Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Tale of Two Mags

My blogging mind has been a bit exhausted since that entry on "Japanese Sci-Fi A to Z". I have something potentially exciting in mind for it, but just haven't gotten to it yet. That's why the last week or so worth of posts have been pretty brief.

I also have a possible long-term project ahead and have been happily putting effort into that. If you pay attention to the entry tags, you may have a hint as far as where this is going. However, I don't want to talk about it just yet.

Meanwhile, I want to call your attention to something hilarious. During the course of researching both that Japanese Sci-Fi entry and another thing we'll get around to discussing when the time is right, I read about many Myron Fass publications. This included Eerie Publications, the imprint responsible for any number of gross-out B&W horror mags. I noticed the trend of recycling cover art in those magazines, which sometimes extended to three separate versions. As I observed to a friend, Fass' company was known for being thrifty.

Just how thrifty, I didn't realize. Later, I spotted something on the Bad Mags Myron Fass page (a source I somehow failed to link already) and couldn't contain my laughter.

That's the cover to Official UFO Vol. 3, No. 5 (June 1978). Why am I posting this? Let me refresh your memory. Here's the cover to Star Warp Vol. 1, No. 2 (June 1978)

Your eyes are not deceiving you. THEY HAVE THE EXACT SAME COVER. Well, the blurbs are different, but the artwork is exactly the same. And yes, that's right, they both are dated June 1978. So theoretically, they were on the stands simultaneously. With the same cover.

Boys and girls, this is one of the many reasons I love Myron Fass' publications.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dancin' Man by Q

I caught this song on one of those AT40 rebroadcasts and thought it was a decent little tune. Not outstanding, but fun. Plus, it's not nearly as annoying as some 1970s hits that are better known. Not naming any names, mind you.

Unlike some latter-day chart obscurities, "Dancin' Man" really does qualify as a modest hit. It spent 7 weeks in the Top 40 and made it as high as #23. But naturally, it's largely forgotten today. You can learn more about this particular band "Q" (there are others) on Wikipedia and Allmusic. Sadly, there's not much to learn.

Interestingly, "Dancin' Man" not only appears to be unavailable via mp3, but the album has never been issued on compact disc. In fact, the single only seems to turn up on a couple of obscure collections. Might need to investigate that further.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Gratuitous ROJ Update

I got so busy with other things that I failed to note that New Return of Jetman Episode 3 Notes went up on May 14. Slowly, I am getting these back on the site. I sort of dread the final episode, since it's humongous and I haven't even started on those yet.

Anyway, if you like ROJ, be sure to check that new page out. And if you haven't tried ROJ yet, there's no time like the present!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Closed Captioning Is An Inexact Science

First try: "bar backer"

Second try: "barbershop baker"

Third try (correct): "barbaric"

...Actually witnessed during sports programming a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Japanese Sci-Fi A to Z

Basically, this whole entry is Corey Bond's fault. I've known Corey for more years than I can actually remember, but never knew how hardcore into Godzilla he was. That changed with the launch of his new blog Mechagodzilla Jr. in April. He really got my attention with the entry Giant Monsters vs. Alien Invaders. Why's that? Because it is surprisingly similar to one of my own experiences.

My Fass magazine that changed my life was Star Force Vol. 2, No. 5 (October 1981). I was 9 years old, the same age Corey was when he got that copy of Space Wars. I still have the remnants of my magazine, but it's in no condition to scan. It doesn't even have a cover, and there doesn't seem to be a scan of this cover online. Heck, I can't even find a record of the magazine's existence online. It's only through the generosity of a friendly eBay seller that I got a scan from a price guide that depicts the cover and confirms not only that it exists, but that it looks exactly the way I remember.

Courtesy of Steve Dolnick, here is a small B&W photo of that cover:

This magazine had a huge impact on me. It was my introduction to the Fleischer Brothers Superman cartoons, the Superman movie serials, and Roger Corman. But it's that "Complete Guide to Japanese Sci-Fi" listed on the cover that helped make me who I am today. It is not REALLY a "complete guide," but it WAS one of my primary gateways into Japanese Sci-Fi.

I'd been fascinated by Japanese sci-fi since I first learned it existed, but it had mostly eluded me. While this particular overview stated up front that the Godzilla and Gamera movies were omitted (rats!), it did cover a plethora of movies that fired my imagination. I can't tell you how often I daydreamed about the potential wonders of the Starman movies or the obvious crazy awesomeness of VOYAGE INTO SPACE. The most enticing were the ones (always the most outlandish) that were omitted entirely from your standard film reference books that would later fall into my youthful hands. "Japanese Sci-Fi A to Z" might have been snarky and dismissive of most of the films it covered, but it was my first real ticket into a dreamland that would end up shaping my own creativity as I grew to adulthood.

It was also uncredited. I think all the articles in that magazine were. Flash forward to July 1992. I'm on the verge of turning 20 and have no idea that in just a few short years I will be knee-deep in a Japanese sci-fi fandom I don't even realize exists at that moment. I made my one and so far only stop at Dark Star Books on the trip home from visiting my relatives in Ohio. Frankly, the store experience itself (including SPACE 1999 trading cards in their original box and the store cat on the prowl) was far more memorable than most of what I bought that day. The exceptions were the first issue of the sadly short-lived Justice Society of America series that launched in 1992 and a copy of Star Warp Vol. 1, No. 2 (June 1978).

It was likely the "Japanese Sci-Fi Monsters" blurb that compelled me to page through this old mag. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be the influential "Japanese Sci-Fi A to Z" article almost exactly the way I remembered it! The main difference was that this version of it carried a byline: Tom Rogers.

I would learn in later years that Fass' various and sundry publishing imprints were very good at recycling material. So it was partially a whimsical twist of fate that placed that article in front of me at a time when I was very impressionable. That 1978 article was repurposed in 1981 (right down to the original layout) for likely no other reason than to fill up space in the back of the magazine. It was colorful even in black and white and gave the impression that there was more to the publication than simply a cheap cash-in on the STAR WARS and SUPERMAN franchises. Not really true, but maybe good enough for the lawyers.

I don't know much about Tom Rogers. His name appears in so many of the Fass mags that Corey has given the guy his own tag. My research indicates he turns up in early issues of Starlog, including Starlog Photo Guidebook: Spaceships from 1977. He also did some writing for Marvel in the late 70s/early 80s that I believe are articles rather than stories. There's also the tantalizing tidbit that he worked for The Monster Times until that fabled tabloid closed up shop. Point of fact, I think there's a link here that no one has adequately explored. I believe at least a portion of the crew from The Monster Times found their way to Fass' "Stories, Layouts & Press, Inc." division to create its numerous sci-fi magazines. There was such a proliferation that I'm pretty sure that the Moviemags site hasn't even cataloged them all.

I was discussing this entry with my compadre David McRobie a couple of days ago and mentioned how much I owed Tom Rogers, even though he came across as if the films were largely beneath him. David mentioned to me that he recalled Rogers writing a very complimentary piece on Ghidrah in The Japanese Fantasy Film Journal. Wait, what? Tom Rogers writing for the JFFJ? If you're not familiar with that fanzine, it was THE most important fanzine in the then-miniscule Japanese sci-fi fan community in the 1970s and early 1980s. Why would Tom Rogers, the man who dismissed the vast majority of the genre as "ridiculous and incredibly juvenile," be writing for that publication?

It just so happens that someone has uploaded that particular issue of JFFJ (#12) to Scribd, so everyone can read it. And there it is, just the way David described it. No snark. Just enthusiasm. As I put it to David, he was kayfabing us in that Japanese Sci-Fi A to Z article, wasn't he? Yep, sure seems that way.

It makes sense. For someone who was knocking Japanese sci-fi, Rogers seemed to both know an awful lot about it and write about it a lot. Plus, he worked for The Monster Times, which had pushed Godzilla harder than any other American monster mag. While it's certainly possible Tom Rogers was completely sincere in every article, I suspect he had an affection for the genre that he was subtly trying to get across. I know his descriptions fired my kiddie imagination and made me desperately want to see those movies, no matter how bad the writer said they were. Plus, as David said (to extend the pro wrestling analogy), he was playing a heel in one territory (the Fass magazines) and a face in another (JFFJ). He was writing to his audience and giving them what they expected.

Y'know, I can respect that. Freelance writing is no easy job. If writing about something I loved meant that I had to trash it to earn my check, I'd do it. But I would do it in the way Tom Rogers did, lavishly illustrated and colorfully spelled out in enough detail to let people decide for themselves.

As for the article itself, it's a decent overview of the genre as it stood in mid-1978. There are 27 films discussed in all, and while in no way exhaustive, it's not a bad record of what had been released. The Godzilla and Gamera films up to that point (15 and 7, respectively) are left out just as promised. RODAN and MOTHRA presumably are missing for the same reason. Those kaiju films that fall more properly under fantasy (the Majin movies and THE MAGIC SERPENT) are omitted. There's also the apparently conscious decision to leave out TIDAL WAVE, since that was considered more "disaster movie" than sci-fi. And there's nothing for films that hadn't gotten widespread American release yet (THE WAR IN SPACE, THE LEGEND OF DINOSAURS) or ones that didn't get released in this country at all. Well, that last is debatable, but we'll get to that shortly.

As near as I can tell, the major omissions from this article (from a 1978 perspective) are HALF HUMAN, VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE, and TERROR BENEATH THE SEA. I dunno, maybe they were in the manuscript and got edited for space. Still, it was a lot harder to keep tabs on all these things in the mid-70s than it is today, so Rogers might have missed them. Or hey, maybe like people on the Internet are always saying, he "forgot" them. In any event, I think only missing those three and maybe an obscurity like VENUS FLYTRAP is pretty good for 1978.

There's also an anomaly in this article, and it is perhaps the biggest "clue" that Tom Rogers was more knowledgeable than he was letting on to his readership. One of the films listed is called THE FINAL WAR. This is almost certainly THE LAST WAR, a Toho-produced WWIII drama that was part of the same distribution deal as GORATH and THE HUMAN VAPOR. The review isn't very specific, so it's hard to say for sure.

The trouble is, there WAS a Japanese science-fiction movie called THE FINAL WAR! While it apparently did play in the U.S., it's an open question as to how much distribution it got. IMDB lists Medallion as its TV distributor, but that sounds like someone might be confusing it with THE LAST WAR. The theatrical distributor was supposedly Sam Lake Enterprises, which dealt primarily in sexploitation films. I have no idea why they would have picked up THE FINAL WAR, if in fact they did.

So did Tom Rogers mean THE FINAL WAR or THE LAST WAR? Until we find him to ask him, I don't know. Certainly, it seems like THE LAST WAR is more likely, but it's not out of the question he might have seen THE FINAL WAR. But even if he didn't, how could he make this kind of mistake? Remember JFFJ? If Tom Rogers was familiar enough with Japanese sci-fi to write for (and presumably, subscribe to) that fanzine, he probably would have been aware of the two movies even if the general (fan) public wasn't. Ironically, it's the kind of confusion that crops up when you have too much knowledge.

Tom Rogers was blessed with such a common name that I can't be sure if this Tom Rogers is him or not. He seems like the most likely candidate, but who knows? What I do know is that, wherever he is, I want to thank Tom Rogers for introducing me to the world of Japanese sci-fi. Whether he hated those movies or secretly loved them, he kindled within me the desire to discover them and experience their wonders for myself. Considering all that has come since then, I don't think that's a debt I can ever fully repay.

For your edification and amusement, here are scans of the article from the original(?) Star Warp printing:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nickyflamingo's Doppelgirl

(Yes, I deliberately formatted this entry differently to better show off the artwork. The original image was narrow enough to make this possible.)

Nickyflamingo is the lady who did that Shelly/Firegirl that is so awesome. Remember? Well, I recently commissioned her again, and the subject this time was the one and only Doppelgirl!

Those of you who remember the genesis of Doppelgirl may know what kind of references I sent Nicky for this piece. She encountered a bit of an art block, but successfully smashed her way through and turned out a picture that is absolutely gorgeous. I mean, just LOOK at it!

You should go flatter Nicky shamelessly on her page for this pic! And hey, why not think about commissioning her yourself?

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Green Slime" by Richard Delvy

I'm admittedly a huge fan of the movie THE GREEN SLIME, but I clearly missed the Internet meeting about the famous theme song. I didn't know who sang it. I didn't know who wrote it. Charles Fox was bandied about for the latter, but surely he wasn't the singer who belted out "Greeeeeeen Sliiiiiiime!", right?

Right. Charles Fox didn't sing the theme song. But he also didn't write it. The song was written by Sherry Gaden and produced, arranged and sung by Richard Delvy (Richard Delvecchio). There was even a 7" single on MGM Records in 1969!

Sadly, Richard Delvy passed away in 2010. You can find out more about his extensive career, including stints in the bands the Bel-Airs and the Challengers, by clicking here. There's way more than just being the most identifiable aspect of a B-movie classic.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mirror World #1

I've known Sara Duffield for a few years, and have always been a big fan of her work. Therefore, I come to this entry with more than a little excitement. You see, the cover above is by Sara, and she drew all the interior artwork too!

Mirror World is (and ladies, correct me if I'm wrong here) a story originally conceived by Connie Schultz. Sara came aboard later, and their collaboration picks up the story a bit "in progress." I kind of like this approach, as it hints at a backstory that I don't know at all but which tantalizes me with a few clues. I'll confess that I don't have any idea where the story is heading, but am intrigued enough that I'd like to know more.

As mentioned earlier, I've been a vocal supporter of Sara in her artistic endeavors. I find it very gratifying to see how far she's come since I got to know her. Heck, you can see an evolution in the book itself! The character work is consistent, but you can see her becoming more adept at laying out a page and storytelling as the story progresses. I'm looking forward to her further developing her mastery of the page.

Guess what? Want to check out this book? You can do so right now! Amble on over to the Mirror World Saga site for instructions on how to get a copy! It's a worthwhile investment of your comic book dollar!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

National Guardians #1

I now have in my eager little hands a copy of National Guardians #1, the latest comic book from Big Bang Comics. This one is more in the style of your 1970s "Marvelous" team book. It features a few Big Bang stalwarts mixed together with some new characters. There's even a brand-new (and red!) version of the venerable Megaton-era character Ramm! Plus, we finally get the in-story debut of the fabled Golden Idol!

I don't know how this ties into the National Guardians concept as first introduced in the regular BB title several years ago, if it even does at all. I find myself less concerned about this sort of thing these days, and more concerned by whether the book delivers the goods. It does. Gary Carlson's story is fast and funny and colorful, with an appropriately absurd yet wonderful plot involving an intelligent alien ape! If you miss comics from "the good old days," National Guardians #1 might be just the tonic for you!

On the art side, Sterling Clark delivers the goods in epic fashion. I've been familiar with Clark's work on his character the Renegade since circa 1993, and if anything, he's definitely been improving over the years. Terry Huddleston and Tim Stile complement the pencils beautifully with their inks and the whole package has amazing coloring and lettering. A thoroughly professional job!

Speaking as I was of the Renegade above, that hero also returns in National Guardians in a pair of stories in the back. Clark writes both of these tales, and supplies art (with Huddleston on inks) for one of them. The other is done by Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema! Yes, those two stalwarts who supplied the cavortin' cover seen above also do interior artwork! There's even a pin-up by the legendary Joe Sinnott!

I don't think National Guardians is widely available just yet. Gary Carlson and Chris Ecker will have copies at the Comic Book Mania! Convention 2012 in Elgin, IL on July 7. If you can't make it there, keep your eye on the official Big Bang Comics site and this very blog for info on how you can experience National Guardians #1 for yourself!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Missed Opportunity, Hong Kong

It is one of my most profound regrets that Dickson Poon and Tomas Tang never co-produced a movie. That would have been one of the greatest film credits in cinema history.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TV Sherpa: Mickey Matthews

Here's our last foray into the fantastic world of "TV Sherpa" with the always amazing Kabuki Katze. Our last subject was to be the Deacon's sidekick, Mickey Matthews. If you bothered to click the link, you can see we elected to take a few liberties with Mickey's concept, too.

Yep, Mickey Matthews got gender-swapped in the transition from original to our interpretation and went from being a boy to a girl. Actually, I tend to think of this Mickey as a young woman in her late teens. She's a tomboy and a scrapper and more than willing to getting her hands dirty fighting the bad guys. I'd imagine the backstory of how she met the Deacon is similar to the Golden Age tale. I'm sure she also struck up a friendship with Kitten during the inter-show crossover.

Actress Leigh Adams got her name through a tortured methodology that I'm not sure I can properly reconstruct anymore. I seem to recall it involved Bruce Lee and Neal Adams. Given the Green Hornet origins of this fictional show, the former is understandable, but I am no longer sure why the latter got thrown into the mix.

I hope all of you have enjoyed this journey into the TV shows of Captain Satellite's world and re-imagining of 1940s superhero characters. There may be one other peek into this world, but it won't be soon and it won't involve TV Sherpa. Ooooh, a tease! Meanwhile, check out Kabuki's page for this piece!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Make Way For The Macro Warriors!

This was a piece done for me by Sean Moore as a thank you for a gift I sent him. I love how he was able to make this design work so well, and convey the size and power I'd like to imagine the Macro Warriors having.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Major City After Dark - Afterword

"Major City After Dark" began its life as a distraction from what I was trying to accomplish. I had every intention of putting together a longer, more detailed Captain Satellite story to be published as a standalone book. However, one day I had an idea and it refused to go away until I wrote the story. Though this delayed the "real" project, I found ways to tie into it and make this short story very much a part of what I was doing.

Trouble was, "Major City After Dark" was an unabashed adult story. It went through a couple of revisions (and gained a title courtesy of Kabuki Katze), but nothing changed the fact that was pretty damn randy. I struggled with what to do with it, since it obviously couldn't be published here in that form. I ultimately decided not to make a decision at all and went back to work on this novella that had been my original goal.

Well, the novella ran into its share of technical difficulties and is currently on the shelf until further notice. However, I did have a complete short story; I just couldn't really do anything with it. I finally solved my problem by devising a few alterations and making a significant rewrite in the middle section that would make the story more acceptable to a general audience. To be honest, I think this version turned out way sexier than the original! Credit for that can partially go to Kabuki herself, who was essentially my beta reader and suggested things big and small.

It was very important to me to find a way to make this story available. There are a few aspects of it that were originally created for the novella and then incorporated into this story. Since this story is set chronologically prior to the proposed novella, and that project is on hiatus anyway, this is the place to learn about things like March Mansion and the computer system dubbed "Sparky." There are also allusions to some future plans, so hopefully they will get to be realized someday.

I hadn't really intended on this story becoming such a pivotal one in my continuity. I mean, that made it a lot more difficult on me, didn't it? It just goes to show how these things can sneak up on you. In the end, I think it works as both a long creative exercise and a fun story. I hope you agree.

For the record, I had been intending on including this as part of a book project that would have included my older Owariverse stories. That still might happen, but it is on the backburner at present. Since I don't think what I do here affects my limited book sales, I figured I should just bite the bullet and post it.

Oddly enough, my recollection is that I kept the in-jokes to a minimum for this story. There are plenty of very specific Owariverse references sprinkled throughout, and "March Mansion" is something that I will need to explain in more detail someday. However, I would like to point out the appearance of Kooba Cola. I have been utilizing assorted public domain heroes to fill out the fictional pop culture scene of Cap's world. Since I've used Fox Features stuff for this purpose (and even have a character based on the original Blue Beetle named the Azure Ant), I thought it would be entertaining to incorporate Kooba Cola into that setting, too.

Kooba Cola was a soft drink masterminded by Victor Fox. While there is a lot of advertising for it, the consensus seems to be that it was never produced. Even the commercials for it on the short-lived Blue Beetle radio show were part of the scheme, and not paid advertising. You can see more vintage ads here!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Major City After Dark - Part 3

(Author’s Note: Please be aware that this story deals with adult themes and situations. Reader discretion is advised.)

“Wake up, sleepyhead,” a voice said as Roxanne opened her eyes. Whoa. Had it all been a dream? One glance at Shelly standing in front of her convinced her that it had been quite real.

“What time is it?” Roxanne groggily inquired.

“About ten,” Shelly answered. “Look, I’ve got breakfast down here if you want some after you get showered and dressed.”

“I…Yeah, that’d be great, thanks,” Roxanne said as she wrapped herself in a bedsheet. As Shelly departed, Roxanne rubbed the sleep from her eyes. She wasn’t sure how much sleep she had actually gotten, but it clearly wasn’t enough. How was Shelly so damn awake?

A short time later, Roxanne stumbled down the stairs after washing up and putting herself back together. She soon realized Shelly hadn’t just been kidding around. French toast, bacon, and eggs? A freshly-brewed pot of coffee? Roxanne was forced to conclude that the notorious ass-kicker Shelly Ericson was also a terrific little cook. Who knew?

“I talked to Paul already,” Shelly said as Roxanne chowed down on a breakfast she hadn’t expected. “He wanted to see you off, but he had a 9 AM meeting at the DeKalb Television Network and it couldn’t wait.”

“What did you tell him happened?” Roxanne questioned.

“I didn’t tell him anything,” Shelly coolly replied. “I left it to his imagination. He has a fairly vivid one.”

“Heh!” was Roxanne’s response.

“How are you feeling this morning?” Shelly asked. “I know we were up really late.”

“I’m fine; just tired,” Roxanne said. “You are one helluva chatterbox when you get talking!”

“Hey now, I seem to recall your mouth being involved, too!” Shelly shot back.

“Ahem!” Roxanne chuckled as she took another sip of coffee. “But seriously, how are you? That was some heavy stuff.”

“I’m good,” Shelly said. “Really, it was time to get those things off my chest. I just needed a friend to listen.”

“Friend?” Roxanne wondered. “Are we really friends? I always thought you didn’t like me very much.”

“And you were right,” Shelly replied sheepishly. “It’s been hard for me to get past what you did to Paul. Maybe it was easier for him to forgive you, because that’s just how he is. It’s sort of been my job to protect him. I might be a little too protective sometimes.”

“I can’t say I blame you,” Roxanne admitted. “I betrayed him in a very public way. But…I see how wrong that is now. Hell, I saw how wrong it was then, even if I did it.”

“I guess…I guess I can believe you,” Shelly said as she stared into her cup of coffee. “You could have made this way worse for me if that’s what you wanted.”

“I don’t,” Roxanne replied. “All I want is for us to be friends. Not necessarily close friends, or best friends. Just friends.”

Shelly looked around the empty mansion. “I think we are. At least, we’re starting to be.”

Roxanne took another bite of French toast. “For the record, it is incredibly obvious that you are all the woman Paul wants in his life. He is totally into you.”

Shelly sat back and propped her boot-covered feet on the table. “I know. But still, it’s hard not to be self-conscious sometimes.”

“You want to talk insecure, maybe that was one of my problems back in the day,” Roxanne confided. “Paul might be a flake, but he’s loyal to a fault. I abused that more than once.”

“You were young,” Shelly rationalized, scarcely believing herself how her opinion of Roxanne had already been altered. “You both came out better in the end. Leave it in the past.”

A melancholy expression washed across Roxanne’s features. “I probably should. It’s just…Paul found you, and the two of you are meant to be together. I wonder if I’ll ever find someone that special in my life.”

Shelly shook her head and sort of fake-coughed. “Roxanne, for someone so smart, you can sure be dumb sometimes.”

“Wait, what?” Roxanne queried in befuddlement.

Shelly dropped her feet to the floor and started to open her mouth. Before she said a word, she peered at the ceiling and realized some secrets needed to be kept secret. She leaned over the table and whispered into Roxanne’s ear.

“Really? You think so?” Roxanne reacted in astonishment.

Shelly nodded.

“But I thought he was just flirting and being funny!” Roxanne exclaimed as she stood up and waved her hands in the air.

“And why would he keep doing it otherwise?” Shelly asked pointedly. “Why else would he be so persistent in his interest in you?”

That…was a good question, actually. Roxanne sat down and finished her coffee.

Eventually, Roxanne had to go. Shelly escorted her to the door and gave her a hug as they kissed each other on the cheek. The previous night might have started out uncomfortable, but it had changed them for the better. Roxanne felt confident of that as Shelly told her good-bye with a genuine smile, rather than a forced one.

“Oh, and Roxanne? You are buying lunch next time,” Shelly smirked slyly.

As Roxanne drove up to the gate, there was one more farewell to make. It was sort of necessary, since she wasn’t leaving without it.

“So long, Sparky,” she said as she leaned out the window of her Beetle. “It’s been real.”

“It was wonderful to see you again, Miss Prize,” Sparky answered as it opened the gate. “Do not wait so long between visits next time.”

As Roxanne headed back into Major City, she thought about Sparky’s words. Y’know, she had a feeing that it wouldn’t be quite so long before she appeared at March Mansion again. In fact, she would bet on it.

Roxanne looked over at the cellphone sitting in her passenger’s seat. Her eyes returned to the road, but then were drawn back to the phone. Dammit, she couldn’t wait. She pulled off into the parking lot of the nearest gas station and flipped the phone open.

Scrolling through her contacts, it occurred to her that “Blue Behemoth” was the first name on the list. It had been the first name on the list for years. Was that just an accident? Or had her life been trying to give her a hint that she was too preoccupied to notice?

Roxanne plugged in the hands-free set she kept in the glove box and dialed the number. She cranked the car’s engine as it rang, and just as she entered traffic, a gruff yet lovable voice picked up.

“Yo Roxy, what’s shakin’?” Blue Behemoth bellowed in his own unique way.

“Hey BB,” Roxanne said as she could feel her hands trembling on the steering wheel. “Just out for a drive and wanted to talk to you before I got back to HQ.”

“Anything wrong, babe? Your voice sounds a little funny,” the Behemoth noticed.

“No, nothing’s wrong,” Roxanne replied. “I’m a little tired still and I wanted to hear your voice. That’s all.”

“Well doll, ya got me!” Blue Behemoth retorted. “I’m all yours!”

(With thanks to Kayleigh Lebak, for championing this story and offering her invaluable input!)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Major City After Dark - Part 2

(Author’s Note: Please be aware that this story deals with adult themes and situations. Reader discretion is advised.)

Roxanne Prize headed down the streets of Major City in her Volkswagen Beetle on her way to the Mann Estate outside the city limits. She normally got around via one of the Invincible Alliance’s Air Cars, but this particular…situation…seemed to call for a little more discretion than flying. So she broke out her old warhorse of a vehicle and set out to keep her appointment. At least, to a degree.

Shelly was yanking her chain, right? Had to be. She expected Roxanne to either chicken out or show up all raring to go, and then she’d play the “Psyche!” card. That was why she was letting this go as far as it had.

Well, Roxanne had started this foolishness, and she’d see it through to the end. She might end up looking bad, but she didn’t care. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time, would it?

The drive didn’t take as long as she’d anticipated (or hoped), but Roxanne soon found herself at 114 Alan Parrish Road – address of the Mann Estate. Paul had been in the process of setting up shop there during the last few months they had been together, but it had been years since she’d darkened its doors.

Her presence, however, had not been forgotten in at least one quarter. As she pulled up to the gate, a blinking light on the security system spoke to her. At first startled, she soon realized it was…familiar.

“Good evening, Miss Prize,” the voice greeted. “Mr. Mann told me to expect you.”

“Oh, hello Sparky,” Roxanne answered the estate’s computer system. “Yes, I’m supposed to...wait, Paul told you I was coming?”

“Indeed – though Mr. Mann warned me you might be delayed in your arrival,” the soothing voice said. “It’s a pleasure to have you joining us again.”

“Why…thank you,” Roxanne managed to choke out, feeling oddly comforted to be complimented by a computer.

The gate opened by Sparky’s automatic relay, and Roxanne drove up to the resplendent March Mansion that Paul had converted into his personal sanctuary. He knew she was going to be there? What exactly had Shelly told him? It sure sounded as if he anticipated her having second thoughts about even showing up.

Well, she was, but she wasn’t going to let that stop her, either. She parked in the circle in front on the sprawling three-story house, and navigated the steps that seemed to take an eternity. She attempted to ring the bell, but the doors opened for her before she had the opportunity.

“Come in, Roxanne,” Paul welcomed as she walked through the front living room. “We thought you might have skipped dinner, so we have food already prepared in the dining room.”

Paul…was there? Yikes. Roxanne hadn’t been expecting that twist in the evening. She had figured that Shelly would have found some excuse to get him out of the mansion – it wasn’t as if it took much. But no, there he was, and he was telling her they were going to feed her, too.

And what a meal it was. The dining room table might have seemed small for such an expansive house (unsurprising for Paul), but her hosts more than made up for it with their spread. Filet mignon and stuffed potatoes, served with a dry red wine. It looked scrumptious.

Roxanne was quite relieved to see the wine there, as she really needed some. She poured herself a glass as she joined Paul and Shelly at the table. “Really guys, this was totally unnecessary,” she quietly offered.

“Nonsense,” Paul insisted. “You’re our guest! And really, it’s been much too long since you stopped by for a visit.”

“P-P-Paul,” Roxanne stammered. “I--”

“I mean, I realize things were awkward for awhile,” Paul continued, as Shelly silently rested her elbow on the table and waited for him to finish. “But really, we’re all adults, and I like to think we’ve put the past behind us. After all, it’s…”

“Paul!” Roxanne interjected. Don’t you…don’t you know why I’m here?”

Paul paused. “Well, yes. Shelly and I discussed it, and I don’t have a problem with it. She’s heard about the crazy stuff we did when we were dating!”

Roxanne felt herself blush vividly. As a still-silent Shelly kicked Paul under the table, a look of realization came across his face.

“That was the wrong thing to say, wasn’t it?” Paul asked.

Shelly crossed her arms and scowled as she glared at him. “You think?”

Roxanne hastily poured herself another glass of wine as Paul tried to save face. “What I’m trying to say is, I love Shelly, and you’re one of my oldest friends. I trust both of you, and I like to think I’m pretty open-minded. Is that weird?”

Roxanne downed her glass of wine and poured a third. “Look Shelly, you really don’t have to go through with it. I was just being a smartass.”

Shelly bit her bottom lip. “I gave my word. It’s not up for debate. I have my pride.”

More like stubbornness, Roxanne observed silently as she lingered over her wine. The trio kept their thoughts private through the remainder of the dinner. Finally, the food was gone, the wine bottle was empty, and all that was left was three people who weren’t sure what to say next.

“Well, I guess I should be going,” Paul finally said as he stood up. “I have an appointment with some computer code at the office.”

“Uh, Paul,” Roxanne ventured. “What about…um…?”

“What, what?” he asked.

“Sparky?” Roxanne replied. “I don’t know how comfortable I feel knowing he’s everywhere.”

“Oh,” Paul realized absent-mindedly. “Oh, right. I hadn’t thought of that. I just take it for granted that he’s always around.”

“Sparky!” Paul commanded as Shelly fidgeted self-consciously in her chair.

“Yes sir, Mr. Mann?”

“Please confine your functions to the computer labs and the estate perimeter until 8 AM tomorrow morning.”

“Very good, sir. Will there be any further instructions?”

“No, that will be all.”

“Good night all,” Sparky signed off as his presence left the vast majority of the mansion.

“Thanks,” Roxanne said simply.

“No problem,” Paul replied as he leaned down to kiss Shelly good-bye. Roxanne watched as Paul’s hand reassuringly rubbed the back of Shelly’s head as their lips brushed ever so briefly. He was comforting her, and she couldn’t tell if either of them even realized it.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Paul reassured Shelly as he prepared to leave.

“Just be careful,” Shelly answered. “Remember, I won’t be around to save your bacon if you get in trouble.”

Paul smiled as he activated his Wrist Changer and the costume of Captain Satellite formed around him. He floated into the air effortlessly and then zipped out the door and into the sky.

“Sure knows how to make a memorable exit,” Roxanne mused as she toyed with her wine glass, wishing it was proper to raid the liquor cabinet for more.

“Yeah,” Shelly replied with a hint of resignation in her voice. “Would you…ah…like to go upstairs?”

Roxanne died a little inside, but heard herself respond with “Sure.” As she followed Shelly up the staircase, she couldn’t help but think what an enormous mistake they were making. Still, it could always be worse. At least it sounded like Paul would still be speaking to her when it was over. But as far as Shelly went…

Roxanne peered into the master bedroom with some trepidation as Shelly turned on the lights and closed the door behind them. Suddenly, with no warning, Shelly tackled Roxanne. Before she knew what was happening, Roxanne found herself pinned down on the bed.

“Ah-ha, how do you like that?!” Shelly exclaimed as she sat atop Roxanne and held her wrists firmly on either side of her head.

“What are you doing?” Roxanne gasped, a slight note of panic in her voice.

“…Don’t you like it?” a clearly crestfallen Shelly asked innocently.

“Um, it’s kind of terrifying,” Roxanne admitted.

“Oh,” Shelly said, releasing Roxanne’s wrists and climbing off her. “It’s just that guys have always…never mind.”

Roxanne stifled a laugh as it was Shelly’s turn to (finally!) blush. “We both need to relax. Start slow. Like…maybe I could rub your shoulders for you?”

Shelly nodded, and Roxanne laid her hands on Shelly’s shoulders. Wow, talk about tense. Shelly squirmed a little under Roxanne’s touch at first, but gradually loosened up just a tad. All it took was ten minutes or so.

“Now, you do me,” Roxanne said, instantly regretting her choice of words. Undeterred, she began to unbutton the first few buttons on her blouse. Shelly watched with some puzzlement, unsure what she was supposed to do next.

Roxanne realized how it looked. “I’m just making it easier for you,” she responded as she tugged the blouse down a bit to leave her bare shoulders exposed. Well, except for the noticeable purple and red bra straps. Roxanne almost expected Shelly to comment on the fact that her underwear matched her Firegirl costume.

But Shelly didn’t. As Roxanne turned her back to her, Shelly tentatively reached out and put her fingers on Roxanne’s skin for the first time. Roxanne settled in, expecting a shoulder massage similar to the one she’d administered. Instead…

“AHHHHH GEEZ OW!” Roxanne howled as Shelly’s grip proved to be a lot more forceful than either of them anticipated.

“I’m sorry!” Shelly apologized as she jerked away abruptly. “I didn’t mean…!”

“Girl, your hands are like a VISE!” Roxanne muttered. “You really don’t know your own strength, do you?”

Shelly was too busy punching the wall in frustration to listen. “Dammit!” she cried. “Why can’t I do this right? Why can’t I be more like you?!”

Roxanne shook her head, disbelieving her ears. “Huh? More like me?”

“Well, that was this was about, wasn’t it?” Shelly said as she whirled to face Roxanne. “You were flaunting how much more experienced you were compared to me!”

Roxanne felt a twinge of guilt over that accusation. “But you…you had no respect for me! I had to get back at you somehow!”

“Mission accomplished,” Shelly noted glumly as she flopped back down on the bed and hung her head.

“I didn’t know,” Roxanne said. “I don’t know why Paul would tell you about all that stuff we did when we were together.”

“Because I asked him,” Shelly whispered.


“I made him tell me everything,” Shelly confessed. “I was curious –I’ve never dared do things like the two of you did. And I’ve always wondered if I make him happy because I can’t.”

“Oh, Shelly…”

“I had something to prove when you challenged me,” Shelly continued. “I wanted to prove that I could be like you. And I failed.”

“Alright, first, no one’s failed, except maybe to understand,” Roxanne said. “Second, what is this crazy talk? You’re jealous of me?”

“I guess.”

Roxanne sidled up next to Shelly. “Look, Paul went along with my partying because it was what I wanted, not what he wanted. He would have been just as happy to stick with me alone. Paul loves YOU now, and I’ve gotten over my wild child days.”

“Even after all this time, there’s just so much about him I don’t understand,” Shelly said.

“Yeah, join the club,” Roxanne replied. “But hey, you want to know a secret?”


“If I’m jealous of anyone, it’s him, not you,” Roxanne admitted.

Shelly’s face contorted into a mask of confusion. “What do you mean?”

“Well, Paul and I are done, and there’s no going back,” Roxanne explained. “But he not only met someone who really loves him, but she is one hot woman, too.”

“Oh God,” Shelly said as she covered her eyes with the back of her hand.

“I’m serious!” Roxanne protested. “I might have been joking about this whole thing, but…well, I wouldn’t mind hitting it.”

There was a pregnant pause that seemed to last an eternity. Then, without explanation, Shelly scurried over to the nightstand. She giggled as she retrieved something Roxanne couldn’t quite make out.

“I have to show someone this!” Shelly exclaimed. “It’s one of Paul’s ‘secret projects’ that he does here!”

Shelly tossed a foil packet into Roxanne’s hands. Roxanne examined it closely. It looked remarkably familiar.

“Is this…what I think it is?” Roxanne queried.

“Yep,” Shelly confirmed. “Paul says it is, and I quote, ‘much more efficient than standard prophylactics. Just tough to formulate in mass quantities.’”

“It’s blue and white,” Roxanne noticed as she tore open the packet. “He made it in the colors of Captain Satellite?”

“Oh, that’s not even the worst of it,” Shelly snickered.

“Are these LED lights?” Roxanne asked. “But why? You can’t even see them when you’re using it!”

“Press the center of it,” Shelly instructed.

Roxanne did as she was told and was greeted by…


“YES!” Shelly shouted. “It plays music when it comes in contact with an external object! Or maybe that should be ‘internal’, I dunno.”

“AHHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!” Roxanne laughed. “What is he thinking sometimes?!?!”

“Please notice it’s the theme from the Cat-Man TV show,” Shelly stressed. “Appropriate choice? I’m not sure myself.”

At that point, Shelly and Roxanne both erupted into a gale of hysterical laughter. They were both in tears by the time it subsided minutes later. Roxanne scooted off the bed as she wiped the tears from her eyes.

“Shelly, you are really something else,” Roxanne said. “Look, I might as well get going while it’s still early.”

Shelly leaned back on the bed and smiled shyly. “You know, you were planning on spending the night. I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t.”

Roxanne arched an eyebrow. “What are you saying?”

Shelly shrugged noncommittally. “I’m saying that whatever happens – or doesn’t happen – here tonight is just between the two of us. That’s all.”

Roxanne stood in the doorway and grinned broadly. She adjusted the wall control for the lights to dim. She really was pretty tired after a draining day, and didn’t look forward to another drive anyway. So a sleepover it was.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Major City After Dark - Part 1

(Author’s Note: Please be aware that this story deals with adult themes and situations. Reader discretion is advised.)

It was an uncommonly gorgeous spring day in Major City. Birds were singing, the sky was cloudless, and all seemed right in the world. Except, that is, at a tiny table in the fashionable Chez Café. Why? That was where an uncomfortable silence had fallen over the lunch between Shelly Ericson and Roxanne Prize.

Understand that Shelly and Roxanne were hardly enemies. But they weren't really friends, either. Shelly was the partner and bodyguard of Paul Mann, a.k.a. the superhero Captain Satellite. Roxanne was a founding member of the superhero group the Invincible Alliance under the name “Firegirl.” It was not unusual for them to find their paths crossing.

Complicating matters between the two, however, were their personal relationships. Shelly was Paul Mann’s girlfriend. Roxanne was his ex-girlfriend, and their break-up had been the result of Roxanne betraying his trust. Though Paul and Roxanne had made peace with one another in the intervening years, Shelly wasn’t so sure she cared for this woman who had hurt her man.

It wasn’t for a lack of effort on Roxanne’s part. She knew that even sincere contrition couldn’t erase the past, and so she strived to earn Shelly’s respect, and perhaps even her friendship. That was easier said than done, because Shelly’s image of Roxanne had been shaped well before they had ever met.

The lunches were supposed to be a step in the right direction. It had been Roxanne’s suggestion that they meet once every couple of weeks just to have lunch and talk. Her hope was that, as they got to know one another, they would bond over their unique lifestyles. Shelly had grudgingly accepted the offer—mostly in an attempt to be civil. Only problem was, this was the fourth lunch they had shared, and the conversation had dried up.

“So, what do you like?” Roxanne blurted out, instantly regretting her choices of words.

“What do I like?” Shelly repeated as she sipped Kooba Cola from elegant glass stemware. “What are you talking about?”

“I mean…I don’t know, hobbies, interests, stuff like that,” Roxanne fumbled as she tried to recover. “You don’t spend all your free time beating up bad guys, do you?”

Shelly rolled her eyes. “I guess you could say I’m into sharp things.”

“Sharp…things?” Roxanne asked somewhat nervously.

“Yeah,” Shelly said almost lovingly as she toyed with her dinner knife. “Blades, shuriken, things like that. I’ve been collecting them since I was a girl.”

More silence. Roxanne didn’t know how to respond. She wasn’t even sure if Shelly was joking or serious. For her part, Shelly returned to idly picking at the remnants of her meal, completely unaware that anything was amiss but desperately hoping the ordeal of this lunch would soon be over.

Shelly and Roxanne soon got their wish for something to come along to break the tension. However, it wasn’t what they would have had in mind. Though neither was enjoying themselves, they didn’t really want an explosion to go off in the streets outside their restaurant.

“What the hell?” Roxanne shouted as the force rocked her out of her chair.

“Manon, what’s going on out there?” Shelly called to Chez Café’s owner Manon Etienne as the female French expatriate peered out the window.

“Zut alors, Miss Ericson!” Manon exclaimed. “There are men in blue uniforms attacking the jewelry store across the street!”

Shelly looked over at Roxanne. “Sounds like Third World. You got your business clothes on you?”

“Always,” Roxanne answered as she headed for a spot to change.

“Meet me outside!” Shelly yelled as she pulled out the money to cover the check and beat a hasty exit through the front door.

Shelly had assessed the situation correctly. It was indeed a squadron of Third World agents converging on the upscale jewelry store directly across from Chez Café. One of the helmeted hoodlums spotted Shelly as she sprinted toward them, and recognized her from a previous encounter.

“Haw haw!” he chortled. “Look, it’s Captain Satellite’s girlfriend! Your boyfriend isn’t here to save you now, girlie!”

“You really have no clue, do you?” Shelly replied as she high-kicked the Third Worlder directly in the face with her cowgirl boot, ending his day rather early as he blacked out from the hit.

His comrades weren’t so complacent. Two of them trained their rifles on Shelly in a matter of seconds. Her eyes darted from one to the other as she worked out how best to escape.

It turned out her problem was solved for her as twin fireballs streaked past and sent the villains scrambling. A familiar red and purple-clad lady raced up and knocked the pair out by cracking their skulls together.

“Thanks, Firegirl,” Shelly said half-heartedly as the two surveyed the remaining nine Third World agents in their midst.

“No sweat!” Firegirl responded. “In fact, looks like I’m in the lead now!”

“Whatever,” Shelly snapped condescendingly. “You think you’re real hot stuff when you have someone watching your back, like those four playmates of yours.”

Firegirl felt her cheeks redden at the insult leveled at her and her allies in the Invincible Alliance. She had bent over backwards to be nice to Shelly, and this was the thanks she got? Oh, she’d get her back. She knew just the way.

“Fine then!” Firegirl piped up as Third World agents closed in on them. “We’ll have a bet over who catches the most bad guys!”

Shelly smirked. “You’re on. If I win, you have to pay the bill for the next six months for these lunches of yours!”

“And if I win,” Firegirl responded mischievously, “I get to spend a hot night with you!”

At that moment, Firegirl wished she had a camera to capture the expression on Shelly’s face. Priceless! Shelly grunted an acknowledgment as she wailed away at the opponents who had no idea of their infighting.

Firegirl punched at a couple of Third World agents herself, but she had no illusions that she was in Shelly’s class as a fighter. That was the whole point. She wouldn’t have made such a ridiculous wager if she had thought she had any chance of winning. Shelly had such a traditional worldview that it was the perfect way to tweak her. After it was all over, they could have a good laugh about it.

As the fight wore on, Firegirl’s prediction seemed to be coming true. She was holding her own, but she’d only managed to subdue a single Third World goon since the two she’d dispatched earlier. Meanwhile, Shelly was tearing into the enemy agents like a woman possessed. As she watched Shelly pummel one hapless villain repeatedly in the stomach and then drive his face into the sidewalk, Firegirl got the feeling that Third World was being victimized by some misdirected anger. Oh well, it was their own fault.

The score was 5-3 when a trio of Third World agents got the bright idea to gang up on Firegirl and jumped her from behind. As she struggled to free herself, Firegirl let forth a burst of flame that ignited the uniforms of her attackers. As Shelly pistol-whipped one last enemy with his own gun, Firegirl took out three in one go as they frantically tried to roll out their flames.

And that was where things stood as the fight died down. The Third World agents were all alive and intact, but neatly stacked into respective piles. The final tally was 6-6. Stalemate.

Firegirl hadn’t really expected it to be that close, but felt an odd sense of satisfaction over the result. Oh yeah, she had done it! She had collared just as many hoods as Shelly Ericson! She wouldn’t even have to pay for Shelly’s lunches!

So engrossed was Firegirl in her triumph via deadlock that she didn’t notice a seemingly innocent passer-by getting far closer than was prudent. As he walked up behind her, his pace quickened, and the glint of a knife appeared.

“Firegirl, behind you!” Shelly screamed as the attacker lunged for his prey.

Firegirl dodged the attempt on her life and wrestled the knife from her assailant. She heated it up until it deformed into a useless hunk of metal as she held the struggling man at bay.

“You stopped this operation, but Third World shall endure!” the man proclaimed. “Three for victory!”

“Keep telling yourself that!” Firegirl rejoined as she laid what had apparently been the assault team’s sleeper agent low. He fell into her pile of villainy.

It didn’t occur to Firegirl exactly what had just happened until she looked over at Shelly and was greeted by a blank, disbelieving stare. What was her problem? That clown hadn’t hurt her, and they had tied in their…

Firegirl glanced down at her pile and it dawned on her. The sleeper agent had attacked her, and she had to finish him off. That meant there had really been thirteen Third World agents on the scene, not twelve. She had personally handled seven of them.

She had won.

But…but…but that wasn’t how it was supposed to go! It had just been a harmless bet that she couldn’t win! She was just being sarcastic! She hadn’t really wanted…

“Shelly, I was only kidding,” a mortified Firegirl pleaded with her lunch companion. “You don’t have to follow through on this. I promise.”

“Be at the mansion by 7,” is all Shelly said as she turned and walked away, leaving Firegirl to deal with both the authorities and the dread that she had gotten herself into a colossal mess.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

TV Sherpa: The Deacon

Here's another installment in the "TV Sherpa" series by the splendid Kabuki Katze. Our subject this time is the Deacon. I chose to resurrect the name of the the Deacon due to the character's in-story connections with Cat-Man and Kitten. I thought it would make a perfect companion series to the mythical Cat-Man show.

The trouble arose in the Deacon's original design. If you look at it, you'll see it's about as boring as possible. My initial idea was to riff on the Green Hornet and have the Deacon wearing a white mask in the style that Van Williams wore for the Hornet show. But that was before Kabuki unexpectedly became infatuated with lucha libre images I had been reblogging on Tumblr. During the course of our back and forth on this series, she said, "Now I'm wondering where the next two are going . . . are wrestlers involved?"

Well, no, they weren' that moment. But her inquiry got me thinking. I had been musing weeks earlier that one of the great missed opportunities in B-movie history was that no one sought to emulate Mexico's wrestler movie genre in the United States. The Destroyer was based out of Los Angeles for years, even holding the WWA World title on a few occasions. Wouldn't it have been great to see a movie where the Destroyer had to fight monsters or other baddies?

As the wheels kept turning in my brain, I recalled that the most famous luchador in history is El Santo. El Santo's name is Spanish for "the Saint". And I was working with a character named "the Deacon." HMMMMMM.

In the end, I granted Kabuki her wish and the Deacon was reincarnated as a masked wrestler fighting for justice. He's still a natty dresser, because really, that makes him even more awesome. He's not quite a luchador, since he's not of Mexican descent. Still, that doesn't diminish the pure goodness of this concept.

Oh yes, the name of the fictional actor. I went through many different permutations before deciding on "Reed Ganza" as the thespian charged with portraying the man under the hood. This surname is a big of an allusion to Santo's real name, but I'll let you discover that one for yourself if you so desire. Meanwhile, the Deacon can also be sighted at deviantArt!

Monday, May 7, 2012


It sort of goes without saying that I love the video for the Beastie Boys song "Intergalactic". I am always down when people try to faithfully recreate the tokusatsu aesthetic, and this one sure succeeds. Isn't it funny that this sort of thing is cool when folks are clowning around, but everyone seems embarrassed by it when they are adapting something like Godzilla or Power Rangers? Not sure I understand the logic.

But yeah, this is clearly the work of people who love that sort of thing. Please check out the Beasties running at the 0:49 mark. Not only is that a total sentai riff, but it looks like it might be one of the streets Toei uses for location shots. Unreal.

Adam Yauch (MCA) passed away this past week, and as you might guess, that prompted me to publish this entry. The Beastie Boys album Licensed to Ill was practically the soundtrack of my being 15 years old. Mike D (Michael Diamond) and Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz) will undoubtedly carry on the Beastie legacy, but it's strange and sad that one of the key members of the band has died at such a young age. R.I.P. MCA

Sunday, May 6, 2012

This Disillusioned World

For the record, I am going to be very vague about the specifics of this entry's subject. Why? Because I offer up my opinions about an ongoing internet flame war, and I have no desire to interact with either side of it. If they connect the dots themselves, so be it. But I'm not going to turn up on anyone's vanity Google search on this topic.

Let me confess to you: I love UFO books. I don't care so much if they are good or not. Point of fact, many that I've read are no damn good at all. They don't stand up to even the tiniest bit of critical thinking. I am perfectly fine with this.

I long ago accepted that my interest in UFO books was more in the mysteries they kindled in my imagination rather than their facts. If you go into them with your eyes wide open, some can be pretty entertaining. I have no idea how "authentic" anything John Keel ever wrote is, but he could tell a compelling story. I honestly get chills when I read some of his books. Are they accurate? That's open to debate even in UFO circles. Are they entertaining? Boy, I sure think so.

But lest you get the wrong idea, I'm not a starry-eyed believer either. Oh, I am fascinated by the subject, but I've never had a convincing "encounter" and am becoming convinced that I never will. I think there's something "there," but that something might not be extraterrestrial or supernatural. That doesn't make it any less interesting.

So it was with considerable excitement that I often told people about what I termed the "best" UFO book I'd ever bought. It didn't look that way at first glance; it looked like just another book on a popular UFO subject, and was marketed as such. Ah, but when I bought it and read it, it pretty much deconstructed that famous case to such a degree that I couldn't help but be impressed. There was a healthy degree of skepticism, even if the author seemed to be straddling the fence on his belief in the subject or not.

This may surprise you, but in my whole time on the Internet (11+ years), I'd never bothered to look up info on the author of this book I felt was so good. Hey, it was never very important to me. However, I thought about him and his book after posting the video of "The Flying Saucer Mystery" a few days ago. I thought I should take the time and see what he had been up to over the years.

My very first hit was for a hate site devoted to the guy. Well, that was...interesting. But c'mon, he had demolished more than one famous paranormal incident. It made sense to me that he would have enemies. It did strike me as unusual that his own site wouldn't be at the top of the list, so I investigated further. Because surely, the gent had his own website.

Um, I still have a hard time comprehending what I learned as I dug deeper. I don't want to go into specifics, since that would tip off the parties involved, but this author has pretty obviously become delusional. I'm not sure if he's a pathological liar, a brilliant troll, or just someone who is mentally ill, but the things I saw were so far beyond the pale that I am deeply troubled by the whole affair. His enemies aren't much better, which leads to the sad spectacle of a conflict where everyone is a loser.

As a consequence of my curiosity, I've re-examined my thoughts on his book, and realized that some of what I wrote off as just quirks and oddities about it at the time were really early signs of this fellow's subsequent behavior. This bothers me a lot, because I feel like I've been hoodwinked by a flim flam man just as much as those people who swallowed George Adamski's claims decades ago. Yes, the book lays out an argument (which I have since discovered was mostly regurgitated from other sources) that I still find plausible. However, the author himself has lost all credibility in my eyes, and I cannot take his book seriously as a repudiation of this case anymore. Everything in the book may be accurate, but how can I trust it when I know he has proven that he will make things up? As it is, I have serious doubts about the facts that he claims to have uncovered himself.

I'm disillusioned about this matter. I'm also disappointed. Not with the author, but with myself. I'd like to think I'm a critical reader and don't fall for anyone's claims easily. Yet, I can't escape the fact that I bought into this guy's line of reasoning, and he's turned out to be as big a fraud as the "frauds" he sought to expose. It's the sort of thing that will turn your view of the world on its head. When the skeptics turn around and lie, what is the truth?

At least John Keel's books are fun.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shelly's Bust! (waitaminute...)

Here's the second commission from Sean Moore. Surprise! It's Captain Satellite's bodyguard and lady love, Shelly Ericson! None of you saw that coming, did you?!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Curt Koorey Is On The Air!

This may be one of my stranger commissions, at least in terms of subject matter.

So Sean Moore started a sale yesterday offering B&W bust commissions for the princely sum of five dollars apiece. Well, I figured that would be cool, so I nabbed two of them early. There's still one slot left, if this sounds like a deal to you.

Trouble was, who to have as the subjects? Well, one of them will surprise no one, but that's coming later. For the other, I tossed around various ideas until I was seized by the spirit of whimsy.

It's no secret I'm a fan of Casey Kasem. So much so, there's a parody of him running around the Owariverse. His name is Curt Koorey (and that surname is very deliberately Lebanese, like Kasem). I thought it would be fun to have Sean do a "Curt Koorey" pic and just linked him to a Google Image Search for Casey. I did caution, however, that he didn't have to sweat getting the likeness too close.

Wouldn't you know it? The guy goes ahead and hits the caricature aspect right out of the park!

Oh, and a belated HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY to Mr. Casey Kasem himself! He hit that milestone on April 27th, and I hope that he's enjoying his golden years.