Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Band Of The 1970s?

Due to circumstances beyond my control, it appears that scheduling conflicts will be ending my following of AMERICAN TOP 40: THE 70s in any kind of meaningful way. This is an admittedly minor concern in the larger scheme of things, but it still makes me a tiny bit sad. Casey Kasem and his collection of retro tunes have been brightening my weekends for over two years, and doing so in a way I never imagined. I've been introduced to plenty of music that was new to me, and for that alone, I am eternally grateful. It also exposed me to such weird flotsam as "Once You Understand" , and for that, I am also grateful...and confused.

However, I am not here to talk about Think's "Once You Understand" (but seriously, LISTEN TO IT), but rather to put forth a question that was raised in my mind over the last two years as I listened to vintage AT40. Namely, were the Bee Gees the "band of the decade" when it came to the charts? I'm not just talking about the soundtrack to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER - the brothers Gibb were a potent force both at the beginning and end of the 1970s. You can look it up! OK, I don't expect anyone will, but I did. Can you imagine if they hadn't broken up for a couple of years there?

However, even my crazed devotion to a task has its limits. There are 522 weeks during the span of 1970-1979. Your job, should you be insane enough to accept it, is to tell me how many of those weeks included a Bee Gees song in the Top 40. There is absolutely no prize being offered, except to have your name mentioned on a blog read by perhaps tens of people. And really, isn't that prize enough?

I eagerly await your research, dear readership.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pieces o' Pieces

How in the world did my pal Ronnie Burton and I get to discussing PIECES the other night? God knows. But we were, and this prompted me to look up a couple of clips on Youtube. Don't worry, they aren't gory. It's funny - for a movie I have never seen (and WILL never see), I have a strong memory of PIECES.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


We talk about her a lot in this space. I consider her one of my most trusted collaborators, and she's an absolutely amazing artist. She's talented, quick-witted, and, oh yes, sexy as all get out. I also consider her a true friend, even though I've only had the pleasure of meeting her once.

I'm speaking, as if you couldn't guess, of the young lady who calls herself "Kabuki Katze" - though we drop the pretense from time to time and refer to her by her given name of Kayleigh Lebak. And if you are eagle-eyed, you might guess where this is going. Kabuki has finally launched her own official website! It looks great too, and is filled with the artistic goodness you've come to expect from her!

Plus, if you are one of those types who can't get enough OWARI (and who can blame you?), among the pieces in her gallery are a number of recent commissions from yours truly. In fact, I have it on good authority that another one will be popping up any day now. It's as unlikely as it is awesome.

The link is here : www.kabukikatze.com. A trip to the shop will reveal to you numerous Kabuki goodies you can take home. One of those is a little thing called Captain Satellite: Number Zero. A word to the wise, and all that.

By pure coincidence, this weekend also sees the birthday of Kabuki Katze! What better way to help her celebrate than by checking out her wonderful new website?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Firegirl Sketch by Sara Duffield (2009)

It's not your imagination - we did skip over the year 2008 in this journey through the history of Captain Satellite. The situation was similar to that of 2006 - it's not as if I wasn't recruiting folks to draw pictures for me; it's that our energy was still going in the direction of Return of Jetman. For example, Sara (the biggest fan of the Captain Satellite crew at the time) created the "Wild" Bill Jackson and Dr. Diabolo commissions seen on the ROJ site for real cash money in 2008. That meant that Cap and friends were on the back burner for most of the year. But they were far from forgotten.

I think I've mentioned that Sara and I discussed launching some sort of project involving those characters. What I may not have mentioned is that she got as far as doing test sketches to get the feel for what she wanted to do with those ladies. To my knowledge, these were never inked or even scanned. What I have are webcam photos from January 26, 2009.

The above Firegirl sketch is the real prize of the batch. The rest of what I have from that day (and possibly all that existed) are head shot studies that sometimes varied a bit as Sara explored different possibilities. Ah, but Firegirl was classic Firegirl. It's probably the last time Sara drew one of my characters in her "old" style, and it's definitely a winner. It transcends being just a fuzzy webcam picture and possesses the charm that Sara's art always has.

I hope Sara will forgive me for posting a cropped cam photo to show off her art. But honestly, this Firegirl sketch is simply too wonderful to not share here. While the project that led to its creation ended up never coming to pass, the sketch itself is reason enough to be happy we talked about it.

Oh, but here's some big news about a project of Sara's that is happening! Sara and her friend Connie will be at Phoenix Comic Con May 26-29 to promote the webcomic Mirror World. Stop in and say hi if you're in the neighborhood!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Disco Ball and Mr. Metal (2011)

This picture of Disco Ball and Mr. Metal was inspired by the Personal Sketch Cards of that dastardly duo done for me by Sean Moore. I'd still like to play around here and there, but I am happy with the evolution of these two based on Sean's interpretations.

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Macho Man" Randy Savage Memories

Watch the video before you read any further (as long as it is still there).

I was at work on Friday when I got a text message from my sister. When I had the chance to check it, the news wasn't good. "Macho Man" Randy Savage had died.

I guess it wasn't a terrible shock. While he had seemingly left wrestling behind. Randy being tightly wound was not something that was a work by all accounts. I guessed it had been a heart attack that did him in, and it turns out I was apparently right. I'm just glad no one else was seriously injured in the wreck that resulted.

I never much liked WWF wrestling, but I always enjoyed Randy Savage's work. When I got to see his earlier stuff in places like Memphis and the old outlaw ICW group, I was even more amazed. I hope you were able to watch the video I've included. Did you see him practically launch himself at Ricky Morton? Or deliver the piledriver on a table when that wasn't commonplace and almost kill himself? Or how about him jumping off the top of a cage?

(As an aside, that video also credits the artist and song used - a real rarity for such a thing to have an on-screen credit. I'm not familiar with the Rods or "Rock Warriors", but they sound as if they are worth checking out.)

Randy Savage was a daredevil. He's also a guy about whom some less than flattering stories have circulated. Truth? I don't know or even care which (if any) are genuine. He put on a good show. He saved his money and didn't have to hang on well after his time for chump change. I think he was a winner. Sadly, he left us way too early at 58.

One story that has always stuck with me about Savage was his appearance on what was (I believe) still the Regis and Kathie Lee show. Regis Philbin asked Randy about Miss Elizabeth. After having been married in real life for a few years, they had a "wrestling wedding" with their characters. Randy had to rather awkwardly admit that they had split up, and it was almost touching in how diplomatic and human he was in that moment. For an instant, he wasn't the "Macho Man", but Randy Poffo.

Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth are both gone now, and it's hard to imagine for me. I don't have any quaint romantic notions about them in the afterlife, in case you were wondering. I just hope both of them have found some peace.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pictures of Naomi Morinaga

Let me level with you guys. As you may have guessed, I haven't exactly been feeling it lately. Lots of reasons for that, and I'm working my way through them bit by bit. But a consequence has been that posting has been pretty light here. How long will it remain so? I don't have any idea.

There is one thing that consistently brings people here, regardless of whether I post anything or not. That is Naomi Morinaga, and at last check, my blog entry from October had surpassed her Wikipedia entry (!) in terms of popularity. I can't imagine that's going to last, but it's still rather surreal for me. It's also probably a bit surreal to my numerous visitors, since they usually are looking for something I don't supply.

Well, now we're going to blow the lid right off the search engines. Why? Because just a few hours ago, I launched Pictures of Naomi Morinaga. Yes, I have finally surrendered to the terrible social disease that is Tumblr with yet another achingly-specific image blog. At least now all those poor souls who arrive here looking for "pictures of Naomi Morinaga" have a safe and clear destination.

As of right now, "Pictures of Naomi Morinaga" will be occasionally posting photos of the actress from one of her tamer photo books. If the project continues, it will likely get to pictures that, while tasteful, are also definitely NSFW. Keep this in mind if you choose to add the site to your blogroll.

Pictures of Naomi Morinaga - Because that's what you want. And you know exactly who you are. Here's our first installment.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Less Than Thrilling 1979

This past weekend, the installment of AMERICAN TOP 40 - THE 70s that was beamed across the country was this episode from May 19, 1979. As I believe I have mentioned, the show runs three hours, so this four hour episode was necessarily truncated. The "Top 40" began at #32, although some material from the first hour found its way into the "extras".

The thing that struck me the most about this show was how...uninspiring most of the music was. Take a look at that list from #32 onward. Does it scream "must listen" to you? There are a few classic rock standards, including the then-minor hit, now heavily overplayed "Old Time Rock and Roll". There are a few disco classics, like "Knock on Wood" and "Hot Stuff". And then there's "Chuck E.'s in Love" and "Heart of Glass", two songs that have nothing in common except that they are sung by women.

But mostly, the countdown is a collection of more obscure songs from some acts, and tunes from largely forgotten artists. I mean, I had to look up who Roger Voudouris even was, which makes the anecdote Casey related about him intending to be around for a long time even more poignant. I'm not poking fun at the guy, since he has since passed away, but that story screamed ego and it was highly misplaced in retrospect.

To me, the most amazing revelation of this show was that there was a period in time when Sister Sledge had two songs in the Top 40 simultaneously. Don't get me wrong - I like 'em! But, when I think of bands that are popular enough to place two highly-ranked songs (#9 & #13) on the chart at the same time, they would not even have been my fifth choice. I mean, Sister Sledge?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Escape (The Rupert Holmes Entry)

1) Do you like pina coladas?

a. Yes
b. No

2) And getting caught in the rain?

a. Yes
b. No

3) Are you not into yoga?

a. Yes
b. No
c. ...Wait, what was the question?
d. I'm not much into health food

4) Do you have half a brain?

a. Yes
b. No
c. I am into champagne
d. I confused yoga and yogurt in Question 3

5) Do you like making love at midnight in the dunes of the cape?

a. Yes (oh hell yes...)
b. No


If you answered "a" to at least 3 questions, congratulations! You're the lady that I've looked for! Write to me and escape.

Alternately, you can meet me at a bar called O'Malley's. Noon is preferable.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dinner With Drac

While I love "Monster Mash", when it comes to cool monster songs, my heart has always belonged to Zacherley's "Dinner With Drac". Maybe I heard it first? I'm not sure - I do have a memory of listening to it on record at school once. And I did own it on (yikes!) 8-track tape, though I am pretty sure "Monster Mash" shares that distinction.

I guess it's just Zacherley's delivery, which is just so perfect without having to resort to the affected accent of "Monster Mash", that makes "Dinner With Drac" so wonderful. There's also the marvelously disconnected vignettes, which manage to be HORROR (and even a little gross) but are still tongue-in-cheek. It's not every day that eating someone's veins is the occasion for a laugh riot!

I recently learned that Zacherley's albums from Cameo-Parkway have finally been released on CD (including Zach's cover of "Monster Mash"!). I elected to buy the mp3 of "Dinner With Drac", but I did go for its B-side, too. That would be "Dinner With Drac - Part 2"! Turns out, it's not an actual continuation, but sounds more like an earlier attempt at the "Part 1" version. The delivery is different, and there are a number of lines that were rewritten to be punchier.

Wanna know more about Zacherley?

Wanna hear "Dinner With Drac"?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Change! Switch On! One! Two! Three!

I don't know if I will remember this every year (as I should), but May 5th is the birthday of Daisuke Ban. Ban is the actor who played Jiro in the legendary Japanese superhero series JINZO NINGEN KIKAIDA, and brought an unmistakable humanity to an android. He appeared in numerous other hero shows, thereby cementing his reputation as one of the greats of the genre. But that's far from the the only thing he did. There are probably a number of folks who would only recognize him from his roles in the original Japanese "Ring" movies.

Daisuke Ban is a guy who probably doesn't get as many accolades as he deserves, so let's give him a shout out today. You can check out his official website, which has sections in both Japanese and English to learn more.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mike Friedrich's Justice League

It seems like a lifetime ago that I mentioned this, but I did indeed interrupt my reading of Essential Avengers (currently up to Vol. 6 and #120!) to dive into Showcase Presents Justice League of America Volume 5. I was shocked by how fast I breezed through the book! The years may pass, but I still love the classic JLA something fierce.

This book gave me the opportunity to finally check out what is possibly the most-maligned significant run of the title - namely, Mike Friedrich's tenure as writer. I own a couple of Friedrich's issues, and I liked them alright. However, the stretch from #86-#99 that Friedrich penned are considered by some folks to be a lesser period for the League. But is it really that bad?

Actually, I'm going to say no. I think Friedrich just had the misfortune to follow a run by Denny O'Neil (with a fill-in by Robert Kanigher as a stop-gap) that was marked by numerous long-lasting changes to the JLA, and then he was succeeded by Len Wein's extremely fan-friendly and colorful series of tales. But taken as a whole, Friedrich's run is solid and (dare I say it?) maybe a little innovative.

It doesn't start that way. #86-#90 are wildly uneven, with #90's introduction of "Harlequin Ellis" being one of the most infamous JLA stories among those who have read it. Both #86 and #87 lead off with virtually identical opening sequences. And then there is the jackhammer-like subtlety of planet "Cam-Nam-Lao" and other attempts at the relevance so deeply craved in those days. So it's fair to say that Mike Friedrich got off to an awkward start on the book. However, he is far from alone, as such O'Neil creations as Generalissimo Demmy Gog and Mind-Grabber Kid will attest.

It is in #91 that things start to get interesting. The main story is similar to what has gone before during Friedrich's stint, but then there's that epilogue. Batman shows up with the Flash's seemingly lifeless body! It's a cliffhanger! Out of nowhere!

This is the beginning of eight consecutive issues (#90-#92, #94-#98) that are directly interconnected. What I mean is, there is at least one cliffhanger of some sort in every issue until we reach the conclusion of #98. I do believe this sort of continuity was unprecedented at DC Comics at the time, as even their more ambitious stories like the Green Lantern/Green Arrow thing usually were self-contained components of a larger whole. Friedrich's JLA virtually DEMANDED you pick up the next issue to find out what happened next, and he did this for almost a YEAR.

(Why skip #93? It's the all-reprint "Giant" issue, aka the Annual. They were included in the numbering of the regular series back in those days.)

Friedrich delivers a JLA/JSA story that manages to build on an obvious but seldom-used premise. He ties together the twin threads of Deadman and Ra's Al Ghul in an issue with guest art by Neal Adams (after already wrapping up in #88 a strange Batman/Black Canary subplot hatched by Kanigher). He even introduces a brand-new villain in the cosmic vampire Starbreaker AND retells the League's origins. It is a run so deft and confident that you can scarcely believe it's the same guy who brought you characters like Theo "The Zapper" Zappa. Even Friedrich's forays into relevance became somewhat less heavy-handed (though maybe that's just me), and while I knew the awesomeness that awaited me in JLA #100-#102, I was sort of sad that his run had to end.

Lest you think I have forgotten my favorite artist, let me reiterate that Dick Dillin brings great skill to each of the stories. He makes even the weakest story more palatable to me, and it's interesting to compare the differences in inking on him between Joe Giella and Dick Giordano. Dillin gives the book the artistic continuity it needed as the author's voice changed - even when it was the same guy who was just evolving!

I have a newfound respect for Mike Friedrich's run on Justice League of America. If I've piqued your curiosity, the Showcase just came out a few weeks ago. I am sure it can be found at finer comics shops and online vendors.