Friday, April 29, 2011

Whitney DeKalb of DeKalb Television

We first encountered Whitney DeKalb back in January. Allow me to refresh your memory on what was established then:

Whitney DeKalb is the great-granddaughter of Ladd DeKalb, founder of the trailblazing but perennial also-ran DeKalb Television Network. A member of the DeKalb Network board of directors, Whitney has been seeking a way to better compete with the Major Broadcasting System (MBS) and the United Broadcasting Company (UBC). She thinks she has finally found one by forging a strategic alliance with Mann Creations.

When I wrote that mini-profile, I did not really specifically know that I would be commissioning Kabuki Katze to draw Whitney for me. However, that is exactly what happened, and we're going to take a look at the resulting piece.

Whitney DeKalb was not inspired by any particular character or person, but the "DeKalb Televison Network" was inspired by the nigh-forgotten DuMont Television Network. But make no mistake - DeKalb is NOT intended as a straight analogue for DuMont. For one thing, DeKalb obviously survived its also-ran status.

("MBS" and "UBC" are likewise not straight copies of CBS and NBC, but rather more generalized big TV networks. You could just as easily substitute ABC or Fox, and it still works.)

One aspect of the DuMont legacy I wanted to have mirrored with DeKalb was a similar-looking logo. Kabuki incorporated her take on a DeKalb logo into the TV in the picture, thereby neatly establishing that DeKalb also manufactured TVs like DuMont. This was not something I was specifically worried about, but I will happily take it.

That TV is another point of pride for me. Kabuki initially thought she was going to have to draw a modern flatscreen, but what I wanted to see was a more retro-futuristic style TV. You know, the way the 1950s might have imagined a future TV. The SF-tinged remote added to the flavor of what a Fifties Style Digital Television might look like.

Before we move from the TV, let's look at what's on the screen. I told Kabuki that a test pattern would be best (since I didn't want her putting a lot of work drawing a picture in a picture), and gave her a number of examples. This is the design she chose to use, and it looks wicked sharp in her interpretation. It also has a little extra info included for those who look closely. You see, the Major City DeKalb affiliate station is WMC, Channel 5. This was my choice, and it's my fictional tribute to a real station.

(If you are wondering what the "13" signifies, don't worry - I have an explanation. Maybe I'll even share it eventually.)

Now, let's deal with Whitney herself. I had a series of very specific yet random instructions as far as realizing this lady, and it was left to Kabu to organize all of that into a cohesive whole. She elected to use Christina Hendricks as a starting point, which I went along with readily. My only condition was that Whitney's chest should probably be smaller, since I'm not sure anyone wold believe Christina Hendricks was a real person if she didn't exist in front of us. What I'm saying is, the woman is hot.

I asked for Whitney to be tall. Really tall, like in the 6 foot range. I just thought that sort of thing would be an interesting contrast, especially considering she is in no way a super character. It's not blazingly obvious in the picture, but we knew it and that was what counted.

I also requested that Whitney have black hair, and that it be only about shoulder length. Both Kabu and I really like the long hair, so this again was an effort to add a little variety to the lovely ladies we bring to life. I think it came out really well, and the style evokes the retro feel I am after in the Owariverse.

I suppose there was a reason for the blue eyes, but I don't remember it now. I did ask that they be framed with cat's eye glasses, because I thought that look would fit right into the atmosphere we were creating. Kabuki asked about adding some color, I agreed, and I think we both made a great call on all points in that aspect of the process.

Whitney is a professional, and an electronics genius. It made sense that she should dress accordingly. Kabuki designed it, and added both the neck scarf and the understated jewelry. The lady does know how to accessorize.

Whitney hasn't made a full-blown story appearance as of yet, but it is certainly probable that she will if we keep the Owariverse train running. When she does, I think Kabuki has done a smashing job of bringing her to life. If you concur, why not give some love to her gallery page for this piece?

As a special bonus to my valued OWARI readers, I've also included an alternate version of this picture sans the texture that replicates the paper stock of a vintage magazine ad.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Son Of A Few Of My Favorite Things

  • Airplane!
  • Bridgette Monet
  • Earth-Two
  • Godzilla
  • "Hongo is Jesus!"
  • Mie Hama
  • Roy Thomas
  • sentai
  • Steely Dan
  • vinyl records

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Happy Casey Kasem Day!

I have decided that April 27th henceforth shall be "Casey Kasem Day" in OWARI Land. Admit it - you didn't even know it was his birthday until I just told you in this sentence. Yep, Casey Kasem is 79 years old today.

Since I get to listen to him twice a week, it is easy to forget that Casey Kasem has pretty much retired from public life. I suspect this was at least partially due to the changes in his trademark voice due to advancing age. While he still sounds "like" Casey Kasem, it's not the same anymore. Of course, there's no shame in that, but I can understand why he would want to work less as a result.

I've also heard that Casey may not be in the best of health these days. I don't know want the extent of that might be (if it's even true), but I sincerely hope for not just a LONG life for Mr. Kasem, but for a high QUALITY of life as well.

Here's to you, Casey Kasem! Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More Annie! And Diana Too!

I don't know why I am so surprised that my entry on Naomi Morinaga is fast becoming the most popular entry on this blog. I mean, I should've expected that, right? If you are one of the countless souls who end up at OWARI seeking Naomi, welcome. Why not take a look at the rest of the entries?

The thing that astonishes me the most is the the video I embedded in that entry has since been deleted, so all anyone is getting is my opinion of Naomi Morinaga. However, as it turns out, the video has made a subtle return. I won't embed it, but I'll instead link you to this. The first half is Diana from SPIELBAN, but the second half is the Annie video.

Ah yes, Diana and SPIELBAN. JIKUU SENSHI SPIELBAN is not a space sheriff per se, but it is in the same spirit as those earlier programs. Diana is a character a bit more advanced in terms of presentation, in that she gets to be an honest-to-goodness SUPER HEROINE. When I see Makoto Sumikawa (aka Jun Koyamaki) transforming into the Diana Lady armor, I know it's not still her inside the suit, but it's the principle of the matter. Interestingly, Naomi co-starred in SPIELBAN as the hero's sister, and got to be two DIFFERENT super characters (Hellvira and Helen Lady).

It seems wrong to have all this Naomi Morinaga talk without any pictures. Here are a trio of icons I created for LiveJournal (or one of its clones) several years ago. The first two are variations on the same theme using different fonts.  All are free for the taking, though crediting me would be appreciated if you use them.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Champs of the Alcan Run

"Task Force '57 Chevrolet Trucks Are Here: Champs of the Alcan Run"

In my DVD collection of "1,001 commercials", this mini-film is one that holds a special place in my heart. It is so dramatic and earnest that I just cannot help but love it. I don't even DRIVE a truck, and this spot makes me want to run out and buy the "Task Force '57" fleet advertised.

I also love this little time capsule of the world as it used to be. I mean, I have never been to Fairbanks, but surely it must be a little more modern than this by now. It looks eerily like my hometown, now that I think about it, and surely one of Alaska's major cities must be more impressive than that in 2011.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Computus Interruptus

Hey folks. I had some technical difficulties shortly after the last entry here went live Tuesday, and the result is that I am typing this Friday evening entry on a totally new computer. I had been planning to get a new computer anyway, so all this did was move that up a tad. However, the upheaval in breaking in my shiny new machine has left me with precious little time to concentrate on material for this humble blog.

I do have stuff planned, including a look at a delightful old commercial and a review of a much-maligned run of a legendary comics series. Oh, and there's a new commission of one of my characters waiting in the wings, too. But for now, this entry is mainly about making sure I can get my Twitter feed to update properly!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson (2011)

I realized something kind of odd last year. Though I have been paying a lot of attention to Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson as characters, I hadn't drawn them in a picture together since the 1990s! I resolved that I needed to correct that eventually. Finally, I have.

Another reason to do this pic was because I wanted to apply the little touches that Kabuki Katze has brought to my designs. The change to Cap's chestplate and the fantastic Multi-Gun are two examples. I've also based this particular Shelly on Kabu's most recent work with the character. However, Shelly's evolution has been a bit of a symbiotic relationship anyway, so keep that in mind.

I'm not 100% on this picture even for my own work, but it's a start. Hopefully, I can build on this and go places with it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

3 Masters, 1 Guillotine

MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE is one of my favorite martial arts movies. It's an ancestor of those fighting games that would take off in later years, but with an actual honest-to-goodness plot, too. It's not absolutely perfect, but it's just good enough to approach the top of my kung-fu list.

There isn't a lot I can add to the subject of the movie itself that hasn't already been written elsewhere. However, I do want to take a look at three separate movie trailers for it, and the different approaches they take to selling the movie.

Example 1 is the original Hong Kong trailer in its English version. It is pretty straightforward, as those previews usually were. The English lettering is a just a little off-center, and can be subject to both odd phrasing and misspellings. Those blurbs, of course, are translations of Chinese, so they sometimes read weirdly to us. Bonus points to this trailer for incorporating strange sound effects for no good reason and including the character name/fighting style "Win Without A Knife". I'd like that to be my name, I think.

Example 2 is the U.S. trailer from the mid-1970s. It is narrated by Adolph Caesar, which automatically elevates it to my favorite of this trio right there. It doesn't hurt that Caesar's script makes several references intended to make the film sound like science-fiction and claims that some malarkey process dubbed "Super-Cine Vision" was utilized. The editing is faster-paced, the music is livelier, and the whole package just makes me want to see the movie. "And he's ready to blow your mind!"

Example 3 is from the Pathfinder Pictures re-release. Again, no narration, but much stronger use of the Neu! music that is so identified with the film. It's a bit more modern and less concerned with going over the top in its pimping. If I had seen this in a theater, you're darn tootin' I would have paid money to see the flick. Alas, I had to content myself with the DVD instead.

Which is your favorite?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Hot Pants" by Lewis Smith (2007)

Yesterday I spotlighted a new piece of artwork with Firegirl; today, I spotlight another of the vintage pictures that helped define the character.

Our old buddy Lewis Smith returns with art that has a unique origin. This portrait of my Princess of Pyro was done for Sara Duffield as her prize for winning the 2007 Gunmetal Black/Seven Spheres Legend Fanart Contest. You do remember how much she loves Firegirl, right?

Well, Lewis did a swell job, and he brought some little touches that have persisted since then. Notice that belt? That was a bit of business he did to break up the red for himself, and it was inspired by the costume designs of Dave Cockrum (never a bad thing). That belt has since found its way into other pictures of the character, and has more or less become "officially" part of the design.

I asked both Lewis and Sara for permission to repost this fun chapter in the ongoing Captain Satellite saga, and they both readily agreed. Incidentally, voting for the 2011 GMB/7SL Contest is going on RIGHT NOW! Click over to Lewis' dA page linked above and vote for your favorite entries!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Velvetluck's Firegirl

Gosh, it seems like just a couple of weeks ago when dA artist velvetluck gifted us with a sketch of Sultura. Wait--it was only a couple of weeks ago! Now, the lady has seen fit to share with us her rendition of Firegirl!

If you like it, might I suggest you check out her gallery? She's also recently started a new (French language) sketch blog called Of Rainbows and Cupcakes that I am sure will be filled with tasty goodness!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

OWARI #3 (November 1996)

I think in some ways, I have been procrastinating in putting together this entry. While OWARI #3 is on the one hand one of the highlights of my fanzine days, it is on the other hand the issue I most associate with a bad time in my life. It also contains the single most embarrassing misstep I ever made as an editor. So there are definitely mixed emotions in reviewing this particular issue.

First though, let's look at that cover! It was pure chance that I discovered a load of FANTASTIC stills from WHAT'S UP, TIGER LILY?, and this particular one was probably the most memorable. A kiss-covered Tatsuya Mihashi surrounded by the trio of Akiko Wakabayashi, Kumi Mizuno, and Mie Hama in skimpy outfits proved to be one of the most enduring images of what I came to refer to as "Volume 1" of OWARI. I added the disembodied Woody Allen head and the word balloon speaking the movie's logo to clarify the subject matter. And finally, for the first and only time on a regular issue of the fanzine, there's the large-size version of the OWARI logo designed by Rob Perchaluk. I loved the way it incorporated the issue number directly into the design, and had I continued in this format, it would have seen more use.

My editorial touches on the limited content of the previous issue, and explains that #3 contains my attempt to pack more stuff into the fanzine. Well, I succeeded, but that wasn't necessarily a good thing either. There's also a hint at the truth of my real life situation, but I brush it all off with what is either misplaced optimism or a bald-faced lie. I can't even tell you at this late date, but I still had a long way to go in getting straightened out when OWARI #3 was put together.

Before we go further, let's discuss how I crammed so much material into a mere 20 single-sided pages. I was still working on a typewriter, but I shrank down each page until I could fit as many as FOUR on a single page. In theory, this is great. In practice, it is lousy. The type is far too small, and it makes the whole thing look cluttered. It also meant that this issue was effectively four times as much work as #1 and #2.

The issue leads off with my promised coverage of WHAT'S UP, TIGER LILY?, the Woody Allen comedy dub/edit of a Japanese spy movie. For years, I have considered this one of the single worst articles I penned during the heyday of my 'zine writing. Re-reading it for this retrospective, it's...well, it's not nearly as bad as I remembered. It could certainly use some work, but there are good points sprinkled throughout it. Probably, my disappointment stemmed from the fact that I couldn't be as funny as I'd hoped in discussing the movie. Such a notion is kind of silly when you think about it, because that would mean I was trying to compete with professional comedy people.

Ah, but next comes a cast listing, and this is a sign of my peculiar tastes at the time. It is ENTIRELY TOO LONG and goes into way more detail than probably anyone cared. And yet, it still doesn't list everyone. I don't really regret putting it together, but there must have been a more palatable way to present this info.

Tucked away at the bottom of the cast listing, almost as an afterthought, is the startling revelation that there were two separate versions of TIGER LILY. Well, as it turned out, there wound up being THREE (the two alternate dubs, and one that combines elements of both of them). I'm still not sure I've fully put together why this happened or which came first. That seems like the subject of a future blog post someday.

Lewis Smith returned with more toy reviews. Did I ask him to do another batch of these, or was this something he concocted on his own? No clue, but I was glad to give him the space to offer his opinions. This page is also filled out with a "portrait" of him (as a fighting game character) by his friend Arvelle Whittaker.

"The Kaiju Detective" by Ronnie Burton makes its debut with a piece on FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD. Ronnie and I had been working together on translating Japanese names a lot, and I invited him to share his research and his thoughts on various movies of his choosing. I really like his Frankenstein article, and I'm quite proud of the layout and captions I created for it. Too bad my source material didn't reproduce more cleanly, but it was still leaps and bounds better than in the previous issue.

Oh yes, that. I didn't mention it in the editorial, but I had discovered the settings on photocopiers and found a way to get the most out of my photos. The Frankenstein pics were still sort of fuzzy, but the Tiger Lily and Japanese superhero pics elsewhere in the 'zine looked remarkably good. I was learning, and it made OWARI look slightly better.

What on Earth prompted me to write "You Might Be A Japanese Superhero If..."? I don't know, but it still stands as one of my favorite humor pieces and one of my favorite things in the pages of OWARI. You should go read that 2009 update.

Now we come to the second installment of Lewis Smith's Return of Jetman. This includes the introduction of Green Wyvern, a character who would play a pivotal role in that saga as the years progressed. You can read the current version on Episode 2 penned by me here, and see the artwork Lewis did for the story in 1996 right here.

If you thought I was joking about expanding the contents, let me tell you that we're still not through with this issue! Filling out the final page of ROJ is another selection of "O-Factoids" and a short piece on the cast of INFRA-MAN (notice a trend here?) that I labeled an "O-Factoid Deluxe". This Infra-Man mini-article tied into a review I had submitted to KAIJU REVIEW, and I used that opportunity to plug Dan Reed's fanzine again. Just in case you thought there might be hurt feelings over the Power Rangers movie review, this should point up that there really weren't.

Speaking of the Power Rangers, Lewis' Power Rangers drinking game was definitely something he created strictly for himself before I asked if I could use it in OWARI. I do like the illustrations I chose for it, and this was that rare case when the limits of using photocopies worked to my benefit. There is also something quaintly amusing to see phrases like "The Green Ranger is in the Ultrazord cockpit with everyone else" and "The Mega-Dragonzord kills the monster" and realize you simultaneously remember and don't remember what in the devil that means.

The Toho Monster and Sci-Fi Filmography was a bit of business I worked up for myself, and it was an attempt to get ALL the Toho movies of that nature into one chronological list. Of course, I bent over backwards with exceptions to both add to and subtract from said list, so I am not sure how much overall value it has to anyone other than me. Oh well, I did find a way to throw the Toho globe at the top, and that took some ingenuity as I recall.

The heavy sigh you just heard is because we've reached the Susumu Yoshikawa interview. Don't get me wrong - this talk with the Toei producer is great! It's also from ANIME FX magazine, and I didn't realize that. It was sent to me from off the internet, and I just ran it with a few editorial notes added. Yeah, I clearly put no thought into this whatsoever. In my meager defense, I was still very naive about how the web operated. Still, that's not an excuse, and I should have known better. If #3 had gotten wider distribution (more on this soon), this could have been a serious problem. As it stands, it's just a rather humiliating footnote to what is actually a relatively decent issue (except for the legibility concerns).

Jerry Cornell reviews GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA (1992) and Marc Dunworth provides artwork of Rodan vs. Mothra on the next page. This is an example of me throwing together two unsolicited submissions to fill out the issue. That's not a knock on what either Jerry or Marc did; quite the contrary, I wouldn't have run their work if I hadn't liked it. It just doesn't quite fit into the overall theme I had hit on for OWARI, and thus, this page stands out to me. Jerry Cornell would go on to put together his own series of fanzines under a couple of different names, and he would do this exact sort of thing with more enthusiasm than I managed. More power to him, sez I!

The pin-up of Power Ranger Kimberly (Amy Jo Johnson) as Santa's helper by Lewis was another thing he did because he thought it was hilarious. I did too, and I loved how it came out. I chose to run it as a result, and maybe to tweak the people who had questioned his cover for #1.

Finally, we reach the last page, which I dubbed "Closing Credits & Other Trivia". This is a potpourri of jokes, plugs, corrections, and a coming attractions blurb. The most monumental revelation is the debut of OWARI's erstwhile mascot and devil-may-care bon vivant EL BEARDO. Who is EL BEARDO? LEARN OF HIM! Possibly the biggest surprise of my decade of self-publishing is the way almost every single person who read OWARI #3 commented on EL BEARDO with delight.

Which wasn't many people, as it turned out. There were only 20 copies of this issue printed, and I somehow don't think this one got bootlegged like #1. I cannot name every single person who received a copy of OWARI #3 at this late date, but I bet I can come pretty close. When I wrote out the History of ROJ, I characterized the promotion and distribution of this issue as "a disaster."

What happened? Well, I just couldn't afford sinking a lot of money into OWARI at this point, so that was a roadblock. There was also the fact that I was unhappy with both my life and my fandom at the same time. This meant that OWARI #3, a bit of a landmark in introducing both Green Wyvern and EL BEARDO, sank even further into obscurity. I bet there are many folks who never even knew it was published.

As you can see, OWARI #3 had its share of problems, but I still think it accomplished most of what it set out to do. The biggest impediment was that I couldn't get it to people, but I felt this was something I could correct in time. I had every intention of soldiering on despite the setbacks.

However, this would ultimately prove to be the end of OWARI - at least, as it had been. That's a tale for the next time we pick up our review of my crazy fanzine years. We'll take a look back at 1997-1998, and the "lost" issue of OWARI.

Meanwhile, I'd like to conclude this piece by mentioning that it's going up on April 13th. This also happens to be my mother's birthday, so please, let's all wish a HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mother!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This Year's Model, Next Year's News

One of the big reasons to put together Captain Satellite: Number Zero was so I could have a series bible for the Owariverse for my own use. Trust me, it's hard to keep track of all of this stuff in your head, even when it's all your own invention. If you go back and review the entries on this very blog, I'm sure there are still a few inconsistencies here and there. The book contains my efforts to make everything fit together as best it can. You can mark its publication as the moment when it became the "official" resource for the Captain Satellite crew. It takes precedence over whatever has been written in the past, and is the most "correct" version as far as the body of text goes.

You've probably noticed there has been less Cap content here lately. Honestly, this would have happened without the book, and if anything, the book has upped the quotient somewhat. There's only so many profiles I can create before I have to get down to the business of playing with those characters and seeing the results. That said, there is new art coming. Shockingly, some of it will even be from me!

As for the stories, well, that's another matter. I've completed one side project, but it will be going into print in one or two formats eventually. I have another that is much more likely to get a test run here, assuming it ever gets written. And then, there's the novella.

I don't know if the story in the works fits the strict definition of "novella", but it sure isn't a full-length novel or a simple short story so I don't know what else to call it. I've been batting ideas around for it since last year (if not earlier!), and it's shaping up to be something interesting. Even if it turns out to be the final Owariverse project (I hope not), I think it will prove to be something of considerable interest. It has its own set of challenges, and marks a return to the format of the ROJ series. Sorta.

I don't expect anyone to file this away for future reference. However, be on the lookout during 2012 for Captain Satellite: Life & Times. Other than the title, I can't tell you anything else at the moment. And that's not me being coy; it's an acknowledgment that even I'm not sure exactly where this story is going.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

That Was Music Week

Even if you don't follow my Twitter account, you might have noticed that this has been an unofficial "music week". I just decided to spend a little more time dealing with music than I usually do, in lieu of a better idea. I love talking music, but sometimes it gets short shrift here. This week has been an effort to rectify that, and it allowed me to cross a couple of long-standing topics from my to-do list.

Before I let you go, here's a quote from "Express Yourself" by Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band:

"It's not what you look like when you're doin' what you're doin'; it's what you're doin' when you're doin' what you look like you're doin'."

Heavy, man.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Four-Color Love Story

I'm pretty sure I first came across the song "Four-Color Love Story" by the Metasciences shortly after it was released in 2005. I mean, that sounds right, and some of the more topical references would have definitely resonated more then. I sort of fell in love with the song on first listen, and that's a feeling that has not dissipated with the passage of time.

The premise of the song is achingly simple. It's about a comic book romance. Of course, it's not realistic. Who said superhero comics ever were? That last statement is meant to be sarcasm, by the way.

This is an almost stark, no frills piece of music. I think it works better that way, because it allows you to use your imagination to fill in the blanks. Just like a good comic book should.

I'm not sure the Metasciences are even still playing together. It doesn't appear there has been any activity on their official site for years. I do dearly love this song, and of all the songs I've been highlighting recently, it is both the most obscure and the one I recommend to you the most. Give it a listen, and see if you aren't swept away by both its scope of imagination and gentleness.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Super Robot Mach Baron Theme Song

SUPER ROBOT MACH BARON is not, as far as I know, a sequel to the show SUPER ROBOT RED BARON that we discussed in these parts about a year ago. It is VERY similar in some respects, but my understanding is that there is no direct link between the two narratives. I haven't seen much MACH BARON except in a roundabout fashion, but I can tell you this much - the theme song is awesome!

I love Japanese superhero music, as you might have gathered. The theme to MACH BARON manages to be great by embodying so much that is good about that musical sub-sub-genre, and then twisting it into a glam-rocking piece of music that requires no interest in superheroes and no comprehension of Japanese. It just plain rocks, simple as that. And when you delve into the longer single version, it STILL rocks!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dancy's Dream

Yesterday, we looked at a case where a music video enhanced a song and made it even more memorable. Today, we're going to deal with the flipside and examine a case where a music video actually detracts from a song. I have a particular interest here, since the song in question is one of my favorites. However, the video almost ruins it.

Restless Heart was a band that had a fair amount of success on the country charts, but they were pop-tinged country. While I'd be hard-pressed to pick my choice for their best song, one that always stood out to me was "Dancy's Dream". I'm grateful I never got to see the video until just a couple of years ago. It takes the tale spun by the lyrics and stands it on its head.

In the song itself, the story seems pretty clear to me. The titular Dancy is a good, church-going man with a secret. His secret is a woman from his past that he can't forget. With the references to both "sins" and his "pretty hometown bride", the implication is that he had a one-night stand with her. Apparently, it was just a single indiscretion, but it still haunts him.

Then we see the video, and, uh, it doesn't play out the way the song describes. The performance aspect is fine, but I knew we were in trouble when the song references a church and we find ourselves in a revival tent. Dancy is an old man, which wasn't quite what I gathered from the song but no big deal. However, those flashbacks. That's not really the story. It doesn't even make much sense!

My feeling is that this video was crafted in this way to placate a segment of the theoretical audience. The message it seems to communicate is that it's OK to show murder, but God forbid we depict adultery. Or even worse, two people have meaningless, passionate sex. Can't have that. Better to have a crazy guy with a knife get killed!

"Dancy's Dream" is a great song, and Restless Heart was/is a great band. But the video for "Dancy's Dream"? It's not one I especially like. Too bad.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


A lot has been written about Johnny Cash's cover of the song "Hurt", including the famous quote from songwriter Trent Reznor. That is how it should be, as it is truly an amazing performance no matter how you look at it. The changes in Cash's voice due to age and sickness may make it even MORE effective. But beyond the effectiveness of the song is the music video, which probably elevated "Hurt" to legendary status.

I have mixed feeling about the music video as a form. Some are good, while some are so off-base that they almost compromise the song. And then there are songs that are amplified by the video. "Hurt" was certainly one of those. Would Johnny Cash have gotten nearly as much attention if he hadn't had the guts to film this video?

Make no mistake about it - "Hurt" is one gutsy video. So much about entertainment is appearance and image-driven that it's downright shocking to see something that pretty much flies in the face of that. Boy, "Hurt" does so in spades. Not only does it portray Johnny Cash as old, but it drives the point home by juxtaposing the then-contemporary Cash with the familiar and practically iconic Cash of years past.

Watching the "Hurt" video is difficult on many levels. It's hard to see Cash in such an advanced state of decline, to the point where his trembling hands are pretty obviously no act. It's a heart-rending little film that definitely feels like a good-bye. While Johnny didn't immediately pass away after making this, it's clear he knew the writing was on the wall, and he wanted to make an artistic statement about it. It's such a brave and dramatic video that I have a hard time imagining the person who isn't affected by it. I'm sure they are out there, but I also don't want to be in their frame of mind.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Most Obscure Number One Song Of The 1980s?

Well, that's subjective, isn't it? If you've never heard a song, it's automatically obscure. Still, I'll bet there's a lot of people who have either never heard this song, or don't remember it. There's likely even more who don't realize it actually made it to the top of the pop charts.

What is it?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

K-tel presents Right On!

20 Original Hits! Original Stars!

Let's dip back into the K-tel waters with this vintage spot for Right On. You automatically know it's going to be awesome as soon as K.C. and the Sunshine Band kick things off. But then, it gets even better when it turns out that the hot blonde on the album cover is ALSO in the commercial. And she's dancing. Sorta. She even does the finger point that segues right into the cover art!

This spot demonstrates one of the beautiful, amazing things about K-tel compilations. Is there a theme in evidence anywhere? No? Exactly. Though K-tel certainly could put together themed albums, they usually elected instead to toss random songs into a pile and call it good. Thin Lizzy and the Commodores? Sure! Firefall and Lou Rawls? Absolutely! "Love Machine" and "Nadia's Theme"? Heck, why not? It is my profound hope that those last two were sequenced together, for maximum enjoyment.

As long as there are K-tel albums out there, I will keep writing about them.