Monday, December 31, 2012

Baby did a bad bad thing

Imagine my surprise when I logged on for a few minutes on Christmas morning and discovered this waiting for me. That's a gorgeous picture of my femme fatale Sultura, as drawn by the wonderful Nicky Flamingo. It was a surprise gift commission paid for by the equally wonderful Kabuki Katze. Both of them are fantastic artists as well as good friends. 'Nuff said?

On that note, let's bid 2012 farewell here at OWARI. See all of you in 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"And he wore a stupid hat!"

NO SOAP, RADIO was a short-lived (4 weeks, I think) 1982 TV series that aired on ABC. It was a wacky blackout sketch comedy with a bit of linear story. Honestly, I don't remember a lot about it. I loved it during its brief lifespan, but I was only 9 years old. I'm not sure if it would hold up today.

However, one thing I did remember was the "Yukon Dan" sketch. The line that serves as this entry's title in particular has always made me laugh. Well, a kind soul has recently uploaded clips from NO SOAP, RADIO. Among them is the long-lost "Yukon Dan" segment. I am pleased to include it here for you.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Elam Rogues Gallery

This portrait hangs on a wall in our house. It depicts the three children of Lee and Rhea Elam, or Paw Paw and Maw Maw as I called them.

In the center is the youngest, my Aunt Georgia Beth. She is still going strong, and is probably as full of mischief as ever.

On the right side is Jerry, my father. I think you can tell just from this photo that Dad could be a piece of work sometimes, but we loved that man. We lost Dad in May 1998, and I think of him every day. No man had a bigger impact on my life, and I learned so much from his example.

On the left side is my Uncle Larry, who left us on Christmas Day. It's not my place to eulogize him, but that night I called him "one of the greatest men I've ever known." And really, what more can I say about him if you never had the pleasure of crossing paths with him?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bridgette in Space!

...Or should that be "Bridgette in Spaaaaaaaace!"?

As you might gather, this is a follow-up/companion piece to this little lady, courtesy of the always-awesome Kabuki Katze. Our subject this time was Bridgette Monet, one-time model, adult film actress, and (as "Dana Cannon") star of a Playboy pictorial that had a deep and lasting impact on yours truly. If you explore the (NSFW) Tumblr tags for her, you will see the decision to portray her as an astronaut did not appear out of thin air, but was rather inspired by a photoshoot that is more whimsical than anything else.

I think Kabuki not only captured the whimsy I had in mind for this picture, but improved upon it. Her page for it is here. Why not tell the lady yourself how much you love her work?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hyperion Icarus by Lewis Smith Appears!

This is pretty exciting to me! If you click over to the Return of Jetman site, you will see something not only awesome, but completely unexpected. My friend and ROJ creator Lewis Smith has returned to the fold with a brand-new mecha of his own creation. It never appeared in any story, but I don't think anyone will care a whit given its inherent "WOW" factor.

I present to all of you Hyperion Icarus by Lewis Smith! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas With Devo!

Well, today is the day. I'm not here right now, but off doing something else. However, thanks to the miracle of scheduling posts, I am still able to offer you a warm holiday greeting across the Internet. And really, who BETTER to deliver this message than the boys of Devo?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Uncanny X-Mas No. 6

And now, as we stand on the verge of Christmas, let's change the pace up just a mite. Here are the Ramones with "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)"! A sentiment I think is desperately needed in this day and age.

Uncanny X-Mas No. 5

Here's another little ditty from Bob Rivers with the imaginative title "Jingle Hells Bells".

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Uncanny X-Mas No. 4

Bob and Doug McKenzie bring you "12 Days of Christmas". There's lots of ideas in here, so listen and don't get stuck.

Uncanny X-Mas No. 3

Let's turn to the classics. Here's one you should know, and if you don't, now is the time to learn about it. Cheech and Chong share with you the story of "Santa Claus And His Old Lady"!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Uncanny X-Mas No. 2

Every year, people think I am making up this song. It's the one, the only, "Walkin' 'Round In Women's Underwear" by Bob Rivers!

Uncanny X-Mas No. 1

As we close in on the Christmas holiday, let's take some time for festive seasonal tunes. First on our playlist is "I Am Santa Claus" by Bob Rivers.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Naomi Morinaga vs. Yuriko Hishimi

Since Yuriko Hishimi has come up twice this month, this seems like as good a time as any for me to ask a question which has bothered me for some time. As you might have gathered from my provocative title, it also involves Naomi Morinaga. Now, these two ladies have never fought, and I don't think they have ever appeared in anything together. Heck, they may not have even met, though such an occurrence would not be out of the question. No, this is more about how the two of them have oddly parallel careers, and the different reaction they have generated as a result.

Understand, both Naomi and Yuriko garnered their greatest fame with roles in superhero shows - Yuriko in ULTRASEVEN in 1967, Naomi in SHAIDER in 1984. Both were 19-20 while shooting those series, and both played characters with coincidentally similar names ("Anne" for Yuriko, "Annie" for Naomi). Both later had other prominent tokusatsu parts (for example, Yuriko was GODZILLA VS. GIGAN and Naomi a regular on SPIELBAN), but nothing that eclipsed the characters that initially earned their recognition. And most tellingly for the question I am asking, both would later do racy photoshoots and appear in films that run counter to the image of the superhero shows.

My question is, why is there such a difference in perception between what these two ladies did in their careers when they did essentially the exact same thing? Both are revered as cult figures, but Western fans seem to give Yuriko Hishimi a pass for her nude photos and movies like "Bohachi Bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight" (aka "Porno Jidaigeki"), whereas Naomi Morinaga is lamented as having "done porno" for her nude pictures and movies like "Toriko."

To clarify, neither woman did what we would term "pornography" in this day and age. It was softcore, not hardcore, and their photo books and movies are sold through dealers that would not carry explicit material. It's not any different in terms of exposure than those erotic thrillers that were so popular at one time in this country. It's just that Western fans don't seem to care so much about Yuriko Hishimi's colorful resume, while there is always some sort of hand-wringing and sorrow over Naomi's choices. I don't get it.

Both women were adults - in fact, Naomi was older when she did her first film nude scene (in a Toei production, no less). Neither was exploited in any way I can determine - their photos are all beautiful and tasteful, and while many of their films are not my cup of tea, they certainly don't cross any line. Both women made choices that they felt were best for their careers, and more power to them. I just sometimes feel like there is some sort of double-standard at work, as if Naomi is put on a higher pedestal for some odd reason.

I am a big fan of both Yuriko Hishimi and Naomi Morinaga. I am in no way judging either one of them. Heck, I applaud them for carving out long careers for themselves in a culture where that is not always encouraged for women. I just wish some tokusatsu fans could move past their small-minded attitudes and stop acting as if they have been done a disservice just because their childhood idol took her clothes off in front of a camera. Get over yourself.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another Anne?

You might recall my wondering if Anne Mari was originally supposed to play "Anne Yuri" in ULTRASEVEN, rather than Yuriko Hishimi. Well, I was recently perusing Yuriko Hishimi's Japanese Wikipedia page (like you do) and came across a stunning fact. It appears that Hishimi was not the first choice to play Anne Yuri after all! The twist is that the other actress wasn't Anne Mari either!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Behold the Viewing Globe!"

Back in September, I wrote about Amy Jo Johnson's film BENT and casually mentioned that I had discovered it because I had been wondering about her "[f]or reasons which will become clear soon enough." And then? NUTHIN'! I've been meaning to follow through on that statement, and it just kept getting pushed back. Well, today is as good as any to explain a little further.

If you know me, you have probably guessed. It's all about the Power Rangers, baby.

If we flash back in time to when I began writing seriously (that is, for public consumption), it was the Power Rangers that got my foot in the door at KAIJU REVIEW. Even earlier, it was as much my disagreement with Roy Ware about the merits of Power Rangers as it was my admiration for his work that led me to write to him care of HERO ILLUSTRATED during the time when he wrote a column for that magazine. Roy graciously chose to ignore any youthful obnoxiousness on my part and generously offered to help get me started in a fandom that had long seemed an impossibility for someone like me to enter. As I have told him, I owe a great deal of who I am today to Roy Ware. And, indirectly though it might be, I also owe the Power Rangers for driving me to write him.

The thing is, I lost interest in the Power Rangers early in the process. In 1996, I declared myself pretty much over them. In print, no less! Since then, I've occasionally checked out episodes here and there, and even endured TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE in the theater. But I've never felt the need to return to the fold and the fandom I was part of before it even was a fandom.

Recently, Shout! Factory has licensed many of the Saban shows for DVD. This has led me to being confronted by 2 separate volumes of MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS marketed as being "Season 1." Of course, I was helpless before the allure of the shows that had actually intrigued me way back in the day. Of course, I had to buy them. It wasn't even a question.

The first thing that struck me in revisiting these episodes almost (gulp!) 20 years after I first watched was how much I actually remembered. There were many, many things that I hadn't thought about in a long time that all of a sudden were as clear (and silly) as yesterday. Oh, I had forgotten plenty, and that was to expected. But it was a little surprising how much about Power Rangers was still lurking in my brain.

What was almost as surprising was how entertaining the show was. Now, I won't argue with you that it is classic TV, and I sure hope I never made that argument back in 1994-95. But it moves at a lightning clip and has a surprising amount of action. I know the usual busybodies protested this, since we must NEVER EVER have anything resembling action in a children's show. I am sure that is still an ongoing discussion, though not as much since those people can't get noticed by going after the Power Rangers since it's not as popular.

You can analyze it all you want, but the reason Power Rangers was such a sensation when it made the airwaves was because it was fun. It didn't hurt to have the dinosaur tie-in right when JURASSIC PARK was hot (a lucky coincidence!), but that wouldn't have mattered if the show hadn't been able to capture the imagination of kids. Yes, it was goofy, sometimes preachy, often incoherent, and the American footage is so cheaply shot that it almost physically hurts. All of that is immaterial when you consider the video landscape when the show premiered. It's not fair to compare it to its Japanese counterparts, or even the still-new BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. No, MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS is the spiritual brother of fare like ELECTRA WOMAN AND DYNA GIRL and SHAZAM! - the 1970s live-action Saturday morning adventure shows from the Kroffts and Filmation. Compared to them, MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS is the pinnacle of excitement.

The Power Rangers franchise was also capable of doing clever things that injected a genuine sense of suspense. Surely no one saw the Green Ranger coming, right? I don't think even Saban anticipated that popularity explosion, as they had to scramble to find a way to write him back into the show. Still, he was the lynchpin of the most memorable stories of both halves of the first season.

Ah yes, both "halves" of the first season. This is not even accurate, since they don't divide equally, but it's the most elegant way to phrase it. But what is commonly forgotten/not known among the general public is that MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS only had an initial order of 40 episodes. In case that was all there was, the 39th and 40th episodes form a nice wrap-up for the series. It's even heavily implied that Rita Repulsa and her gang had been permanently defeated!

The demand for new episodes was too strong to leave this sit for long, so Fox and Saban brought us 20 more that conclude the first season. It is sort of amusing to see the production team scrounge around and try to figure out what they want to do. Toei was even commissioned to film new Power Rangers-exclusive footage that integrates into the stories a bit better. It's a fascinating glimpse into what might have been. I tend to think of this batch as weaker than the original 40, and that was a feeling that continued as the show progressed. Still, they ably restore the status quo before having to blow it up every year thereafter.

The acting of the Rangers themselves has taken a lot of heat over the years. Some of it, I am sorry to say, even came from me. The revelation in watching the show with fresh eyes is they are all pretty good. None of them deliver embarrassing performances; they are simply doing the best they possibly can with material that is honestly ridiculous. Also, when it came to the fight scenes, each and every one of them works their butts off. Remember, no stunt doubles for these kids! I still think Amy Jo Johnson was the best actor of the bunch, and this seems to be reinforced by her appearance in any story that comes across as particularly "challenging." But, all of them did a fine job, and don't deserve to be heaped with the bad acting scorn. Reserve that for the scripts they got if you must.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Bulk and Skull here. Much of what these poor slobs were charged with doing was incredibly juvenile and physical comedy at its most obvious. Still, you have to admire the gusto and skill they brought to it. They hung around for a long time for a reason, and turned in some genuinely funny stuff during their time on the show.

I've had friends who grew up with this show express to me disappointment when revisiting it as adults. I can understand that, but they are approaching the show all wrong. They want Power Rangers to be just as awesome as they remember it when their age was in single digits, and the problem is that IT WAS NEVER THAT GOOD. Some shows, like the Adam West BATMAN, work on multiple levels. MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS is not that show. It is aimed squarely at the kiddie demographic, and if you don't factor that in before you rewatch it, you'll be shocked to learn that your childhood favorite is kinda cheesy.

Sure it is. But it always was. It helped that I was already a (technical) adult when it came on the air. I never expected it to appeal to me on a gut level, and was startled when it came close a few times (like the Green Ranger 5-parter). MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS is fun and fast-paced, but it's not some sort of lost classic. If you can take it on its own merits, it's enjoyable. But if you demand it be something more than a low-budget 1990s kid's show with recycled footage, it's probably for the best to leave it an object of nostalgia and fond memories.

I don't know if I will be purchasing any further Power Rangers volumes. I did like some of the episodes that came after the first season, but my gradual loss of interest back in the day is something I cannot ignore. Still, for the first time in many years, it was good to welcome the Power Rangers back into my imagination.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Owariverse Encyclopedia: Section III - Civilians (Update 1)

Jeff Allie: Jeff Allie is the fast food mogul behind the Burger Jeff franchise of restaurants. Starting small with just a single location, he has built his business into one of the most successful in the world. It has been rumored for years that he also harbors political aspirations, which might even include a run for the Presidency. So far, nothing has come of such talk.

Russell Brown: Russell Brown is the lead anchorman for Major City Supernews on WMC-TV Channel 5 (Major City’s DeKalb Network station). In fact, he had held that position for so long that he's become something of an institution in the town. It's been said that he's the most famous and trusted person in all of Major City, which is an achievement no matter how you slice it.

Lee R. Falgout: General Lee R. Falgout is a highly-decorated war veteran, and is considered one of the finest military minds in the world. He currently serves as Secretary of Defense in President Howard Fein's cabinet. Though he has been off the frontlines for a number of years, the general is still capable of charging into battle on a moment's notice - and is just crazy enough to do it.

Lauren Gregory: Lauren Gregory is a political activist and self-described "hippie." She can often be found in downtown Major City with a protest sign denouncing the state of world affairs. When not editing her underground newspaper, she moonlights as a waitress at the Chez Café.

Alan Norby: Best known to audiences worldwide for the role of "Dr. Macabre" in the Cat-Man TV series, Alan Norby has always been a bit eccentric even by actor standards. He practices a very unusual form of method acting that causes him to sometimes get too caught up in the parts that he plays. Being the bad guy on-screen can make him quite unmanageable in real life.

Abbie Norman: A raconteur and political gadfly, Abbie Norman was perhaps a surprising choice of running mate for Howard Fein's presidential campaign. Prevailing wisdom is that Fein picked Norman as his Vice-President to keep him in check. That hasn't exactly worked out, and Abbie Norman refers to himself as the Fein Administration's "resident gonzo."

Althea Quinby: Althea Quinby is Secretary of State in President Howard Fein's administration. She has a keen analytical mind and is perhaps the most politically savvy member of Fein's cabinet. It is a constant struggle for her to be taken seriously in the political arena as an African-American woman, but it's also a challenge she has gladly accepted.

Benson Wong: Dr. Benson Wong is a noted medical professional currently practicing in Major City. He serves as Paul Mann’s physician, much to their mutual consternation. It's not that the two dislike one another - it's just that Mann isn't always the sort of patient who listens to his doctor.

Monday, December 17, 2012

ROJ News, And If This Post Seems Familiar...

...There's a good reason for that.

Yes, we've now reached the point in updating the new Return of Jetman site that I'm reposting a set of notes that I first reported when they were added to the OLD site. Specifically, it's New ROJ Episode 6's Production Notes. Of course, like everything else for on the site, they've been re-edited somewhat since their original publication.

I had kind of figured this would be the last ROJ site update of the year, if I even managed to get it finished before 2013 arrived. As it turned out, something else has come up that will be added to the site in short order. Keep watching this space!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Johnny Sokko Is On His Way!

Well, this is pretty exciting news! JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT, one of my favorite TV shows of all time, is getting released on DVD via Shout! Factory! Woo-hoo! August Ragone has more details at the linked blog post!

The agents from Unicorn will be on the case on March 26, 2013!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Golden Age Comic Book Dream

Some time ago, I was chatting with David McRobie about comics and he mentioned how cool it would be to own a comic book from the Golden Age. It didn't have to be any specific one, though some were more obviously more interesting to us than others. I agreed with him, but frankly, the thought seemed like a pipe dream to me.

Oh, I've considered it a few times. There have even been a handful of occasions where price and opportunity seemed to intersect enough where I could make it happen. Alas, I always missed my chance. Usually, it was because someone got to the book before I did. I didn't worry that much about it, figuring it was one of those things that was fated to never happen.

Well, I'd like to thank Kevin Cinquemano at Paper Heroes for allowing me to realize a very small dream of mine. For the modest price of $10, he sold me a copy of Famous Funnies #153. It's not in very good shape, and it doesn't feature any characters or artists I usually collect, but it's still a milestone for me. Why? Because it is dated April 1947!

For the first time in my life, I own a comic book from the 1940s. Thanks Kevin!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chaos Theory IV

You might remember our discussions the last couple of years of the Chaos Theory art show in Sulphur, LA. In fact, Friend of OWARI Kabuki Katze even had some pieces included in last year's show. However, I was unable to take many shots of the rest of the show before it finished. Kind of a disappointment, especially since I had snapped a lot in 2010.

Well, Kabu's busy itinerary this year prevented her from submitting for Chaos Theory IV. That didn't stop me from setting out to record every single piece in the 2012 edition. Which I did, turned out to be more work than I anticipated. Now, two months after the show wrapped up, I finally have everything uploaded.

Here is the gallery for "Chaos Theory IV" (2012). As stated in the description, Chaos Theory IV ran from September 13, 2012 to October 11, 2012 at the Henning Cultural Center in Sulphur, LA. If you saw it, here's a look back. If you didn't see it, here's what you missed.

The Chaos Theory Art Show has a Facebook fan page. Chaos Theory and the Henning Cultural Center are both part of Brimstone Museum. Support the arts and culture.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mark Jewelers

Among the more obscure chapters in comic book collecting are the special advertising inserts included in comics shipped to overseas military PXs. I have several books with Mark Jewelers inserts myself, and didn't know what to make of them for the longest time. Like a lot of ads in the 1970s, they were geared toward adults, and not the children that are stereotypically the audience for comics. I eventually had them pegged as military base exclusives, but the "outside of the U.S." aspect was a wrinkle I hadn't considered until recently. It does make perfect sense.

In looking into Mark Jewelers, I discovered Military Insert Mania via this message board thread. I learned a whole lot more about these inserts from those two sources than I had in all my years of collecting and stumbling across them by accident. But there are still plenty more mysteries about these shadowy, hidden "variants." Chief among them for me is how the military insert arrangement came about in the first place. I'm also curious as to why it was Mark Jewelers that carried the banner for something like 20 years.

Mark Jewelers (also H & R Sales, but apparently the same company) was located at 9041 West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. I stress "was" here because it looks as if that location has been swallowed up by Bais Chana Chabad High School, a private, Jewish, girls-only school. I can't find any record of "the" Mark Jewelers still existing, though it's certainly possible that they do. Considering the ads disappeared in the early 1990s, I wouldn't be surprised if they gave up the ghost around that time.

Regrettably, that's all I know for now. I'll probably be making further inquiries as time and interest permit. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'd love to know more about Mark Jewelers and why they considered comic books an effective tool for reaching their customers for two decades.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Rolling Truck Stones Thing"

Surely you know the story of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" by now, right? If you don't, go ahead and read this bit of history on the subject. What you may not know is that the band thought the song had no commercial potential and it took a year after the release of the album Machine Head for a single to be issued. This seems amazing in retrospect, but there's at least one bit of evidence in the song itself.

I'm referring to the line that serves as this entry's title: "Rolling truck Stones thing." My capitalization there may give you a hint that it refers to the Rolling Stones, and more specifically, the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. The "mobile" has a story at least as interesting as that behind "Smoke on the Water" itself. That phrasing, though - it's a bit odd, isn't it? The Rolling truck Stones thing?!?

I tend to think Ian Gillan was originally supposed to sing "Rolling Stones truck thing." I mean, that's logical, isn't it? Maybe he transposed the words in singing it, and since nobody considered the song anything other than a bonus, this was left intact. Why go to the trouble of fixing it?

What Deep Purple couldn't have known was that "Smoke on the Water" was their ticket to immortality. And as a result, the phrase "Rolling truck Stones thing" has become the correct version. I am sure it will confuse listeners for many generations to come.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mike Boyette

As I think I've mentioned in the past, I don't write up entries for every single death that occurs in my fields of interest. My feeling is that there are people out there far more capable of writing those than me. However, there comes the time when a passing affects me personally, and that's when you see a discussion. Regrettably, that time has come again.

Last week, Buddy Roberts of the pro wrestling team the Fabulous Freebirds passed away. I grew up watching Buddy, and it's only a quirk of timing that I missed his earlier stint as half of the Hollywood Blonds tag team. Now only a week later, another wrestler I watched in the glories days of Mid-South/UWF has passed away. That would be Mike Boyette.

You're excused if you have no idea who Mike Boyette was, even if you were a wrestling fan. In the UWF, Boyette was portrayed as a perpetual loser, albeit a memorable one. Years later, I learned that Mike Boyette had been a star. The "losing streak" was probably setting up an angle that would never come, like the one that Jack Hart (Barry Horowitz) had once suffered in Florida.

Mike Boyette was a guy who could put on a terrific match. Though never called on as the one to sell tickets in "my" wrestling, his job was just as important - he was there to make his opponents look good. He did this beautifully, and was able to be good enough in the role to make an impression without ever overshadowing the men he was putting over. I have a lot of respect for a guy who can maintain that kind of balance.

Mike Boyette was also reportedly a great guy, and a huge asset to the wrestling business. I wish I could have seen him in situations where HE was the focus, but I was still a fan of him regardless of whether he was a "jobber" or not. Mike "The Hippie" Boyette was a favorite of mine, and I'm sad that he has died. With the recent passages of Roberts and Boyette (who I am sure I saw wrestle each other), it seems like more and more of my childhood wrestling heroes (and villains) are leaving us. R.I.P., gentlemen...and thank you for the memories.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


So, why exactly was "Candy-O" by the Cars never released as a single? I mean, if it had been and just wasn't a hit, I could understand. But gosh, this song just cries out that it's a hit record. According to sources, it's since become a Classic Rock radio staple. I can't verify that part, because I don't hear it on my usual stations. However, it turned up on the station I can sometimes catch and immediately brightened my day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Yuriko Hishimi Says "Hi!"

...And so do I.

Whatever passes for normal services around here should resume in a day or three. Meanwhile, enjoy this photo of the lovely Yuriko Hishimi found here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

In Hibernation, Quite Unwillingly

Hello all. I had every intention of keeping this blog updated, but circumstances are currently conspiring against me...again. This time, it's not a failure on my end, but an ISP that has apparently been suffering from poor performance since Thursday. I have not been able to secure an Internet connection since Friday. I'm currently appearing via the good graces of my sister's Internet.

I will be back, but have no timetable as to when that will be. Keep the home fires burning for me!