Archive - January 2006
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January 31st, 2006
Always remember...
Jimmy Olsen.........

..........scares easily
(Hey, how could I resist? Better late than never, after all...)

Actually, the above screen capture of Jack Larson exuding raw fear is but a small portion of this week's 46th episode of The Fred Hembeck Show! Thanks to the diligence of my IGN associate, Ken Plume (and go check out his latest Shopping Guide, why don'tcha?...), pop-eyed Jimmy is but one of over a dozen such shots featured in this edition. Thanks, Ken--without your invaluable assistance, I never would've been able to fully realize this particular piece, one featuring an anecdote that I've been anxious to tell for the last FOURTEEN YEARS! Now that I finally have, I want everyone to go read it! (Well, you can finish up here first, but afterwards, go take a look, okay? And if ever you felt like throwing me a link--or posting one on my behalf on a message board that you frequent--well, I'd be mighty appreciative if THIS were that time! And since it's housed over at the IGN comics site, there's even one of those oh so convenient permalinks to attach to, the sort we sadly lack on this blog...)

What's it about? Well, the short answer is, a very specific episode of the old George Reeves "Superman" TV show--but there's a whole lot more! It's the story of a scoop, one I've been sitting on for nearly a decade and a half, so maybe it's not so much a scoop anymore, but hey, I STILL haven't heard it reported anywhere in all the intervening years, so maybe I'll still catch a few folks by surprise. Whatever. In any event. I'd sure be interested in hearing if anybody else out there had an experience similar to the one I describe...

(You know how they say, "Great minds think alike"? That may be true, but sometimes people like Robby Reed and myself ALSO do! Why, just yesterday, Robby posted over at his Dial B for Blog a fabulous, screen capturific condensed version of perhaps George "Superman" Reeve's lightest moment in cape, his fabled encounter with Lucy Ricardo! Me? Well, I expose the flip side of the coin, with what many consider the darkest moment of the original series run. Go check out Robby's retrospective later if you find you're in desperate need of a smile...)

On other matters, I'd like to sincerely thank everyone who either sent me an email with good wishes or noted in their blogs my birthday yesterday. People say it's tough being born in the vicinity of Christmas, to which I say, "Oh yeah? Well, YOU try getting anyone to pay attention to your birthday if it consistently falls on the eve of National Gorilla Suit Day? Everyone is SO busy with making THOSE preparations that, me, Dann Thomas, even Gene Hackman--we're all consistently overlooked! And to add insult to injury, on February Ist, we're STILL cleaning up the @#$%ing banana peels!...."

Of course, special thanks to my old buddy, Roger Green, who devoted his entire blog entry yesterday to saying swell things about me! Much appreciated, pal, and I promise, when YOUR birthday comes around next, I'll make up some nice stuff about YOU, too! (And comics fans, here's part three of Rog's overview of Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon's satirical seventies' Black Comic Book, giving us alternate versions of Little Orphan Annie, Smilin' Jack , and Tarzan this time around.)

(By the way, as Lynn will inevitably remind me around this time of year, every year, this fascination I continue to have with my own birthday borders on being, well, childish! Hey, I don't know WHY she says that--it's been years since we've had a clown over on the 30th, and I've kept the balloons and streamers to a minimum in recent times! But yeah, seriously, it IS pretty vain, me going around shouting "It's my birthday! It's my birthday!" on the blog at the end of every January. And it's not even like I can even remember all that many of my friend's birthdays! Oh well, I hope you'll forgive me this self-indulgent quirk. And all my OTHER ones, too...)

No, I didn't forget you, Peter!

Peter Sanderson's Comics In Context #118 examines a truly unappealing recent Spider-Man stroryline in depth, and makes me happy I'm not bothering to read any of those books. Heck, reading Mr. S's spot-on analysis is WAY more fun! Though I'm mildly upset that he's bailing on the event after part 9 (of 12)--how am I supposed to find out how it ENDS, Peter? Reconsider, friend--I want to know the upshot (even if it makes you upchuck!).

Lastly, while I don't usually bother to report DVD news here, a pair of items came to my attention that got me all excited, and I thought I'd clue you folks in, too!

Coming in May, a three DVD set of my all-time favorite situation comedy, "The Phil Silvers Show", aka "You'll Never Get Rich", aka "Sgt. Bilko". Unfortunately, we're likely never to get the complete run on disc (trouble with various clearances on certain episodes is the scuttlebutt I'd heard), but the amazing list of bonus material on this 50th Anniversary set almost makes up for that unfortunate and unavoidable oversight! I for one can't wait!

And while I've always ADORED director Richard Donner's first Superman film, I've never much cared for the patchwork product that the second one turned into when the producer's wrested the footage he shot and gave it to Richard Lester to finish. Well, now word comes that, just before the summer's "Superman Returns" hits the big-screen, we'll be able to buy a DVD of Donner's version of the second flick! Oh sure, it probably won't live up to the image we long-time fans have built up in our minds, but it should be interesting nonetheless!

All I really ask is, get rid of those of those annoying "Texas" kids with the British accents okay?

Tally ho, y'all!
January 30th, 2006
For the last several years on this very date, I've made a point of sending off an email to Dann Thomas, wife of comics legend Roy Thomas. Although I've never actually met the woman, and have only had minimal personal contact with her celebrated husband (plus, since I met him at a con ever so briefly only once back in the early eighties, odds are he has absolutely no memory of the meeting), I send off my annual email to Ms. T because, if nothing else, we two have two important things in common:

1.) We both have a long-standing appreciation for Roy (well, I do anyway, heh...)


2.) It's both our birthday!!


And, Happy Birthday ME!!

Let me throw tradition right out the window and instead give YOU folks a gift! Okay, maybe it's not the swellest present you've ever received, but hey, it's free! What is it? A four page strip I did for the 200th issue of AMAZING HEROES back in 1991, a li'l ol' true-life saga entitled "Superman, My Baby, and ME!".

Here's the thing about this piece--when the next episode of The Fred Hembeck Show is posted early Tuesday evening, about a quarter of the way in, you'll be directed via a link to stop what you're doing and go to the aforementioned cartooned biographical snippet, and since tomorrow's edition is gonna be a loooong one (but one I'm anxious for you all to read, as I've been waiting breathlessly for fourteen years to tell the tale found within), I thought I'd give some of you eager beavers a head start, and let you read the sidebar material tonight. Or you can wait til' Tuesday and get the full effect of things all at once--your choice. Either way's okay with me--because no matter what you decide, before this day's out, I'M having cake, and how bad could THAT be?

Someone get Dann a slice, too!
January 28th, 2006
Earlier this month (scroll on down to January 14th), I ran a few vintage covers featuring America's favorite teen-ager, Archie Andrews, dressed in a manor such as to suggest that his ultimate career path was pointing him directing towards life as a carrot-topped Elvis impersonator!

Shortly thereafter I received a note from renowned Little Archie expert, Gary Brown. Apparently, Gary was all shook up over a seeming omission I made in my Pelvis examination--I'd overlooked the fourteenth issue of LITTLE ARCHIE from back in Spring of 1960.

THAT one over there.
What? You don't get it? You're wondering just what the tie-in is here with the other two covers, since our water-logged (and no doubt hovering on the brink of hypothermia) pre-pubescent Archibald has no Presley-like togs anywhere in sight?
Take a closer look at the blurb in the bottom left-hand corner, folks.

(Or better yet, check out the enlarged scan over yonder--and pardon the minor defect. This is one of those childhood treasures I've been holding onto since the day it came out. All things considered, it could be in far worse shape...)
It turns out that this cover proclamation wavers a wee bit on the misguiding side.

THIS Elvis, y'see is a FROG!...
But yeah, he DOES sing in this story--croaks, if you prefer frog parlance.

It seems as if Elvis-- a frog Little Archie had made his pet in an earlier story--doesn't seem to be at all himself these days, so his red-headed keeper takes him off to school, hoping that singing with his music class will cure Elvis of the blues.

Soon enough, the pair find themselves in Principal Weatherbee's office. Sizing up the situation, the Bee gently explains that his pet is clearly lonesome for his old home in the creek, and sometimes, if you really love someone--even a frog--the best way you can show that is to set them free. Which a tearful Little Archie does.

The story ends with Archie's mom commenting to her husband how spring can't be far off--she hears a frog singing down by the meadow-brook...

Just another example of writer/artist Bob Bolling's uncanny ability to add just the right amount of heart-felt sentimentality to his tales--never enough to prompt any figurative gagging, but always enough to literally rouse unsuspecting tear ducts! And all this concerning a frog named after The King! Thank you, thank you very much!

"Elvis has left the swamp!..."
January 24th, 2006
Quickly, now:

The Fred Hembeck Show, Episode 45--we dip into the dead letters file, with topics ranging all the way from the density of Scott Summer's skin to Phil Spector's misguided production decisions.

Peter Sanderson's' Comics In Context #117, more on the Betty Boop cartoons he saw at a recent Lincoln Center retrospective. Man. that Peter sure can write up a storm in the dark!! The best explanation? He MUSTA went to night school!...

Roger Green brings us more examples of a satiric seventies' comic by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon, this time showing us black versions of Flash Gordon and Nancy (Surprise! Sluggo, as it turns out, may've been black all along...).

After far too long an absence, Jim Salicrup's Addicted to Comics is back with a NEW entry (#11), as Jim explains why the big companies missed a bet by banking on more Batman comics instead of gambling on just one by the Backstreet Boys!

(Oh, and in regards to Omaha the Cat Dancer's recent cameo appearance here at the blog, Jim asked me to mention that " Papercutz's sister company, NBM, has just started a new series of trade paperbacks collecting all of Omaha the Cat Dancer stories, with an all-new concluding story. The first volume has been out a few months, and the second will be out next week."

Thanks for the info Jim!

Now pardon me, but I have to run. I'm busy working on the NEXT episode of The Fred Hembeck Show, which features a story I've been chomping at the bit to tell for fourteen years now! Oh, sure, we'll be back several times during the intervening days, but the BIG one is due next Tuesday! Just seven days left!

Wow--get ready for the biggest anti-climactic moment in the history of!...
January 22nd, 2006
Okay, so maybe I'm a little late with this plug, but the special Halloween issue of FROM THE TOMB came out recently, and heck, if you're at all interested in this mag's regular subject matter, it's probably no big deal that we're now closer to Valentine's Day than we are to last October 31st! Because, like an off-kilter Ebenezer Scrooge (AFTER the ghostly visitations, natch ), publisher Peter Normanton is clearly the sort who keeps Halloween in his heart all year long!
Handsomely assembled--with a twelve page color section that makes the most of its vibrant hues--as per usual, FROM THE TOMB #17 packs a lot of information in its 56 pages. All manner of horror related topics are covered, but as always, a large chunk of the issue is devoted to pre-code horror comics, a topic that I personally find continually fascinating. And far be it for the TOMB crew to limit themselves merely to old EC and ACG material--this issue alone uncovers terrifying tableaus found on vintage cover scenes fronting issues of BOB HOPE, HOWDY DOODY, and...GIRL COMICS?...
Of particular interest to you folks out there who may not be as into badly drawn zombies of the fifties as I am is an intriguing eight page interview with the extremely talented--and universally beloved--Joe Sinnott, undisputed dean of Marvel embellishers.

Naturally, there's some talk concerning his glory years inking Jack Kirby's sixties work, but given the specific focus of this publication, even more time is spent discussing the artist's usually overlooked (or at best, hastily covered) pencilling and inking work done the previous decade. And Joe, ever upbeat, doesn't belittle the pre-code horror stories he did for Stan Lee. Just the opposite:

"As I said before, "Drink Deep Vampire" has always been a favourite of mine."
You juts GOTTA love a guy who not only has a healthy pride in some corpse-ridden tales he drew a half-century back, but how cool is it that he can ALSO so easily recall their exact titles?! No secret here--Joe's a great guy, a fact that once again shines through brightly in editor Normanton's Q&A session.

So, where can you get ahold of this fine publication, you might ask? Well, you can always order it through DIAMOND PREVIEWS--it goes for the more than reasonable price of $5.95 here in the States--or you can order directly from Peter himself. Rather than try and figure out the exchange rate and such--FROM THE TOMB hails from England, and I'll admit to usually being baffled by the mathematical machinations of the differing nations--let me just point you toward Mr. N, whose email is

Note the period between the first and last names, please.

These days, it's oh so easy to find all sorts of arcane info on the web, but it's still a distinct pleasure to occasionally hold an expertly produced magazine, one clearly assembled purely out of love, in your hot little hands. FROM THE TOMB fits that description to a tee.

(Say, you don't think maybe the impending arrival of February 14th didn't get to me maybe a WEE bit there at the end, do ya? Halloween meets Valentine's Day--whoa, what a concept!...)
January 19th, 2006
The above illustration--an intriguing combination of Reed Waller and the late Kate Worley's Omaha the Cat Dancer, Marvel's erstwhile Avenger, and Batman's legendary nemesis, Catwoman, teamed up to parody Josie and her Pussycats--was done as a commission for one of this site's clever readers, one from way down Australia way as it turns out! I offer it to you as a concrete example of the way you other folks out there could likewise creatively art-direct your very own Hembeck cartoon!

This all came to mind when Noah Smith--he of the very entertaining Baggy Pants and Bravado blog--recently posted an illo I did as a Christmas present for his brother Abe. He had me draw none other than Captain America as a stand-up comic, mirroring his sibling, who--sans shield and blue trunks--practices the mysterious art of comedy himself. Noah even provided me with a short snippet of a routine for Cap to deliver. But why not see for yourself--go here and all will be revealed (and don't worry--we're waiving the two drink minimum!).

Of course, we also do custom pictures of any and all of your favorite characters just standing there, looking heroically silly. But as the above examples prove, we're more than happy to entertain any specific ideas yo might have. Nothing obscene, libelous, or overly complicated, please--and NO caricatures. That way leads only heartbreak--for BOTH of us. Our prices are, we'd like to think, reasonable. Check here for details.

And yes, I realize we're devolving into a squiggle-filled infomercial here at this week, especially since my most recent IGN column was prepared essentially to hawk a handful of new cover redos. Pardon the crassness, friends, but every so often, I need to generate some moolah from the site, so consider this bit of hard-sell a necessary--if only occasional--evil.

Okay, then--what are you waiting for? Buy something!

January 18th, 2006
Okay, so check this out: a really, REALLY big Dr.Strange fan by the name of Howard Hallis has magically redone ALL of the covers of STRANGE TALES that featured stories of the good Doc drawn by the one and only Steve Ditko, but on which the Master of the Mystic Arts was invariably relegated to some small corner of the cover--if given even that much exposure--in lieu of trumpeting the exploits of first the Human Torch, and later Nick Fury, only THIS time around, the Sorcerer reigns supreme!
Being the big Beatles fan that I am, this particular remake brought a broad smile to my face, and I hope Howard will forgive me for poaching his good work to blithely use here. Please know there's PLENTY more good stuff where this came from--including interior pin-ups and what-not--so I suggest you all follow this link on over and check out the rest of Mr. H's impressive gallery!

Mordo as Ringo, though? I'm not sure I'm buying THAT one. To me, the Baron's always seemed more the Yoko type...

(Original tip-off, by the by, courtesy of the man who put the Ring-A-Ding-Ding in Raggador, Neilalien, Prince of Links! Even if he DID characterize one of my recent IGN columns thusly:

*Fred Hembeck put Spider-Man poster on his dorm-room ceiling over his bed, aww (or is that eww)*

Sorta sounds like a hard-to-watch-scene straight out of a bad combination of "Revenge Of The Nerds" and "American Pie" don'tcha think?! Would that it were--unsavory brings in those ever lovin' hits! Well, thanks for trying anyway N.A...)
January 17th, 2006
The above image is but a small portion of this week's 44th episode of The Fred Hembeck Show over at IGN. No, the topic this time around ISN'T Nick Fury--just go see for yourself, okay? To say any more would be to give things away...

Last week's show dealt with--among other matters--Spider-Man's appearance on "The Soupy Sales Show", a magic moment about which the specific details I was nonetheless sketchy. Barring a late breaking transcript, we'll just have to do with reader Richard Onley's second-hand recollections...

I didn't actually catch the Soupy Sales gag featuring Spider-Man, but it was covered in a "Dear Stan and Steve" letter in the comic. Somebody can probably find it if they have the original issues--and the time. Going solely from memory, it went something like this:

[Knock on the door. Soupy answers.]
VISITOR: You've got to help me! Just got to help me! Someone's got to help me! [Etc., etc.--you remember the schtick.]
SOUPY: Okay, what's the problem?
VISITOR: My wife thinks she's Spider-Man.
SOUPY: Well, why don't you take her to a psychiatrist?
VISITOR: I would, but I can't get her off the cardboard. [And with that, he displays the poster, mounted, naturally, on cardboard.]

Not exactly Soupy's finest gag . . .

When he got home, do you suppose the guy's poor deluded wife, uh . . . pied 'er man . . . ?

Thanks, Richard, and I'd have to agree with you--hardly a historic moment for comedy. Fact is, I easily prefer your own topper gag. Say, how do you look in an oversized polka dot bow tie, anyway?...

Also, just received an email from the illustrious Don Rosa confirming that he does indeed have a copy of the OFFICIAL SOUPY SALES COMIC in his collection--though whether I sent it along in exchange for the autographed one he sent me (as detailed in last week's FH Show also), he's not entirely certain. In any event, he's very kindly absolved me of any negligence, allowing me to sleep easier. Everybody--go buy lotsa duck comics by this nice, nice man! They're darn good, too!

And speaking of our email, big thanks to Neil Polowin for sending me scans of that Jack Kirby Jack Ruby ESQUIRE strip I blatantly asked for just a few short days back! Wow--the awesome power of the Internet! Hmmm--let me mull over my next request...

I KNOW! I'd like to see Neil--who created and runs The Hembeck Files, the website that features my old DC Daily Planet gags--post something new! And not just because I'm some sort of egomaniac, either (although...), since Neil generally would merely use one of my silly little strips as a jumping off point to write an only peripherally connected essay of his own. If you've haven't read any, go check 'em out--they're always fascinating. But ever since I began posting here, Neil's site has gone into an almost total hibernation mode (his last update, for example, wishes Julie Schwartz a happy birthday...)--coincidence or evil plot? Well I ain't behind it! C'mon out and play, Neil--we miss you! But in any event, thanks for the scans...

Concerning unique scans, my buddy Roger Green has turned his page into a comics blog, at least on the sporadic days when he shares some images and information about a satirical comic offering black versions of funnybook icons by veterans Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon, published back in 1970. Rog promise to share more of this unique item with us in the weeks to come, so I'll be sure and clue you folks in on the latest installment. (And thanks for clearing up the matter of the Christian rock band who really DIDN'T swear on Julie's mix CD--it takes a big man to admit he needs cue-tips!...)

No, I haven't forgotten Peter Sanderson. This week's Comics In Context (#116) spotlights one of my all-time favorite animated characters, Betty Boop! And we all know just why I was partial to her, don't we? No, not just because she was such a cutie (though that didn't hurt)--it was because she was HUMAN!! (Best we just forget about those disturbing early, doggie-ish episodes...) Gotta love those funny people cartoons!

Over at Lady, That's My Skull, Sleestak has momentarily put aside thoughts of his doomed, never-to-be (but still sorta touching) love affair with Hayley Mills to devote an entire week to fabled cartoonist (and my pal--albeit one I haven't spoken to in years), John Byrne, both good and bad. This series is just getting underway, and I for one will be checking in for further Sleesy commentary.

Lastly--and pardon the unfortunate transition--if you haven't been following the ongoing discussion of sexual harassment--and worse--in the comics field, you might want to start here, in Ronee Garcia Bourgeois' most recent column. I really have nothing to add, save for what a shame it is that anybody (usually women, but not always) has to put up with this sort of crap. Inasmuch as it's a society-wide problem, you can bet, as the father of a fifteen year old girl--bright and as full of good-natured sass as she is--I'm concerned with the implications attitudes like those brought to our attention here have. It's just all that more depressing when the culprits are members of my own little sub-culture.

Forget "lastly"--let's end on a happier--if far more trivial--note, as the ever prolific BookSteve's Library focuses on an almost forgotten Marvel publication from the early seventies, NOSTALGIA ILLUSTRATED. How obscure was this mag? Hey, I didn't even buy it, and I bought that HITLER bio they cranked out roundabouts the same time! Looking back, I clearly should've done the reverse, but hey, we all make mistakes.

Well, as they used to say back when Fury was still howling, "Auf wiedersehn, mein freunds!"
January 16th, 2006
I found this recent blog entry by Christopher Priest on this, the day the nation celebrates the life of Martin Luther King, to be particularly thought provoking. Go take a look.

And thanks, of course, to Ollie, Denny, and Neal for the above.
January 15th, 2006
Man, sometimes the Internet just flat out amazes me!

Not long ago, I wrote about the generally overlooked John Stanley/Bill Williams comic, KOOKIE, over at The Fred Hembeck Show (episode 42).The main impetus for doing so was the welcome news that Chance Fiveash had just posted the entire 32 pages of the title's first issue up at his swell website, Last of the Spinner Rack Junkies. Seeing as how there were ever only TWO issues of KOOKIE, I jokingly requested that Chance post that second one as soon as he could manage it. Now, scanning in that many pages is no picnic, that I can tell you from tedious experience, so I really didn't expect Mr. F to jump right to it.

Well, you can relax, Chance--Pat over at the Silver Age Comics Blog has done us ALL a favor! No, they're not his scans, but yup, here's KOOKIE #2, in all its glory! And, might I say, a VERY odd comic it is. The singular focus on Beat culture as found in the debut issue seems to have diminished somewhat, as we find the lovely Kookie a prospective--and unwilling--bride of a wealthy Arab oil baron in one story (with all the less than flattering stereotypes that you might well expect), commenting on the state of modern art in another, and providing a cruel--but somehow well-meaning--sort of friendship towards her decidedly plain roommate in a peculiar little psychological vignette in between . And of course, a Bongo and Bop four page filler. All the usual Stanley rhythms are there--it's the more contemporary (and mature) subject matter that clearly sets this off from one of his classic LITTLE LULU comics. Very interesting reading, and--need I add?--recommended.

For posting KOOKIE #2 alone, I'd happily include this plug for the Silver Age Comics site, but as it turns out, there's so much more. Blogger Pat writes about the era crisply, authoritatively, and, when called upon, with wry humor. Now, let's face it--it's virtually impossible to examine books from that time period while constantly maintaining a straight face. There's many a blog out there--this one included--who shamelessly mine Silver Age funnybooks for cheap--but undeniable--laffs. You'll find your share of those over here as well (my favorites being the nicely drawn but all wrong Infantino cover for THE FLASH that gives away the story's ending; the poorly drawn Moldoff panel that makes it look as if Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are getting out of the same bed; the Curt Swan cover that features Superman and Supergirl in a salacious clinch (with only a copy of the Daily Planet to save the Man of Steel's dignity...); and the little matter of just exactly WHO was Liz Allen's daddy?), but you'll also be able to read fascinating overviews of the likes of J'onn J'onnz and Supergirl, among others. I really do need to update my links page, but until I do, the above should keep you folks busy for awhile

So, thanks Pat! Much appreciated! That KOOKIE #2 was something else! Everyone should go look.

And don't forget--everyone should visit Chance's site as well!

But come back here tomorrow--by then I'll have figured exactly what to throw out into the ether of the world wide web as my NEXT impossible request! (Y'know, I always DID wonder what that strip about Jack Ruby done by Jack Kirby for ESQUIRE back in the late sixties...ahem... looked like?...)
January 14th, 2006
Since teen-age girls made up, even as now, a large portion of the audience for the various Archie Series publications back in 1960, an obvious ploy to get the little darlin's to plunk down their pennies for yet another issue featuring the idealized denizens of Riverdale U.S.A. was to combine the line's carrot-topped protagonist with something ELSE that appealed to the raging hormones of this specialized sector of consumers:


Yup, fresh out of the army and into the pages of PEP #141, the September 1960 issue--THAT was the enticement Harry Lucey's skillfully composed cover promised Presley's panting pent-up public! Of course, all they actually got was a moderately amusing short story that had our young Mr. Andrews attempting a variety of musical styles--badly--in his girl friend Veronica's mansion, much to the consternation of her father, Mr. Lodge.

No matter. That cover must've moved itself some copies, because less than a year later, the folks at Archie adorned the nation's newsstand's with this...
Maybe, Jughead, but unfortunately, he came off more like Fabian...

Granted, their usage of Elvis as a way to sell comics hardly matched DC's ability to turn a profit via a vast array of simian's, but the Archie publisher's probably did as much as the law--and Colonel Parker--would allow. After all, Julie Schwartz and crew never had to worry about being sued by an APE!

(Bob White provided the art for the illo above, as well as for the book-length interior story. It concerned an opportunity given the Riverdale gang to literally "go Hollywood", and only a small, small portion focused on that cover situation. Cute story, sure, but at least when DC promised you monkeys, they GAVE you monkeys!!..)

Speaking of the King (Presley, not Kirby), you might recall how we marked the shared birthday of Elvis, Soupy Sales and David Bowie here back on January 8th. Then, a few days later, in my most recent episode of The Fred Hembeck Show (#43), among other things, I noted the connection between Soupy and Bowie (the comedian's two sons, Hunt and Tony, played in David's early nineties band, Tin Machine). Well, in the short time since posting that, I subsequently learned of a Bowie-Elvis connection I hadn't been aware of, one that, I gotta say, amused me quite a bit.

I stumbled across this little anecdote while reading the booklet enclosed with the 30th Anniversary CD Edition of the artist's landmark 1972 album, "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars". Now, while the wobbling hips of Presley shocked parents world-wide in 1956, even the purveyor of those grown-up gasps himself wasn't quite ready for Bowie's trend-setting glitter-bedecked, mascara-steaked, androgynous alter-ego in those days--ESPECIALLY if he was sitting in the front row at one of his concerts!!...

"I walked in on the Saturday evening show in full Ziggy garb into Madison Square Gardens to see Elvis. They nearly crucified me! I felt such a fool and I was way down at the front. I got incredible seats and I sat down there and he looked at me. and if looks could kill!! I just felt--Elvis is roasting me! I just hobbled down in my high-heeled shoes as fast as I could and got to my seat--but, we nearly stopped the show."

Ah well, I'm sure if Elvis had only lived a few more years, the pair would've wound up duetting on "Blue Christmas" or somesuch...

And I can only begin to imagine what a cover drawn by longtime Jughead artist, Samm Schwartz, of Ziggy Andrews and the Spiders From Riverdale might've looked like! To that end, all I could possibly say would be...

Wham, bam, thank you Samm!
January 12th, 2006
Biff! Pow! Bam! Yecch!
Forty years ago tonight, at 7:30 (EST), the ABC television network broadcast the debut episode of the "Batman" TV show (and unceremoniously dumped the long-running "Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet" in the process), a day that will live (in this comics fan's mind anyway) in infamy.

I've told this story before. So as not to bore you overmuch, it goes something like this: I was thirteen and alone in my appreciation of (obsession with?) comics, so I was desperate for this new show to be the sort of critical and popular success that I could proudly point to when folks looked at me strangely for still reading funnybooks at such an advanced age. I let myself get all worked up over the show's impending airing, to the point where I was literally counting down the hours and minutes that wintery January afternoon, all the while merely going through the motions in my seventh grade classes. And naturally, I shared my enthusiasm with all my buddies--all my non-(or long lapsed) comics reading buddies. I did my best that afternoon to prime my immediate circle of friends for the greatest thing since sliced pizza!

And what did I get?

The Batusi.

Not to mention a day of merciless mocking to follow--mostly good natured, admittedly, but still. Even worse, the show WAS successful--WILDLY successful! At first, sure, I stuck with it, even after I eventually realized that it was never going to be what I'd hoped for--if anything, that first two-parter with The Riddler was as close as they show was ever going to get to resembling the comics--particularly the wonderful "New Look" issue from the previous two years, which will always remain my favorite Batman period--that I'd loved so much.

Still, the initial excitement surrounding the program was enough to get me clipping all sorts of stuff out of the various newspapers and magazines of the day, and then using my roll of Scotch Magic Tape to carefully slap 'em into a scrapbook. Stuff, for instance, like the TV GUIDE close-up below announcing the Dynamic Duo's much anticipated arrival onto the video landscape...
Well, the magic left that tape a long, long time ago, and these days I'm mostly left with a bunch of clippings sliding in and out of the scrapbook's yellowed pages, all blatantly stained by the aging tape remnants on their rear. Looks nasty, I know, but there's not much I can do about it now--sorry.

What I HAVE done, though, is start a page devoted entirely to some of this vintage material. Once you finish reading this post, go here. I started things off with Jack Gould's NY Times examination, Cleveland Amory's TV GUIDE review, a short profile of star Adam West by celebrated Hollywood journalist, Bob Thomas, some "Second Season" ads (hey, they never gave Red Buttons a dinner for "The Double Life of Henry Phyfe", THAT'S for sure!...), a photo of West in uniform alongside a comedian perhaps only marginally funnier than the Joker, and a little piece by someone named Hal Humphrey asking the then pertinent question, "Can Television Survive Batman?" (The answer: yes--but the comics of the era almost didn't...). I'll add more clippings as time goes on, but maybe these will enable you to get a small insight into how this overblown phenomenon of Batmania was perceived by the critics and columnists of the day.

Me? Well, I never quite warmed up to the show, even though I begrudgingly watched it well into it's second season. Over the years, every so often, I'd try watching it again, thinking maybe this time around I'll FINALLY appreciate the goofy aspect of it that so many others apparently dug, but in each instance, after viewing just a few episodes, I'd inevitably turn away, unable to watch anymore.

Y'know, I've tried, in all the years since, not to be one to overly criticize a comics' property that's brought to life on either the big or little screen. Hey, I didn't blink an eye when Michael Keaton was signed to play the Caped Crusader in the Tim Burton film, and I didn't flinch when I learned that movie folks had decided that Spider-Man's web-shooter's were going to be organic in nature, not man-made. David Hasselhoff, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D? Okay by me (just don't expect me to watch...).

Look, if it works, fine. If it doesn't, that's fine, too. Comics. Live-action. Two different things. I know that now. But still, that "Batman" show--THAT I guess I'll never get. I was just the exact wrong age and mind-set when it premiered, I suppose. Had I been just a few years younger, or even a few years older--or maybe seen it first in reruns long after it had shut down production--maybe THEN I could've gotten some good-natured entertainment out of it.

But I was thirteen, and I desperately wanted something up there on my TV screen that somehow justified my intense--and solitary--interest in the comics medium. "Batman" sure wasn't it, and even forty years later, it's hard to let that immense feeling of disappointment go.

Or, as Robin might say, "Holy pretentious self-analysis, Batman!"

For those of you who love this sort of thing, though, I'd be remiss in failing to point you towards an impressive array of related links the always reliable Mike Sterling has carefully compiled over at his Progressive Ruin site. Gee, Mike, you young 'uns who didn't have to live through it always seem to enjoy that gol-danged show so much more than us old-timers, consarn ya!...

One other note, and it's about that first Burton Bat-flick. I'll admit that once again, back when that film loomed on the horizon, I allowed myself to get pretty excited about its arrival, and was decidedly anxious to get me a glimpse at what the film was going to look like as soon as possible. To that end, I distinctly recall the afternoon I heard promos for "Entertainment Tonight"s exclusive first ever look at the picture, to be broadcast later that very evening. Naturally, I tuned in, and sat through all sorts of celebrity gibberish, until they finally ran a short--but oh so effective--montage clip from the upcoming film (which I videotaped, and yes, watched over and over the rest of the evening--I was impressed, especially since no one offered to check our hero's cape!...).

The point of this little side-trip down memory lane? Well, it's simply this--and I've never heard ANYONE else ever mention this--but the date the studio let the public have their first peek at the summer's upcoming big release, the one featuring the first new Batman since West's show went south?

January 12th, 1989!

And--yes, I know "ET" is a syndicated show, and could be broadcast on a variety of stations in any number of time slots--but as fate would have it, I watched it on the local ABC affiliate--at 7:30 PM, EST!

SOMEBODY somewhere must've known the significance of that date, and figured, hey, maybe THIS'LL make up for that other debacle! (Well, sorta, but then things devolved again, but that's a whole 'NOTHER tale...)

So that's my story. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll mark the occasion by watching one of those dollar DVD's of "Ozzie and Harriet" shows I got down at Just A Buck. Y'know, I STILL miss that segment at the end where Ricky would always sing his latest hit.

Damn Batman--why'd he have to go and ruin THAT, anyway?...
January 11th, 2006

No, Archie DOESN'T actually figure in the content of The Fred Hembeck Show Episode 43, although the comic this vignette was taken from sure does.

Look, rather than explain, just go take a peek. And pat yourself on the back if you know exactly what young Mr. Andrews is doing up there.

Peter Sanderson is back! And you know what that means! Yup--MORE SpongeBob! Y'know, it amuses the heck outta me that friend Pete spends more time examining the denizens of Bikini Bottom in his weekly column than I usually do in a month's worth of blogging, even though I'm directly responsible for him delving into the topic in the first place! Hee hee! Check out his Comics In Context #115 for a nice overview of several holiday themed episodes of various (not just SpongeBob) animated programs! Say, didja take your tree down yet, Mr. S?...

Roger Green hardly ever mentions the absorbent li'l fella, but he always seems to have something on his blog to catch my eye. Last week, he even reviewed a mix disc my daughter Julie made. If you're at all curious to see a playlist cobbled together by a fifteen year-old, look here, as Roger has carefully recounted the tunes' titles. Bear in mind, however, this CD was concocted before her Bowie period. (Wham bam, thank you, Rog!)

Another worthy site is Gordon Dymowski's Blog THIS, Pal! Especially if you enjoy pics of a comics' enthusiast photographed standing alongside a comedian dressed in drag--and hey, who doesn't dig THAT, eh pal?

More tomorrow, gang, same Bat-time, same Bat-blog!
January 10th, 2006
I finally took down the Christmas tree earlier this morning.

Always a bittersweet task, this year's model received a two day reprieve when more pressing matters prevented me from de-trimming our midget pine on Sunday, as originally planned. Had I done the deed two days ago, that would've meant the tree had spent exactly three weeks in our house, looking all festive like, and it got me to thinking...

Three weeks is generally the accepted amount of time one expects to host a live Christmas tree indoors. Coincidentally, three weeks is also the generally accepted amount of time that most folks play Christmas music (although, around here, we almost always exceed those unwritten limits, and sometimes even--gulp--DOUBLE them! But I'm sure the REST of my family would prefer the lesser approach most others have to spinning the holiday tunes, so, just for the sake of argument, let's use that figure...).

Here's what I realized this year: ninety-nine per cent of folks--even me--end their Christmas Carol-athon no later than early evening of the December 25th, but virtually no one takes their tree down on the 26th. So, if you play Elmo and Patsy, Bing and Bowie, John and Yoko, and all the other seasonal crooners during the three weeks leading up to Christmas, and you trim your tree (like us) only a week before the big day, and then leave it up as the New Year approaches and eventually arrives, thereby totalling two full weeks left standing after the presents have been unwrapped (and several returned, to boot--especially those two boots that didn't fit!...), that means there's but one single seven day period in which we find the sounds of the season piping out of the stereo speakers alongside the colorful illumination of the Christmas tree! One short quick over-before-you-know-it week!

Bah, humbug! That seems SO wrong somehow.

The tree should continue to shine proudly as Jose Feliciano warbles, Johnny Mathis purrs, and Brenda Lee rocks around it! Instead, for the final two weeks of it's interior existence, it has to put up with the likes old Beatles CDs, the new one from Robbie Williams, The Who's "Quadraphenia", some old Tears For Fears, Pet Shop Boys, and (uh huh) David Bowie--WITHOUT der Bingle!

Ah well, I guess this winter timing dichotomy conundrum will always exist. Lynn's solution was simple, if a bit extreme--don't play ANY Christmas music!

I probably won't go that route, but thanks anyway, sweetie...
January 8th, 2006
I first ran this tricked up pic here two year's ago this very day so as to then--as well as now--commemorate the shared birthday of the three principals above. While I surfed the net and chose the trio of snapshots to cannibalize, it was due to the expertise of my computer savvy 13 year-old daughter, Julie, that I was ultimately able to share this little nugget of Photoshopped magic with you.

At the time she assembled this for me, she well knew who Elvis Presley was--EVERYONE knows who Elvis was, thangkewverrymush--and, living as she does with me, she really had no choice but to recognize Soupy Sales, but she drew a complete blank regarding our third featured candle-blower. When I told her it was big-shot rock star David Bowie, well, that meant absolutely NOTHING to her. Hmmpf--kids...

Two years later, as I sit here typing this, I can hear the umpteenth run-through--today alone!--of "Suffragette City" blasting from my now 15 year-old's room, and I can't help but smile when I think back at how dismissive she was of Mr. B when I tried to explain who he was when we first put this picture together. The story of HOW she became obsessed with Bowie is a funny one, but one that'll have to wait, at least a few more days, as I have some pressing things to get to before I can devote the time necessary to tell it. However, I couldn't very well let this day pass without wishing Soupy, David, and (posthumously, natch) Elvis all the Happiest of Birthdays!!

And in case you're wondering, yup, we're playing Elvis over on THIS side of the house right now, all in a concerted effort to achieve a proper balance. Dancing "The Mouse", well, THAT comes later...
January 6th, 2006
Once upon a time, decades back now, the folks at Marvel Comics decided to devote an entire issue of their double-sized alternative universe series, WHAT IF?, to short vignettes of pure silliness. These brief bursts of goofiness were provided by such luminaries as Frank Miller, Brent Anderson, Marie Severin, Terry Austin, Mark Gruenwald, Roger Stern, Mike Carlin, Jim Shooter, Bob Layton, Al Milgrom, John Romita, Jr., and many, many others.

I was one of the others.

Fact is, my little two-pager directly followed the title page, and was used as a sort of set-up for the entire issue.

I bring this bit of ancient--and arcane--history up because I recently received the following email from regular reader Lee K. Seitz...

Way back in 1982, you did a two page sequence for the first all-humor issue of WHAT IF...? (vol. 1, #34). It was the Watcher explaining the difference between alternate realities and imaginary stories. The first example of the latter was "what if the Fantastic Four were bananas?" The Watcher commented that while the premise had some appeal, it was patently absurd (or something to that effect).(Sorry, I've already put the issue back away now.)

(Edit: Worry not, Lee--you'll find the panel reproduced below for all to see...)
Why do I bring this up? Well, a couple months ago Marvel published
THE OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE: ALTERNATE UNIVERSES 2005. I finally finished reading it all yesterday. In the back, in little tiny print, is a list of alternate universes that didn't make the cut for the main part. One reads as follows:

EARTH-82801 FF are literally bananas; though absurd, it does have a certain appeal. W? #34 (1982)

As best I can tell, this is the only bit from that entire issue of WHAT IF...? to get an entry. I'm told that most of these number designations came from the FF ENCYCLOPEDIA, so it's possible this entry first appeared there, but I don't own it so I don't know.

I read the entry and immediately remembered the panel with Reed staring up as his banana stretched off the top. I just thought you might like to know that a little bit of you lives on in TOHOTMU. Although isn't it ironic that what you listed as an imaginary story is now listed as an alternate universe?


Isn't that something? Thanks for the info, Lee. I don't think I've been this proud of a past triumph since that recent compilation, SPIDER-MAN FAMILY #1, came out, exposing my "Petey" to a whole new audience!

So let this be a lesson to those of you who insist that the Marvel of today is systematically ignoring all their past continuity! Obviously, that's not the case, based on this rather obscure example--

--but it might well make a good case FOR finally closing the door forever on those halcyon days!

(Dare I say an APPEALING one? Apparently, I dare...)
January 3rd, 2006
After a one week holiday hiatus, The Fred Hembeck Show returns with its 42nd episode, and it's a Kookie one--literally. Go look.

Peter Sanderson also had the benefit of a skip week (giving him all the more time to catch up on the past three seasons of SpongeBob on DVD!), but Roger Green never rests! Uh uh--he's got compulsives posting-itis, which I suspect he caught from me. Oops--sorry, Rog. Thank goodness I managed to shake the case I had back in November.

Here's a choice link for you--my buddy, Jim Salicrup, on TV!! He's part of one of those typical quick surveys of the comics field that turn up on local television (in this case, the NYC CBS affiliate), so no great secrets are revealed, but it's always fun seeing Jim preen for the camera! (Just kidding, fella!...) Thanks to Gary Dunaier and Jim himself for sending the link along! (You'll need to make like Barry Allen and install Flash to see it, though. And once you do, you've gotta restart your computer for it to come up. It took me two days to figure THAT out...) (For those of you so inclined, there's also a longish, unaired segment with EARTH X's Jim Krueger--whose segment actually precedes that of the OTHER Jim; click on box two to access Salicrup.)

A weather note: for the first time ever, Julie's Christmas vacation began with a snow day, and ended with one as well!! Yup, school--as well as the scheduled Winter Festival--was cancelled due to icy roads back on Friday, December 16th, and today, when the kids were due to FINALLY return, we had MORE snow, and thus, no classes, bracketing the break with a pair of weather related bonus days! And, wouldn't you know it--over the entire period in between, it only ever snowed once--naturally, on New Year's Eve when we were due to visit friends a fair distance away! Since we had to return due to slippery conditions, you could almost classify THAT as a snow day as well, since it certainly cancelled our plans. Drat.

Tomorrow looks to be clear, though. which is great, since the school's rescheduled their Winter Festival for that date--nothing like returning to a big ol' party instead of dreary classes! Nice timing! And me, I'm not complaining, either--I got to cancel a dental appointment today! It was just a check-up, and I'm gonna hafta go in another time, sure, but I really didn't feel like going today, so, thank you Jack Frost! I guess there really IS no business like snow business, is there?...
January 2nd, 2006
We managed to see several movies over the holidays: "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", "King Kong", and "The Man Who Fell To Earth". The latter film I'll deal with another time, as it's part of a larger--and stranger--story, but for now, I'll just share a few cursory comments about the other two flicks with you instead (bear in mind, these are not meant as full-fledged reviews--or even half-fledged ones...).

A brief history of me and Harry, first. I've never actually read any of the "Harry Potter" novels (neither has daughter Julie, but wife Lynn has read 'em all)--though I DID listen to the first episode on one of those book on tape thingies, which was fairly enjoyable, save for that time when those enormous tractor trailer trucks were bearing down on us at 70 mph as I drove on the New Jersey Turnpike, en route to Washington, D.C. for our family vacation back in August of 2000. So, when we finally did get around to seeing the first movie on DVD, I wasn't all that impressed. It was...well, okay, but maybe knowing what was going to happen in advance diluted my enjoyment of the experience (or maybe it was because the three leads hadn't really learned to act yet, I'm not sure which...).

Saw the second movie (also on DVD), this time without the benefit of being aware of the plot's every detail, but it still mostly left me less than enthused. I suppose if Lynn weren't such a fan of the printed versions, I might well have stopped right there.

I'm glad I didn't--I liked the third movie quite a bit! Maybe not as much as something like, say, "Elf", but certainly enough to actually look forward to the next installment. And when the "Goblet of Fire" debuted to the best reviews yet granted to a Potter pic, I figured maybe it was time to spring for the few extra bucks and actually see one of these spectacles on the big screen! Good move--it made quite the difference! Y'know, I'd kinda forgotten why people drag their sorry butts off their couches and out to the overpriced multiplexes to see these things, but the breathtaking magic up there on the screen quickly reminded me.

I'd have to agree with the popular opinion--it WAS the best of the four! I know some folks who actually read the book found it frustrating in what was left out--these aren't exactly novellas, after all! Laura wondered how anyone who HADN'T plowed through all that prose could possibly understand what was going on, but I'm here to report that it is indeed possible! My only confusion came shortly after the flashback sequence revealed the identity of the story's key baddie, and shortly thereafter, Harry finds the body of the villain's dad dead out in the woods, with no real explanation of how or why he died, and no follow-up regarding said sad event. But despite that, happily, I managed to make it to the finale with the plot reasonably clear in my mind, no small feat in any event! I'd almost suggest that with a movie like this, it's better NOT to have read the source material beforehand--blissful ignorance of what went missing can prevent unnecessary ulcers, y'know!

All in all, good show! The kids may not be pint-sized Olivier's yet, but they've come along way, thespian-wise. For the amount of story packed into two and a half hours, the pace of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" generally didn't betray a sense of overdrive.

Oddly enough, there was a whole lot less story in "King Kong", but THAT took three hours to tell! And you just know the DVD version is gonna run close to four!

Let's get this out of the way first--I'm no died in the wool acolyte of the original movie. To paraphrase Gomer Pyle discussing Sgt. Carter, "Ah like 'im, but ah don't LOVE 'im". Fact is, I haven't see the 1933 version in quite a long time, but the whole mystique of that year is precisely WHY I wanted to see this Peter Jackson version--I wanted to see 1933 New York City gloriously reproduced up their on the silver screen, and the fact that the film was almost universally well received by critics and the general public alike made a second excursion within a fortnight out to the picture palace--however puny they may be these days--a trip worth taking.

So, yeah, good movie. The performances were all excellent, with massive kudos going especially to Naomi Watts--an actress I'd never witnessed working before--who somehow made the whole thing believable. Unlike Jessica Lange, who had to go on to prove she was indeed a talented actress after her Kong experience, all the evidence of Ms. Watts acting chops is right up there across from her hairy co-star.

Still, I feel the need to share with you my gripes. I had no real problems with the first and last hours--the stateside set-up, the ship's voyage, and Kong's subsequent New York debut--but there were some things about the Skull Island sequence that bothered me. I must admit to never having fully embraced dinosaurs the way a lot of other fantasy fans have. Frankly, I can take 'em or I can leave 'em. Heck, if this had been primarily dino-centric flick, I would've just stayed home. I went to see me the giant ape in the big city. So, exciting as the jungle sequences were--and they never really lagged, or caused boredom--I really do think they were a bit overdone. Cut 'em in half, and I'm happier. I know I may well be in the minority there, but that's the way I feel.

This middle third of the film also housed several glaringly hard to swallow sequences. Look, I'm not one to complain about every little thing that defies logic in a film like this, but sometimes, things are SO glaringly difficult to accept that I just HAVE to complain. So, here goes:

1.) The dinosaur stampede. You know--the one in which the entire crew was running alongside and under these giant dinosaurs for hundreds and hundreds of yards, and maybe one or two of them managed to get themselves trampled? Yeah, right.

2.) Adrien Brody, the massive bugs, and sailor boy Jimmy's machine gun. Earlier, we'd been informed that the kid had no real experience with firearms, and yet, there he is, spraying bullets at Brody, in a wholly unbelievably successful effort to kill the giant insects--all the while NEVER even grazing the human in the midst of his wild shooting!?! Oh, yeah, RIIIIGHT...

3.) The cavalry arrives not once, not twice, but THREE times to rescue the put-upon rescue party! The first time I can buy. The second time had a nice--if corny--dramatic hook, as it was led by the vain actor who'd seemingly slunk off in a cowardly retreat a reel earlier, but a THIRD time? Isn't that going to the well one too many times? I admit to being puzzled as I watched the remains of the expedition fight impossible odds as those insects swarmed over them, knowing full well the movie was far from over, but having NO idea how they could possibly escape their dire predicament. Apparently, director Jackson had no idea, either, so he sent the cavalry in one last time! Dumb.

4.) What happened to Jimmy, anyway? What was the deep dark secret of his past? And did he ever finish reading "Heart of Darkness", or did he just pass his copy along to Francis Ford Coppola? Maybe the answers will be found on the inevitably extended DVD...

Funny thing--Julie was probably the only person in the theater who didn't know how the story was going to end. Her friend Courtney, who accompanied us, turned to her while Kong was scaling the Empire State Building, and whispered something like, "Well, the big ape's time is just about up. He'll be dead soon."

"No way!", insisted Julie. "I mean, what about the sequel?"

Coming soon--"Tim Burton's Son Of Kong"?...

Until that time, maybe I'll FINALLY go break out those three extended "Lord of the Rings" DVDs, and sit down and watch 'em. No, I haven't seen them in the theater OR on DVD, but y'know, the next time I have an afternoon with a spare, oh, fourteen hours or so, I'll try and give 'em a look see.

Good thing I never read THOSE books, either--gee, this whole ignorance thing is actually starting to work out for me! Who knew?...
January 1st, 2006
Happy New Year to YOU; Happy THREE Year to Me!!
Yeah, yeah--we went through all this anniversary nonsense yesterday. Just wanted to make it official.

For the first time in I don't know how long, we had planned to go out on New Year's Eve, and since our hosts--Peter and Karen (and their young son George) live about ninety minutes away, they very kindly invited us to stay over.

Nice idea. Didn't work out, though. Nature stepped in--for the first time in over three weeks it snowed, and our trip was cancelled. Timing is everything, y'know. Not before we took a brave (if somewhat foolish) stab at it, though. However, when our intrepid driver--that'd be me, don'tcha know--slowed up to make a turn, the car stubbornly continued to slide ever forward, and we were unable to negotiate the right! THAT was when we realized it was probably a better notion to reverse course and return home, despite the pitiful protestations of young Julie in the back seat, who--like all of us--had been looking forward to the evening. Too bad, kid, but better to be home safe than off the side of the road sorry.

Another time, then, for our visit (as well as spending time with the ever ubiquitous Terry Austin, who was scheduled to be in attendance as well).

Surfing the tube, looking for poor ol' Dick Clark, munching some chips, and a swilling down a bottle of cheap champagne--not the most dazzlingly original of ways to spend New Year's Eve, but given the possible alternatives, reasonably satisfying! But we want more Regis--after all, who doesn't wanna hear his pal, football coach Lou Holtz. spout philosophy at the dawning of a new year?..

Anyway, have a swell 2006, everybody!

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