Archive - April 2007
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April 28th, 2007
Hey gang--here's a moderately interesting footnote to a piece of already ephemeral trivia:

In the very self-same issue of ROLLING STONE that sported the Herb Trimpe Hulk illo spotlighting a cover story on Marvel Comics (number 91, September 16, 1971--whose cover you can see by going here, while you have merely to scroll downwards to this very blog's April 20th entry to view the vintage photo of Ol' Greenskin's long-time delineator that accompanied the article), this curious--and totally unrelated--photo appeared elsewhere...
Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Wavy Gravy! (Yes, even though the calendar said 1971, in many ways, it was still the sixties...)

Mr. Gravy--real name Hugh Romney--led a peace lovin' commune called The Hog Farm who famously used their peace lovin' tactics to successfully provide security at the Woodstock Festival. ROLLING STONE caught up with the sixties activist shortly after some globe-trotting adventures--not to mention a couple of overly-aggressive cops who had hit him upside the head outside of George Harrison's all-star charity concert for Bangla Desh--landed him in a hospital bed.

Not to worry--Wavy was apparently able to shake off the effects of Moutezuma's Revenge and any residual headaches thanks to the then current issue of SUPERMAN (number 243, October 1971)...
Ah, that stunning cover by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano--I remember it oh so well. From the delighted look on his face, I'm guessing Mr. Gravy dug it almost as much as I did!

(Y'know, maybe I should scour more of my old issues of the STONE--who knows what else might turn up? For all I know, there might well be a group photo of the Chicago Seven poring over an issue of the SECRET SIX!...)
April 27th, 2007
Discussing the current controversy that's flared regarding the veracity of the supposed blood spied on the sock of ace Red Sox' pitcher Curt Schilling during Boston's successful post season run several years back--it's recently been alleged to've been nothing more than red paint--Newsday sports columnist Shaun Powell, in an attempt to describe the character of the veteran hurler, had this to say about him:

This is a guy who, after all, has his own blog, a communications tool mainly used by the attention-starved.

Putting aside the whole Schilling imbroglio, could Powell be right? Could I be sitting here, furiously typing away, simply because I desperately crave the attention of you, my loyal--if largely faceless--readers?

Well, maybe.

But today, I want to tell you a little bit about someone other than myself. Today I want to tell you about my friend, Donald Crabtree.

I've known Donald--or "Don", as I call him--for near two decades now. As a computer whiz employed by IBM, frankly, Don wouldn't seem to be someone I'd likely associate with, as my core group of buddies are basically made up of artists, writers, cartoonists, and other slovenly n'ere do wells. However, thanks to my brother-in-law bringing Don along to one of our long-time weekly volleyball games way back when, Don fell into our little sporting congregation, and pretty much stayed there right up until it ended a few years back. (Ironically, the tenure of Lynn's brother Bob clocked in at less than a year, due to some bad ankles taking him off the courts once and for all, so if he hadn't been working in the same division as Don's mom, and was thus introduced to her son when he began work there, I might never have met Donald Crabtree!...)

Even amongst the likes of Jim Starlin, Berni Wrightson, Ron Marz, Todd Dezago, Terry Austin--even latecomer Kyle Baker--Don stood out as our most accomplished and enthusiastic player, never reluctant to throw himself into a wall if need be. And inasmuch as his house was right on the way over to the school where we played, I'd invariably stop by each Tuesday and car pool together with Donald Crabtree for the balance of the trip.

But, as I've mentioned several times in the past--and even just a few paragraphs ago--our volleyball game is no more. So I only see Don rarely these days, though we do make it a point to meet for lunch every month or so to play catch-up (and, depending on what we order, eat a little ketchup as well...).

Today was one such day.

(I need to see Don at least twice a year in any event, y'see, as I have this wrist-watch that I STILL can't figure out how to change the time on, and until I can meet up with good ol' Don to have him do it for me, I'm forever adding an hour--or in this case, and hour five, since it was slow to begin with--after the bi-annual Daylight Savings shift. So until Daylight Savings Time is abolished for good--or until I buy a new watch--I will forever remain friends with Donald Crabtree, this I vow!!...)

During our conversation, I made an allusion to Don's upcoming birthday, which I know is in late May, but whose exact date Don has never readily given up--and the one time I DID know it, he somehow clouded my mind not unlike the Shadow, causing me to forget that very specific nugget of info. He continued to stonewall me today, but I had a solution:

"Aw, no problem," I joked, "I'll just Google the information!"

"Uh uh--you won't find it THAT way", he assured me. "I've Googled myself (hey, haven't we all?...) but absolutely NOTHING comes up! Oh, there are plenty of Donald Crabtrees out there, but they're not me..."

And that's when it hit me--I could use the massive power of my blog for good, to give my good friend Donald Crabtree something to Google! I, Fred Hembeck (here's a tip: type that in alongside your name, pal), could give him his very own little piece of the World Wide Web!!

That's when I knew having a blog ISN'T just about me, me, me! Shaun Powell was wrong--sometimes it's simply about helping the likes of a Donald Crabtree.

(Tomorrow? Back to me, me, me, probably...)
April 26th, 2007
Been kinda hectic around here lately.

Last Friday, a day after my guest appearance in Herb Trimpe's cartooning class, we were all set to take in the annual original musical staged by the students at Julie's school. Fact is, we were just about ready to sit down for an early pre-play dinner--Lynn and I--when we received a call from our darlin' daughter. She and her friend were supposed to meet up at PDS for the 7:30 curtain, but instead, they found themselves stuck in a Taco Bell parking lot with a car that wouldn't start!

Putting aside our uneaten meal, we hopped into our OTHER vehicle and drove over (20 minutes, roughly), hoping to jump the car into road-ready action.

No such luck.

So, we left it in the parking lot overnight, stopped by a Chinese restaurant, shoveled down some Lo Mein and Chow Fun, and made it to our seats just minutes before they lowered the lights to present "Life On Earth", a socially aware parable that featured a group of Overlords--Robin Hood, Mother Earth, Sigmund Freud, Benjamin Franklin, Miss America, The Tooth Fairy, Wonder Woman, John Doe, and a lady lawyer who was a thinly veiled stand-in for Satan amongst them--watching over an unhappy little girl whose fondest wish is for the two separate families of her divorced parents to better get along.

The play was quite entertaining--delivering all her lines in an overly authoritative manner, our ol' pal, The Amazon Princess, garnered most of the laughs, though Dr. Freud did his level best to make certain every line he uttered was done in a flamboyantly show-stopping manner (it was pure ham, yes, but tasty ham). After last year's near five hour marathon (which I chickened out and didn't attend), this comparatively streamlined production clocked in at a mere two and half hours! Brevity is the soul of wit--at least, that's what they tell me! Well done by all concerned.

Saturday, Julie and I drove back out to Taco Bell, awaiting the tow truck that'd transport our inert auto over to our regular mechanic. Luckily for us, the driver pulled out his little super-charger and gave the battery another shot--and this time it worked! After giving it a quick spin around the parking lot, he assured me that as long as I didn't turn it off, it'd get me over to Integrity Auto easily enough. Considering that the jump fee was a mere $35, and the towing woulda been $85 minimum (depending on the exact mileage), this was a lucky break, so I thanked him, drove over, and had Julie follow in the other car (and I sure was lucky she insisted on tagging along--if I'd shown up alone, the guy woulda HAD to tow it over! Sometimes, trying to stall off doing homework can be beneficial in unexpected ways!...)

We didn't get the car back until Monday evening (meaning Julie had to--horrors!--take the bus home that afternoon), but yeah, all it needed was a new battery.

On Sunday, a bright, warm day, we spent the afternoon taking a scheduled tour of the campus of SUNY New Paltz (about forty minutes away). This was our second college tour--we'd visited Noah Smith's old Alma mater, Vassar College, over the recent spring break, not so much because it's a realistic alternative for our Junior, but because it's the nearest university (nearer than that Taco Bell by a couple of miles, in fact) and Julie's advisor suggested we use the vacation time to get out and take at least one trial tour. Our daughter was impressed with the New Paltz school, but it's too early to say yet whether it's gonna rank high on her preferred list or not. Of course, if you were to ask me, I'D say it's too early to even consider the notion that our l'il one is on the verge of going off to college!?!...

Then there are those men up on our roof, banging away even as I type these words. New roof time. Not a surprise--we signed up for one last fall, and this week's generally clear weather made it the perfect time for the stripping and replacing of the shingles.

Meanwhile, my mechanical pens have all gone south, and I can barely get them to work. I've got 8 or 9 commissions all pencilled and ready for finishing, but rather than battle my pesky Koh-I-Noor's any longer, I'm sending off for some Rotrings. Once they arrive, it's back to the drawing board. Patience, oh wise and valued customers...

As for the 100th episode of The Fred Hembeck Show, sorry--not this week. i wanted to do something at least a little special, and wasn't quite able to get to it. Check back with me NEXT Thursday--hopefully, we'll have that link for you then.

Of course, I COULD shamelessly link you on over to the kind words written about yours truly by that noted thespian, Todd Dezago. (And here's Todd as Sherlock.) I could also send you to off to read speculation about how material from Fantaco's long ago DAREDEVIL CHRONICLES wound up in the recent DAREDEVIL OMNIBUS (including art by--uh huh--moi) courtesy of my old compadre, Roger Green.

Or I could just encourage you to take a look at Mark Engblom's "Comics Coverage" site, a very nicely done page that features a high percentage of clever material (I found his "All I REALLY Needed To Know I Learned From Comic Books" particularly entertaining, and chances are, you will too!).

Me? I'll be back again sometime soon, promise.
April 23rd, 2007
Didja ever wonder what Flash Gordon might look like drawn by Joe Kubert? By John Romita? By Michael T. Gilbert even?

Well, thanks to Gordon art alumnus, Jim Keefe, you can see nifty examples of these talented gents unique takes--and several others--on Alex Raymond's legendary spacemen by going to The Flash Gordon Guest Artist Page. Thanks for the tip, Jim--otherwise, how would I've ever noticed that amazing resemblance between Dale Arden and Mary Jane Watson?...
April 20th, 2007
Yesterday morning, I spent my second (and final--today is the last day of the course, y'see) morning as a guest in Herb Trimpe and Patricia Vasquez' central studies Cartooning class at my daughter's school. (For those of you who may've wandered in late, here's a link to my adventures first time around, as well as an explanation as to just exactly what a central studies class is.)

As the whole thing was winding down--and I'd pretty much exhausted my "teaching" material the first time around--I really wasn't sure what the heck I was gonna do to keep the kids attention when I went in Thursday morning. Until, that is, I had a brainstorm the day before as I was mindlessly finishing up vacuuming the unwanted moisture in our basement: cartoon improv!

Believe me, I'm no Sergio Aragones, but I figured if I taped a dozen standard sheets of typewriter paper up on the board, I could engage the group into helping me whip out a quick 12 panel strip! So, with my sharpie at the ready, I explained the concept to the group. As a starting point--and in honor of the class's distinguished professor--I figured we'd cobble together a Hulk story. But not a standard Hulk story by any means. No, one instead that found him in some sort of domestic situation: reading a book, watching TV, mowing the lawn..

"Grocery shopping!" someone shouted out, and before you could say "Zap! Pow! And/or Bam!" we were on our way, with the students shaping the rest of the story with their suggestions!

As I may someday be desperate enough around here to actually post the material, I don't want to say much more about it, save that it concerned cans of Tuna, Wolverine as assistant store manager (in an apron, no less), and Edward Scissorhands as a fellow customer! NONE of which I would've figured beforehand, trust me!

The only prepared material I had was when I asked, while drawing, if anybody knew the Hulk's political affiliation, but rather than the puzzled discussion I anticipated arguing whether Bruce Banner's emerald alter ego was a Democrat or a Republican, someone almost immediately shouted out that he was (wait for it...) a member of the Green Party! Guess my quasi-clever gag was a bit more obvious than I thought.

My little stunt ate up a little over half an hour, and then it was time for the kids to either finish their assignments--produce an original comic strip of at least three pages--or do some research on female comics creators for presentation on Friday. As nearly three quarters of the 16 member class had finished their strips, Herb (who was involved in the lengthy process of mounting the work and putting it on display in the hallway) and Patricia availed upon me to read each piece and then speak to the students individually, figuring a pair of fresh eyes with fresh opinions would be beneficial to the kids. I agreed, natch, and as I'm more Paula than I am Simon, I don't think I ruffled any feathers.

There was some truly remarkable work on display, but even the few pieces that only just barely met the stated criteria showed a great deal of enthusiasm, if not polish. Of particular note was a ten page strip done by one of the 10th grade girls (all in one night, no less!) which retold a quiet adventure she once had walking off into the woods on a snowy day. Told in black and white with just the right amount of red spotted for maximum effect, she broke down the actions and represented the passage of time in a manner that--no kidding--reminded me of Bernie Krigstein's "Master Race"! VERY impressive.

Another young woman totally eschewed actual drawing, instead using a series of shots of ducks on a pond that she'd shot herself (and then digitally manipulated for a garishly colorful look), later to be inserted into a computerized comic strip program, effectively breaking it down into a series of panels that told the story of an alienated water fowl. Then there was the fellow who told the story of the D&D player whose fantasy life was nicely contrasted against his mundane day to day existence; the girl who cleverly used her left hand to draw her strip's out-of-sync cat character; and the guy who turned himself into a super-hero in his assignment's opening panels, only to arrive home, turn on the TV and be confronted with a truly dire situation: Newt Gingrich had just declared his intentions to run for president!! And worse yet--when our newly minted super-hero went to confront the former Speaker, Newt was protected at every turn by--ghosts from the Pac-Man game? Hey, don't ask ME--but it still was a lot of fun, and showed great imagination, as did all of the projects! (See--Simon would NEVER say something like that, but Paula's a whole 'nother story. Hey, I really liked her first CD way back in the eighties--so sue me, okay?...)

Of course, I took the opportunity to jaw with Herb as he applied masking tape to the backs of the student material--and I also brought along a few things for him to sign, including that issue of ROLLING STONE he not only did the cover for, but which featured his photo inside as well.
Some of the kids gathered around as Herb paged through the magazine's yellowed pages, and then I pulled out a copy of GODZILLA #18 (featuring a chapter of the reduced-in-size Godzilla saga, a tremendously fun sequence I remember with great affection--and hey, I'm not even a Godzilla fan!...), and MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #16, featuring the Phantom Eagle, Herb's first pencilling gig for Marvel, and a story he's wistfully declared on more than one occasion he wishes he'd get an opportunity to redraw.
And, because he'd reacted so positively to my two previous redos of a pair of his HULK covers (which I included in my report recounting my initial trip to the class) and requested signed copies of copies of both, I brought those along with me, as well as a freshly done original of HULK #139 (which you can see here) , one of my all-time favorite Trimpe covers, and presented them to him, signing the latter one as being "Green with admiration!". Sorry, Herb--I just can't get away from the corny quips...

Since the kids were just going to watch a movie in the afternoon--one of the Spider-Man flicks--I opted to bail after going out to lunch with Patricia and Herb.

(At which time I took the opportunity to quiz them on their progress with season five of "24", which they hadn't started last time we'd gotten together. Seems they're about halfway through it, meaning Patricia--a big David Palmer fan--in particular managed to survive the trauma of the season's opening fifteen minutes and carry on.
There are still substantial shocks and surprises to come, though, and I did my best to keep my lips zipped, even though Patricia was quizzing me on certain aspects of the storyline! Mum's the word--it's best they find out on their own! I did mention that season six--which started out great--has been disappointing fans almost universally during it's middle stretch, though there is still potential (hope?...) for a strong finish. Herb pointed out to me that, the way they watch the show, what might seem like a month and a half fallow period to weekly viewers like myself, just zips by in few nights for them, soon forgotten as the plot invariably revs up to full steam again! A good point, but without giving anything away--well, hardly--get back to me on that when you come to the episode when the fate of the world hangs in the hands of Rain Man!! In the meantime, enjoy the rest of season five...)

My day at school was all too soon over, and so I thanked my two sponsors for the opportunity (and for the lunch!!) and headed off to do some shopping before returning to pick up my daughter at the conclusion of the school day.

Thanks, Herb and Patricia--and to all the students as well--I had a blast!
April 19th, 2007
Big week for live entertainment last week.

A few days back, I described for you how my buddy Todd Dezago took the stage and immediately stole the role of Sherlock Holmes away from the likes of Basil Rathbone. And now, the 99th episode of The Fred Hembeck Show details a concert we attended a few nights earlier given by Sean Lennon.

Yes, Sean Lennon. Who'd you expect--Sanjaya?

Well, did I dig it? Hey, go take a look...
April 18th, 2007
Just a little note about some site news.

Over the past month or so, I've quietly been updating my Comics Links page. First few years on the web, I would regularly add new links every month or so, but it's been well over a year since I last made any changes to the list.

Well, that's all past history now--check out the items with the red asterisks
(**) cuz they're all new. Oh, and I should point out that since last I updated I kept a cache of bookmarks of sites I intended to add to the list--including several I assured various folks would go up the very next time I got off my butt and amended the list--but then, for reasons I still don't understand, that carefully complied list just up and vanished one day!! I've done my best to recall as many potential new additions as possible, but some undoubtedly were overlooked. So, if I've promised you sometime in the past to add you site, and it's not there, that's why. Oops. Drop me a line and I'll rectify the oversight immediately, okay? Once I start linking, it's hard to stop!! (Over 200 new ones--woo hoo!! And yes, I know I still need to tidy up some of the old ones--one step at a time, gang, one step at a time...)

Hey, here's a specific link you might find of interest: Baggy Pants Bravado's Noah Smith recounts his one time appearance on the Don Imus radio show!' Happily, everyone involved kept a civil tongue that day (a rarity, I'm guessing...).

As for that other big story dominating the news these days, there's little more that I can say but that it's just further proof that sometimes crazy people can be really, really dangerous. My sincere heartfelt sympathies go out to anybody personally touched by this horrific and senseless tragedy.
April 16th, 2007

That describes our downstairs. As I type this, there are two pumps at the base of the stairs, sending water up through a pair of garden hoses and out the side door (and making a nice size lake in our neighbor's back yard). The rain has stopped (yeah, but for how long?...), but the moisture is still seeping in. Currently, there's about an inch deep of unwanted water swirling about the lower levels.

it could've been worst--and was, back in October of 2005. We've lived in this house for 11 years now, and that was the first time we'd ever had a problem (aside from some annoying but minor seepage we'd occasionally get in the corners of two rooms after a particularly nasty rainfall). That night, after two full weeks of unrelenting rain, the water was coming in fast and furious. I discovered the problem around eight that fateful evening, and spent the rest of the night--and into the next morning--dragging buckets of water up the stairs. Lynn, Julie, and her friend Samantha (who picked a heckuva night for a sleep-over) helped me until about 1AM, after which I was on my own. We did have a dinky little pump to assist us, but it didn't do much good. Lynn went out bright and early the next morning and purchased the two pumps that are currently in use.

And yeah, I lost a bunch of stuff to water damage, but near ninety per cent was marginal, if that (did I REALLY need to keep every edition of Diamond PREVIEWS, after all? Well, Mother Nature pointed out the clear answer: NO!...). After that clean up, we went out and bought a couple dozen large waterproof plastic bins, and filled them with anything that was anywhere near the floor (our first flood probably reached levels of five or so inches, but would've likely doubled that if I hadn't emptied buckets throughout the night).

We were promised a Nor'easter yesterday (exactly a week following Easter, I hasten to note--coincidence?), and while happily we didn't get any punishing winds, and the rain didn't SEEM as bad as expected, when I went downstairs at midnight to check things, I was distressed to see the seepage was making its way throughout the entire floor. Luckily, it was moving very slowly, and at first, I tried vacuuming it up, emptying the vac via the pump and hose after it would fill up (which happened with increasing rapidity). The water on the floor wasn't deep enough to utilize the pumps with at this point--for the longest time, there were still significant dry spots on the subtly uneven floor--so it was vacuum, pump out, repeat, an activity that lasted until about 3 AM. By then, the water was deep enough to use the pumps on their own. At this juncture, I was pretty beat--but nonetheless wired--so I went upstairs and watched an episode of Conan O' Brian that I had on tape (Molly Shannon is a great talk show guest, by the way). I stayed up until nearly 5 AM, mainly because I was afraid the floor would eventually dry, and leaving the pumps running without water to suck up would damage them. I soon realized i had nothing to worry along THOSE lines, so I finally allowed myself to succumb to the land of ZZZZZs.

Well, like I said, we're still pumping. Thanks to those blessed plastic bins, almost nothing was destroyed (some mailing cardboard had fallen on the floor, which I lazily neglected to pick up. Oh well...). As long as the rain subsides for a while (which looks to be a fifty/fifty proposition), I think we'll be okay.

If not, you'll read about it here.

Y'know, decades back, Creedence asked "Who'll Stop The Rain?", and if they ever did get an answer, would somebody please let me know? I'd sure like to get in contact with THAT particular party!...
April 14th, 2007
It happened about seven or eight years ago.

I was home alone one day, sorting through some books and magazines on the living room floor and I had the TV on--I think it was tuned to a baseball game, but it could've been cable news. I had my back to the screen as I went about my paper shuffling, y'see, and was only dimly aware that a local commercial for an Albany based medical facility was playing. A series of heart felt testimonials from past patients droned on, barely making a dent on my otherwise engaged consciousness.

Then, without any warning, I stopped, stunned by what I was hearing!

I KNOW that voice!

And I don't mean I know that voice like it's some favorite celebrity trying to make a few extra bucks on the side by doing a sales pitch anonymously. No, this was the voice of someone who I'd actually spent time with in the same room! Believe me, the last thing you ever expect to hear when you're only paying half attention to the tube is the sound of an actual pal piping through the speakers!

I whirled around, to see if I was going batty, but sure enough, there he was, testifying earnestly for the Albany Medical Center--Todd Dezago!

You may know Todd for his Spider-Man and X-Men scripts, or maybe for his two fine creator-owned series, TELLOS and THE PERHAPANAUTS? Me, I'd known Todd since he was one of the clerks at A Strange Land (along with Tom "Hutch Owens" Hart), a long-shuttered Kingston Comics shop. And over the intervening years, I had encountered Todd at many a local party, and--up until it's untimely demise about three years back--on the courts during our decades spanning weekly volleyball game. But because of where Todd lives--pretty darn far away from yours truly--we generally tend to meet up somewhere in the middle. Fact is, in the ten years we've been happily ensconced in this house, Todd's only made out here once.

Well, twice, if you count that commercial.

(Which I never saw again, incidentally. And when I quizzed him about it at a subsequent volleyball gathering, turns out he was never a patient at said hospital at all! It was--to borrow a phrase from Jon Lovitz--acting!....)

Which brings me to last night....
Lynn, Julie and I drove over to Hyde Park to meet Terry Austin for dinner at the Everready Diner, a nifty fiftiesesque eatery, after which we headed out to the Dutchess Community College campus to catch a performance of "Sherlock Holmes, or The Strange Case of Alice Faukner", a play written back in 1899 by William Gillette based on the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and later made into a 1981 HBO telefim starring Frank Langella, following a Broadway production headlining same that Terry recalls seeing on The Great White Way back in his younger days).

The big attraction here? The star.

Forget Basil Rathbone! Disregard Peter Cushing! Dismiss Frank Langella--for now and evermore, after last night, for me anyway, Todd Dezago IS Sherlock Holmes!!

(And THIS time, I made a specific point of not turning my back on him!)

As odd a sensation as it was seeing his head pop up, unannounced, on my television set years back, it was nearly as peculiar watching someone I knew reasonably well (we don't see each other nearly as often as we may like these days.) up on stage for nearly two-and-a-half hours, portraying one of the most iconic characters in fiction--and doing a damn fine job of it, to boot!!

I'd been aware of Todd's thespian proclivities in the past, but I'd never quite gotten the opportunity to witness them. He really was quite good, and I'm not just saying that because he's a friend. The rest of the cast nearly matched him as well, I hasten to add. Oh sure, there were a few flubs along the way, but nothing worthy of a blooper reel. The play took a while to start cooking, storywise--no fault of the cast--but as soon as Todd showed up, deducing the bejeezus out of every little thing, we were well on our way! I wish you could all make it down to DCC for the show's final pair of performance's tonight and tomorrow, but as that isn't very likely, allow me, in my guise as Mr. Second-Nighter, to shower the productions with kudos. particularly the star, Todd "I-was-sick-but-Albany-Medical-Center-made-me-better" Dezago!

(I admit to chuckling out loud when Mr. D uttered the immortal line, "Elementary, my dear Watson", but waited in vain for that OTHER famous quote associated with the master detective, "No sh*t, Sherlock!". And, as I told Todd afterwards in the hallway, I was moderately disappointed that he regularly doffed his headgear as soon as he walked into a scene each and every time. I for one thought the show would've been even better if Sherlock had kept his coonskin cap on throughout! Well, maybe NEXT time...)

Summing up, a fine time was had by all (except maybe Julie--there were certain aspects of the mystery that confused her), and I even scored a nifty little Nick Cardy illustrated postcard promoting the play for my trouble!

(And here's an article about the play from a local paper, featuring a photo of Todd alongside Sherlock's lady-love. No truth, however, to the rumor that the great sleuth wed the beauteous Alice and later fathered a baby girl named Katie. That, my friends, would be just Cruising for trouble!...)
April 12th, 2007
"Collect call from Bikini Bottom--will you accept the charges?"

Oh yeah, you bet I will!

Details found over in the 98th episode of The Fred Hembeck Show!

Oh, and please take a look at today's Rambling With Rog posting. My good pal Roger Green managed to snare the cover of yesterday's New York Post--a bit of internet larceny I attempted but failed to pull off--and is happily displaying it for your enjoyment. In reference to the belated revelation of the identity of the daddy of Anna Nicole's baby, it is perhaps the most insanely ridiculous front page ever to grace the Post--and folks, THAT'S saying something!! Thanks for sharing, Rog!

My only additional comment would be, "But what about Shemp?...."
April 11th, 2007
From the "Sometimes You Find Wisdom In The Strangest Places" Department, I offer up the following Jack Kirby/Al Hartley (!?) illoed panel from the January, 1963 issue of Marvel's LOVE ROMANCES (#103)...

(Or maybe it was just some under-the-radar cross-promotion with DC Comics?...)
To paraphrase a well-know slogan, "With a name like Jazzbo, he'd BETTER be a million laughs!"
April 5th, 2007
The latest issue to hit our shores of the fine British music publication UNCUT (April 2007) features a cover story on The Who--or, more specifically, their late drummer, Keith Moon.

Now, my admiration for the group is of the highest order--they seemingly exist in an eternal, ever-shifting struggle with The Beach Boys for the coveted second spot on my all time faves list (behind--well gee, do I REALLY haveta tell ya?...)--but this appears to be another one of those "Lovable Loon Meets Tragic End" pieces, and I honestly don't really know when--or even if--I'll get around to reading it. Frankly, I dig The Who for their MUSIC, and while yes, I'm always interested in background details, these apparently endless tales of Moon's excessive antics tend to get real tiresome real soon. Cuz, let's face it--it always makes him sound like a self-centered jerk, dig? But hey--he sure had a unique way of pounding those skins, no denying that, huh?

I mention this all as a lead up to a photo that accompanied the piece, one that I'd never seen before, and one that ran sans any explanatory caption. Check it out and you'll immediately understand why i figured you folks might find it of interest...
Hey, maybe I was too tough on the guy--after all, just how bad could he be if he used a chunk of his rock-star booty to have custom made copies of several iconic John Buscema Marvel super-hero poses painted life-sized on his wall? (And were Keith Moon still alive today, he'd sure make one helluva contestant on "Dancing With The Stars", don'tcha think?....)

While on the subject of UK-based tune rags, I should also mention that the April issue of MOJO has as its feature review the latest CD from the group Arcade Fire, a piece graced with a very nice full page illustration done by none other than long-time Batman artist, Norm Breyfogle. This isn't Norm's first piece for the periodical, though--several months ago he contributed a series of paintings providing iconic rock stars with decidedly fresh looks.

But you don't have to take my word for it--I suggest you check out Daniel Best's 20th Century Danny Boy blog. He not only has a pair of the paintings in question on display, but some background info and preliminary sketches to boot!

So go here to see The White Stripes Jack White in his Easy Company outfit, and here to see Bob Dylan duded up with some clothes lifted straight outta The Rawhide Kid's (you should pardon the expression) closet. This portrait was painted back when he WAS working on Maggie's farm, I'm guessing!...

(Oh, and no Fred Hembeck Show this week, gang--spring break. But worry not--we'll return next Thursday with a "Fred Gone Wild!" entry! Or something....)
April 3rd, 2007
For the record, the Mets went into Busch stadium for Sunday night's opening contest and handily conquered the St. Louis Cardinals--the reigning World Champs and the team who dashed the New Yorkers Series' dreams in a hard fought seven game NLCS last fall--6 to 1 behind some fine pitching by Tom Glavine, timely two out hitting, and several Gold Glove-worthy fielding gems. Nice job, fellas!

And, barring anything way out of the ordinary--like say, the first ever no-hitter in the otherwise pitching rich franchise's storied history--that'll be it for the baseball recaps for now, at least. until the National Leaguers take on their AL rivals, the Yankees, mid-season.

Watch for the return of non-sports oriented nonsense in the days to come, gang! Breath holding, optional...
April 1st, 2007
No April Fool's jokes here, friends, save to point you all to a classic, a look at the never-to-be-forgotten "Night of March 31st", the story that started it all for me (figures, huh?...)

In other marginally important news, the Mets have the honor of starting the 2007 baseball season tonight, playing the World Champ Cardinals on ESPN2 (What? ESPN1 wasn't available?). I suppose it's something special that they get the jump on all the other teams, but the very distinct drawback is, after listening to Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, and Gary Cohen call their games all spring, tonight I have to listen to some...strangers. Guess the joke IS on me, huh?


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