Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Gift

As we put 2013 in our rearview mirror, there are a lot of things we could discuss here. There was good and there was bad, just like every year. But there is one story that will forever color my memories of 2013, and today, I want to talk about it.

For me, Monday, April 15th was just a day off. I got some DVDs in the mail that I had been wanting for some time, and planned to spend the day watching them. I was only vaguely aware that the Boston Marathon was even taking place. But that all changed most horribly that afternoon.

For my own reasons discussed previously, this really hit home for me. And then, a couple of nights later, I accidentally stumbled across the Twitter account of one of the survivors. I sent her a message of support, but didn't stop there. I kept reading and learning about who she was. As I did, she became real to me.

You see, the thing about "big" stories is they happen to someone else. There's a disconnect because, well, you don't know them. But reading that Twitter, and seeing a small part of the bigger story of her life, it flipped a switch in my brain that turned off that disconnect. I decided that I couldn't help everyone, but maybe, just maybe, I could help her.

That survivor was Sydney Corcoran, as you have probably guessed. We've gone from being random strangers to friends in that time. Along the way, I have made other friends because of Sydney: Alexis, Katie, Tyler, Alyssa, Michelle, Kassandra, Sarah, Thais and Rin (and apologies to anyone I inadvertently left out). There have also been friends I only know through online aliases: Cellmate, Splendid, Silver, Hedge, Ladybug and probably dozens of others. It has been heartwarming to get to know and come to care about people that were not even on my radar a year ago.

But with this all comes a degree of guilt, because of why. It's all the result of a tragedy and a crime, and that sometimes gives me pause. As much as all these people mean to me now, I would gladly give it all back if it meant that the bombing never happened. Life doesn't work that way, but it's something that weighs on my mind from time to time.

I have felt like darkness has nearly consumed my soul on more than one occasion the last couple of years. I am down, though not as badly as I have been in the past. I am not sure which way is up and which way is straight to the bottom. Mostly, I have been muddling through as best I can and trying to survive.

The thing is, Sydney has given me a reason to smile that I wasn't sure I still had. I have exulted in her triumphs. I have offered a virtual hand through the setbacks. Mostly, I have just tried to be there for her. And I can't very well do that if I'm busy feeling sorry for myself, can I?

Sydney and her mother Celeste, and indeed, her entire family, have gone through so much in 2013. They have let me, a person they've never even met, tag along in a small way. It is an honor that I find humbling to this day, and I don't take the trust they've placed in me lightly.

All of this was born out of tragedy. If I'm being honest, I've crossed paths with some horrible people during this year - folks that either lack empathy or are disturbed in ways I'd rather not contemplate. But they are in the distinct minority. I have encountered far more decent, kind, and just all-around AWESOME people through this whole experience. And I can honestly say they have changed my life.

I have seen the worst of human behavior this year. I have also seen the best, and it was far more impressive than the worst could ever be. I have seen compassion, and shown compassion. I have seen the triumph of the human spirit against incredible odds and heartache. Where there were once strangers, there are now friends. And an anonymous person in a photograph became like a sister to me.

"The Gift" of 2013 was not the horrible nightmare of the Boston Marathon Bombing, but rather, the response to it from all over. It reaffirmed my faith in the basic goodness of most people. And, perhaps, it taught me a lot about myself, and reminded me of some things I was in danger of forgetting.

And Sydney? Well, the road for the Corcoran family is still a long one, but they have come so far already. This Boston Globe story (complete with video and photo gallery) may just bring a tear to your eye. I know it did for me.

Thank you, Sydney, for...everything. I hope my being a part of your life has helped you as much as you being a part of mine has helped me. You were already remarkable, but now I have no doubt you are going to have an impact on this crazy world of ours. You're clearly here for a reason, and I'm excited to see THAT story play out, too. You'll always be my gurl.

Sometimes, it feels impossible to make a difference. I was just a dude on Twitter with a blog. But in the end, that was enough. I made a difference. Now, to make a bigger difference in 2014.

I'm out. Thank you and good night.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Destroyer vs. Victor the Bear

Hey, remember this photo? I found some video of a match between the two. It's even narrated by the Destroyer himself!

The finish of this match is weird. I'm gonna guess it was booked this way to keep the Destroyer strong, but it feels like a cheat and the crowd lets it be known that they aren't happy. I wonder how many bear matches ended in this fashion?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians

So, the whole "movie pack" thing sort of fell by the wayside after a month or so, didn't it? I didn't even manage to write about all the programs I watched! I'm going to try to do better next year. In that spirit, here is a discussion of a movie that fits today better than any other.

SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS is rather infamous as one of those "Worst Movies Ever." So I'm going to go against the grain and say I sort of enjoyed it on its own merits. No, I didn't watch an MST3K version, but rather the original, unexpurgated version as featured on PD video. And yes, I'm feeling fine, thank you.

Understand, the movie is utter nonsense. But I found it to be likeable nonsense. There's nothing remotely realistic about it, and that's fine. After all, it was aimed at young kids. Somewhat tellingly, the only adults who qualify as actual "characters" are either from the North Pole or Mars. The connection to the world of "Grown-Ups" is tenuous at best, filtered through a kid's eyes with regard to both the media and the military. Please note that no EARTH parents ever appear.

SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS has Martians with pop guns, a wholly unterrifying robot, a dude in a bear suit, Milton DeLugg music, and Pia Zadora as a child. The plot has a twist that is telegraphed a mile away if you're paying attention. And then, there's the theme song (embedded below). It will haunt you.

SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS is dumb. But it's a fun dumb. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Owari for Return of Jetman

This is something that has been brewing for some time, so I encourage you all to go read it instead of me just rehashing it here. That's especially vital since that link (and indeed, all ROJ links) will break in a week or so. This bugs me so much that I might have to spend a few days posting lists of the new links for the site, since I surely don't have the time or the will to edit every ROJ entry here.

Oddly, I don't find myself particularly nostalgic about this whole situation. Mostly, I feel like a tremendous weight is off my shoulders. Still, it was a lot of fun.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Flash Gordon (1936)

As part of my pursuit of Continued Next Week!, I decided to rectify a longstanding oversight on my part. You see, in all my years, I have never actually watched the first FLASH GORDON serial in its entirety. I know, what? Doing a movie serial blog, and I hadn't even bothered to check out the quintessential serial? Like I said, an oversight.

Well, I am happy to report that I corrected this oversight earlier this year. And for the record? FLASH GORDON move than lives up to its legendary reputation. Yeah, the FX are corny and often obvious, and that's not even just a function of the passing years. However, you have to give them credit for even trying. There is a concerted effort to realize Alex Raymond's comic strip on the screen, and that must have been absolutely daunting in 1936. That they succeeded as well as they did is laudable.

Also worthy of praise is the characterization in the film. This is not a sentence that can be applied to most serials, but here, it absolutely does. Most memorable is, of course, Charles Middleton as an utterly flawless Ming the Merciless. Buster Crabbe, Jean Rogers, and Frank Shannon are wonderful (even if Rogers gets precious little to do other than faint, be captured, or be a lust object), and the supporting players cut fine figures. But for me, the highlight of the film is Priscilla Lawson as Princess Aura.

Simply put, Priscilla Lawson is absolutely FABULOUS in this serial. She is alluring and sensual in a way I find a little shocking for 1936. She is also very amoral for a good portion of the story - her actions turn on her whims and desires rather than what she thinks is "right." And as you may have gathered, it's all but explicitly stated that what Aura wants is to jump Flash Gordon's bones. She's a marvelous character, and it's just a shame that Lawson never got the chance to reprise the role. (And even more of a shame she died so young, but that's another story.)

If you're on the fence about movie serials, I can definitely recommend FLASH GORDON as one to try. It is compelling throughout, and never boring even if you watch multiple chapters in one sitting.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nicky Flamingo's Advent Calendar

Nicky's Sketch Advent Calendar Pt 2 by *nickyflamingo on deviantART

This is pretty epic, but then, so is Nicky Flamingo! She has been working on a three page advent calendar featuring OCs from a number of people who have supported her this year. I am honored to have my own Princess Nikatonia featured on Page 2, and since it was recently completed, I thought I'd post it here for everyone to enjoy! You can find her in the middle, getting all handsy!

Nicky has another page upcoming in this project, so more art-y goodness will be in our future! You should click over to her devinatArt and show it some love!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

K-tel presents "Pin-Ball Rock"

K-tel trots out a Wolfman Jack imitator to promote Pin-Ball Rock (sic). This album is a bit different, in that most of the songs featured are "oldies" even at the time. The "theme" is made explicit by the New Seekers' cover of "Pinball Wizard", but the majority of this one seems aimed at nostalgia.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rene Bond in "Too Hot For The Blog!"

As mentioned a few days ago, I picked up some Rene Bond items recently. And to celebrate, I'd like to show off! But Rene's career being what it was, that's difficult on here without adding a warning that would necessarily limit the audience.

Ah, but my Tumblr! Why, that's a whole other story! In fact, it's one of the primary reasons why I maintain a semi-regular presence there. Though I'm getting a bit self-conscious about it right now. Hopefully, I'm getting it out of my system!

Anyway, here's today's new arrival, and a little something that will be arriving shortly. Remember, NSFW, and you must be a legal adult. Seriously, don't make me come over there!


Rene Bond: "Backfield In Motion And Other Signals"


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Return of Jetman Notes Finished!

Sound the trumpets! The day I (and many others, probably) felt would never come has arrived! The notes for the seventh and final episode of New Return of Jetman were completed and posted today! That means all 14 episodes of ROJ and all 7 episodes of NROJ are officially annotated! This project, she is done!

I wish I could tell you that these notes were worth a wait of over 3 years, but alas, such is not the case. Maybe if I had kept up with the original series back in 2002-03, it wouldn't have taken so long. But yeah, the last three years has been a slow process of putting these out because it was hard to find the time, energy, and motivation to write them.

New ROJ Episode 7 Notes are currently here. But as you might have surmised, that's only part of the story. I'll post something else over on the site before the year is out, but you can see the announcement at the top. It's true - the domain name will be allowed to lapse and the site will revert to being strictly at its blogspot address. This will undoubtedly lead to some degree of confusion, but in the end, it's for the best as far as ROJ remaining online.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Star Force Vol. 2, No. 5

When we last discussed the Myron Fass family of magazines, I mentioned that the one I had really been seeking - the one that truly spurred me on the quest - had still eluded me. I am happy to report that, as of today, I am the proud(?) owner of a complete and reasonably decent copy of Star Force Vol. 2, No. 5.

This earlier entry spells out in more detail the importance of this magazine to my personal history. What's odd is that I wasn't even looking for it the night I found it. I was on eBay buying something totally different last week and decided to check on this mag's availability on a whim. And lo, there it was.

I am seriously tempted to do a full write-up on this one in the future, and track down the original sources and authors of the articles. All of them have had their credits removed, and I think that's a darn shame. There is a lot of solid information in a couple of them, and one or two are so freaking loopy that I feel the perpetrators should be publicized.

Oh, and the ads? The ads are GOLDEN. Most of them are for books that I suspect are also published by Myron Fass. However, there is an ad for Army surplus that promises me a tank for under $200, and another ad selling handguns through the mail. Truly, I had NO IDEA what was going on in 1981 when I got this magazine.

Another quest completed, thanks to the magic of the Internet.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Awards of Rene Bond

To celebrate a few recent eBay scores, I thought I'd post a list of Rene Bond's awards. I compiled this for Rene Bond Tribute on Facebook ("Like" it!), but had never gotten around to including it here.

AVN Hall of Fame (1998)
Legends of Erotica Hall of Fame (2000)
XRCO Hall of Fame (1985)

What I find most intriguing about these awards is that both the Adult Video News (AVN) and "Legends of Erotica" Hall of Fame inductions date from Rene's renaissance of popularity thanks to the video revolution and Something Weird Video in particular. However, the X-Rated Critics Organization (XRCO) induction is from 1985 - not that many years after Rene had left the business. It's also the only one that wasn't posthumous. It makes me wonder why she was honored at that time by them, and if she even knew.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Three Times As Nice With GabiStar

[C] Beth Gordon (Thank you, Kabuki!) by *GabiStar on deviantART

I don't remember being that good this year, but clearly Kabu thought otherwise. Wait, THREE giftarts from GabiStar?!? Who knew?!?

If you can't get enough of Gabi (and who can blame you?), she also has a Facebook fan page!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Secret Fun Blog Strikes Again!

Kirk Demarais is on the case! Tonight, he posted a blog entry on the Time Mee Toys Legendary Battle figures. Because Kirk knows what he's doing, he was able to include his own photos instead of ones cribbed from VictoryBuy like yours truly. Even better, he dug up comparison shots of the original Marvel figures that served as the basis for the molds. So now I don't have to do it myself! HURRAY!

Seriously though, "Secret Fun Blog" is a terrific site and Kirk has written some fantastic books. You should check it out!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Inexplicably Star Wars

Maybe I'm just being dense, but I don't see the thematic connection to STAR WARS in this production number for Meco's "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band". Cowboys?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Shelly Ericson by GabiStar

[C] Shelly Ericson (Thank you, Kabuki!) by *GabiStar on deviantART

Waitwaitwait, another bust by GabiStar? Yes, I am giddy to report that Kabuki Katze seems intent on spoiling me this holiday season. Tonight, we have Shelly Ericson taking a bow!

And if you haven't taken the hint already, you should be checking out GabiStar's gallery! I know I did!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hi Jinx!

Woo hoo, it's Jinx again! Only this time, she's by Sean Moore and wearing a cowboy hat! And she'll be the first to tell you, it's not her hat!

This particular project went through a couple of iterations before we arrived at the final product. It's also tastefully but very strongly NSFW, so keep that in mind as you decide whether to admire it in all its glory at OWARI 2.0. Alternately, you can visit it at Sean's dA page, and peep the rest of the fine, fine work in his gallery!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Weird Wonder Tales #5 (August 1974)

For reasons unclear, this entry on Weird Wonder Tales #22 has been the least popular thing I've posted in the last 2 months. Bad timing? People just really hate Dr. Druid? Whatever the reason, I am hoping to garner a little more love for that entry by...talking about another issue of Weird Wonder Tales. Perhaps not my best ever plan.

Weird Wonder Tales #5 (August 1974) leads off with a cover that SORT OF relates to an interior story. I qualify this because it takes it much further over the top, as these 1970s reprint books were wont to do. It is for the first story, and it's a minor little morality tale that is kinda clever. The biggest plus is the always welcome art by Steve Ditko.

Next story has very attractive art by a fellow named Pete Tumlinson, who was previously unknown to me. I like the twist involved, but it doesn't bear even a little bit of scrutiny. In fact, it doesn't make much sense at all! Oh well, logic wasn't always at a premium in 1950s monster books.

Oh, now we come to a bit of slightly important pre-Marvel Marvel Universe stuff. "I, The Robot" introduced the character who would be christened the Human Robot a few years later in the pages of What If?, and ultimately be a part of the Agents of Atlas team. The art is by a very well-known name in the annals of Marvel history: John Romita. It's an intriguing glimpse into his style prior to the familiar and legendary run on Spider-Man.

Speaking of Spidey, his co-creator Steve Ditko turns up again on the art for the last story. This is one of those tales with aliens planning to invade our world, only to be thwarted by some unforeseen circumstance. Ditko seemed to draw any number of variations on this theme, and while his work is solid, the premise for this one was a bit weak for me.

I'm not going to cover the ads this time, though they could fill an entire blog post on their own. I do, however, want to point out something odd I noticed in the "Bullpen Bulletins" page. Reference is made there to Marvel launching three new titles referred to quite modestly as SUPER-GIANTS. They would be devoted to Spider-Man, the Avengers, and Conan, and it was promised they would be 100 pages for 60¢ on a quarterly schedule. These "Super-Giants" were promoted as containing new, "novel-length" stories, special features, and "Marvel classics" (i.e., reprints).

I have never heard of these "Super-Giants" before! They are an obvious response to DC's 100 Page Super Spectaculars. Equally obvious is that they never happened in this format. What's most striking about this fact is that Super-Giant Spider-Man #1 is listed in the column as spotlighting "the story you virtually dared us to print - as Spidey encounters the one and only COUNT DRACULA!" Eight pages later in the selfsame issue of Weird Wonder Tales is an ad for Giant-Size Spider-Man #1 - with Spider-Man and Dracula. And now the book is 68 pages for 50¢!

Even more curious is the Bullpen Bulletins makes reference to the "Giant-Size" books, too, but lists them as being 35¢. A quick look at the GCD reveals that there are a couple at that price, and they are only 52 pages. I guess the decision was made fairly quickly to split the difference and go with just ONE oversized format rather than two. Probably a wise decision in the long run, but now my imagination runs wild with 100 Page Marvel books like those much-cherished DC Super Spectaculars.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

$20 Pin-Ups: Sydney

$20 Pin-Ups: Sydney by =KabukiKatze on deviantART

I told you I'd tell you when this piece went live on deviantArt, and today is the day! Be sure to click on the embedded image above to travel to the magical land of dA and leave feedback for Kabuki on this!

Thanks again, KK, for such an exemplary job! And I am pleased to report that Sydney LOVES it!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Fifth In A Series

This is not me.

However, we did exchange e-mails once.

(If you don't think it's odd seeing a message from yourself in your Inbox, you're wrong.)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

"It's déjà vu all over again"

If we're being honest here, I'm pretty sure things like this and this happen more often than I notice or like. And continuing that honesty, the longer this blog exists, I'm sure this sort of thing will keep happening.

Still, it made me laugh.