Archive - January 2009
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January 31st, 2009
The answer to yesterday's headscratcher--what do Joe Dimaggio, Heinz catsup, and yours truly have in common--is fairly simple.

It was my birthday, y'see.

And how does THAT tie in, you may well ask? Okay, follow me here: Joe Dimaggio was most famous for (well, besides being hitched to Marilyn Monroe) his still unequaled 56 game hitting streak, and yesterday my streak of years living reached 56 as well!! My next goal? To attain 57 variety of years, likewise matching the amount of varieties Heinz catsup boasts!

Simple, eh?

Yeah, okay, pretty dumb--no argument there. But sometimes these silly little notions come to me, and I find I have precious little choice but to share 'em with you unfortunate folks. My apologies...

As for the day itself, well, I must say it was quietly delightful. As promised, I didn't do any work at all. Instead, I let Lynn treat me to a delicious buffet lunch (two helpings each of all the veggie offerings--AND dessert!!) at a fine Indian restaurant in nearby Fishkill, after which we ran a few errands. Mother-in-law Terry called and, as is her tradition, serenaded me. Daughter Julie phoned as well, and after wishing me the obligatory birthday salutations, informed her mom and me that she'd made the Dean's List, which I figured was quite a nifty present in and of itself--congrats, kid!!

Later, I enjoyed a tradition of my very own that started back in 2006, but hasn't been put into practice since 2007 (due to last year's writer's strike)--I watched the first six episodes of this season's 24 all at once!! Well, okay, I took some time off between hours four and five to share a wonderful dinner prepared by the missus, but otherwise, I spent several thrilling hours glued to the tube, mesmerized by Jack Bauer's latest exploits!! Expect further commentary regarding said escapades very soon...

(As if that weren't enough TV, afterwards, Lynn and I sat down to check out today's installment of "All My Children', and forevermore, I'll be able to mark my 56th birthday as the day Kendall Hart (Erica Kane' s daughter) came out of her three month long coma. AND found out that her husband was the sperm donor for her lesbian sister's daughter. AND that she had had a heart transplant, said organ coming from her now deceased brother Josh. She DIDN'T find out that husband Zach was the one who shot and killed him, but hey, ya gotta save something for Monday, right?...)

I also spent a fair amount of time receiving a whole buncha birthday wishes on Facebook, MySpace, and just my good ol' regular email, and I've gotta tell you, I was pretty much overwhelmed!! Almost had me a Sally Field moment--and I DON'T mean I flew off in nun's habit!! Thanks to one and all who took the time to send cheery thoughts my way--to say it was appreciated would be an understatement! But that's about the best I got--don't wanna go all sappy on you after all.

Honestly, thanks folks--and we'll see you back here soon!!
January 30th, 2009
Joe Dimaggio, Heinz catsup, and yours truly--think you can figure out the connection?

Well, no rush trying to puzzle this personally esoteric little riddle of mine out--I'll tell you Saturday. As for me, following an example set long ago by my good buddy Roger Green, well, I'm taking the day off.

WHY am I taking the day off? Head on over to Roger's blog for a hint--which might even help you grab a clue re: my little brain-twister as well!!

See ya tomorrow, gang!!
January 29th, 2009
Lynn and I forked over two bucks yesterday and saw "Vicky Christina Barcelona", the latest supposed return to form for director Woody Allen.

Whether that's the case or not, I honestly couldn't say, as I don't have a lot to compare it against. A quick look over his imdb listing shows that, by my count, he's directed 40 full-length big screen films. Of those forty, I've seen 11 of the first 12, missing only number 8, "Interiors". After "Zelig", my attendance at Allen flicks falls off seriously (only two were viewed on the tube, y'see, with the rest as a theatergoing paying customer). I caught number 15, "Hannah and Her Sisters", then 1989's, "Crime and Misdemeanors" (number 19). I rented a video of the last ballyhooed "return to form", 1995's "Mighty Aphrodite" (#26), and up until yesterday, that was about it.

Can't honestly say I'm as motivated as I was back in the "Annie Hall"--or even "Bananas"--days. (But in fairness to Mr. Allen, save for kid flicks and super-hero movies, we pretty much dropped out of the moviegoing business for nearly two decades, a point which is exemplified by the fact that up until the other night, me and the missus somehow never got around to watching "Titanic"...)

Well, now that we ARE back in the cinematic swing of things, Woody'll be happy to know we'll gladly invest a dollar apiece to see whatever he churns out. "Vicky Christina Barcelona" is no classic, true, but it wasn't bad either. The film looks absolutely gorgeous--the various and plentiful Spanish locales are used to maximum effect, and the acting by the principals is superb, especially that of Rebecca Hall (Vicky), who I'd mistakenly assumed was the actress given an Oscar nomination for her work (it was actually Penelope Cruz as Maria Elena). Frankly, I was more impressed by Hall (an actress I'd never heard of before) for the subtly she brought to her role, whereas Cruz's part bordered uneasily on the cliche of the stereotypical Spanish spitfire. But as we all know, I don't get a vote.

Javier Bardem--last seen as the man whose bad haircut drove him into a murderous rage in "No Country For Old Men"--was a much more agreeable presence here sporting a George Clooney 'do. He's this lusty Spanish painter, y'see, who manages to involve himself with a pair of American tourists (Hall, and Scarlett Johansson as Christina), while the pair of best gal pals spend a summer in Barcelona, with his ex-wife Cruz providing the plot's x-factor. Some have criticized the film's over reliance on narration, declaring Allen cinematically lazy and writing less a screenplay than a short story, and while I can definitely see the merits of this position, overall, the approach works to keep what otherwise would be a three hour film moving along so as to finish up in a zippy ninety six minutes.

The only other question would be, HOW to classify the thing? A romantic comedy? Well, there WAS one big laugh that had the whole audience howling (without spoiling it, I'll merely say it was a line delivered by Cruz during a discussion about luggage), but otherwise, not so much. Unlike most all of the films I've seen recently, the ending leaves open a certain amount of thought-provoking ambiguity, even though it clearly doesn't seem quite as heavy as some of Allen's earlier dramatic endeavors (the few I've seen anyway). Maybe we should simply call it a light drama?

Or howabout we just focus on the lascivious aspects of the storyline--as much of the film's pre-publicity did--and call the whole thing soft-core Woody?

I guess these days all it takes is locking lips in a dark room with Scarlett Johansson for one to garner consideration for a li'l gold statue, eh Ms. Cruz?

Aye carumba indeed!...
January 28th, 2009
You're all familiar with the Kevin Maguire/Terry Austin illo pictured above, right?

I mean, it was only about the single most iconic cover of the entire eighties after all.

About ten years after that 1987 JUSTICE LEAGUE debut issue hit the shops, I was commissioned by a very creative customer to cobble together this rather unlikely alliance...
Stars of such suggested for mature readers titles as PREACHER, HELLBLAZER, TRANSMETROPOLITAN, THE BOOKS OF MAGIC, and SANDMAN stood shoulder to shoulder with such DC Universe emigres as the Phantom Stranger, Deadman, Shade the Changing Man, and the big galoot who set the creation of this grittier imprint into motion, Swamp Thing (oh, and that's Ambush Bug in the UPC box), forming the fanciful group, Vertigo League.

You may've seen it before--it was one of the very first pieces posted over in the Classic Cover Redo section of this site (way back when this site still HAD, in any meaningful way, separate sections. Sigh...), and even turned up in my recent book collection (THE NEARLY COMPLETE ESSEN--oh, you know which one I'm talking about...). I was always pretty happy with the way it came out, but up until a few short months ago, it was as close as I'd ever gotten to taking on the justly famous Maguire/Austin masterwork.

Then came a request to once again use it as a template for yet another modified version of the original.

The stars THIS time around?

See for yourself...
I'm sure you all recognize Captain America, The Human Torch, and Sub-Mariner--and you're likely familiar with Bucky and Toro as well--but in case you're not steeped in the rewritten history of Marvel's WWII adventurers, that's Miss America, Union Jack, Spitfire, Thin Man, and the Whizzer backing up their more famous Timely teammates. Oh, and that's Baron Blood--the Nazi vampire--slinking off in the UPC box. Hey, with that bunch around, can you really blame him??

Well, the ink had barely dried on my Marvelized version of JUSTICE LEAGUE 1 when yet ANOTHER commission request to use the '87 DC Comics cover as the basis for yet another personally modified version arrived in the ol' e-box!! And no, it WASN'T from the same patron--the whole thing was totally unconnected and purely coincidental!!

And THIS time around we have?....
Y'know, for the first time, I actually got to draw one of the folks populating the original gathering--but only one--when Guy Gardner found himself surrounded not with JL members, but the GL corps. That's Hal Jordan, Alan Scott, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, Katma Tui, Tomar-Re, Jade, Ch'p, and Kilowog taking up his rear. Talk about going green...

Doing up those two were a lot of fun, but hammered home a very obvious fact to yours truly--after doodling up my takes on literally hundreds of different covers over the years, I STILL hadn't scribbled out my own version of the official JUSTICE LEAGUE #1!!

Well, folks, I'm just plain tired of waiting to be asked.

So I just up and did it...
And if you want to BUY it, just head on over to my Sales page--I'll be happy to let it go for my standard cover commission fee. First come, first served!! (Though should there be some sort of massive run on the thing, I'm not at all adverse to doing it twice. Or three times. Or--well, you get the idea. Plus, for just a wee bit more in the buckos department, you too can have your very own modified version of JUSTICE LEAGUE #1! Maybe you want one with the Legion of Super-Heroes on it, or the X-Men, or even Archie's Riverdale gang--THAT'D sure be a hoot to draw!! We're open to suggestions, friends!!)

Oh, and if you want to see larger versions of my quartet of quirky redos, simply run your mouse over the illos above and you'll be magically transported the land of big pictures!!

I hope you've enjoyed this little artistic survey. and if not, well, as the man with the bad haircut said, wanna make somethin' of it?...
January 27th, 2009
Hard to believe, but it's been nearly fourteen years since the first volume of those three "Beatles Anthology" double discs came out, allowing us hopelessly devoted Beatlemaniacs legal access for the very first time to various nuggets previously locked away in the Fab's vaults.

One of the more unusual oddities on that first collection was the soundtrack from a television appearance with the British comedy duo, Morecambe and Wise on December 2nd, 1963. I've since come to learn that Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise were tremendously popular--beloved, even--in the U.K., though to this day, save for this surviving cameo in Beatles history, they remain virtually unknown on this side of the Atlantic.

Three of the four songs the boys performed on the show--the last being a comedic collaboration with the two funnymen--are included on the first Anthology set, along with some comedic patter leading up the six of them crooning the old chestnut, "On Moonlight Bay". Well, that's all fine and dandy for what it is--and I've heard these tracks dozens of times over the past decade and half, enough to probably be able to recite the most of the gags by heart ("We're the ones with the big fat hairy heads"...), but it sorta looses something without the visuals, y'know?

I bet you just KNOW where I'm going next, right?


Nine minutes and fifty seven seconds of 'em to be exact, including the elusive fourth tune ("All My Loving") not included on the disc!! Enjoy! Because now finally, we Americans can judge for ourselves--just HOW short, fat, and hairy were Ernie's legs anyhow?...
January 26th, 2009
I have a reputation of, back when I was a kid, being obsessed with super-heroes in comic books. And while that's certainly true up to a point, the whole truth is that I was obsessed with CONTINUING characters. Lulu Moppet, Sad Sack, and Uncle Scrooge all existed as clearly in my imagination as Superman and Spider-Man.

And inevitably, there was always a predominant artist whose interpretation fueled those visions, whether it was someone as iconic as Joe Kubert's Sgt. Rock or as obscure as Frank Springer's Brain Boy. When it came to assessing the work of the great cartoonists of the era in my mind, it would always be in conjunction with their signature character(s).

Which was as fine a method as any--except it completely shut out the work of arguably the most successful cartoonist ever to spring from the comic book industry:

Jack Davis.

And the first time I truly became aware of his work, I immediately hated it!

The year was 1963, the Marvel Age of Comics was gearing up to full swing, and I was eager to buy ANYTHING that had one of those neat--and only recently instituted--corner box symbols, which is why I grabbed my first ever issue of RAWHIDE KID off the rack, number 35 (August 1963).

But after flipping open to the first page from the exciting Jack Kirby/Dick Ayers cover, THIS is what I saw...
I may've been vaguely aware of Davis' distinctive style even then through a few MAD paperbacks I owned (I didn't begin buying the magazine itself regularly--or its imitators--until early 1964), as well as the poster art for "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World", and while I had no problem with the overt cartooniness there, lurking within the pages of one of my oh-so-very-serious Marvel mags--even a western one--well, it just seemed totally, absolutely, AND completely wrong!!

I mean, c'mon, you'd NEVER see a Jack Kirby or a Dick Ayers draw a panel like THIS!!---
As it turns out, this was the last regular type funny book Davis ever drew (after handling the art chores on the previous two issues as well, which I mercifully missed back in the day, but which can be found--along with number 35--reprinted in the second volume of the RAWHIDE KID MARVEL MASTERWORKS), and as far as I can tell, the only continuing character he ever did (not counting The Crypt Keeper). I was relieved that, when I cautiously picked up RAWHIDE KID 36, Ayers had been given the assignment of bringing the kid's adventures to four-color life.

Proving once again that while ten year olds may know what they like, they ALSO may well still be full of crap!!

The unmistakable work of Jack Davis is so uniquely pervasive in our society that it's easy to take him for granted--a crime I've all too long been guilty of--but c'mon, the man deserves all the accolades afforded to him, and then some!! My personally juvenile distaste for that single Marvel western issue he illustrated before I'd fully developed a brain aside...

And if you want to SEE Mr. Davis speak right here on your very own computer machine, check out this clip via a southern PM Magazine outlet from back in 1981. The impetus for the piece concerns Jack's creation of a cartoon mascot for a local football team, but in it's six plus minutes, presents a nice overview of his career and affords him plenty of airtime to speak (however modestly) for himself. Well worth watching, despite some iffy visual quality.

Though somehow, the Rawhide Kid isn't even mentioned once...
January 25th, 2009
Last night, twelve years after most everyone else in the civilized world, Lynn and I sat down and watched Hollywood's all-time box-office champ, Jim Cameron's "Titanic".

No, we didn't see it on the big screen--or even on one of those new-fangled flat screen TV sets; fact is, it wasn't even a DVD that we viewed, but the now ancient format known as VHS tape--but still, the majesty of the infamously doomed sailing vessel nonetheless managed to come vibrantly to life, even at a reduced scale. Afterwards, I truly felt as if I'd actually been aboard the Titanic!

As for the cinematic experience itself, well, the movie has a legion of enthusiastic devotees, and almost as many vocal detractors. Me, I'd fall somewhere in between (though, softy that I am, I'd lean more towards the positive, as I DID enjoy the film despite its obvious flaws). Yes, I bought into the story's grand (and fictional) romance, mainly due to winning performances turned in by the two leads. especially the lovely (and briefly undraped) Ms. Winslet. Pretty much every other character, though--most egregiously the one played by Billy Zane--came off as little more than walking, talking cliches. Hey, some of the plot twists--like slipping the necklace into Jack's coat pocket to frame him--were hoary melodramatic chestnuts by the time the REAL Titanic set sail, y'know?

And even though going in we all knew what was going to happen, I must admit to being surprised that, shortly after the iceberg made its belated appearance, the movie suddenly turned into an "Indiana Jones" flick! I mean, there were our pair of intrepid lovers, narrowly--and improbably--dodging one sure encounter with certain death after another, relentlessly searching for higher ground, until they were practically the last ones to abandon ship!! Entertaining? Yes. And if Harrison Ford's anywhere in the vicinity, brandishing his whip, perfectly acceptable as well. But in a film that purports to recreate a historical event, well, after awhile, it became a little hard to swallow (no drowning associated pun intended--honest...).

It had its moments, though--I found the ending to be particularly moving--and I guess you could say it was a fun film. Well, if you can call ANY film '"fun" that kills off fifteen hundred plus of its characters in the last reel (or two)...

(Wanna refresh your memory, folks? Here's a "Titanic' trailer that hits most all of the high (and low) points, running 4:14. Like the movie itself, it WILL go on...)

Postscript to my discussion regarding the X-Men's guest appearance in one of those old Sub-Mariner cartoons a few days back--check out BookSteve's blog entry on the same subject from several years ago. Not only does he provide the non-Spanish speaking amongst us with a concise plot summary, he also showcases the box art that accompanied the VHS tape--


Now, it sure doesn't take a learned Marvel scholar to know that Logan was NOWHERE NEAR that third FF Annual, the toon's source material for all things mutant!! Well, you know what they say--never judge a book by it's cover--OR a VHS tape either, apparently...
January 24th, 2009
Now, here's a real oddity that I stumbled across while trolling through the YouTube archives: a live musical duel between rock and roll pioneers, The Everly Brothers, and British Invasion stars, Gerry and the Pacemakers.

The year is 1965, the venue is uncertain--Shindig, possibly?--with the Brothers on the downside of their once enormous popularity, and The Pacemakers, who would disband only one short year later, the more recent hitmakers. Still, everyone is clearly game for a little bout of harmonic one-upsmanship, with the Everly's commencing to croon two of the Pacemakers biggest hits (and somehow making 'em sound silly in the process), "How Do You Do It" (the tune the Beatles famously turned down) and "I Like It", as a very confused (and suitably hammy) Gerry Marsden looks on!!

The two camps proceed to trade hits, but things get REALLY frenzied when, about midway through, Gerry literally forces himself between the singing siblings and conks one of 'em on the noggin accidentally with his guitar!! Laughter and momentary loss of composure ensues, but quickly regained, as each and every one of these performers are true troupers!! And amazingly, not a single hair on either Don or Phil's head is ever mussed out of place the entire time!! Man, wouldja just LOOK at those pompadours!! The amount of hairspray needed to keep 'em under control over the brothers long Hall of Fame career is likely what caused that hole in the ozone!! Bye bye love, bye bye atmosphere...

Anyway, here's yer link to 4 minutes and 29 seconds of vintage rock and roll shenanigans! Enjoy!
January 23rd, 2009
Way, way back last August, this note from Alan Plessinger arrived in the ol' e-box:

One thing I've never heard you express an opinion about, Hembeck: The Gantray Lawrence Captain America cartoons. And Thor, Iron Man, Submariner, and Hulk of course, but I know you have a fondness for Cap. I loved 'em. The plots were taken right from the comics. They brought a whole new meaning to limited animation. I think the characters moved about once every two weeks. Someone loaded a lot of them onto YouTube, and I like to look at one whenever I have ten or fifteen minutes to spare.

Turns out I never did get around to answering Alan's question personally, mainly cuz I thought it'd be more fun to do so here on the blog. But back then, I was mired in a bit of a blogging malaise, and never quite got around to it, despite all good intentions to do so. Finally though, the time has come to address the topic, so Alan, thanks for your patience.

Short answer?


I watched 'em every single night of the week back when they first hit the airwaves! I even preferred 'em over the admittedly more polished Spider-Man and Fantastic Four cartoons of the era, primarily for two reasons:

1. The stories--and more importantly, the art--were taken directly from the pages of the comics I so dearly cherished (never mind that I learned years after the fact that all wasn't happiness and light in the Marvel Bullpen due to grumblings from folks like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko regarding their receiving nary an extra penny for their efforts despite having their work appropriated to create some big time--okay, some medium time--Hollywood product. As a kid, I just figured they'd consider it a honor to have their drawings animated--however loosely you'd care to utilize that term. Silly me...)

2. I didn't have to get up in the morning to watch them! I was never an early riser, y'see. In fact, I was one kid who knew Captain Kangaroo strictly by reputation...

In the NYC area (I was out on Long Island), we had us a fellow dressed up in a generic looking super-hero outfit named Captain Universe hosting the show, and inasmuch as a young Bill Mantlo grew up in the same broadcasting area as myself, I've always suspected that was where he'd nicked the name for his latter day creation. Who knows for sure though...

I watched faithfully on my primitive black and white TV set--and yes, the Captain America episodes were clearly my favorites, possessing as well the one theme song I could, even many after years last seeing the show, still hum (conversely, I recently checked out some Sub-Mariner episodes--more on THAT later--but y'know, I STILL can't recall that tune!...)-- and then, one day they were gone, and I didn't anymore. Watch, that is.

About twenty years go by. It's the mid-eighties, and we've bought our first VCR. Down at the video store, they have tapes of several of the old shows. So, feeling nostalgic, I rent a few.

Wow--I didn't realize quite how garish they were, having never seen them in color before. Plus, they come off a little, um, lame. Certainly not worth two bucks a shot. My curiosity assuaged, ANOTHER twenty some odd years go by until, at Alan's urging, I check 'em out again.

This time around they're free, so I'm a bit more inclined to be charitable. There's still a certain thrill to be had from seeing--however clumsily--stories that meant so much to me as a kid come to life on the television screen. But after watching Captain America take on the Three Sleepers--a long-time sentimental favorite--I rooted around, looking for the single most peculiar episode of the entire series, one I hadn't seen in over forty years.

The good news? I found it.

The bad news? It's in Spanish.

But that's okay, cuz even if, like me, you don't speak Spanish, you'll still be able to grasp what's going on and why it's so darned odd.

Now, almost without exception, the cartoons produced in this series followed their original comic book sources closely, with only minor alterations.

THIS Sub-Mariner entree was the aforementioned exception.

Entitled "Dr. Doomsday", this episode attempted to cobble together the events taking place in the third Fantastic Four Annual--Dr. Doom setting into action a wide open free-for-all between virtually every good guy and every bad guy in the Marvel Universe on the eve of Reed and Sue's wedding--and the much earlier FF#6, wherein Doom teamed up with Namor.

Doesn't sound too unusual, you might say? Well, beyond the fact that the Sub-Mariner was one of the select few Marvel characters of the day who failed to show up AT ALL in FF Annual 3, necessitating a flashback intro to even shoehorn him into the opening segment (each half hour was divided up into a trio of short connecting cartoons, y'see), there was one glaring problem with using these comics to build an animated escapade on:


Clearly, the rights to the FF lay elsewhere (Spidey too, but his single panel cameo at Reed and Sue's nuptials was, comparatively, a breeze to gloss over)--heck, they couldn't even use the name "Baxter Building"!--so a bit more creativity than usual went into making this thing work.

With the FF out, you know who became the stars of the show?

The X-Men!

Oh, all the myriad Marvel heroes and villains are in evidence, but the tuxedoed Professor X and his blue and yellow clad students step into the role vacated by the FF as the buildings presumed tenants. And they're the ones trapped inside when, in panels pulled straight out of FF #6, the edifice is launched into space by Dr. Doom.

But wait--there's more.

Remember that stirring sequence of panels drawn by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers wherein the Prince of Atlantis attempts to bring the building back to earth? Well, you won't see 'em here--not exactly, anyway. The Sub-Mariner illustrations have been completely redrawn to mimic the then current Gene Colan model, apparently because the look varied so greatly from Kirby's earlier approach.

That in itself was worth noting .Over in the Captain America series, for instance, you'd often alternate seamlessly from a Kirby Cap to a George Tuska Cap to a Dick Ayers Cap, and then back again. But not so with Subby, thus adding one further peculiarity onto this oddest of Marvel Super-Hero cartoons.

Enough talk. Get out your Spanish to English dictionaries and watch part uno (9:16), then part dos (8:03). And remember mutant boosters, THIS pretty much qualifies as The X-Men's video debut! Aye carumba--history in the making, amigos!

Lastly, regarding yesterday's topic, Jaunty Jim Salicrup left the following personal reminiscence over in the comments section of my MySpace blog, and I thought it was too good to simply languish there. Frankly, it's way more interesting than what I had to say about the comedian, so thanks as always Jim, for livening things up around here!!

My quick Jerry Seinfeld story...
Way back when, Scott Lobdell was working at a comedy club in New Jersey, around the time he was breaking into comics. Scott was trying to be both a stand-up comic and a comics writer, you see. Anyway, one of his jobs was to pick up the club's headliners from the airport and bring them to the club. Making small talk with Seinfeld as he drove him to the club, he mentioned he was writing comics, and Jerry said he was a comics fan. Scott mentioned that I would be in the audience at that night's performance, and Jerry asked to meet me (this is back when I was the Spider-Man editor). Well, the show was great, and it was wonderful meeting him. I told him that as far as comics were concerned, some of the most important people had the initials JS! Just look at Superman (a strip that was always initials-conscious, especially LL) -- there was Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Jack Schiff, Julie Schwartz, Jim Shooter, etc.! So, I told Jerry he was destined for greatness! Then he started a TV show called... well, you know the rest!

Cool story, Jim--but hey, you left the part out about him riding in a motorcycle gang!

(Oh wait--that didn't really happen, did it? And the X-Men weren't REALLY the occupants of that building, were they? Sorry...)
January 22nd, 2009
In the six years I've been blogging, I'm pretty certain I've only ever used this phrase once before--I promised then and I promise now not to ever, EVER overdo it--but here it comes, so try not to cringe:

Lemme tell you about this crazy dream I had last night!

No, not in great detail--truth is, I don't recall much of the details, save for the intro. But it was all just based on such an...odd...notion that I felt compelled to share.

It began with yours truly sitting at what appeared to be a table in a cafeteria, surrounded by a group of raucous strangers. I very quietly began perusing the latest (but not the actual latest ) issue of the British music and cinema magazine, UNCUT. Paul McCartney was cover featured, but I wasn't reading about him. Instead, I was immersed in the recounting of some early, heretofore unknown trials and tribulations of another big star.

As I read the piece, I suddenly somehow BECAME that celebrity, and the story was no longer happening on the page, but was now happening to ME (only not me, but him--you follow?...).

There was this big ol' party taking place out in a mountain cabin, y'see, and everything was going along fine until a gang of long-haired, gun-wielding motorcycle thugs showed up. Everyone was completely terrified as they demanded the partygoers fork over their valuables. Finally, given little choice in the matter, they abducted me (him), and made me (still him) a reluctant member of their two-wheeled band of thieves.

I woke up pretty soon thereafter, but that friends, is the story of how, against his will, Jerry Seinfeld was inducted into a rampaging motorcycle gang!!

You get the picture? Me, I'M a leather-clad Jerry Seinfeld, riding a massive chopper, helping a bunch of hairy ne'er do wells plunder innocent people--not at all wanting to, understand, but going along strictly due to issues of self-preservation.


Yeah, that's what I thought too....

Well, anyway, speaking of Jerry...
No, I'm NOT gonna link to those famous commercials Jerry did whilst in the company of the Man of Steel--maybe some other time--but rather to the animated storyboards for a trio of apparently unproduced ads starring the pair.

Remember those ads Seinfeld did not long back for Microsoft with Bill Gates? I seem to recall that they weren't very well received. Perhaps these three commercials would've went over better. I'm not sure what the back story is here--and no, that's not Jerry nor Patrick Warburton doing the voices, as these are simply demos, not the final product--but they're more amusing than I recall the ones which had Gates playing straight man.

Here's the first Seinfeld/Superman/Microsoft ad (0:46), here's the second (0:37), and here's the third(1:03).

Y'know, even without a single motorcycle anywhere in sight, these were fun!...
January 21st, 2009
As you're likely aware, we take on commissions around here for what we like to call Classic Cover Redos. Been doing 'em for awhile now. Done plenty. But recently, I received a unique request.

A first time customer enlisted me to produce my version of John Byrne's 1987 cover for the sixth (and final) issue of DC's follow-up to their CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS limited series, LEGENDS. But he asked for something a little bit different: inspired by the pieces I've been posting over in my Across the Page Gallery, he requested I draw the various DC super-stars in the amped-up cartoony manner seen there. No one had ever suggested such an approach before--and I'm not sure it would work smoothly on all covers--but given the virtual lack of background elements on the original, this particular cover seemed the perfect vehicle to give it a try.

Happily, my patron was delighted with the result. Me? Well, I was giddy with the opportunity to try something new while doing something old. And--uh huh--if you want to judge for yourself as to how things came out, just click your mouse over the image above and, voila! There's your first ever Hembeck Classic Cover Redo, cobbled up Across The Page style!!

Anybody care to pony up for a SECOND one? Hey, I'll be here when you need me!...
January 20th, 2009
Daughter Julie spent most of her afternoon running around campus, going from one new class to another, and thus, missed out on our new president's inaugural address.

But not to worry, kiddo--thanks to good ol' YouTube, you (and anyone else who couldn't get themselves in front of a TV around noon today) can watch Mr. Obama's opening oratorical salvo at your leisure, divided into a pair of several nearly ten minute sections.

Here's part one (9:51), and here's part two (9:55).

Y'know, to my way of thinking, the most astute political tune of them all is The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again", the key line being (in conjunction with the title), "meet the new boss, same as the old boss", a sentiment which is all too often too true.

But maybe--maybe--just this once that won't be the case. Maybe just this once, the new boss truly IS new. I'm cautiously optimistic that, this time, I won't be screaming in pain like Roger Daltrey at the end of the next four years. I surely hope not.

So, good luck, Mr. O--I'm pulling for you. Hey, I'd be a fool not to...
January 19th, 2009
Wow--what a day THIS is!

Not only is it Martin Luther King Day, but it's ALSO the last full day of George W. Bush's Presidency!

As holidays go, now THAT'S what I call a twofer!!

(And to all my good Republican friends out there, please indulge me the cheap shot. Sometimes a line comes to you, and you've just GOTTA use it, dig? I think you all know I didn't much care for our last Commander-In-Chief--really, really, REALLY didn't care for, actually surprised myself as to how much I didn't care for--but I'm not one to get involved in political discussions since, while I may have opinions (e.g., the not caring for situation previously alluded to), I don't consider myself well versed enough to properly debate any of the inevitable emailed rebuttals--like those that came in following the few times (years back, mostly) when something along similar lines was mentioned here. So, GOPers, allow me this one small bash at Bush, and we'll get back to our usual task of talking about totally unimportant stuff real soon, okay?

Though, um, I'll probably have something NICE to say about the new guy tomorrow... )
January 18th, 2009
Our daughter Julie starts her second semester of college next week, meaning her three and a half week winter break hanging out at home is now behind her.

While she was here...

She went night sledding with me three times, two other times with friends Alyssa and Cara, and once during the day with both me and Cara.

She helped me shovel the driveway twice.

She saw her grandmother twice, first when G'ma slept over on Christmas Eve, and about ten days later when we drove over to G'ma's house for the day. Uncle Bob joined us for dinner each time.

She saw four movies--three with us at the cheap theater : "W.", "Zack And Miri Make A Porno", and "Religilous", each of which we enjoyed to various degrees; and one she saw for full matinee price with her friends Alyssa and Cara the day after Christmas, "The Spirit"--AND THEY ALL LOVED IT! As did another friend who saw it separately, meaning this movie apparently DOES have an audience: girls, ages 16-19 who have NO idea who Will Eisner is!! Me, I'll see it when it winds up at the one buck cineplex...

She played two games if Scrabble with Lynn and me (with Grandma joining in on the second). Her mom won both.

She and I played about two dozen games of Fluxx, a very odd card game where the rules change with virtually every hand (but once you get used to THAT, it's a lot more fun than it sounds...)

She worked on one of her older oil paintings, and began two others.

She and I watched the last two episodes of season 5 of "Gilmore Girls" on DVD, and all 22 of season 6 (except for the last ten minutes of episode 2 and all of episode 3, due to a shoddy disc--luckily, we'd watched these shows when they were originally broadcast, and found detailed plot synopsis' online so as to keep up with the flow of the overall story. Crappy manufacturing, but a great program. Gotta get a hold of the 7th and final season in time for Spring Break--who needs St. Petersburg??....)

She and I watched about two and half DVDs worth of the 11th season of "The Simpsons".

She and Lynn watched several hours of programming on The Food Channel.

She worked on some paperwork for summer internship applications.

She had three sleepovers here: one with Alyssa and Cara, one with Courtney and Lisa, and one with Cara. She slept over at Alyssa's and at Courtney's. She went bowling with a large group of friends one evening, had Cara over for several additional day visits, shopped with Courtney, and spent most of the day before she went back hosting Deanna, her oldest friend (since first grade), joined later by Courtney.

She and I had lunch at Ihop and at Panara Bread.

She spent nearly two full days visiting teachers and friends at the high school she graduated from back in June.

She spent a fair amount of time on the computer, posting silly stuff on Facebook and DS2.

She spoke frequently with her boyfriend Alec on the phone.

She made oatmeal cookies with Cara.

Not everything got done, however. We never made it down to NYC to check out the art galleries, and we never had a chance to watch the DVD of "Across The Universe", a movie I've already seen but she hasn't. Maybe next time.

Not surprisingly, I didn't get as much work done as I normally would've (though the blogging, as you can clearly see, wasn't effected overmuch), but in the few days since dropping her off upstate, I've managed to crank up production nicely. No regrets--having fun with my kid (even an 18 year old one) always trumps everything else!

And now it's back to the books for Li'l Julie. How'd she do the first time out? I suppose I'm burying the lead here--I want to brag, you betcha, but nonetheless feel a certain amount of chagrin for doing so--but her grades were terrific: A minus in both Color and Composition and Calculus 2, a B plus in both Physics and Freshman Seminar (a writing course all incoming students are obligated to take). Not bad, not bad at all.

We had fun during her visit (mostly--not to make it sound too much like Shangri-La around here, as there WERE those isolated moments of moodiness and raised voices that have always been part of the family mix hereabouts, but without fail they pass quickly, and are almost instantly forgotten (not an easy trick, but that's the way it goes, happily)), and we're gonna miss her. But, conversely, turns out Lynn and I have discovered we enjoy the quiet, and still like each other well enough to spend a whole lotta time alone together, day in and day out. I gotta tell ya, I have a terrific kid AND a wonderful wife!! How I ever got so lucky I'll NEVER know...

Most of you folks probably never made it this far. That's okay. Sometimes a blog just HAS to be totally self-indulgent. This is one of those times. Julie Hembeck, if do say so myself, is one of the most fascinating persons I know, and sometimes I simply feel the need to share that rather prejudiced view with the whole wide world! So sue me!!

Next time, back to comics and/or videos, promise!
January 17th, 2009
Recently, I was contacted by a fellow named Robert Goodin. He told me he was going to start a blog featuring various artists doing their interpretations of already existing comic book covers, and since that appeared to be something I've had some experience with, wondered if I'd be willing to contribute some pieces to his effort.

Well, it sounded like a fine notion to me, so I shipped off a heaping handful of scans for him to use in Covered (that's the name of the site), the first of which he posted yesterday. It's my version of Pat Boyette's cover for the third issue of Charlton's sixties era Action Hero, PEACEMAKER (having more than enough traditional Marvel and DC super-hero redos already in house, Rob requested any off-beat pieces I may've had on hand, and this was one of them).

Some of the illos I sent him have appeared here on the blog, but most--such as the aforementioned PEACEMAKER cover--have not. It's a fun idea, with the work of cartoonists such as Johnny Ryan, Eric Stillman, and Jeffrey Brown all amongst the first to contribute. I suggest you bookmark the page and check in regularly, and I promise to make note hereabouts each time one of my forged masterpieces gets showcased!! Good luck with the project, Mr. G!

Following up on yesterday's posting, apparently there are more fellow Mandy Patinkin fans out there than I suspected! Frequent correspondent Bill Roberge was delighted to discover a clip of Mandy performing a favorite tune of his, "Cat's In the Cradle", and suggested I check it out.

Heck, why don't we ALL check it out? After all, it's only five minutes and eighteen seconds long?

(That's right folks--we're taking requests now!)

Bill, in case you weren't aware, Mr. Patinkin recorded a version of that Harry Chapin throat-choker (yes, it's one of those Chapin songs I tried to pooh-pooh yesterday, but which nonetheless, brings a lump to my throat every time I hear it--especially when Mandy is the one piling on the ironic angst...). It appeared on his 2001 collection "Kidults", whose concept was to mix songs for kids with songs about kids, veering from overtly playful to dramatically melancholic. (On record, as in concert, it's preceded by about a minute and a half of "Japanese Sandman" before segueing into the main event.)

"Kidults" isn't always successful, but there's still a lot of creative stuff included, my favorite being a nutty take on "A Tisket A Tasket" which starts out being sung in a little girl voice, only to switch over (and then back again) to a Joe Friday type as he interrogates the poor little thing after she's lost her little yellow basket!! Funny stuff!!

(And how about his humorously frantic attempt at spitting out lyrics to Chopin's "Minute Waltz"? Listen for yourself to this audio-only YouTube clip--it'll only cost two minutes and twelve seconds of your time. Yeah, that's right--in true Mandy Patinkin fashion, it takes him over two minutes to sing the "Minute Waltz"! Wotta guy!..)
January 16th, 2009
I still remember the first time I ever heard of both Mandy Patinkin and Glenn Close.

It was a trailer for a film called "Maxie". The year was 1985, and though a quick check of their respective IMDB listings reveal that Patinkin co-starred in "Yentl' earlier, as did Close in "The Big Chill", I had no idea who either of them were when that preview for "Maxie" was screened before the evening's featured attraction.

The reason it lodged itself in my mind? Well, I was struck by the ironic absurdity of a romantic comedy (about the ghost of a Roaring Twenties flapper inhabiting the body of Close's character) whose MALE lead was named "Mandy" and whose FEMALE lead was named "Glenn" !?! I mean, c'mon, what were the odds? Add that to the fact that the film's title character--"Maxie"--had a decidedly unspecific gender name, much more so than either "Mandy" or "Glenn', and I just thought, well, this thing has NO chance.

And as far as I can tell, I was right.

But if I thought that'd be the last we'd hear of Close and Patinkin, well, in THAT case, was I ever wrong. Ms. Close's very NEXT film? "Fatal Attraction" And as for Mr.P, "The Princess Bride" was only a few short years away in HIS future.

But aside from his role in Warren Beatty's "Dick Tracy" and the aforementioned Rob Reiner flick, I must confess to having seen virtually nothing of his impressive list of television and big screen credits.

His singing, however, is another matter all together.

Thanks to several appearances with David Letterman in the early nineties, I eventually became a huge if unlikely fan of his crooning.

I believe it started when he came out one evening and sang "Over The Rainbow". No scratch that--he didn't just sing "Over The Rainbow", he LIVED it. He took three minutes and twenty eight seconds to do it too, and I well remember Dave mocking him for the lengthy presentation in snide comments to Paul after Patinkin left the stage.

You can watch the singing (if not the snarking) here.

At the time, I honestly believed Letterman was annoyed at his guest, but it must've been all an act, as he had Patinkin back on the show several times after that, though featured in a highly unorthodox manner.

Y'see, the way it'd usually work would be, just back from a commercial, Dave would start his introduction for the next act, when suddenly he'd be interrupted by a trench coat clad Tony Randall, who had just burst in unexpectedly through a side door. Tony would ask the faux-surprised host if he could borrow the studio to rehearse a singer friend of his, and before Letterman could stammer out much of a reply, Randall would call in Patinkin, himself dressed in casual wear.

That highly amusing lead up didn't make the cut on this YouTube clip of Mandy belting out the depression era anthem, "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" but the performance itself is still worthwhile viewing even without it (3:05.).

There's just something I find totally arresting in the way he utilizes his pitch perfect tenor, combining it with highly dramatic modulations of intensity to make the lyrics of each and every tune he sings come vividly to life. From a man who's won several Tony awards for his work on Broadway, this, I suppose, should come as no surprise. Some might consider his style overly theatrical, but even though my tastes generally run towards both rock and roll, I nonetheless consider Patinkin one of my very favorite performers.

And THIS is my very favorite of his solo CDs...
Released in 1994--and picked up by yours truly shortly after yet another (non-YouTubed) appearance on the Letterman program pushed my curiosity into high gear--"Experiment" is one of my very favorite all-time albums, one of a select few that's perfectly sequenced, where every cut is indispensable, and one that I never, ever tire of listening to, joining the exclusive ranks of (among precious few others) "Rubber Soul", "Revolver", "Who's Next", "Tumbleweed Connection", "Imperial Bedroom", "Band On The Run", and "Sunflower".


Oh, I also have his other six collections, and there's something to be said for each of them, but none come nearly as close to perfection as his third album. I mean, he leads it off with "As Time Goes By", and then effortlessly segues from tune to tune--often without even a seconds break between numbers--from classic Rodgers and Hart, Irving Berlin, Fats Waller, Cole Porter, and Jerome Kern/Johnny Mercer compositions, not to mention a bevy of Sondheim ditties, including "Something's Coming" from "West Side Story" (my all time favorite musical, for what that's worth).

And right smack dab in the middle of it all, Patinkin slips in his version of one of the most dramatic story songs of the entire modern pop era, Harry Chapin's "Taxi"!!

And it WORKS!!

Y'know, I never much cared for Chapin's music post "Taxi"--a bit too cloying and overly sentimental--but even though you could probably say the same thing for his breakthrough hit, I can still recall when I first heard it piping over the radio, finding myself listening in rapt attention as the musical scenario of shattered dreams unfolded over six agonizing minutes. I ran right out and bought the 45, figuring I'd likely never hear it again, and was frankly quite amazed when the single actually cracked the upper reaches of the Top Forty!! So, I've always had great affection for the song, and hearing Patinkin work it into his carefully constructed song cycle that otherwise is drawn exclusively from what Rod Stewart likes to call The Great American Songbook, well, let's just say it's a shame Chapin wasn't a better driver or he'd likely be even more impressed than I was with Patinkin's audacious choice!!

Y'know, I've tried to sell a lot of my friends on Mandy Patinkin over the years, but the truth is, I don't think I've ever actually closed a single sale (how about it, Roger?...). Frankly, I'm not surprised, as I can see where Patinkin's clearly an acquired taste. So, take a look at the videos if any of this has intrigued you. Cuz, despite their rather lackluster picture quality, I think they'll give you a decent notion of how he always puts over a song with everything he's got, and who knows? Maybe you'll acquire a taste for Mandy too!
January 15th, 2009
True to my word, (those which ended my last post on EC Comics back on January 7th), I picked up one of the Russ Cochran Pre-Trend volumes and began reading A MOON, A GIRL, ROMANCE...

And WHAT, pray tell, did I find?

I thought I owed it to ol' Ghastly to showcase this 1949 illustration from "I Was A Flirt", a silly little story found in the ninth issue of the aforementioned magazine, after I took him to task for that IMPACT misfire about the pathetic urchin hawking lemonade. Truth is, unlike a lot of folks, I was never all that enamored with Ingels' much lauded horror work. But after reading this particular story, I was mildly surprised--AND delighted--to discover that he had a nice touch with the glamour gals, and likely would've made a fine love comics' specialist, had he been given the chance.

But, as we all know, a distinctly UNglamorous gal known as The Old Witch made sure THAT didn't happen.


Well, we'll always have THIS panel, won't we?...
January 14th, 2009
After three and and a half weeks, her winter break rapidly coming to an end, I've only now recently returned from a whirlwind two-day round trip driving Julie back up to college, which is located in upstate New York's snow country. In good weather--and on the NY State Thruway--the trip takes four and a half to five hours. Right now, I'm pretty well exhausted. How I ever managed the ten plus hours it took to traverse the self-same road back in MY school daze when I'd leave SUNY Buffalo for my parents home on Long Island, well, I'll never know!! A magic little thing called "youth", I'm guessing...

Anyway, with reports of several inches on snow heading Geneva way Tuesday afternoon (and even more on Thursday, meaning this was my best window of opportunity to get in and out reasonably unscathed), we had to set out several hours earlier than originally planned. And since it's always difficult to give up the last precious moments of a vacation--i.e., a fun-filled, and much later than planned, evening with a couple of Julie's old friends here at the house on Monday night--well, let's just say getting out of here as soon as I'd hoped wasn't in the cards.

But the weather gods must've been smiling on us, because when we pulled into town around two-thirty, the snow that had been promised to start falling several hours earlier was nowhere to be found. We rounded up Julie's boyfriend Alec, and then I drove the kids around, running various errands. After dropping off some groceries back at Alec's place, we felt comfortable enough to head out to dinner (after all, only a little snow was predicted, and we were driving around locally now--how bad could it get?...)

Not long after, I found out.

It was a little after five. It was dark. Alec had run into WalMart to exchange a faulty item, while Julie and I waited in the car. He wasn't gone more than five minutes, but while there wasn't a single snowflake falling when he entered the store, by the time he came out, there was plenty of white stuff swirling everywhere. Still, it wasn't all THAT bad--and Julie had used her cell to call Lynn back at home, who looked up the area's weather on the computer, which indicated that this squall would last a half hour, but no more--so we decided to head on down the main route through the small town and off to adjoining Waterloo to sup at Connie's Diner, about seven or eight miles away.

Naturally, everyone on the road was going slower than usual, but otherwise, driving appeared to be manageable. But the further we went, the wilder the snow's intensity became. Suddenly, about half-way to our destination, nearly everything went white. and being that this was a small town without the bright lights of commercial businesses to distinguish what's on either side of the road--and that the car in front of me was so far ahead that I couldn't even use him as my guide--I helplessly blurted out the obvious:

"F#$%! I can't see where I am!!"

So, you may wonder, is THIS the part of the story where I describe the horrendous accident that occurred mere seconds later?


If that were the case, i likely wouldn't be writing this, right?

No, I simply used common sense, slowed up to a crawl, and soon after found a drive-way to pull into (turned out to be for a series of utility garages of some sort, but had it been for a personal residence, well, under the circumstances, that wouldn't have stopped me! "Hi neighbor! You don't know me, but...").

We parked there and waited a few minutes, and sure enough--thanks for the tip, Lynn--the snow lightened up not long after. At which point, we decided to head back towards our home base, and take our chances finding a suitable meal within the immediate vicinity of where we'd planned to spend the night. And we did--in fact, the pizza and calzone was just plain wonderful! Hey--most anything woulda tasted good at that point--I was just glad to ALIVE to eat something, dig?

That'll teach me a lesson. Y'see, arriving safely in town hours earlier after expecting the last few miles to be a battle with the elements, I repeatedly mocked the faulty weather report that had motivated us to start out so early (so did Julie, cuz, well, I taught her to be a wise guy TOO...).

Gotta learn to watch what I say. Clearly, Mother Nature was listening, and apparently she wasn't liking what she was hearing--at all. Sorry mom....
January 13th, 2009
Forty three years ago yesterday, at 7:30 PM EST, THIS appeared on my TV screen.

Ultimately, these 41 seconds remain my favorite thing about the whole enterprise...
January 12th, 2009
Ever since I belatedly discovered the joys of posting YouTube videos (or in my case, links to thereof), I've had a good number of specific blog entries all planned in the back of my mind, just waiting for the chance to assemble 'em and then hoist 'em up here on "Fred Sez".

One such entry was going to be headlined (in big garish lettering, of course) "Johnny, Paul, Bob, and Conan''.

The "Paul" would be McCartney, naturally, and the "Johnny" would be "Carson". "Costas" and "O'Brien" filled out your little Faux Four in a themed compilation of clips featuring the ex-Beatle chatting with American late-night talk show hosts.

However, a couple of things happened before I could properly get the entry together: I found a worthy fifth member of this exclusive quartet; and then, in an instance of great minds thinking alike, Mark Evanier posted a pair of "Tonight Show" clips I was going to alert you to on his "News From ME" blog--and frankly, I'm glad he did. Because few folks know "The Tonight Show" as well as Mark does, and thus he provided fascinating background info regarding the videos that I had no way of knowing! (Great stuff, too! ) So, before I get to the OTHER clips I'd planned to link to, I'm gonna point you towards Mark, where you can both view AND read about the two "Tonight Show" clips!

First up is Paul's May 14th, 1968 appearance with John Lennon on "The Tonight Show' to promote their newly formed Apple Corps.

Please understand, when I first came across this clip while searching through YouTube, I was ecstatic! This was The Great Lost Beatles Clip! What a thrill--until I saw it. It's still pretty much lost. Y'see, it's little more than two minutes of film shot directly off the TV, with an audio excerpt later superimposed over it that was obtained from another source entirely!! And even with that little to work with, you can still sense how annoyed the pair--especially John--are with having to deal with substitute host Joe Garagiola's ill-informed line of questioning!! But fear not, as Mark provides a link to a written transcript as well, should your curiosity be peaked as to what was actually said.

Several years later--October 24th, 1984 to be exact--Paul finally gets a chance to sit and chat with Johnny, this time around to plug his then-recent movie, "Give My Regards To Broad Street".

Mark provides some interesting side commentary here concerning the man who was actually the first to broadcast film of the Beatles on US television, Jack Paar. I must say, if he still felt it a point of pride to announce to folks--as he did in an article written years after leaving the airwaves--that he "never, ever" had a rock and roll act on his show in the seven years it ran (the newsreel-like clip of The Beatles apparently not really counting, running solely because "I was interested in the Beatles as a psychological and sociological phenomenon."), well, I'd have to agree with Mr. E's ultimate assessment of him as someone time refused to stop for, even if he--in a clearly lost battle--insisted it should.

Okay, so what have I got?

How about (and this was my latter day discovery, alluded to earlier) Geraldo Rivera backstage at a Wings concert??

Here's Part One (10:09), and here's Part Two (7:00).

Broadcast on the June 28th, 1976 edition of ABC's "Goodnight America" (and featuring some partial performance clips from the group's June 10th concert in Seattle), it consists of Paul and wife Linda sitting backstage across a rickety looking table from a young Geraldo. Our correspondent, in fact, has longer hair than the ex-Fab!! More than once, the McCartney's playfully needle him by referring to the shaggy reporter as "Tony" or "Freddie", mocking his more than passing resemblance to both Tony Orlando and Freddie Prinze. This was Wings first big tour of America--the first time McCartney had taken the stage in the U.S. of A. in a full ten years, and news-wise, it was big deal, a point Geraldo drums home repeatedly (at the outset, he seems downright incredulous that a group broken up six years was STILL selling records!?! Gee, wonder what he thinks NOW?...). Paul seems a bit weary throughout--maybe he just came off stage, maybe he's just sick of all the Beatles related questions (this, after all, was back in the days before he truly began to embrace his back catalog on stage, more likely to croon "You Gave Me The Answer" than "Hey Jude" for the paying customers...), or maybe it's just the reaction one has to being interviewed by Geraldo Rivera!! THAT sure can't be all cheese and crackers, no way, no how!!

Watch for a short segment in which Geraldo speaks with the OTHER three members of Wings (without the Maccas present), and asks them if they feel like full blown members of the group or glorified side-men. Watch how, with varying degrees of sincerity, each one asserts that they are indeed full blown members, vainly trying to convince both their inquisitor AND themselves. Let the record show, history has proven otherwise (though thanks for the help on "Mull Of Kintyre", Denny...).Be warned, though: the picture quality is VERY washed out--it took me a while to realize that this was actually color footage--but hey, it still trumps that 1968 "Tonight Show" clip!!

Next up is a dirty rotten tease: a mere 4 minutes and 29 seconds of a three part interview Paul did with Bob Costas for the NBC late-night program, "Later", on October 24th, 1991, subsequently broadcast in three thirty minute segments November 5, 6, and 7!! AND the last minute or so of it is simply a photo collage set to music! Somewhere downstairs, I have all three parts on VHS tape (remember VHS tapes, gang?...), and if I had me the technical capability, I'd post 'em all up on YouTube myself ! (Oh, the treasures I have that I could share with the world! But--darn--I can't...) To this day, NBC hasn't come up with a better show--or a better host--for their 1:30 AM slot. Bob Costas had the uncanny knack to ask well-informed questions while still maintaining his sense of humor throughout. Paul, by now long past his reluctance to discuss the Beatles days, gave as good as he got, and I recall this as being one interview that even a life-long fan such as myself managed to gain fresh insight from. Even the little over three minutes seen here prove that point. Hopefully, someday someone'll come along and fill in the rest of the blanks for us YouTubers...

Lastly--and if you only watch one of these clips, judged by sheer entertainment value alone, for my money, this one's the best (picture-wise as well)--we have Paul being interviewed at his MPL offices in London by Conan O' Brien and broadcast a week later on the July 10th, 1997 episode of the "Late Night With Conan O' Brien" program(9:16).

McCartney is ostensibly promoing his then-current "Flaming Pie" CD, but mostly, the two just banter amusingly back and forth the entire time. You get the impression that Paul really "gets" Conan (who's obviously a big fan--as an avid watcher of his show, I know of no other single instance where he left the studio to film an interview with a guest, much less cross an ocean to do so!!), and the two play off each other like a seasoned comedy team!! Trust me, I've seen a LOT of McCartney interviews, but I don't think I've EVER seen one where he's funnier or more genuinely charming!! I suppose it doesn't hurt that it's my favorite Beatle chatting with my favorite talk show host (sorry John, sorry Johnny), but honestly, this is quite the nice little clip--and quite a ways removed from the occasionally surly glances thrown Geraldo's way two decades earlier!!

But, y'know, that WAS Geraldo after all...

(P.S.--about yesterday's blog entry. None other than BookSteve himself writes in to tell me

that embarrassingly awful Beach Boys bit was actually from an early Jack Benny special (his first after his series ended?), not a Bob Hope one.

..which I SHOULD'VE known, as not only did I see it when it first aired way back when, but I actually have it on a DVD released a few years past! I KNEW The Beach Boys had appeared on one of Jack's specials (and yeah, I believe it was his initial irregular offering), but when I saw Bob Hope standing alongside Mr. Benny, well, I just assumed the Boys were spreading their message all around. Well, you KNOW what they say about assuming! Thanks, Steve, for keeping me honest!...)

(And thanks to Jorie Gracen, who took the photo up top, which I scanned in from her swell book of McCartney concert shots, "I Saw Him Standing There"! Paul fans should check out her delightful site, The Macca Report!)
January 11th, 2009
Here at, we LOVE
The Beach Boys!!

And we're pretty darn fond of Jack Benny and Bob Hope, too!!....
...So what's NOT to love in this short (3:37) circa 1965 clip that's evenly divided between the group singing their classic, "California Girls", and then engaging in some banter with the two comedy legends ?

Well, for one thing, there are the JOKES...

The funniest bit comes when, midway through reading his lines off cue cards, Jack turns to Bob and confesses that he has absolutely NO idea what he's talking about!! You've heard of the generation gap? Here it was, blatantly on display during one of Hope's periodically broadcast variety hours. But it's still fun to watch, even if it induces more bemused head shaking than actual chuckles.

(Note the obvious editing: the Boys are singing live to a recorded backing track when the comedians drive up midway through dressed as the world's oldest surfers. The song continues on, even if Mike Love clearly is no longer vocalizing. Then we see Bob and Jack wearing hats, but after a quick cut to the group, Bob and Jack are shown hatless, with longhaired wigs--and THEN we go back the group, who are standing in a totally different configuration than they were mere seconds earlier!!! And gang, when it comes to comedy, Mike Love clearly had it all over Brian Wilson, as you can see from their respective line readings. Luckily, Brian had that whole musical genius thing going for him as backup...).
January 10th, 2009
It's been awhile since I've posted any new additions to our Across The Page Gallery, so today I'm gonna share three freshly minted commissions with you.

Each one of the three goes a little bit above and beyond the usual parameters of the format as previously established. That, my friends, is because the customer is always right, and hey, they're paying, so why not?

First up, you'll see my second go at the eminently fun-to-draw THUNDER Agents. The big deviation here? I was simply asked to include the iconic logo, and so I did. Like I said, simple.

Requests get a little more specific with the Aqua Ballet. I was given photographic references for three couples, my assignment being to turn them into Aquaman and Mera, Wonder Woman and Mer-Man, and Superman and Lori Lemaris. A daunting task, yes, but I worked up my Nureyev and dove in! You can see the results for yourself.

Lastly, we have what I like to call The Justice Society of America's Ladies Auxiliary, plus Dr. Strange (WHY Dr. Strange? Because i was paid to include him, that's why!...). This scenario was based on a 1943 issue of ALL-STAR COMICS wherein the gal pals of the various JSA members dress up in their boyfriend's uniforms (with, presumably, the astral form of the Sorcerer Supreme floating invisibly overhead...).

But wait--there's more!!

Running late to the party--literally--is Inza Nelson, dressed as Dr. Fate, as pictured above.

To guarantee the authenticity of her tardiness, I was instructed by my creative patron to draw her right there ON THE BACK OF THE MAIN ILLUSTRATION!!

Hey, it may hamper framing, but it'll sure make for a swell three dimensional exhibit! someday!

To view the newest pieces in our Across the Page Gallery, either click here or on the illo above!!

A few other matters...

About two weeks back, we celebrated Stan Lee's birthday here on the blog, as we do every year. Well, we certainly weren't the only ones. Belatedly though it may be, we'd be remiss if we didn't steer you towards this video greeting card to The Man from Jim "One-Take" Salicrup!!

It runs four minutes and seventeen seconds, but if you want to spend even more quality time with Jim, may I suggest to you zip on over to his MySpace page, where he shares his heartfelt ruminations right alongside relentlessly enthusiastic pitches for the fine line of Papercutz periodicals!!

Speaking of Jim's on MySpace, I'd like to thank ANOTHER James--Amash, in this case, fine artist and interviewer extraordinairre--for using his MySpace blog to say a few kind words about The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus (still available, if I need to remind you, from ME!!..). Mucho gracias, Jim! Take a peak at his MySpace page when you get a chance folks--maybe some day he'll get around to explaining what was just so wrong with those delightful red and green duds the Blackhawks wore for far too short a time!!...

Lastly, belated 50th birthday greeting to BookSteve, who day in and day out, fills his blog with some of the most interesting ephemera this side of my basement!! Hope all those candles didn't start a fire at your house, Mr. T!

Well, that's all for now--see ya soon!!
January 9th, 2009
THIS, gang, is the world we live in...

I turned on my laptop earlier today to find the following subject line waiting for me in my email...

"Living Corpse added you as a friend on Facebook".

The note went on to say, "We need to confirm that you know Living Corpse in order for you to be friends on Facebook."

What'd I DO, you ask?

Confirm, naturally.

Hey, I've read enough EC Comics in my day to know that when it comes to living corpses, it's way better to have 'em FOR you than AGIN' you!!...
January 8th, 2009
We don't generally pay much attention to celebrity birthdays on the blog--even Beatles' ones--but nonetheless, it's been an annual tradition here at to pause every January 8th and salute the unlikely trio that share this celebratory day: Soupy Sales, Elvis Presley, and David Bowie. And THIS year, given my current fascination with YouTube, we have some pretty interesting clips to share with you as part of our video goodie bag!!

First up, my beloved Soupy.

Rather than favor you with some scenes of Mr.Sales ensconced safely in his own element (i.e., on his own show), check out instead these two clips of him hosting "Hullabaloo" back in 1965. "Hullabaloo" was NBC's answer to ABC's "Shindig"--which in itself was the network's answer to the exploding popularity of rock music in wake of The Beatles arrival on America's shores (and airwaves), only the peacock version was a bit more traditionally showbizzy, bringing in different folks to play master of ceremonies each week. Soupy was at his absolute zenith back then, and so, got the coveted nod.

He opens the show with a version of "Ballin' The Jack" (2:43), and later, performs his famed dance number, "The Mouse"(2:35).

Friends, I have seen Soupy do The Mouse on many, many occasions, but NEVER with a fully choreographed complement of pretty young things shuffling right alongside him!! It's an amazing sight, one that even brings the studio audience to spontaneous applause midway through the number!! Peaches, I'm sure, was just so, SO jealous!!...

Then there's Elvis.

Y'know, folks tend to forget--like The Beatles, the young Mr. Presley made his initial mark as much visually as he did with his pipes!! The Fab Four, well, it was as much about that hair of theirs in the early days as it was about the music, and with The King-In-Waiting, it was about those hips. I was too young to witness the Pelvis in action (though his recording of "Hound Dog" is my actual earliest musical memory...), but I've certainly heard the stories--and seen the clips--in the years since.

At least, I THOUGHT I'd seen the clips. On The Steve Allen Show, yup; and on The Ed Sullivan Show--both before and after they limited the camera to focusing solely on his upper torso--uh huh. But somehow, I never saw this clip of Elvis performing the aforementioned "Hound Dog" on the June 5th, 1956 edition of The Milton Berle Show (2:04).

This thing is a revelation--no wonder half the country was up in arms after seeing him on the tube (and the other half, hopelessly seduced)!! Elvis sings the tune in a rollickingly straightforward manner for little over a minute, but then stops the number dead for a very pregnant split-second, only to start up again at a slow tempo that's a down and dirty groove, allowing him to bump and grind his way through the rest of the song in a manner that still, to this day, looks flat out lascivious!! And if it still comes off that way here in 2009, can you even begin to imagine how this looked to the average television viewer back in the button-down fifties? Hey, I'm a little surprised that they EVER let the man back in front of a camera again after seeing THIS!!!

Lastly, David Bowie.

I'll confess--I've never been all that big of a Bowie fan. Up until a few years back, all I had was a Greatest Hits collection and a rarely listened to expanded edition of "Ziggy Stardust".

Oh, and his infamous duet of "The Little Drummer Boy" with Bing Crosby.

THAT was the tune that set everything into motion. Several holiday seasons back, Julie and I were driving over to the mall to do some shopping when that cut began blasting out of the car CD player. Since my daughter had earlier been talking about how much her way cool art teacher at school liked this David Bowie fellow--whose music she really wasn't all that familiar with--I took the opportunity to point out that there he was, harmonizing with one of my favorite old-time crooners. I also mentioned the hits compilation that I had at home, offering to let her take a listen to satisfy her curiosity.

Which she did, becoming immediately obsessed with the singer. Over the next few months, my collection of Bowie CDs rapidly expanded, and it was an education, learning to appreciate an artist who I'd mostly taken for granted over the years by listening to him, almost by proxy, though my kid's fresh ears.

But that's not why The Thin White Duke will always occupy a warm spot in my heart, as much as I came to enjoy his music. It was the career spanning DVD video collection that I picked up used at our-soon-to-be-defunct Media Play outlet just before December 25th to wrap and put under the tree for Julie that REALLY did it...

Christmas night. All the presents had been opened, all the food had been eaten, all the relatives had left for home. So we sat down and began watching the nearly three dozen clips on the two DVD set in a haphazardly random manner. Some were more visually inventive than others, some were simply concert performances caught on tape. And after a while I thought, why not give "Dancing In The Streets" a look-see? I remember when Bowie's duet with Mick Jagger was debuted at the Live Aid concert festivities back in the mid-eighties. Martha and the Vandellas it wasn't, but I seemed to recall that it was mildly entertaining...

Well, understand this--up the this point in her young life, Julie was under the misguided impression that Mick Jagger was some deceased rock star that had ODed on drugs. She was pretty much totally unfamiliar with him. So when he came prancing out onto the screen--alongside Bowie, wearing what looks to be his bathrobe--she was completely unprepared!

And from her reaction, you'd've thought she'd never seen ANYTHING as funny in her entire life!!

She literally--and I do mean literally--fell off the couch with laughter! And after watching the clip for a second time, she momentarily caught her breath between guffaws and uttered the line that finally set ME over the edge, now hopelessly infected by her non-stop giggling:

"I could watch this ALL night!!"

And for awhile there, it sure seemed like we did!

Conservatively, I'd estimate that we ran the thing through at least a dozen times that Christmas evening--and for the next month or so, she'd foist it upon each and every one of her friends who came by, still highly amused at the overt campiness of these two odd looking, middle-aged British chaps as they brazenly displayed their oft-times awkward footwork . Every frame was analyzed, every scene broken down step by step.

Eventually, the laughter stopped (though it did precipitate another ongoing obsession, this time with the Rolling Stones), but to this day, thinking back at Julie's initial reaction to the "Dancing In The Streets" video, well, I consider it one of my most cherished parental memories! Hey. it's not ALL kittens and party hats y'know! So thanks David (and Mick)--and here's the video for all of you to check out (3:09).

(Granted, you're not likely to lose your seating watching this, but then , you're likely not a teen-age girl who'd never seen Mick Jagger before the moment this video first lit up your TV screen, now are you?)

Soupy, Elvis, David--like every year, they make January 8th ROCK!!!
January 7th, 2009
Since I didn't begin reading comics until the very late fifties, I missed out on the EC era entirely.

The story of how I eventually became enamored with the legendary funnybook line is a tale for another time, but suffice to say, when Russ Cochran launched his archival reprinting of the entire EC output in lovingly printed slipcased editions, I was there!! Bought 'em all, read 'em all!!

Well, mostly. Until towards the end, anyway. Maybe it was a full decade of EC overload, but to this day, there are still a few issues of HAUNT OF FEAR sitting unread, as well as some of the Pre-Trend volumes.

Oddly enough, it was reading the first volume of Dark Horse's CREEPY ARCHIVES this past summer that motivated me to dig out my long overlooked ECs. First up was the relatively recently published EC Picto Fiction reprints, which I enjoyed immensely, despite protestations by many a critic that hey, guess what? They weren't actually comic books! Well, no, maybe not, but they WERE entertaining, which is about all one can hope to get from a firm going by the name of the Entertaining Comics Group, right?

Next up for me were those books' direct antecedents, the New Direction line, EC's next to last ditch attempt to stay in business while the impending shadow of the newly formed Comics Code Authority loomed ominously over them. Checking the copyright information in the indicia, I discovered that publisher Cochran issued this set of seven short run titles way back in 1987, a mere 21 (now 22) years ago!! And I still thought of 'em as the NEW set!! Well, all in good time, I suppose (though I had actually read the PSYCHOANALYSIS volume about ten years back, mainly cuz the sheer bizarreness of the concept--at least, in terms of subject matter for a comic book--had intrigued me ever since I'd first come across the title in some long-ago fanzine--AND because I'd wanted to do a "Dateline:@#$!" strip about the feature, which in fact I did do... ).

Beckoned by the Reed Crandall art featured in each issue (whose work in the Picto-Fiction books was flat out stunning), M.D. was first in line. Then it was the Johnny Craig showcase (my overall favorite EC creator, incidentally ), EXTRA!, followed soon after by PIRACY (which, history shows, started up a few months before the New Direction line proper, and thus, contained several non-Code approved episodes in its early issues that rivaled anything in the horror books for sheer bloodthirstiness, made all the more unsettling by the fact that these sea stories were based on the actual sadistic practices of the pirates of the day, and not some imaginary corpses clawing their way out of the grave--forget "arrrr"; better make it "brrr"...), and last night I finished up the five issue run of IMPACT. (VALOR and ACES HIGH still await closer examination.)

You'd think, given that IMPACT #1 featured perhaps EC's single most justly celebrated story--"Master Race"--and that the concept--snap endings--most resembled EC's famously tried and true approach, that this series would be the very best of the entire New Direction line.

Well, as far as I'm concerned, you'd be wrong--WAY wrong.

One example (spoiler warning) from the second issue. A young woman visits a psychiatrist--who, save for a hand or arm--is coyly kept off panel until the last page, even though it's the head-shrinker whose narration fills the chatty captions. The girl's problem? An emotionally distant mother, one who works all the time. In the end we discover that--surprise!!--mom is the psychiatrist!! Considering the title of the story was "Mother Knows Best", I'm a bit chagrined to admit it took me all the way until the second panel to figure out the "snap" ending, but then, I've always been a bit slow that way.

At least, listening to the poor girl recap her less than optimum relationship with mum was entertaining (and hey, how about that swell Crandall art?), which is more than I can say for the cover story found in the third issue, which I'd like to nominate as--


Just look at the cover!
(Which, if you take notice of the price, is actually from a 1999 reprint, but is in every other way exactly like its fifties counterpart...)

Y'know, I could easily picture John Stanley, Bob Bolling, or Al Wiseman drawing the exact same situation for a contemporaneous cover of LITTLE LULU, LITTLE ARCHIE, or DENNIS THE MENACE--and as those are three of my very favorite cartoonists AND very favorite series, that'd be just swell with me. BUT a gag that works for Dennis, Lulu, and young Mr. Andrews SHOULDN'T be interchangeable with the cover of an EC Comic, New Direction or not!! Geez...

Look, maybe if cover artist Jack Davis had lent his exuberantly light touch to the interior story, they might've pulled it off (though considering the script, it's doubtful...). But Gaines and Feldstein instead chose to assign the job to Graham Ingels, and that was the end of ANY hope of salvaging this story!

Why Ingels? Probably because he drew such creepy old people, and the lead character in this thing was a REALLY creepy old dude. Didn't help though, cuz there's hardly any real story to speak of here.

These three panels found on the third page should sum up things in their entirety (save for the so-called snap ending).
For five pages, the old geezer incessantly complains about the little girl, alienating each and every one of his customers in the process. But each morning, she's back at her post, with her tub of lemonade mysteriously refilled overnight! But by who? Well, this bit of pulp paper literature was entitled "The Good Fairy", y'see, but since there is no such thing, in reality, it turns out to be---


No,.I'm not gonna tell you! I've already spoiled one story for you--I sure wouldn't want to spoil the lamest story EC ever published for you as well!! You'll just have to read it for yourself.

Well, I'm off to start ACES HIGH. I hear tell the plot of every story is pretty much the same, with a young hotshot kid coming in and usurping the glory of an established--but aging--flying ace, with lotsa WWI bi-plane action thrown in for good measure!

Um, on second thought, y'know, A MOON, A GIRL...ROMANCE is looking mighty good to me right about now...
January 6th, 2009
Most of the time, when commissioned to do one of my Classic Cover Reinterpretations, it's a pretty straight up process.

But sometimes, it's not.

As you can see below...
Which you can see in even greater detail--plus in full glorious color--by clicking on the image above!!

It was Gerry Turnbull who enlisted me to redraw this iconic Brian Bolland wraparound cover from the early eighties, it was Gerry Turnbull who requested the changes in the piece (in the original, Judge Dredd was holding a perp on the front half, not...ahem...Judge Fredd; and he DEFINITELY wasn't chuckling over my book on the back), and it was Gerry Turnbull who colored it (pardon me, Gerry--coloured. That's how it's spelled over by you, right guv'nor?...).

Well done as always, GT!

(And folks, if you think the changes in THIS one were complicated, forget it! Soon as Gerry adds some hues, I'll show you how I turned Indiana Jones into Dr. Strange for him! THAT one was more of a complete revamp than it was a redo, lemme tell ya!!...)
January 5th, 2009
Truth is, the Hulk has never been one of my favorite Marvel characters.

Maybe it's because, despite his intimidating bulk, he was more often portrayed as a big green Teddy-bear than the properly menacing figure he truly was.

But for once, Herb Trimpe's wonderfully moody illustration for the cover of this January 1979 issue of THE INCREDIBLE HULK got it right! Hey, even on St. Patrick's Day, this is one ginormous green galoot no bar owner in his right mind wants to see standing in the doorway!! This has gotta be one of my all-time favorite HULK covers.
Apparently, it was a big favorite of Bill Roberge's as well, cuz not long ago, he commissioned me to concoct my own quirky take on Herb's original--and more recently, he even sent along a version of my drawing that he colored himself!!

Pass your mouse over the image below to view not only Bill's fine work, but to get a peek at a larger sized B&W scan as well.
Bill's note accompanying his first coloring attempt simply stated "I'm no Gerry Turnbull, but..."

No "buts" Bill--you did just fine! (As well as on the other two pieces you sent along, which I'll hopefully share with my readers sometime in the not too distant future.)

Speaking of Gerry, though--well, join us back here tomorrow, won't you, to--um---JUDGE his latest activities, hmm?
January 4th, 2009
Today we complete our current mini-series, Three Days of The Beaver, with a Ken Osmond double feature.

Granted, building an entire show around his character would've been near impossible--especially for the era--but c'mon, is there any more iconic "Leave It To Beaver" cast member than Eddie Haskell? It was a terrific all around show--miles above any other kid heavy sitcom of the day, and I should know cuz I watched 'em all--but I'm thinking the inclusion of such an obviously flawed (but nonetheless oh-so-familiar) kid as Eddie is what elevated the show to classic stature. Eddie Haskell was simply one of the greatest creations in television history, and he was played to absolute perfection by Ken Osmond.

Whether he was on "Leave It To Beaver" or not.


Well, back in 1983, Osmond appeared on an episode of "Happy Days" as a shop teacher named Freddy Bascomb, but don't let that fool you--he's still Eddie, through and through. His entire performance--one long scene, followed by one short one--has been edited together and posted on YouTube, clocking in at 4:45.

I'd never seen this bit before coming across it on the web, and I gotta say, to someone who always relished young Mr. Haskell's every visit to the Cleaver household, I found it absolutely hilarious! It doesn't matter that the rest of the episode is missing--you'll get the gist of things right off, trust me. And aside from a pair of quick, silent reaction shots from the Fonz in the clip's waning seconds, don't expect to see the "Happy Days' gang--it's all latecomer Ted McGinley and Osmond (oh, and Crispin Glover as a student named Roach, which should be more than enough to send you off to check things out!...)

Our bonus selection is a short (4:35) interview with Ken Osmond from a few years back conducted by Bill O'Reilly on his "O'Reilly Factor" program.

From reading Frank "Lumpy" Bank's bio (chapter 2: Al Capone personally came to his parents Utah hotel room in 1928 and told then to get out of the Dance Marathon business, which, naturally they did. Oh, and his mom's father shot Frank James in the leg at the OK Corral...), I knew that Osmond was politically conservative, so his appearance with the Fox News commentator comes as no big surprise. But worry not--politics get nary a mention during this affable (if not particularly revealing) Q&A.

Eat your hearts out, Donny and Marie--Ken's my favorite Osmond, and always will be!!
January 3rd, 2009

(Consider this the audience participation portion of the blog and make up your own joke to go along with that headline. Go ahead--I'll wait...)

Done? Good. Today we have a clip featuring the star of "Leave It To Beaver", Jerry Mathers, on an episode of "Live With Regis and Kelly" from mid-2007 promoting his then upcoming Broadway debut in the musical "Hairspray". No, he didn't land the role made famous first by Divine, and then later by John Travolta--but he DID get to play "her" husband!!

Running five minutes and fifty two seconds, this professionally edited clip includes a short interview with the show's hosts, a musical duet (and dance) featuring Jerry and his "wife", plus some follow-up comments from the foursome to cap off the proceedings.

(For additional info on just exactly how our not-so-young "Mr. Cleaver" found himself in this position, here's a link to a nice NY Times article that came out shortly before Mathers hit the footlights.)

I'm not sure what the critical reaction to his three month tenure in the role actually was, but as you'll see when you check out his appearance with Regis and Kelly, Hugh Jackman he's not, well-intentioned though he may be. As I mentioned yesterday, the Beaver WASN'T killed in Vietnam, but whether or not he survived New York's merciless theater critics, well, I couldn't really say.

"Gee, Wally, why is that mean ol' Clive Barnes giving me the business? Y'know, he makes Eddie Haskell look like a swell guy by comparison...."
January 2nd, 2009
Y'know, there always seemed to be an inordinate amount of rumors swirling around the classic sitcom, "Leave It To Beaver".

I guess it all started one night during the late sixties when Shelly Winters went on "The Tonight Show" and bemoaned the fact that the show's lead--by now, all grown up--had been killed fighting in the Vietnam war. She was wrong, of course--it had been another unfortunate soldier with a name similar to Jerry Mathers, but given that the show was long out of production by then, the rumor grained traction and stuck for many, many years. There are probably still people out there who believe it, despite one hundred plus episodes of "The New Leave It To Beaver" to the contrary.

Then there was the one that had the show's Eddie Haskell, Ken Osmond, performing on the silver screen during the seventies under the nom de porn of John Holmes. Apparently, some folks saw a striking facial resemblance between Wally Cleaver's weasley best buddy and the famously endowed adult film star, but I never saw it myself. In this case, though, truth may've just been stranger than fiction, because based on his small screen persona, who would've ever expected Eddie to go on to become a Los Angeles police officer?? But he did--and THAT'S the honest truth.

There was this THIRD rumor, though, one that apparently didn't get much play outside the halls of Longwood High School. It came to mind recently while my pal Terry Austin and I were jawing about the "Beaver" show on the phone. Naturally, he was well aware of the pair of urban legends mentioned above, but this new one--one that Chris Van Vliet, a close high school buddy, was obsessed with, swearing it was true--well, THIS one was brand new to him.

Maybe it'll be new to you too.

It goes something like this:

Back in the late sixties, the author of this book...
...was married to HER!!...
That's right--

Raquel Welch was married to Lumpy Rutherford!!

Or at least, that was the rumor.

Me, I didn't believe it. But Chris was certain he'd heard it stated as gospel.

What could I do? There was no internet back then, no Google to check, no imdb. There weren't even the sort of prime-time television reference books that would come along a few short years later. And "Beaver" repeats weren't even being broadcast in our area at the time, so there was simply no way of checking the cast listings at the end of the show (which, unlike the leads, was where the names of the actors portraying the likes of Lumpy and Eddie invariably wound up) against the name of the fellow who actually was hitched to the "Myra Breckenridge" star.

When I finally got a gander at some pics of our Mr. Welch, well, he DID seem to possess a somewhat stocky build not unlike Fred Rutherford's son. Facially, though, it didn't seem to be happening at all, and eventually, we confirmed that the name of the actor was Frank Bank, which was not even close to that of the fella who snagged the sixties' hottest sex symbol as his missus.


Somehow, that was a union that, to my insular little group of slavering teenage boys, just seemed wrong, just entirely WRONG. Now that we knew for sure that it was, all was right with the world, and the whole affair was forgotten. Truth is, I hadn't thought about it for years until I got to talking about it with Terry the other day...

That in turn got us to discussing the book pictured above. Mr. A read his copy years ago, but mine has been sitting on the shelf for over a decade now, just waiting for the right moment to finally be cracked open. Well, inspired by our conversation, that moment came last night...

Things start breezily enough, as Bank recounted the time he and fellow cast members Mathers, Osmond, Tony Dow, and a friend who worked as a stand-in for 'Wally", roamed off the "Beaver" set to watch Marlon Brando film a scene for "The Ugly American" on a nearby soundstage. Brando, it turns out, was less than cordial to the group of young thespians, which I suppose is hardly news at this late date.

What WAS news, however, snuck up on me, delivering a knock-out punch right to the garbonza midway through page 30.

To quote

"That was reserved for me and Kenny and Pat Curtis. Pat, as I said, was a stand-in for Tony and me. But this was hardly his claim to fame.

Not by a long shot.

Not by two long-shots.

He was the guy who was married to Raquel Welch."



Raquel Welch wasn't married to the real thing, but instead to a professional Lumpy Rutherford impersonator! (Well, at least from 1967 to 1972 she was--thank you Wikipedia. Sure coulda used you way back when...)

My buddy Chris WASN'T totally off his rocker! True, he did manage to get his facts mangled, but there was way more truth to that hard to swallow rumor than I'd ever expected to discover!!

Well, I immediately put the book down and wrote Terry an email (it was too late to call, even with news as stunning as this), and then I told Lynn and Julie. And if I hadn't lost contact with Chris over a quarter century back, I'd've told him too!!

And now, I'm telling all of you as well!! After all, isn't that what a blog is for--unburdening oneself of stories you'd almost never tell in person, because then you'd clearly spot the glazed look of intense disinterest in the eyes of your listeners?? Gotta love the web...

But wait--there's more.

Take 48 seconds and watch this clip of Lumpy getting reamed out on the phone by his old man (the wonderfully obnoxious Richard Deacon), and then ponder THIS little fact:

According to the dust jacket, the erstwhile Lumpy went on the have intimate relations with one thousand women, give or take a few!! One thousand!

I haven't quite gotten to THAT chapter yet, but I don't suppose I should doubt it. I mean, all the clues were there plain as day in the final season episode, "Lumpy Gets The Clap"!! Boy, if you thought he was upset with his son for losing out on a scholarship, well, you shoulda seen how Fred Rutherford reacted to THAT juicy bit of news!!...
January 1st, 2009
HAPPY 2009!!!
Here's 41 seconds of drunken people singing "Auld Lang Syne" while glitzy fireworks explode overhead!!

Hey, how can you NOT love YouTube?....

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