite Things

  • aardvarks
  • bad porno music
  • Bob Haney
  • Bruce Lee clones
  • Devo
  • Dilbert's Wally
  • Doritos
  • Hiroshi Miyauchi
  • Lomax - NYPD
  • Marvin Martian
  • Naomi Morinaga
  • New Rally-X
  • Nick Adams
  • Red Dwarf
  • robots with hats
  • saucy wenches
  • Toei
  • Waylon Jennings
  • What's Up, Tiger Lily?
  • women in neckties

Sunday, February 7, 2010

New Orleans Saints

I guess in some ways it is odd that our subject today is something as "mundane" as pro football. After all, I usually discuss things that are a little more, shall we say, esoteric. But make no mistake, I love the New Orleans Saints just as much as I love things like Japanese superhero TV shows and old comic books.

For me, I suppose I became a real fan of the team during its first truly "magical" period - the 1987 NFL season. That year, the Saints posted their first-ever winning record, and did so in emphatic fashion by going 12-3 (it was a strike year, too). They went on an amazing winning streak, they had the players to do the job, and...well, it felt like a team of destiny. It was only bad luck that they were in the same division as a San Francisco 49ers team with guys like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. New Orleans went into their first-ever playoff game as a wild card, but it seemed like they had the momentum to do something special.

That season was also my first real lesson in the bitter disappointment that can come with being a Saints fan. They got trounced in that first playoff game by a Vikings team with a far-worse record. Even over 20 years later, that final score of 44-10 is still burned into my brain. That day, I learned you can never take anything for granted when it comes to the New Orleans Saints.

There have been good seasons since that time, and some playoff success, too. But I dunno, it never really felt like something special was happening. Until this year. This seemed like a year where something exciting was going down. As the weeks progressed, the Saints' season became more dramatic and unlikely. Finally, it culminated in an NFC championship game against the Minnesota Vikings, of all teams.

As the weeks rolled on, my confidence in the Saints having a chance in every game grew to the point where I never counted them out until the clock was out of time. But I'll be honest when I say that I was still in disbelief as the game-winning field goal sailed through the uprights. The New Orleans Saints - my team - weren't just a good team. They were going to the Super Bowl.

My Dad swore once he'd never live to see this day. Sadly, he was right by about 12 years. I know a whole lot of people who felt the same. I was one of them. I rooted for the Saints, but expecting them to reach the Super Bowl seemed like a goal that was unapproachable. Even if they had a quality team, something would go wrong. I mean, it always did, right?

Much has been written about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the lowpoint the city and its NFL franchise had reached. All true, but it often misses the bigger picture. Because while that team is the "New Orleans" Saints, it belongs just as much to Baton Rouge. And Shreveport. And Monroe. And Lafayette. And Lake Charles. And Alexandria. It's Louisiana's team. You could even pull in our neighbors in Mississippi.

I often think the Saints are so beloved because they are a metaphor for our state, and our region. We have a massive inferiority complex in these parts. It often feels like no matter how hard we try, we'll fail and/or be laughingstocks. The Saints' nigh-legendary futility has been but a small part of that, but its also the whole thing in a microcosm. No matter how good they were, the Saints would fail in the end. Just like always. Just like Louisiana.

So it's no surprise that when the Saints pulled out victory against the Vikings, it touched off a massive state-wide celebration. In a world where the Saints can make a Super Bowl, it's not hard to imagine that anything is possible. This is why grown men have cried over this. It's not just about a football team. It's about the idea that maybe dreams can come true.

In less than 24 hours, the Super Bowl will kick off, and the Saints will face a tough and favored Indianapolis Colts team. Maybe they will win. Maybe they won't. But just by getting to this stage, the Saints have given a lot to their fans in this state, and all over the country. And in that respect, they are winners in my eyes regardless of the final score.

Thanks for this amazing season, New Orleans Saints. I hope there are many more to come.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Stories About The Stranglers

Here's an excerpt from the profile of the Stranglers in Wayne Jancik and Tad Lathrop's Cult Rockers (1995) :
"The Stranglers were no strangers to controversy. The press blasted them for misogyny in song titles like 'Bitching' and 'Bring On The Nubiles' and the use of onstage strippers."

I Wanna Be Sedated - Pop Music In The Seventies, a 1993 book by Phil Delio and Scott Woods, explains the Stranglers thusly :
"And then there was the Stranglers, who in unadulterated buffoonery stood mighty tall in the seventies scheme of things. What you need to know about them : 1) they reminded people of the Doors; 2) they recorded two incredible songs, '(Get a) Grip (on Yourself)' (1977) and 'Tank' (1978); 3) they didn't really drive their own tank, that was General McArthur; 4) they were rock pigs supreme; 5) they can't be killed."

The 1999 edition of Rock Stars Encyclopedia, authored by Dafydd Rees and Luke Crampton and branded with the VH-1 logo, relates this touching tale of a February 1982 Stranglers gig :
"During a show at the Swindon Leisure Centre, the group is angered by a shower of spittle fired in their direction throughout their set. They apprehend the ringleader of the gobbing throng, remove his pants, and use his bare buttocks as tom toms during 'Golden Brown'."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Future Girls, Knights, And Vikings, Oh My

Say, remember this? It turns out IDW Publishing is putting out a Jetta hardcover in 2010! It was included with their solicitations for February, so you should probably keep your eyes peeled starting now if that sort of thing sounds like your speed. Here is the cover, as it appears on Craig Yoe's website. I never expected to see another Jetta book, but there it is.

DC Comics also has a couple of interesting hardcovers due soon that we haven't discussed here yet. The first is a compilation of the almost-legendary Atomic Knights strip. Set in the post-WWIII Earth of 1986 (!), this John Broome/Murphy Anderson collaboration features some solid storytelling and beautiful art. Plus, there is no shortage of wackiness. I mean, the Knights ride giant dalmatians like horses! This book is due May 19. Here is the official DC Comics listing for it.

And then, as if that wasn't awesome enough, one month later comes a hardcover of The Viking Prince! This is some wonderful fantasy pencilled and inked by Joe Kubert, with stories by Robert Kanigher and my hero Bob Haney. I'm not a huge sword & sorcery fan, but I have a soft spot for the titular Prince Jon. This series was even explicitly homaged in an episode of the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED cartoon. It's just that good. Plus, it will be including the Viking Prince's meeting with Sgt. Rock. How can that not be fun? This book is set for June 30. You know I have a DC Comics site link for it, too.

I can't guarantee that you are going to love all of these books, but they are on my short "to buy" list. Take that as a recommendation if you will!

Monday, February 1, 2010


Fight! Dragon
As our friends at Xenorama mentioned yesterday, I discovered over the weekend that the Japanese TV series FIGHT! DRAGON will be coming out on DVD in March, courtesy of the folks at Mill Creek Entertainment.

This is pretty exciting news. This series was scheduled to be released by BCI before they were shut down. Apparently, everything was all ready for that set, as I doubt Mill Creek would go to the trouble to finish this themselves. Only now, the price is even lower than it would have been. Insane.

FIGHT! DRAGON stars Yasuaki Kurata, a fairly well-known face in both Japanese and Chinese martial arts productions. There are a bevy of guest stars too, including Yang Sze (Bolo Yeung) and Susumu Kurobe. Plus, the whole thing is written by Masaru Igami and the theme is sung by Masato Shimon. It's like a Japanese superhero show, only without the costumes!

Mill Creek is also re-releasing IRON KING and SUPER ROBOT RED BARON at rock bottom prices. Does this bode well for the cancelled SILVER KAMEN (SILVER MASK) box set? I don't know, but hope springs eternal.