Friday, January 30, 2009


This was our final Best Picture/Best Director film to see and the one I was looking the least forward to seeing figuring how interesting can a movie about a TV interview be? Boy was I wrong. Ron Howard rings everything out of this story making a fascinating film that grabs you from the get-go and never lets go. And it features two towering performances, the Best Actor nominated Frank Langella as Nixon and the overlooked Michael Sheen as David Frost.

Of the five nominated films I don't think Frost/Nixon is the best picture, but it might be the best directed picture simply because of the number of wonderful performances Howard brought forth from his actors and the amount of entertainment he squeezed from a rather mundane subject. I really think it is between Ron Howard and Gus Van Sant for Best Director.

Best Picture is easy though: Milk is, by a wide margin, the Best Picture of the year.

Our yearly Oscar quest continues...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blackwater says it could leave Iraq with 72 hours

Now if we can just get them to leave the U.S. as well. We need to put a stop on the privatization movement of Cheney and Bush and begin reversing it, ousting these thugs for hire. These mercenaries need to find a new job.

People Unclear of the Concept II

While many Americans are losing their homes and their jobs and their health care, these soulless ghouls of Wall Street are continuing to party on the corpses of the less fortunate. These are the people who should be losing their jobs, as they have run just about every company they work for into the ground. But, being mostly Republicans, they will be allowed to keep their ill-gotten gains as they continue to joyously urinate on you and me.

People Unclear of the Concept

Republicans told Obama that if he wanted them to vote for his stimulus package he would have to water it down, adding in tax cuts for business and removing those pesky birth control clauses. So he did and not a single Republican voted for the package. Guys, don't expect us to listen to you next time; your ideas are what has ruined this economy and this was your one chance to have any say. You blew it by proving that you word is worthless and you threats are meaningless. The GOP, already bleeding profusely from a double leg amputation, just cut off its arm. Idiots!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Action Comics #374

Action Comics #374 (On Sale: January 28, 1969) has another brilliant cover by Neal Adams. Before Neal you would never see anything even close to this dramatic in comics.

"Alias Super-Thief" is by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and Jack Abel. Continuing from last issue, Superman is still unable to recall his secret identity after being exposed to an amnesia ray. Police inform him of a Super-Thief named Jud Blake who has been missing for weeks. Superman follows one of Super-Thief's men back to his hide-out and discovers evidence which convinces the Man of Steel that he is actually Super-Thief.

Using a rubber mask, Superman becomes Super-Thief and helps the gang with a robbery. Superman is conflicted about his role as thief and hero. After a second robbery, Superman returns to the hide-out and discovers another Super-Thief. The two men are then attacked by three criminal fences. Superman stops them, then learns that the other Super-Thief is really an FBI agent who was setting up the fences. Superman realizes that he is not the real crook and must resume his search for the truth.

The Supergirl back-up is "No Mercy for Supergirl" by Leo Dorfman and Kurt Schaffenberger. Supergirl is abducted by an alien from the Sarkon galaxy. The alien known as the Avenger explains that his race values life at all cost and no one is allowed to take a life for any reason. He has come to Earth to enforce these laws on fellow super-beings including Supergirl. He witnessed her cutting a rose and killing a butterfly in her college classes, so he charges her with murder. Supergirl is unable to argue her way out of the situation. She then shows the Avenger that he himself was responsible for the death of some microbes. Believing himself a killer, the Avenger kills himself as punishment for his own crime.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Reader

Well, we have only one more film after this to finish up the Best Picture/Best Director categories, Oscars that I don't think this film will be taking home. Not that it should not have been nominated (no that distinction goes to Slumdog Millionaire), but The Reader just doesn't come close to Milk.

However, though this is only the first Best Actress nominee we have seen (so I am talking out of my ass here), Kate Winslet is a revelation in this film and you should see it just to watch her in what has to be the Best Actress performance. She plays a person you could easily hate, but that never happens. Her character is harsh and brutal at times and yet, in the end, you feel for her. Great performance and she looks great in the nude as well.

Our yearly Oscar quest continues...

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Teen Titans #20

Teen Titans #20 (On Sale: January 23, 1969) has a cover by Nick Cardy.

"Titans Fit the Battle of Jericho" is written and penciled by Neal Adams and inked by Nick Cardy, but that description doesn't even come close to explaining the real pedigree of this tale.

Len Wein and Marv Wolfman turned in a story to editor Dick Giordano which would have introduced a black super-hero by the name of Jericho, but this story was never published. The character was changed to Caucasian and renamed as Joshua. Although the cover still bears the original title: "The Titans Fit the Battle of Jericho."

In The Titans Companion by Glen Cadigan, Marv Wolfman reflects on the story: "The second Teen Titans was a story that no one has ever seen printed. It was a story that Len Wein and I co-wrote that was originally intended for Teen Titans #20. It was 'The Titans Fit the Battle of Jericho'...

"We met with Dick Giordano, and told him our idea of a gang, a black super-hero, and a fairly straightforward type of story, closer to what we were seeing in Spider-Man, but with the Teen Titans. We came up with a black character because DC didn't have any at the time...we grew up with black kids in school. Living in New York, all racers, all creeds, everybody was in our classes, so it was never a matter of 'Why not put a black character in?' it's "Why isn't there one?' I mean, like, 'Duh!' So we just wanted to do that.

"Dick liked the story concept, but knew that there could be some problems because of the time period, and brought us into Irwin Donenfeld's...Irwin said he really wanted us to try to do this, try to make it a multi-parter -- which, in itself, was incredibly exciting -- to really be powerful and very street and very authentic, and try to get down and dirty, get a lit grittier...

"A couple of weeks later we came back, and at that point Irwin had left and there was a new person in charge. Whatever the reasons were, because there are so many differences of opinion on this, the story got dropped...It was all drawn, buy the way. Nick Cardy did one of the greatest jobs I had ever seen him do.

"When it was killed, Dick was in a lot of trouble because of deadlines. Neal Adams took a lot of the pages, added a bunch of new pages and rewrote a story around it; a brand-new story, using Jericho, but no longer black. If you look at the cover, which had already been sent to the printer, all they could do was throw a blue tone over it and all the black characters were put into the background because of that, but they were obviously black on the cover and there were none in the comic anymore...

"At any rate, Neal redrew the story using as many of Nick Cardy's pages as he could. He did it, I think, over a weekend with Nick inking simultaneously. I plotted, secretly, the second chapter which Neal followed and made changes along the way, then he wound up the story on his own...Len and I didn't get work for almost two years from DC."

In Adams' tale, a mysterious costumed crime fighter called Joshua invades Titan Lair and enlists the Teen Titans' aid in stopping a confrontation between police and teenage protesters. All involved are unaware that the protesters are being backed by organized crime figures, who in turn are pawns of the alien invaders from Dimension X. The Titans, together with Joshua and his brother, the leader of the protesters, halt the aliens' scheme to release the Meroul Being, a monstrous giant creature, on Earth, but both the aliens and their criminal underlings continue to plot the team's downfall. Reprinted in Best of DC #18 and Showcase Presents: Teen Titans Vol. 2 TPB.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Dude Playing a Dude Pretending To Be Another Dude

Of all the Academy Award nominations today, the one I am happiest to see is one that has no chance of winning. Heath Ledger will win Best Supporting Actor, but just the fact that Robert Downey Jr. is nominated for his brilliant performance in Tropic Thunder is a win in itself. Talk about an actor getting lost in a role, Downey Jr. made this film playing as his character said, "A dude playing a dude pretending to be another dude."

Dying is easy, comedy is hard and making something special out of this type of comedy is even harder, yet rarely acknowledged. It was this time and I think it's great.

Regarding his performance and the nomination Downey said, "It's about time narcissistic, accolade-seeking idiotic actors were formally recognized. It's been a long, hard road for us."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Beware the Creeper #6

Beware the Creeper #6 (On Sale: January 21, 1969), the last issue of this title, has a wonderful, dramattic Gil Kane cover.

"A Time to Die" is written by Denny O'Neil, pencilled by Steve Ditko and Jack Sparling and inked by Mike Peppe. Over at The Comics Bulletin Thom Young did a very in-depth look at Ditko at DC entitled, Ditko Shrugged. He has doubts that Ditko actually drew any of this issue or any of last issue for that matter, though he does think that Steve Ditko may have provided rough layouts that Mike Peppe or Jack Sparling or someone turned into final pages. It's a good read, though I don't think Neal Adams drew parts of Beware the Creeper #5 as Young does.

Back to this issue, continuing from last issue, Proteus leaves the Creeper to die by drowning in a sewer tunnel. Before he departs, the villain reveals that he is Jack Ryder's roommate Rip Cord. The Creeper manages to avoid drowning and escapes the tunnel. He then tracks down Proteus who is impersonating the governor. The two men battle above the dam, which Proteus is trying to destroy. The Creeper prevails when Proteus falls over the edge with explosives and dies in the explosion.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Flight 1549

The videos you knew had to exist are starting to show up. Here is one of them. It takes a couple of minutes before the plane comes down but is worth the wait.

Friday, January 16, 2009

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Spectre #9

Spectre #9 (On Sale: January 16, 1969) has a cover by Nick Cardy.

We begin with an untitled story by Mike Friedrich and Jerry Grandenetti. Detective Jim Corrigan and a police sergeant track down a criminal known as Sharky. When they try to make the arrest, the sergeant is shot. This causes the Spectre to emerge, and he kills the shooter. Corrigan is upset with the Spectre and lapses into unconsciousness after denying the Spectre access to reenter his body.

The Spectre is called before the powers that created him. He is pronounced a failure and forced to relinquish his power. He is given a book and tasked with the responsibility to observe and judge the lives within.

Next is "Abraca-Doom" by Denny O'Neil and Bernie Wrightson. This would be Bernie Wrightson's second strip for DC and his first super-hero work (if you consider the Spectre to be a super-hero). The Spectre investigates the life of Fredrick Foost, a small-time magician. Foost bargains with the Devil, who gives him a magic wand known as Abraca-Doom. Foost uses the wand to achieve fame as a professional magician. He then begins amassing power by making himself the ruler of a small country. The Spectre continues to withhold judgment, until Foost presses for additional power. Foost then encounters his old assistant Willard who made the same bargain with the Devil as his old boss. The two magicians then must pay the price for their demonic bargains as the Devil collects their souls. Reprinted in House of Mystery #224.

Lastly is "Shadow Show" by Mark Hanerfeld and Jack Sparling. Mark Hanerfeld was an assistant editor at DC and the original model for Abel, the soon-to-be host of the House of Secrets. This is the first of two stories he would write for DC. Mark belonged to a Queens' comic book fan group called T.I.S.O.S., or The Illegitimate Sons of Superman. Other members included Marv Wolfman and Len Wein. In the photo above are Hanerfeld, Wolfman and Wein.

A crook named Hickey evades police by hiding in the shadows. However, as he escapes, the crook begins feeling paranoia. Hickey feels the shadows chasing him, so he tries to remain in the light. When he finally reaches his home Hickey meets the Spectre and is apprehended. Reprinted in House of Mystery #225.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Don Galloway, R.I.P.

We lost Don Galloway this week. Man was I a big Ironside fan as a kid. I watched it every week. I also remember what a square he played in The Big Chill; he was perfect for the part. What I did not know about Galloway was what he did after he stopped acting.

Don had a weekly column in the Manchester Union Leader. Here are a few examples of Don's work as a Libertarian columnist:

• On obscenity: "If the FCC wants to ferret out obscenity, it should spend a day in the United States Congress." (February 20, 2004)

• On the benefits of seceding: "The Republic of New Hampshire [could eliminate] the tyrannical, unnecessary taxes and regulations imposed upon it by the dolts of Washington, DC." (March 12, 2004)

• On interpreting the constitution: "In New Hampshire, the Senate has decided by a rather narrow margin that our constitution actually means what it says. It's all about whether you can carry a gun if you want to, and the constitution says you absolutely can. The bill now goes to the House, where they will decide whether the constitution actually means what it says." (February 27, 2004)

• On taxes: "We all remember the horrors of slavery. The Internal Revenue Service reminds us of it each April 15th, and sometimes more often." (February 13, 2004)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

An Appreciation: Patrick McGoohan

Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times had a great piece on Patrick McGoohan today, that begins:

In the summer of 1968, the most important television series of my life premiered on CBS as a summer replacement for "The Jackie Gleason Show." A British import about a spy who, having resigned his position, is drugged and kidnapped and wakes up captive in a fanciful holiday resort, where he is hectored week after week to explain himself, “The Prisoner” starred and was co-created by Patrick McGoohan, who died in Los Angeles on Tuesday at the age of 80.
But before The Prisoner there was Secret Agent Man (Danger Man in the UK). Like most people what I remember about McGoohan's Secret Agent Man TV series was it had a great theme song written by P.F. Sloan and sung by Johnny Rivers. I don't think I ever saw the show, but I sure remember the song. I think that makes it unusual. I can't think of another TV show where the theme song was more popular than the show itself, discounting of course, shows like the CSI franchise where the theme song existed before the show.

Can anyone else think of another?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Green Lantern #67

Green Lantern #67 (On Sale: January 14, 1969) has a cover by Gil Kane and Dick Giordano.

We begin with "Green Lantern Does His Ring-Thing" by Gardner Fox, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella. This book is really Gardner Fox's last work for DC as he has been fired. His first work for DC was in Detective Comics #4, June 1937, a Speed Saunders story entitled "The Mystery of San Jose Island." Fox wrote 1,487 stories for DC in his thirty-two year career. He would go on to write for Marvel for a short time, doing Dr. Strange and Tomb of Dracula. Besides his prodigious comic work Fox also wrote over 100 novels and a number of pulp stories. During a short stint on Batman, Fox created the Batarang and the Batplane and then moved on to create new characters including The Sandman, Starman, Dr. Fate, Hawkman, The Justice Society of America and the Flash. For Columbia Fox created Skyman and The Face.

In the Silver Age Gardner Fox created revamped versions of Hawkman, the Flash, the Spectre and the Atom as well as creating The Justice League of America. In 1968 Gardner Fox, Bill Finger, Otto Binder, and Arnold Drake went to DC and asked for health insurance and other benefits and were summarily fired. Fox spent the last 6 years of his life in the Princeton Medical Center, in New Jersey and died on December 24th 1986.

After being released from prison, ex-convict Bill Baggett travels to Evergreen City where Green Lantern has been operating. He has been improving his will power and when Green Lantern is near, Baggett is able to tap into the power ring. Baggett avoids meeting Green Lantern personally and uses the power for crime.

Green Lantern becomes suspicious after his power ring acts against him. He eventually discovers that Baggett is behind the crimes when he finds duplicate currency which the crook created with power ring energy. Green Lantern traces Baggett with the currency. After defeating the crook, he tries to ensure that Baggett will never be able to steal power from the ring again.

The back-up Green Lantern Corps story, "The First Green Lantern," is by Gardner Fox and Sid Greene. Long ago on the planet Rojira two races existed separated by a lava field. On one side were the warlike Rulanns that were shaped like starfish. The Rulanns constantly fought one another, but their regenerative abilities prevented any side from prevailing. On the other side of the planet lived the peaceful humanoids called the Jirenn.

One day Korad of the Rulann was able to cross the lava field and find the Jirenn. The humanoids were not used to fighting and Korad planned to conquer them. One member of the Jirenn, Rori Dag, stood up and fought Korad. While he was inspirational to his people, he lacked the tools to fight the Rulann.

The Guardians of the Universe observed the events on Rojira and decides to intervene. They gave Rori a power ring and battery with which to battle the Rulann. They told him to use the ring for good and not to kill with it. Rori was able to defeat Korad and return him to the Rulann side of Rojira. He then sealed the gap that allowed the creature to cross the lava field. Pleased with Rori's success, the Guardians made Rori Dag the first of the new Green Lantern Corps.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

If Bernie Madoff had sold an ounce of pot...

...he would be in jail and unable to get out. But since all he did was steal $50B he is allowed to be incarcerated in luxury in his penthouse. Ridiculous.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Economy is Not the Cause of This One

This AP piece today entitled "Cruise lines slash prices" begins:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Alaska's tourism industry is taking a hit because of the downturn in the U.S. economy, as well as the slowdown in the economy globally.
It totally, and perhaps purposefully, misses the true cause of disinterest in the upper 1 by those of us in the lower 49: that nitwit Sarah Palin, and her like, live in Alaska. I'm not being facetious and I'm not trying to be funny. My wife and I have discussed this many times since the disaster from Alasker showed her dim-witted, lipstick-Spackled, winkin', blinkin' and noddin' mug on the national scene. My wife and I like to cruise and we have been talking for years about doing the Alaska trip, but by October 2008 neither of us any longer had the desire to go.

Not only is she, by her inane self a torrid turn-off, but the collection of illiterate, gun-toting, Jesus-loving, witch-fearing, meth-head white trash losers that constitute her family and friends are the kind of people I never want to have to deal with. By parading this long line of redneck retards onto the national stage the Republican party tarnished the appeal of Alaska for tens of millions of Americans. The AP really blew it on this story; the cruise industry and the Alaskan tourist industry has Sarah Palin to blame.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- House of Mystery #179

House of Mystery #179 (On Sale: January 7, 1969) has another wonderful cover by Neal Adams. This is just a classic issue as you will see.

We begin with an introduction page featuring Cain written and drawn by Joe Orlando. Next is "Sour Note" by E. Nelson Bridwell, Jerry Grandenetti and George Roussos. This is the story of Mark Eldon, who was given a note written in a strange language by a mysterious silent woman in a dark abandoned mansion. Everyone he gives the note to seems to be able to translate it and every time they do, the results are disastrous for Mark. What is the secret of the sour note? Reprinted in House of Mystery #229.

Next is "The Man Who Murdered Himself" by Marv Wolfman and introducing Bernie (Berni) Wrightson. This is Marv's first horror story sale and of course he would go on to write years worth of Tomb of Dracula for Marvel. Bernie will always be remembered for his classic run on his co-creation, Swamp Thing, and the numerous covers he will do over the years for the DC horror/mystery line. Bernie also pulled a long stint at Warren drawing some classic black and white horror stories. Reprinted in House of Mystery #228. This story is a pretty inauspicious start for Wolfman, a short tale of a maybe haunted house.

Next we have "Page 13" by Joe Orlando and Sergio Aragones and "Cain's game Room" by Sergio Aragones.

That brings up to "The Widow's Walk" by Howie Post, Neal Adams and Joe Orlando. This is the second of five horror stories that Anthro creator Howie Post would write for DC. Joe Orlando's inks are not a very good fit for Neal Adam's pencils and this is a team you would not see again. Post's story is terrific, beginning in 1897 where we meet Angus Beame, a young merchant seaman. This is the story of Angus's foiled marriage for money scheme and the curse of a scorned and devoted wife. Great stuff and obviously the reason it has been reprinted so much. Reprinted in Limited Collectors' Edition C-23, DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #17 and Saga of Ra's Al Ghul #3.

The entire issue was also reprinted in Showcase Presents: The House of Mystery Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Monday, January 05, 2009


The day after election day, Norm Coleman told America, "If I were trailing, I'd step back [and concede]." Now that all legally and properly cast votes have been counted and recounted--including challenges and absentees--Al Franken widens his lead to a probably insurmountable 225 votes. Hey, Norm, it's time to do the right thing and concede.

Friday, January 02, 2009

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Wonder Woman #181

Wonder Woman #181 (On Sale: January 2, 1969) has a very nice cover by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano. I really loved the non-super-hero action of the revamped Wonder Woman and the very James Bondish covers and stories produced here.

"The Wrath of Dr. Cyber" is by Denny O'Neil, Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano. Diana Prince and I-Ching learn the location of Dr. Cyber's secret undersea base from one of her agents. The duo invade the facility to rescue Tim Trench. They then manage to escape before the base self-destructs.

Tim and Diana return to her shop and renew their hunt for Cyber. Tim recalls that Cyber mentioned the European town of Bjorland. Diana, Tim, and I-Ching visit the mountain village and discover that the inhabitants all work for Cyber. They locate Dr. Cyber, who tries to bribe Trench into betraying his friends. Reprinted in Wonder Woman #197 (yeah, only two years later!) and Diana Prince:Wonder Woman Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Jack Miller in his final editorship at DC. Miller had spent five years at DC as an editor, but was pushed out so that the artists could move in. In the case of Wonder Woman Mike Sekowsky would take over the running of the book.

As for Jack Miller, he would be gone from DC for two years, returning in 1971 to write three horror stories for the burgeoning horror/mystery line and in 1973 to write a single romance story. I don't know where Miller went after that but this was kind of an ignoble end for a guy who had been a DC writing mainstay for nearly 19 years.

Miller started writing for DC in 1945, doing a Congo Bill story in Action Comics #86, but became a regular DC writer in 1950 when he penned years' worth of Congo Bill stories in Action Comics and Johnny Quick stories for Adventure Comics. He also wrote a string of science-fiction stories for Strange Adventures and Mystery In Space, many of these treasures penciled by the great Gil Kane. Jack Miller was also one of the key Phantom Stranger writers in the early 1950s and also did a stint writing Roy Raymond for Detective Comics.

He wrote war stories for All-American Men of War, G.I. Combat, Star Spangled War Stories and Our Fighting Forces. He did a few issues of Blackhawk, wrote the Manhunters issue of Showcase and created Rip Hunter -- Time Master first for Showcase and then in his own book. He wrote the Aquaman reboot in Showcase #30-#33, a couple of issues of Detective Comics, Worlds Finest Comics and five issue of Aquaman. He also wrote Tommy Tomorrow for World's Finest Comics. Jack Miller wrote six of the key Deadman issues for Strange Adventures and a shit-load of Martian Manhunter stories for House Of Mystery and Prince Ra-Man stories for House of Secrets. I'm sure I am missing a bunch of stuff (Green Arrow for example), and I wish I had more to tell about the man, but I don't.

If I Were In Charge

Over on the Tony Isabella Board my friend, Jim Guida pointed to his blog where he lists a few of the thing he would do if he ware in charge. It got me thinking and here a few of the changes I would make if I were in charge:

I would force Jim Guida to use his real blog, not this faux blog he keeps trying to push.

No sports person could make more in one year than the President of the United States does. That lower cost of producing sporting events must be passed on to the consumer and the owners would not be allowed to reap more profits, nor would they be allowed to hold up cities or states for new stadiums.

No person at a company could make more in one year than 30 times what their lowest paid employee makes. However total compensation could be augmented with extras, stock, stock options, bonuses, etc., not to exceed the amount of their salary.

If a network wants to advertise the next show on their channel they must do it during the commercials like everyone else and not on top of the show currently playing.

A non-partial organization would be set up to validate the truthfulness of all political ads before they are allowed to be broadcast or emailed, or blogged or in anyway disseminated. Failure to comply would result in a $1M fine for the first offense, doubled for each offense thereafter. Any candidate fined more than five times would have their name removed from all ballots and would be barred from running for any office for six years.

Oh, I'm just getting started!