Archive - August 2004
|August 29th, 2004|
In those classic LITTLE LULU and TUBBY comics by John Stanley, the little blond-haired girl that captured all the boy's attention—and all the other girls ire—was named Gloria. The most desirable girl amongst Longwood High School's Class of 1971 was also named Gloria. In 1966, The Shadows of Knight made the spelling out of “G-L-O-R-I-A” into an immortal rock and roll anthem.
And then, in 1982, there was one other “Gloria”, the first—and by far the biggest--hit for a young woman by the name of Laura Branigan. Originally an Italian-composed ditty, when English lyrics were grafted on to the tune's propulsive melody, the result was a worldwide hit that instantly made the reputation of the lovely brunette songstress. Now, some might call the track a disposable piece of pop fluff, but I certainly wouldn't be one of them. Fact is, I absolutely love that song, and have pretty much ever since the very first time I heard it.
So I remember subsequently being a tad bit more excited that usual when I learned that Laura Branigan was going to appear on “Saturday Night Live”, slated to perform what was and would always be her signature number on the very same stage as that usually occupied by some of the most cutting edge acts in the entire musical arena.
And then she sang it...
She sounded horrible. Just awful. Hey, the woman was certainly lovely enough (actually, more than enough), but I was still tremendously disappointed. Just another pretty face, it seemed all too clear, with a hit record bestowed upon her purely via the faceless wizardry of talented but unheralded production personnel. Too bad. I wanted to admire her for her talents, not merely her good lucks...
Fast forward a few years. The hits had, by then, dried up for Ms. Branigan. Her first several LPs (this was the era just before CDS became omnipresent) were taking up space in the cut-out bins, going for anywhere from a buck to $2.99. Well, I'd recalled how much I'd enjoyed good ol' “Gloria”, so, always happy to spot a bargain, I picked up her first album.
And then her second, her third, and soon, just about anything else I could find. Much to the bemusement of some of my friends, I suddenly became a big Laura Branigan fan. She really COULD sing, I was delighted to discover. Somehow or another, I belatedly found out that that SNL debacle was the result of a really nasty case of the flu. The woman DID have talent! My faith was restored...
Sure, a lot of the material she chose to record might just as easily turn up on a Celine Dion or a Michael Bolton collection—neither a favorite of mine—but somehow I could accept it coming from her. “Gloria” remained her greatest achievement, but as an album, her third, “Self Control” was perhaps her strongest (it sported, I'll blushingly admit, my favorite cover portrait as well).
Another mostly forgotten star from the eighties, she unfortunately hadn't been heard much from in recent times. Still, rarely would more than few months go by when I wouldn't manage to cue up my “Best of Branigan” CD at least once. The truth is, when I burned a three disc collection of my all-time favorite upbeat tracks a few years back, “Gloria” easily made the cut.
Which I suppose is my long-winded way of saying I was pretty bummed out to hear that the singer had unexpectedly passed away the other day at the all-too-young age of 47. Admittedly, I didn't follow her career as closely as some of my other favorite performers, but still, I felt a very real connection to her work nonetheless.
It's just a shame, is what it is, and she'll be definitely missed.
|August 27th, 2004|
I've told you in the past about the semi-regular volleyball games I play with some of my local cartoonist friends (as well as a handful of folks blessed with real jobs, too!...). Well, the other night's gathering was definitely one for the memory books—and I'm thinking maybe it best that I record the quasi-surreal events that occurred then hereabouts, if only for posterity...
We hadn't played all that much this summer, y'see. Denied access to our regular enclosed arena from late May on through until mid-September, we've taken to hitting the outdoors during the summer months. Due to some especially fickle weather, as well as several weeks without enough available participants to muster up a decent contest, we've only managed to assemble ourselves a handful of times recently. But the other night, ah, the other night—it was going to be different. It had been a beautiful day, a swell day, and an amazing 12 people were slated to show up, including—and here's the key to our tale, gang—one newcomer...
One of our non-cartoonist pals recently met a young woman where he's employed who expressed an interest in playing volleyball, and so he naturally suggested she have a go with our friendly little aggregation. He usually carpools over to the gamesite with me and a couple of other folks, but this evening the revised plan had him driving over with our newcomer—who didn't know her way to the field--and then returning home with us. Fine. But there was already one area of concern that was nagging at me—the imminent fall of night...
During late June, as we approach the solstice, it doesn't get dark until close to nine in the evening, and so you can have yourselves a decent game going even past the hour of 8:30. However, by late August, things have changed radically, as I was well aware when I mowed the lawn the night before (yup, got me a new machine!). Heavy duty dusk was setting in around 7:30, and by 7:45 (just as I was finishing up), it seemed extremely unlikely to me that we'd be able to play much beyond that point the subsequent evening. Now, this wouldn't be much of a problem if we'd just start earlier, but as has been proven summer after summer, year in and year out, enough folks plain aren't capable of arriving before 6:30 (our standard kick-off time) to make such an adjustment feasible. Add to that the fact that we usually need about 10 to 15 minutes to set up our net in the park's field, and you can see what I was thinking—we got us an hour, tops, to flail around, pretending to be athletic (inside, we usually get two). Okay, I figure--I'm game. But let's get a move on, shall we?...
So, five of us arrive at 6:30, we put up the net and measure out the boundaries with string, and then our new player arrives with her “sponsor”. We all introduce ourselves to this young woman, who certainly seems nice enough, and when the OTHER five players stagger in as the clock nearly strikes seven (they'd been caught in unexpectedly heavy traffic caused by a local county fair, somewhat exonerating their tardiness), we proceed to play our usual brand of volleyball: sloppy, enthusiastic, and just plain fun. Well, sir, the fun wasn't gonna last...
As is our custom, at the completion of a game, the two teams proceed to switch sides, and then start up all over again. Only, just after the first serve, things stopped dead. It seems our new recruit—playing on the side opposite from me—was fishing around in one of the many pockets of her cargo pants, looking in vain for something she had stashed their earlier, only to distressingly discover a hole in said pocket instead.
Curious, we asked her what it was that she had apparently misplaced.
Her ring, she answered.
Her engagement ring.
Her diamond engagement ring.
Her UNINSURED diamond engagement ring!
The one she had received a mere three weeks earlier—a personal revelation that was news to all, including—yup--the fella who brung her!
But there'd be time to worry about that later—it was 7:10, and the light was already dwindling. Almost instantaneously, all twelve of us were down on all fours, crawling around the area she'd patrolled during the first—and so far, only—game of the night, combing through the thick, unmowed grass for any sign of the unlucky bride-to-be's prize sparkler. At first, the search was done pretty much at random, but eventually, we were each lined up next to one another, methodically making our way as a group slowly from the back court on in towards the net. It was, needless to say, a strange sight...
This poor young woman must've really been freaking out on the inside, but on the outside, she managed to keep her cool. If anything, she seemed a bit embarrassed at both her poor judgement, and for inadvertantly causing us—ten total strangers, and a single co-worker she didn't know all that well—to get down on their hands and knees, all in an effort to bail her out. Several times, in fact, as the minutes fruitlessly ticked on, she implored us to abandon our seemingly-hopeless task, and resume playing. But, being the princes (and princesses) we are, we ignored her and kept right on looking. Which is not to say we made it ENTIRELY painless for this unfortunate soul...
You know how humor is said to break tension? Well, there was a LOT of tension, so there was a lot of humor, as well—maybe a little TOO much. Sure, the inevitable comment that perhaps this was all a “sign” elicited a weak courtesy chuckle from its target the first time it was uttered, but by the time this gag—and several variations—chalked up double figures, it was a wonder this poor gal didn't come right out and smack somebody, or at least scream at them. But she didn't.
Also heard from was a fella who hadn't quite made it down the aisle with his last lady friend. He offered her a bargain-priced used engagement ring that—in his words, “was only thrown once!” It was a funny line, but I really had to wonder, was this woman in much of a mood to laugh? I had to figure not, and decided to keep my quips to myself. An oh-so-rare display of discretion...
After twenty minutes, she gave up. She said thanks anyway, and dejectedly headed off to her car. Then, she drove off. Now 7:30, most of the sun's fading rays were gone too. A pall had been cast over our fun-filled gathering, but we took a collective deep breath, and proceeded with game two—even though we well knew we could easily be stomping our departed colleague's jewelry deeper and deeper into the ground. It was either that, or fold up our tent altogether, and this time, discretion WASN'T on the menu...
A few minutes later, a uniformed officer appeared, but there was little he could do but watch us play and kibitz from the sidelines. She obviously had reported her loss to the local police, and they sent him over, but as there was no suspicion of theft, there were no body searches in order. All cavities, happily, remained sealed...
And as we approached 7:45—my mental cutoff for the night's activities, we finished our second game. But that wasn't enough for some people (it was for me), and after some small debate, a THIRD contest was initiated!?! Well, not being a spoilsport, I went along with the majority, but sure enough, it just got darker and darker, and after struggling with the swiftly diminishing light for another fifteen minutes, common sense demanded we truncate the contest after someone was almost decapitated by a ball they had absolutely no chance of seeing! Bad enough to lose an engagement ring—losing one's head definitely would've marked this as a night to dismember...
Two days later, the happy ending to this story I'd been hoping for came in via the email: after returning to the scene of the crime (such as it was) with a metal detector, our gal with the leaky cargo pants found a gum wrapper, twenty six cents, and, yes, her ring.
And it only took six hours.
At this point, that's all I know, as further details were sketchy. The gum wrapper was claimed by another of the evening's participants, the coins are still up for grabs, but most importantly, that ring is no doubt back exactly where it belongs--
--safely locked away in her dresser drawer, until her flustered fiance can whisk it on down to his insurance agent and buy himself a policy, toot sweet!
And what of this potential groom, anyway? What must he've thought of this whole sorry situation? Did he even know that his sweetie was out in some field somewhere, playing volleyball with a bunch of strangers (four others of which were also of the female persuation, for whatever that might've been worth)? Was he the one desperately wielding that metal detector? And will she ever play volleyball with us again?
Well, there's probably no way we'll ever know the answers to most of those questions, save that last one. If she does, I'll admit to being pretty surprised. However, she's always welcome, and the good news is that very soon, we'll be comfortably back inside.
There shouldn't be any problem then. After all, far as I can figure, it'd be mighty difficult to lose ANYTHING on those shiny hard wood floors in the gymnasium...
August 26th, 2004
|The topic de jour:
the wild and wacky restaurant slogans of North Carolina.
That's the state where we spent most of our recent vacation (full report still a strong possibility--that's both a promise AND a threat, people!...), and of course, we had to eat. Paging through several widely available promotional booklets, the kind that are full of both information and coupons, there were a couple of dining establishments that couldn't help but catch our collective eye.
Like this one...
|Daughter Julie, being
just the right age to consider this doggedly obvious double entendre to
be the very height of hilarity, laughed at this joke until long after
any and all actual humor had been wrung completely dry from it. Still,
as fate would have it, coming home late one evening from a long
expedition up and down the shoreline, in danger of missing out on
supper time altogether as places were closing up left and right, we
found ourselves left with little choice but to dine at good ol' Dirty
Dick's! While no one at our table actually went for the crabs, the food
we did order was--though hardly gourmet--surprisingly good.
By the time we'd finished eating, however, the gift shop—yes, they have a gift shop—was closed, leaving us only to return the following morning in order to satisfy Julie's desire to purchase, uh huh, a distinctive Dirty Dick's souvenir. Can't go home without one. Thinking better of spending money for a tee-shirt she was unlikely ever be able to wear outside the confines of our own house, she instead invested in a mug, a refrigerator magnet, and that swell looking postcard that I shared with you all above. Tacky though it may be, this risque slogan of theirs has launched three thriving locations in N.C., and an additional one in Florida, all doing a brisk business in doodads decorated with several moderately clever variations of the gag that launched a thousand giggles from teens of all ages...
Now, while Dirty Dick's attention grabbing ad copy may've elicited a simultaneous chuckle and grimace from yours truly, there was one OTHER slogan that actually made me laugh out loud when I first encountered it...
theory behind such an apparently abusive directive is this: the beaches
at North Carolina being the positively wonderful places that they are
to visit, prompted the ever thoughtful folks at Bob's Grill--not
wanting anyone to miss even a single minute lazily luxuriating on one
of them—to figure that the best order of business for their customers
might well be to eat their food and, well, GET THE HELL OUT!! Have fun!
“Hey, tourist people!..”, you can almost hear Bob himself
shouting,“...You're not here to hang out in this modest little eatery,
so make tracks for the dunes, and pronto, dig?...”
At least, that's the way it was explained to us by Naomi, our friend, hostess, and current Outer Banks resident. Sadly, there were no tee-shirts available at Bob's single location, but we did buy ourselves several plastic cups emblazoned with their unforgettable slogan (the matches were free). Fact is, we paid for them right up at the cash register, where a sign warmly reminds patrons, “Pay, and get the Hell out!”
Well, that's it for today. So--what are you hanging around for? We're done here. You've read “Fred Sez”--now get the Hell out!!
(...Y'know, I don't think that's quite gonna work for me...)
August 25th, 2004
Captain America always was one for making official announcements, but back in late 1990 (which is when this February, 1991, issue of THE AVENGERS actually came out), the news that a now-justifiably forgotten character by the name of “Rage” was being welcomed into the fold by the World's Mightiest Heroes was hardly the most earth-shattering bulletin found within the pages of this modest little entry in the great Marvel tapestry.
No, the announcement we in this particular household found ourselves most concerned with wound up in that month's installment of the venerable Marvel Comics Bullpen Bulletins page...
(And not good ol' Stan's rather frenetic sales job for NIGHT CAT, the comic-book character whose real-life counterpart's dance-flavored CD, despite the Smilin' One's best efforts, failed to set the comics OR music biz on its ear, either. As Halle Berry well knows by now, not all felines have nine lives...)
|It was this little item, appearing mid-way through a piece written in the first person, employing a literary conceit that alleged its author to be one “Dodge Deadline, Comic Book Detective”. And his big scoop? Read on, friends...|
the news of my little girl's then-recent birth made it into that
month's Bullpen Bulletins—and not only in AVENGERS#329, but in every
other comic issued by Marvel with a February, 1991 cover date as
well!—assuring her a unique bit of posterity, one that absolutely
tickled me then, and remains a big thrill to me even today. A bizarre
combination of fatherly AND fan-boy pride overcomes me when I consider
my daughter's Marvelous immortalization (undoubtedly the handiwork of Jim Salicrup,
whether or not he was the actual writer of the piece—thanks, Jim!), and
there's a very special reason why it came to mind today...
August 21st, 2004
most everyone else lucky enough to have picked up their very first
appearance in MY GREATEST ADVENTURE #80 off the stands way back in
1963, I've long been a fan of DC Comics' quirky super hero team, The
Doom Patrol. Scripter Arnold Drake was the first wordsmith at that
august—and somewhat stuffy--firm to apply the then-revolutionary Stan
Lee approach to a National title, which, combined with the decidedly
non-Kirbyesque illustrations of the elegant Bruno Premiani, made for an
unusually irresistible combination. Still, it wasn't as if the creative
team didn't ever suffer a bad day, y'know...
Take The Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man—PLEASE!
I was reading the final issue included in the first DOOM PATROL ARCHIVES (#89) last night, and had opportunity to encounter perhaps the worst named menace in the annals of Silver Age comics again for the first time in four decades. What a mouthful! Can't you just imagine those frantic 911 calls?..
“Hello, police? I'm being attacked by The, um, Animal-Mineral-Vegetable Ma—no, no, that's not it. I think it's the, ah, geez, Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man? Yeah, THAT'S i—AARRRRGGHHH!!!...”
(Sound of disconnected phone...)
And then there's that cover. Not a shining moment for artist Bob Brown, sorry to say—or the clueless colorist, either, for that matter. A pink dinosaur? Combined with a white haired gent in a sky-blue circus strongman's body suit?? With tree limbs AND a diamond hand??? Set against a bright yellow background, the only red to be found anywhere winding up on Rita and Larry's newly--and inauspiciously--introduced uniforms???? Blegghh...
|There's not a whole lot to the story, honest, and I'm not really up to recounting it, except to share with you this one especially curious panel from midway through this 17 page epic...|
Yup, the bad guy merely changed himself into a dandelion, and blew away! A moment of consummate lameness—or one of inspired zen absurdity? Both, probably—and that wacky dichotomy is a crucial key to the lasting reputation (if not outright sales success) of these self-professed “World's Strangest Heroes”.
how could you not help love a group whose leader—in direct contrast to
a certain Daily Planet editor—requested—nay, implored—that his charges
call him “Chief”? Great General Immortus' (if only!) Ghost!
A program note...
While we were off on our vacation, the Still-Rascally Roy Thomas very thoughtfully dropped me a note about a one hour special airing on The Travel Channel, “Marvel Super Heroes' Guide To New York City”, but since I wasn't home to receive email, I unfortunately missed its initial airing. Quite by accident, I stumbled across a rebroadcast last night (which I managed to tape—if not yet watch—a few minutes into the episode), but a quick look at the Travel Channel's website imparted the helpful information that it'll be broadcast yet again on Sunday, August 22 (that's tomorrow, people) at 1PM, and then again on September 10 (9PM), 11 (12AM) and 12 (1PM), (all times EST, natch),so there's absolutely no excuse for any of you to miss this guided tour of The Big Apple featuring the likes of Stan Lee, Joe Simon, the Romitas, and Roy himself, along with wife Dann. There'll be others featured as well, including, no doubt, some poor sap who ISN'T Tobey Maguire sporting a spandex Spidey suit.
Say, you don't suppose Roy could've gotten HIS old outfit out of mothballs, do ya? I guess you'll just haveta tune in and find out, True Believers!...
|August 19th, 2004|
months back, I stumbled across a site with the self-explanatory name of
The Weblog Review.
Curious as to see how Fred Sez would fare alongside the over 1500
previously reviewed blogs, I eagerly looked into the nuts and bolts of
submitting ye olde site for their inspection.
Well, it turned out there were two ways to go about things. You could wait until they had an opening in their 40 available free submission slots, and then languidly while away the months until your number finally comes up, or you could quietly slip them a fiver, and be guaranteed a pair of critiques by two staff members in the subsequent five days (or, dare I say it, your money back!). You know what they say about the folly of buying the cow when the milk is free, don'tcha? Yup, we opted for the frugal approach. And we waited, and waited, and then waited some more...
Just before going off on our trip, we learned that we were in the fifth position, meaning that there was every good chance that the piece would make its debut while we were on vacation. As we neared the top of the list, I'll admit to having some small anxiety. After all, I'd seen several perfectly good blogs pummeled at the hands of obviously unreceptive reviewers in the weeks leading up to my moment at the apex. What if the luck of the draw saw my review assigned to someone who thinks comics are, well, STUPID? Not exactly a stretch there, folks...
We arrived home after midnight, and after posting a delayed entry on this here page, Lynn zipped over to The Weblog Review. The Fred Sez review had been posted earlier that very evening, as it turned out, and before I had a chance to ask her any more about it, she started laughing. Realizing her reaction was only serving to make me more uptight, she quickly said “Relax, it's a good review.”
And it was. I was happy to learn that my reviewer, someone going by the handle “Yetzirah” had bestowed a 4.75 rating(out of a possible 5.00) on our efforts here. (Checking his/her backlog of over 45 past reviews turned up but a single 5.00, and only one other 4.75, so I had to be pleased.) And then I read the actual review. And I laughed, too.
How could I not? Yetz praised my various essays as being “well written (if long)”--which is in itself enough to make the primary audience for my long-winded verbal rambles chuckle, mainly to keep from crying—but it was when he/she pointed out that reading them put him/her in mind of being “in the presence of a hyper-active teenager”, well, you just GOTTA laugh at that! Especially since—believe it or not—it was meant as a compliment! And it isn't really all that far off the mark, now is it gang?
I was a bit concerned that only my blog would be taken in to account, but happily, Yetzirah discovered the “labyrinth” that is this ever expanding website, and was “overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information” contained herein. Yup, that's the primary secret to our success here at Hembeck.com: volume, volume, volume!
Actually, I was pleased to discover that my examiner had neither heard of me nor even ever been much of a comics fan. It's always been a goal of mine to make things here at the site accessible to just about anybody who wanders in, and not just the hardcore four-color fans (though we love you too), and I was gratified that ol' Yetz could still enjoy the variety of material posted despite not knowing the difference between Mort Sahl and Mort Weisinger! After all, my goal always HAS been world domination, and maybe—just maybe—I'm on my way...
So here's the review. Check it out and judge for yourself. There's basically two ways I can take the piece: every word is the gospel (except maybe the part about the colors being too garish; can't be, just can't...), and Yetzirah is perhaps the most perceptive critic to come down the pike since the glory days of James Agee...
...OR, based on the reviewers obvious ignorance of the multitude of swell cartoonist sites and comics bloggers, we here at Fred Sez only look good in comparison to, well, nothing in particular. Surely, Mark Evanier's site would warrant that elusive 5.0 (even if his colors ARE as bright as mine...)--and what of Johnny Bacardi, Noah Smith, and Mike Wieringo's Sketch Blog? Yipes--I'll be dropping down that list, and fast! But go ahead, folks—give it shot. While I didn't check out all 1571(and counting) sites, I confess that I came across nary a single comics oriented one in all my previous sampling, so now's the chance for some adventurous bloggers to help fill a very large void.
Only, pony up that five spot, okay people? Otherwise, expect your review to appear sometime around Christmas—and I'm NOT guaranteeing which year!!...
|August 18th 2004|
Yeah, I know--I never mentioned anything about GOING. Pardon us, folks. It's just that both Lynn and I had our reservations about announcing to all hither and yon that we weren't going to be home for a period of little over a week. Well, actually, we were more concerned about the hither than the yon, but I think you get the idea. Paranoia, you betcha, by golly, yow.
We went on an actual vacation--left 9:30 AM on Tuesday the 10th, got home just past midnight on Wednesday the 18th--the first extended one for us here since the birth of Hembeck.com. Lotsa fun--and a complete recounting of a multitude of exciting events is sure to follow. But not today. Not yet. As with the wind-up of any other half-way decent vacation, I now feel the need for ANOTHER vacation merely to recover from the one just completed! Ain't that always the way...
The laptop did NOT go with us, as it turned out, and we only had access to high speed Internet the first two days of our jaunt, so our carefully conceived plan to hoist up a pre-written entry mid-week didn't come off quite as planned. Some of you may've noticed a fresh "New On Site" blurb on Monday, without the accompanying essay. Well, we tried (actually, Lynn did), but it just didn't pan out, and rather than spend all morning laboring over it, after 20 minutes, we abandoned the attempt, and set out for a day of fun in the sun! So sue us! Hey, but I appreciate those of you who contacted us, helpfully alerting us to the situation, even though it was one we were all too well aware of. When we got home last night--or actually, early this very morning--we posted it. Yup, the Jack Kirby piece. Nothing to lose any sleep over, huh?
And speaking of which, I think I'll go grab myself some Zzzzzs now. G'night!..
August 17th 2004
|The King is dead!
Long live the King!
...That's kinda the feeling I got when I was going through the latest Previews catalog, filling out my monthly comics order...
First, I came across the second volume of DC Comics' collection of those wild Jimmy Olsen adventures Jack Kirby dreamt up as part of his expansive Fourth World saga back in the early seventies. 192 pages, full-color, soft-cover, twenty bucks.
Then, the fine folks at Marvel were offering “Marvel Visionaries: Jack Kirby Volume1”, a careering-spanning collection of his pivotal work for the company, ranging from the forties right on through to the seventies. 336 pages, full-color, hard-cover, thirty bucks.
Not to be outdone, Archie—yes, Archie—is coming out with “The Adventures Of The Fly Volume 1” collecting the earliest issues of the last major Simon & Kirby project, first seeing print in 1959 and 60. 96 pages, full-color, soft-cover, thirteen bucks.
Greg Theakston's Pure Imagination had “The Jack Kirby Reader Volume3” available as well, bringing together a wide variety—and many obscure—works by the once and always King of Comics, the time period here ranging from 1947 to 1959. Undetermined amount of pages, black and white, soft-cover, twenty five bucks.
And of course, Two Morrow's has yet another splendid issue of their long-running “Jack Kirby Collector”, number 41, up for sale. This time out, editor John Morrow looks into Jack's mildly controversial late-seventies Marvel tenure. 80 plus pages, black and white, tabloid magazine, ten bucks.
Wow! That's a whole lotta Kirby—and that's just for one month!
Y'know, I THOUGHT I saw “Big Barda's Dominatrix Funnies” under the Eros comics listings, but I went back and double-checked, only to discover it was merely my fevered imagination at work. Too bad. Sounded like it could've maybe been the potential break-out hit of the entire batch!...
|August 10th, 2004|
|One morning, way back during the mid-sixties, shortly before I was about to go off to school, my dad, as usual, had on the “Today Show”. I wasn't paying much attention, but once the hosts introduced their next guest and I heard the name, my ears suddenly perked up, mainly from surprise. It was Fay Wray, and all I could think of at the time was “Geez, is SHE still alive?...”|
nearly four decades later, the answer is finally “No”. The greatest
leading lady a giant gorilla ever had passed away a few days ago at the
age of 96. But in many ways her career ended when she retired from the
silver screen in 1942, only 9 years after she essayed the role that
would grant her cinematic immortality, and forever be the way she'd be
remembered . I was quite surprised to read that she'd appeared in over
100 films—and made several small comebacks in the fifties and sixties
as well. But none of those gigs had anywhere near the overwhelming
impact of her iconic role as Ann Darrow, the girl with the
oh-so-healthy lungs who made the tall, dark, and not-quite-handsome
star of “King Kong” lovesick. (Dare I suggest she was “the gorilla his
dreams”? Yeah, I dare...)
Y'know, even as a wee lad, I knew who Fay Wray was. Through no fault of her own, the poor gal was the punch-line to any number of King Kong gags, the various variations delivered by the likes of Bob Hope, Lenny Bruce, Bob Newhart, MAD magazine, and just about any other comedian worthy of the job description back in the early sixties. And why not? It made for an easy laugh. A girl, a scream, a really, REALLY big monkey, and maybe most importantly, that name--”Fay Wray”. It had an ingrained humorous lilt, no denying it.
Maybe if it didn't rhyme—or if she'd racked up some other memorable credits to lessen her identification with her signature role—maybe then, she'd wouldn't have unwittingly become part and parcel with a true comedy goldmine. But it DID rhyme (no was making “Robert Armstrong” quips, after all), none of her other credits were, um, quite as big, and so, there she was—Fay Wray, the Scream Queen who also launched a thousand laughs...
So rest easy, Fay—and thanks for all the thrill, chills, and yes, chuckles, too.
|August 8, 2004|
|Earlier this week,
Lynn and I went to see one of the most celebrated composers in the
history of modern popular music perform in concert for the very first
time, and well, my reactions to said event tended to run a bit,shall we
say, um, LONG. So, I decided it best to move it from these here
environs and post it over in my "Life Story"
Who'd we see? Hit this link, because the answer--well, it ain't here babe! (...OR blowin' in the wind, for that matter...)
August 5, 2004
Like any other long-time Mets fan, I was saddened to learn a few days back of the passing of Bob Murphy, one of the team's original broadcasters.
|Bob retired, after 42
continuous service to the franchise, back on the 25thof last September, going out in a flourish, as
he was afforded a warm and sincere tribute from the Shea Stadium
faithful prior to an otherwise undistinguished
contest. For those so inclined, you can read my tribute to the man in
the subsequent September 26,
2003 “Fred Sez” entry. Not a whole lot more to add, except that
while it's certainly a shame he didn't have more time to enjoy his
well-deserved retirement, at least he had that special send-off,
allowing him to bask in the love and affection all New York baseball
fans had for the man and his relentlessly upbeat style.
Of course, upon the news of his demise at age 79, the back pages of the New York tabloids were full of glowing retrospectives, all heart-felt and illuminating, but there was one, odd little anecdote that turned up only in Joe Gergen's Newsday story that actually made me laugh out loud. Please understand going in that Bob was a sunny dispositioned, cherubic little man, not the sort you'd ever peg as a maniac behind the wheel. But long-time announcing partner Ralph Kiner shared memories of a younger Murph, back when he, Lindsey Nelson, and Bob made up the sole triumvirate of Mets mic-men...
According to Kiner, Murphy had a passion for cars, especially fast cars. Murphy once drove straight through from Long Island to the Mets camp headquarters in St. Petersburg, Fla., with only stops for coffee.
The strain apparently left him slightly frazzled because, as the desk clerk later showed Kiner and Nelson, he signed the hotel register as “Robert E. Mets”.
Team insiders continued to call him that name for years afterwards, it's said, and regardless of the somewhat wacky circumstances surrounding its origin, it fit the man like a tee.
So, goodbye, Mr. Met. Despite the mournful occasion, I fervently hope has been a short but happy recap of your marvelous career, and not a sad one.
August 2nd, 2004
|A lot's been going on
around these parts the last several days. And not much of it good...
It rained. Hard. Not long, but long enough for me to notice a slow, steady drip in the cabinet above the stove in the kitchen. So I went up to our attic—our unfinished attic—with a container, looking to place it under the problem area. Once I located it, I headed towards the roof leak, hoping to stave off the unwanted moisture from making its way downstairs. Which I did. Only, on the way back, I wasn't thinking, and instead of my foot finding a sturdy beam to rest on, it found the wafer thin particle board ceiling—and then found fresh air, as it went right on through!...
No, I wasn't hurt, as I quickly pulled my ankle back up, but folks, this is certainly NOT the preferred way to install a sun-roof! Especially when there's a whole 'nother roof above my now newly instituted air duct. Well, thankfully, the leak's gonna get itself fixed tomorrow, but we've still got to find us a carpenter to make the hallway ceiling whole—as opposed to hole—once again.
Then, the very next day, after innocently doing a load or two of laundry, I reached in to the closet to pull out a hanger from the clothes rack to put one of my shirts on and—CRASH!--the wooden pole came tumbling down, and knocked the rack of Lynn's duds directly below it down to the floor as well! Luckily, a quick trip to Home Depot secured the proper size wall holders, and the poles were soon back up, if sporting a far lighter load, as Lynn and I took the much overdue opportunity to go through our amassed apparel, weeding out unused clothes (including, in my case, a pair of striped collarless shirts—one yellow and brown, the other two shades of blue—that I've had since..gulp..the seventh grade!?!) Haven't really worn them lately (though, yes, they still fit. Stretchable, y'see...), so along with other fashion faux pas, packed away they went, lightening the rack significantly.
And now the lawnmower won't work. Hey, it's only 20 years old (newer than a significant portion of my wardrobe, sadly...)! I may well've overfilled it with oil in an effort to insure it started up easily, and now it just sputters and wheezes, refusing to turn over at all. There's a wobbly wheel that looks to fall off at just about any moment, and with the engine giving up the ghost, it appears to finally be time to get us a new model. Only, what do I know about buying a lawnmower? Answer: virtually nothing. But, I'd better get one soon. The neighbors aren't gonna buy my “Crabgrass Display Area” dodge for much longer...
And then—and this is the God's honest truth—I put this unfinished post aside, went off to watch some TV with Lynn, and while we tubed out, put yet more laundry in the dryer(we're dirty birds, what can I say?). After our show was over, I figured to bring the clean clothes upstairs, put 'em away in our newly trimmed down clothes closet, and then get back to this. Little did I know when I headed downstairs that I'd soon have a whole new ending for this piece...
I realized almost immediately that the sound emanating from the laundry room wasn't the one I was comfortably familiar with. Instead of a robust, rolling,"brrdmm, brrdmm, brrdmm", I heard only a sickly, steady "rrrrrrrrrrrrr". Yup, the dryer had stopped spinning. Somebody had, ah, overloaded it, and it had subsequently ended its spin cycle, apparently forever. Lynn very kindly pointed out that it was an old dryer—harkening back to the lawnmower's salad days, if not the dawn of the striped shirts—so it was bound to toss its final Fruit of the Looms sometime, and soon. Sure, maybe, okay—but why does this all have to happen in the space of just the last few days, with ME seeming to precipitate each mini-disaster? It'd almost be enough to make me afraid to leave my house, if it weren't for the fact that these all these egregious events actually HAPPENED at my house!?!
I'll admit it--sometimes I think, y'know, it might be fun to be a cartoon character. At least, I USED to. That was before, back before I found myself somehow transformed into poor ol' Joe Btfsplk...
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