Saturday, January 31, 2009

And the countdown rolls on!

Because I am a nerd, I own a couple of editions of the BILLBOARD BOOK OF TOP 40 HITS. Before you stone me for handing all my money over to Billboard, let me say in my defense that they were purchased at a considerable discount at the late, lamented Book Warehouse. My conscience is relatively clear., Joel Whitburn is almost omnipresent, isn't he? I suppose someone had to devote their life to this kinda research, so I'm glad it's him and not me.

Still, there are numerous things we can learn from looking back at the charts. One is that some songs do not stand the test of time as well as others. Another is that the ones that do stand the test of time were not always the top hits in their day.

Let's do a little informal survey. I picked these things purely at random, so this isn't scientific.

  • AC/DC's Top 40 Hits : 3 (Highest - "Moneytalks", which peaked at #23)
  • Air Supply's Top 40 Hits : 11 (Highest - "The One That You Love", which peaked at #1 for a week)
  • Winner In A Streetfight : Do You Need To Ask?

  • Rush's Top 40 Hits : 1 ("New World Man", which peaked at #21)
  • Triumph's Top 40 Hits : 2 (Highest - "Somebody's Out There", which peaked at #27)
  • Person This Makes Very Angry : My brother in battle Lewis Smith

  • Pink Floyd's Top 40 Hits : 2 (Highest - "Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)", which peaked at #1 for 4 weeks)
  • The Alan Parsons Project's Top 40 Hits : 8 (Highest - "Eye In The Sky", which peaked at #3)
  • Number Of You Who Can Name Another Alan Parsons Project Song : ????

  • The Grateful Dead's Top 40 Hits : 1 ("Touch of Grey", which peaked at #9)
  • Pablo Cruise's Top 40 : 5 (Highest - "Whatcha Gonna Do?" & "Love Will Find a Way", which both peaked at #6)
  • Cosmic Injustice Factor Of This Figure : Off The Scale

  • The Ramones' Top 40 Hits : 0 (not even "Rock 'N' Roll High School")
  • The Partridge's Family's Top 40 Hits : 7 (Highest - "I Think I Love You", which peaked at #1 for 3 weeks)
  • Probability of Me Screaming "I Wanna Be Sedated!" If Forced To Listen To The Partridge Family : 87%

  • Black Sabbath's Top 40 Hits : 0 (nope, not even "Iron Man" or "Paranoid")
  • Stallion's Top 40 Hits : 1 ("Old Fashioned Boy (You're The One)", which peaked at #37)
  • People Wondering "Who The Hell Is Stallion?" : ALL OF YOU(including me)

  • Squeeze's Top 40 Hits : 2 ("Hourglass", which peaked at #15, and "853-5937", which peaked at #32)
  • Number Of Top 40 Hits With Paul Carrack's Lead Vocals : 9 (Highest - Mike + The Mechanics song "The Living Years", which peaked at #1 for 1 week)
  • Surprise Factor That Neither Of Those Stats Includes The Song "Tempted" : 151%

  • Combined Number 1 Hits Of Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival & The Who : 0
  • Number 1 Hits Of Barry Manilow : 3 ("Mandy" for 1 week, "I Write The Songs" for 1 week, & "Looks Like We Made It" for 1 week)
  • Does This Prove Something? : I Really Don't Want To Think About It

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Diane Martin, Miss America, FBI

There are about a jillion crazy things about the show BATTLE FEVER J (the name being the most obvious), but "Diane Martin" is right up there among the craziest.

As background, the very first sentai, GORANGER, had a female member with the unusual for Japan name of "Peggy Matsuyama". She was portrayed by Risa Komaki, who I'm fairly certain was all Japanese. Still, it was an interesting touch.

In the second series, JAKQ, the female member was "Karen Mizuki", who was an FBI agent from America. She was portrayed by a mixed race actress with the wonderful name of Michi Love. And yes, that seems to be her real name, too.

So we come to BATTLE FEVER J, and it was apparently decided to cast an authentic American as the female member. Though she is of Asian ancestry, Diane Martin (credited as D. マーチン) seems pretty obviously American. She is presented not only as an FBI agent, but the daughter of the purely Caucasian "Mister Boss" (David Friedman, but not the filmmaker of the same name). It's actually a pretty cool idea, and she's spotlighted heavily in the first episode.

Unfortunately, one can only guess that she was deemed unsuitable for the role after production was underway. After the first few episodes, she is shuffled off to the side. There are more than a couple of episodes where Diane makes a token appearance in Battle Fever's HQ, has maybe one line, and then doesn't appear until the climax in costumed form (portrayed by another actress). She never gets a spotlight episode to herself. For a long stretch, Battle Fever J appears to consist of four guys and, oh yeah, this chick that shows up at the end.

It's worth noting that I think Diane Martin, playing a character NAMED "Diane Martin", is the only lead actor in a sentai series to ever be dubbed by another performer. Risa Komaki, the first sentai heroine, returned to dub Diane's lines and also perform in the Miss America costume during the first half of the series. Given the acting chops usually displayed in superhero shows, this speaks volumes about Martin's acting ability and/or command of Japanese.

(Though Komaki wasn't in the costume for the whole series, it's sort of a fun trivia note - especially since she WASN'T in the suit in GORANGER as far as I know.)

Finally, in episode 24, Martin was written out of the series and replaced by a second Miss America. This second Miss America, Naomi Hagi as "Maria Nagisa", was immediately far more involved in the action than Martin ever was. She interacted with her male teammates more than Martin had since the first handful of episodes. She got episodes spotlighting her. She was part of the gang so fast that you're left saying "Diane who?"

Looking back on the series today, BATTLE FEVER J shows a lot of signs of being a troubled production. Besides the Miss America fiasco, there was also the replacement of Kenji Ushio with Masashi Ishibashi in the role of "Header" after filming was already underway. This led to a confusing string of episodes where some footage couldn't be reshot and the two switched back and forth between the role.

It's amazing BATTLE FEVER J made it to the air at all. But in spite of all the insanity, its 1979 debut started the super sentai cycle in earnest, and the cycle has yet to leave the broadcast lineup. That's rather impressive by anyone's standards.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

High & Low

THE AVENGERS #61 - Feb. 1969

Fire and Ice

by: Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if I had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Confidential To Comic Book Fans


It's fine to an extent, but there is simply so much trivia accumulating, that some things have to be discarded, that you can't feel bound by a story that took place say ten-twenty years ago. Take the origin of Superman: Mort Weisinger changed it to a certain extent, annexing the Superboy legend and various other survivors of Krypton and so on. Details were not always conceived of as being historically momentous. Who knew thirty years ago that Superman would be such an institution today and that all of the little things would have to be explained. Personally I don't feel another editor ten years from now should be bound by what I do today.


The point is that comics are fantasy, telling stories that didn't really happen. When you try to bring too much reality into fantasy, it has a tendency not to be entertaining. So if we're not consistent at times, you simply must excuse us.

--An excerpt from an interview with Julius Schwartz
Interviewer : uncredited (Mark Gruenwald?)
Source : AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS #14 (March 1977)
(formatting and punctuation duplicated exactly)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Toei Tokusatsu Hero THE MOVIE BOX

Toei Tokusatsu Hero THE MOVIE BOX

東映特撮ヒーロー THE MOVIE BOX (Toei Tokusatsu Hero The Movie Box)

This box set is actually the third such set from Toei Video. Previously, there were limited edition box sets devoted to the featurettes starring the Kamen Riders and Super Sentai. This particular box includes all the live action featurettes outside of those venerable series, save one. I'll deal with that exception in a bit.

The "movies" from all three box sets were part of roadshow film marathons. Most of them were components of various Toei Manga Matsuri (東映まんがまつり) or "Toei Manga Festivals", a series of theatrical programs which ran from 1964-1990. Toei actually still does these kind of programs to this day, though they don't mix anime and tokusatsu the way they once did. A pity, I think.

The box is an attractive collage of images pulled from the assorted series covered. It includes 6 "regular" discs and 1 "bonus" disc, which is housed in a slimline case. There are two booklets - one is a historical overview of the productions and the other is devoted more to promotional pics. Finally, there is a pair of 3-D glasses, which I am guessing might work. They are for the "Inazuman" movie, which would have been my third choice, but apparently the "Aka Kage" and "Kikaider" glasses were reproduced in earlier releases.

As an aside, though my Japanese is limited at best, I learned the answer to a lingering question from these booklets. It doesn't relate to the movies in the box though. Rather, why is the Japanese cut of THE GREEN SLIME (called ガンマー第3号 宇宙大作戦 - "Gamma 3 Space Operation") shorter than the American cut? Answer - because it was released in Japan as part of the kiddie-oriented December 1968 "Toei Manga Matsuri" with PINOCCHIO IN OUTER SPACE (titled ピノキオの宇宙大冒険 - "Pinocchio's Space Adventure") and a couple of shorter featurettes.

So anyway, here are the titles of the movies included in this box. I'll get around to talking about all of them one day, unless I forget.

スパイキャッチャーJ3 SOS危機一発 (Spycatcher J3)
キャプテンウルトラ (Captain Ultra)
河童の三平 妖怪大作戦 (Kappa no Sanpei)
柔道一直線 (Judo Icchokusen)

変身忍者嵐 (Henshin Ninja Arashi)
超人バロム・1 (Chojin Barom-1)
ロボット刑事 (Robot Keiji)
キカイダー01 (Kikaider 01)
イナズマンF (Inazuman Flash)

がんばれ!!ロボコン (Ganbare! Robocon)
がんばれ!!ロボコン ゆかいな仲間 (Ganbare! Robocon)
がんばれ!!ロボコン ムギョギョ!!食いねェ (Ganbare! Robocon)
アクマイザー3 (Akumaizer 3)
ロボコンの大冒険 (Robocon no Daiboken)

ザ・カゲスター (The Kagestar)
宇宙鉄人キョーダイン (Uchu Tetsujin Kyodain)
忍者キャプター (Ninja Captor)
大鉄人17 (Dai Tetsujin 17)
大鉄人17 空中戦艦 (Dai Tetsujin 17)

宇宙からのメッセージ 銀河大戦 (Uchu Kara no Message : Ginga Taisen)
バトルフィーバーJ (Battle Fever J)
バッテンロボ丸 (Batten Robo Maru)
宇宙刑事 シャイダー (Uchu Keiji Shaider)
宇宙刑事 シャイダー追跡!しぎしぎ誘拐団 (Uchu Keiji Shaider)

超人機メタルダー (Chojinki Metalder)
機動刑事ジバン (Kido Keiji Jiban)
特捜ロボ・ジャンパーソン (Tokuso Robo Janperson)
ブルースワット (Blue SWAT)
重甲ビーファイター (Jyuko B-Fighter)

飛びだす冒険映画 赤影 (Aka Kage)
飛び出す人造人間キカイダー (Jinzo Ningen Kikaider)
飛び出す立体映画 イナズマン (Inazuman)

Quite the list, yes? So what's missing? The movie in question is スパイダーマン (Spiderman), a cinematic version of Toei's Japanese SPIDERMAN (no hyphen) series. Because of the licensing involved, SPIDERMAN is now essentially divorced from the rest of Toei's tokusatsu output. However, the film (the first ever theatrical version of the wall-crawler, if you can believe it) was already released on the deluxe box set of the SPIDERMAN series, so it's all good.

For the curious among you, a handy reference in putting this entry together was Toei TV Website Library of English Titles. Oh, and this is Toei Video's page for this box set.

@ CDJapan
@ Amazon Japan

I get no credit by posting those links, in case you were wondering. Anyway, I bought mine used from Anime Jungle at a discount.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


After thinking it over for a couple of days, I've decided that I'm going to take a stab at re-posting entries from my journal here on this blog. It's only going to be ones that I think are particularly interesting or amusing. If anything is older than, say, a year, I'll probably include a note mentioning when it was originally posted. This is just an attempt to see what using Blogger on a regular basis might be like.

I've been customizing this place since I started it, and I have to confess that I've already done more with it than I've ever been able to do with my journal. Blogger has definitely made some interesting improvements since my comic blog. This could prove to be fun.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

In case of emergency...

Um, hello.

I don't blog here. Not yet, anyway. Maybe never. You see, I've been blogging on LiveJournal for over 5 years, and I'm still reasonably content with things there. However, I've been reading that there is a chance that LJ might be on the way out. If it does go kaput, I'd like to have a place to continue blogging. It would probably be different than the old journal, but I want to keep my options open.

I once maintained a comics blog on Blogspot, but I shut it down over two years ago. However, one or two posts there still get traffic. And besides, it doesn't feel like "my" blog. So now, we have this blog. I will probably play around with it and see what I can do with it. I might even do test posts now and then, just to experiment with Blogger. But I will not be updating this blog with any exclusive content unless I leave LiveJournal or the site shuts down.

If it ever becomes important, I'll discuss myself. For now, you can visit to get a glimpse of the person behind these words.