This Boy


Fringe 5.10 Anomaly XB-6783746 / Photo of Spencer List as Michael hooked up to apparatus

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See You Next B'ak'tun!


Mockup of 'Weekly World News' cover headlined 'Nostradamus Predicts: The End of the World As We Know It!' with other lyrics of that REM song

I got the above from the blog of Nikki Stafford, who doesn't know the source. Google image searches aren't turning up anything. Of course I realize that the world is not ending and that in fact all the apocalyptic frenzy is actually misinterpretation, playfully willful or other-wise, of the Mayan Long-Count Calendar, but just in c

Glass Onion


Fringe 5.09 Black Blotter / Image of Walter in style of Terry Gilliam's Monty Python animation

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Happy Feet


A bunch of people in crazy dance poses against cartoon stage backdrop with text 'The Charlie Brown School of Dance'

This post's title is not a reference to the old jazz number, the recent animated-penguin franchise, nor even (my own immediate, favorite association with the term) the sudden exclamation in Steve Martin's classic stand-up routine.

No, I bring you, as you can see above, a pitch for The Charlie Brown School of Dance. Like good ol' Mark Evanier — on whose cornucopian blog News from Me I first saw the link — said, "Just watch it...". I hope you'll pass it on.

Paging Xander Harris!

Watching the Wheels


Fringe 5.08 The Human Kind / Photo of Anna Torv as Olivia

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Meaning Less


Yesterday the Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup went up in the sidebar to indicate that posts here are backed up and slow with the going. I've been under the weather and less productive than usual lately, perhaps as a cosmic reminder not to make grand plans. On top of that, my Internet connection turned equally lethargic today.

So while things will hopefully get up to speed again soon I wanted to at least publish this note as preamble to a batch of word-verification definitions. Faithful readers are familiar with the exercise; anyone who isn't can find an explanation in "The Mean Streak", a page on the blog collecting all such entries to date.

As suggested by my title, I'm running out of content for these posts, largely because of Blogger's switch earlier this year to a different verification mechanism that prompts fewer imagined definitions from me. The next installment in this series will probably be the last.

assfu — [ass foo] n. Martial art based on literally kicking your opponent's butt.

bininsic — [bin in sik] phr. Quick explanation for lack of activity outside the home.

compery — [kom puh ree] n. Rackin' up freebies.

dectus — [dek tuss] n. A catcus as big as ten normal cacti.

Essencei™ — [eh sen say] The cologne for hard-working dojo masters. "You chop the sandalwood in half. We combine its fragrant oil with hints of strawberry and musk. Essencei."

What's in a Name


I recently and somewhat randomly came across the poster below for the 1966
film Maya.


Poster for the film 'Maya' with the title in giant 'stone' letters, getting hit by lightning, as various animals stampede / 'Action That Tears the Screen Apart!'
Poster © 1966 King Bros. Productions and/or MGM Studios.

There's a Maya in my family, and I know some other Mayas too. But that was only
the first name that jumped at me.

It was interesting to see Jay North — who played the title character in the TV incarnation of Dennis the Menace in the early '60s and, I found out to my surprise
not long ago, voiced the teenage Bamm-Bamm Rubble in the early '70s — in the
credits. That's not the main point here either, however.

The punch line of this chance experience was the name "Clint" — seen on the poster identifying star Clint Walker. If you glanced at it earlier, or just now at my prompting, and had a brief shock at mistaking the name for another word, then you see why cartoonists, typesetters, and pretty much anyone else who finds themselves displaying "Clint" in all capitals usually takes care to put enough space between the "L" and
the "I" lest they appear to merge into a "U".

[Warning: Comments get explicit.]

Up in the Sky


Close-up of inflated Superman balloon, with cartoonish face and vintage 'S' insignia

A home movie of the Superman balloon's first appearance in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1940 was uploaded to YouTube in November of last year, but I got word of it too late to post it in time for the holiday then. My thanks to Rodrigo Baeza, who blogs occasionally at Comics Commentary, for sharing the link on the Grand Comics Database chat list. The Man of Helium shows up at the 1:30 mark.

Borrowed Time


Fringe 5.07 Five Twenty-Ten / Photo of Joshua Jackson as Peter, bathed in green light, hand raised in a fist

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There's a Place


Fringe 5.06 Through the Looking-Glass and What Walter Found There / Photo of John Noble as Walter

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Spider-Man, Spider-Man /
Use His Face in a Frying Pan


Spider-Man's head as the end of a spatula

Williams-Sonoma is selling a Marvel Spider-Man Flexible Spatula.

How freaking awesome is that?

I just recently got one as a gift, along with a Spider-Man Cupcake-Decorating Kit. The latter is no longer available from the Williams-Sonoma website; neither is the Marvel Heroes Cupcake-Decorating Kit featuring Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. I'm linking to them anyway in case that changes and including some images below 'cause they're freaking awesome.

Après le Déluge


Bryan Walsh contributed a good piece on Hurricane Sandy to last week's issue of Time.

Cover to recent issue of 'Time' Magazine with large text 'Lessons from the Storm' over photo of crashing waves

He details Sandy's effects but also suggests how to prepare as storms like Sandy — a hurricane turned post-tropical cyclone after merging with the Arctic jet stream to form a hybrid nor'easter that some dubbed "Frankenstorm" — become a fact of life in what (most rational minds now agree) is an era of consequential climate change.

I've felt a bit of survivor's guilt over Sandy, to be honest.

My home in the Philadelphia suburbs lost power for maybe 30 seconds total on the night the storm hit — going dark just long enough the final time to convince me that several days without electricity lay ahead, since it would take so long for crews to work safely and get to everybody, only to pop back on with nary a complication thereafter. Lots of areas nearby had it much worse. I got to watch news coverage on a television
in a lit room while checking E-mail.

Gimme Some Truth


Fringe 5.05 An Origin Story / Photo of Joshua Jackson as Peter

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House of the Rising Moon


'Mockingbird Lane' promo shot with logo and main cast

NBC ran the pilot for Mockingbird Lane, Bryan Fuller's revamp of The Munsters, last Friday. At this writing you can still watch it via that link.

I took in the hour-long episode as a Halloween treat after hearing positive word. The premise and talent involved definitely had me curious, despite rebooting or reimagining a familiar property for TV being a dicey prospect (Battlestar Galactica at one recent extreme, Wonder Woman at the other). Even after it was passed over for this season, Lane apparently had an outside shot at being picked up for 2013 if it turned out to be an October surprise. I'm not sure that a 1.5 rating/5 share in the 18-49 demo, 5.47 million viewers overall, is enough to do the trick but this was a Friday on a tentatively resurgent network.

Anyway, I'd like to see more.

Keitel Records


You think you're done with "Call Me Maybe"? You cringe when your car radio lands on it for even a moment? You swear that no cover, mashup, or parody could ever get you to listen to that song again?

Harvey Keitel with a microphone

I'm here to sympathize but also to tell you that you must hear it one more time, at least if you haven't yet seen the Night of Too Many Stars duet between Harvey Keitel and Carly Rae Jepsen.

The Garlicks Is Cookin'


Lea Hernandez has less than 48 hours to go in the campaign to raise money for her project The Garlicks on Indiegogo.



So yeah, I'm putting up this post kind-of late, but that's no reflection on my enthusiasm; I also figured, maybe wrongly, that promoting the project towards the end rather than towards the beginning might be better. Anyway...

The Garlicks is the tale of young Pandora Garlick and her family. Pan's mom is a human who runs a butcher shop. Pan's dad is a vampire barista. Pan's baby sister, Ham, turns into a fishbat — that's right: a fishbat — while Pan can't turn into anything at all. But she can and does make comics inspired by her crazy life.

42 Favorites: #10




As I mentioned in my last post, The Iron Giant is one of my favorite things.

Joker Lice


Along with my verification-word definitions — like yesterday's — I've made a small running thing out of sharing weird search terms that Blogger's Stats info says lead people here.

My first such post was in January; the second one, in April, was titled after one of those oddball terms, as is this one. To cut to the chase: I can't find a record of joker lice being a thing, in Gotham City or anywhere else.

A dozen more strange — or in a couple of cases, strangely mundane — search terms, some of which totally befuddle me not only inherently but in how they led people here:

15-year-old with a fencing sword

action figure rod stewart

business team with laptops in the white cubes

csi ny lindsay and danny with baby & furious man in the lighttower

david boreanaz smolder

Power to the People




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Mother


Fringe 5.02 In Absentia / Photo of Anna Torv as Olivia and Georgina Haig as Etta

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Yellow Submarine


Fringe 5.01 Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11 / Photo of Georgina Haig as Etta in front of massive, crystalline amber object

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Spamalittlemore


The downside to not sharing my entries in hashtag games here within a day or so of them being a thing on Twitter is that anyone interested in heading over there to see the full range of contributions will turn up zilch.

Maybe a hashtag comes back into fashion or someone joins in late or a totally different group of people hit on the same idea, maybe, but those earlier entries are gone. Twits seem to leave Twitter's institutional memory pretty quickly, unless there are tricks to its search function I don't know about (which is very, very possible). You can at least head to my own Favorites on Twitter, scroll down a bit, and see a heaping handful of others' offerings that I found amusing enough to save. It's not at all the same, though, as being in the thick of it — and this one, #unpromisingsequels, was a good one.

And so, in roughly the order they were posted, it's time for my...

Top Twenty-Five Unpromising Sequels

25. The Day After the Day After

24. Hastily-Dressed Lunch

23. Monday in the Park without George

22. Acquaintances on a Train

21. Love in the Time of Cholera Vaccines

Fight and Flight


I dreamt the other night that someone who'd offered to subsidize my blog to the
tune of about $20,000 wanted to back out.

My blog in the dream wasn't quite this blog; it focused more heavily on analysis of TV series the way I'd actually like to but don't have time for, episode by episode, as Nikki Stafford has done most famously with Lost. This benefactor was upset that I wasn't covering an obscure-to-me British show — I want to say Time Bandits, had there been
a spinoff of the movie, although it might have been something similar that really exists and which only my subconscious remembers. I countered that what I was covering, Fringe and stuff, was the sort of thing, as with Lost and X-Files and Star Trek in past years, that people seriously glommed onto and discussed. We fought a bit, physically, and I told him that I was happy to return his money.

Just then, naturally, Johanna Draper Carlson approached me on behalf of a group of her friends who, based on a movie they'd seen, needed to acquire both a longsword and a dagger hidden far away. She knew that I could fly in my dreams and she wanted me
to fly her to the dagger. I obliged.



Related: HIVE Minded Dream a Little Dream of Meep;
or, The Subconscious and the Frog
Of Was and When

Bamm-Bamm Lamken 1996-2012


He was a sweet boy.

We had a storm the other night. I thought of Bamm-Bamm. A day hasn't gone by since he died that I don't think of him, really; it's just a matter of why I do.

For the past 15 years of my life, excepting the last 6 months, thunder has meant one thing — well, besides the fact that rain was near and that I very likely had been or soon would be dealing with a migraine. It meant that Bamm-Bamm was going to run for cover.

A cat sound asleep curled up on a chenille blanket

Star Trek Too


'Star Trek' poster of pointed Starfleet insignia shadowed in black with light glinting off its edges on viewers' left side, on top of which is text added by the blogger: 'Star Trek' logo followed by words wrapping all the way around the poster, reading in full 'Star Trek and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Escape 2 the Streets into Darkness from an Unexpected Electric Boogaloo beyond the Final Frontier of the Quest for Peace Where No Man Has Gone Before the Breaking Deathly Hallows

Last Friday the title of the 2013 sequel to J.J. Abrams' 2009 Star Trek movie was announced. The site at the preceding link and other news outlets report it as Star Trek Into Darkness [sic].

Um... Okay.

I hope that, if the title sticks, someone at Bad Robot or Paramount realizes that it
either has to be Star Trek: Into Darkness or Star Trek into Darkness, with the preposition uncapitalized.

Joe Kubert 1926-2012


Hawkman trying to help Hawkwoman free herself from grip of an elephant's trunk
Art from cover to Joe Kubert Presents #1 © 2012 DC Comics.

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The Late Posts


The Black Racer emerging from a Boom Tube in the sky / 'So, Destiny has changed and my my course and takes me here -- to Earth!
Splash panel of The Black Racer from The New Gods #3 © 1971
DC Comics. Script, Pencils: Jack Kirby. Inks: Vince Colletta.
Letters: John Costanza. Colors: Unknown.


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Class of '66


B&W photo of Adam West and Leonard Nimoy at a drum kit

That's Leonard Nimoy hitting the skins next to Adam West.

I came across this photo from the late 1960s, photographer and location unknown
to me, via one blog link that led to another. You know how it goes. I hit a wall once a Tumblr post led to a Facebook page that I can't access 'cause I'm not on Facebook.

Hungry Like Marv Wolfman


My old buddy Stefan Blitz, proprietor of Forces of Geek, mused on Twitter several weeks ago that if he opened a restaurant themed around people who created comics the menu would include Joe Quesadilla, Howard Chicken, and Darwyn Cookies.

Which means nothing if you aren't in the loop and don't appreciate the puns, but I got
a smile out of it — and the idea to brainstorm my...

Top Eighteen Dishes, Drinks, and Desserts
Served at the Comics-Creators Cafe


18. Karen Burgers

17. Gary Franks

16. Tuna Isabella

15. Veal Adams

14. Clams Robins

13. P. Craig Mussels

12. Marie Severin-Layer Dip

11. Nachos Whedon

Neil Armstrong 1930-2012


We've lost Neil Armstrong to the stars at the age of 81.

Close-up of Neil Armstrong, smiling, in lunar module wearing suit with helmet off
Neil Armstrong in the Eagle module after the moonwalk.
Photo: Buzz Aldrin for NASA.


An obituary up on the NASA website includes excerpts from and links to statements from the Armstrong family, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and President Barack Obama. The page also has embedded video of Armstrong and links to information on the historic moon landing of July 20th, 1969.

You can find The New York Times' front page [bad link] for that day online, in miniature, along with the text of John Noble Wilford's article. Worth a look too, but not for delicate sensibilities, is The Onion's mockup of how that satirical paper would've run the story.

Hello, Goodbye


Shane Victorino of the Phillies having just swung the bat
Photo: Jeff Robertson for The Associated Press © 2012.

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Five-Panel Draw


I was quite taken by the following sequence from The Uncanny X-Men #166,
dated Feb. 1983.


A tier of five panels, each longer in height than width. First: Close-up of Wolverine's unmasked face giving a serious look -- one eye, nose, and mouth visible, totally filling panel with no background -- with a thought balloon reading 'They're my friends!', followed by a 'gutter' of standard width. Second, a bit shorter than the previous: Close-up of Cyclops' face, masked with visor, orange background -- one eye, nose, and most of mouth visible -- with a word balloon at top reading 'Well, Mister. What'll it be?', straddling the interior of the panel and the blank space above, followed by a slimmer gutter. Third, shorter still: Wolverine's gloved hand, twitching with motion lines, against yellow background, with quoted thought above it reading 'An' because they *are* my friends, I owe 'em life...', followed by a very narrow gutter. Fourth, even shorter: Wolverine's hand now clenched in fists, claws popping with a 'Snikt!' from panel into negative space below, against red background, with thought continued above the panel reading '... or a quick, clean *death*.' Fifth, the shortest, immediately following the previous with no gutter, abutting it or even appearing to have been overlapped by it: Kitty's alarmed face -- one wide eye, part of nose and mouth, filling the panel, with a jagged dialogue balloon extended from just within top of panel to negative space above it reading 'No!!'
Excerpt from The Uncanny X-Men #166 © 1982 and characters TM/® Marvel Comics.
Script: Chris Claremont. Pencils: Paul Smith. Inks: Bob Wiacek. Colors: Glynis
Wein/Oliver. Letters: Tom Orzechowski. Editing: Louise Jones/Simonson.


The set of five panels is at the bottom of Pg. 12 of the issue's story, "Live Free or Die!", drawn by Paul Smith in his second issue as penciler of the series.

If you're unfamiliar with the issue and would like some context, you can head over to my friend Teebore's post on it — the reason I was rereading the issue in the first place. What I have to say about the panels below is taken from comments I made there, but I thought I'd repost the passage here even though I'm on some semblance of a vacation. It seems fitting to be publishing this analysis online from the same library where I did my first historical and critical reading about comics as a kid 35 years ago.

Midsummer's Meaning


With new posts being sparse here lately and several months having passed since my
last volley of word-verification definitions, I declare it time for another.

The backlog is growing short, as I wrote earlier this year, thanks to Blogger's switch
in formats yielding less choice material. I'll probably close the door on this series after
a few more installments, based on current reserves and the sluggish pace at which new entires are added to my stockpile, whereas for quite some time after I began the well was replenished at a strong, steady pace. You are hereby referred to my stand-alone page collecting past entries, where this phenomenon is explained, if it's unfamiliar to you.

agamsee — [uh gam see] phr. Edward G. Robinson pointing out some dame's leg.

clonyma — [kloh nee mah] n. Your mother's genetically engineered duplicate.

counduct — [kown dukt] n. How Dracula behaves.

daymews — [day myooz] pl.n. My cat's morning wake-up sounds.

eReesen. A peanut-butter cup you can eat in Second Life. (Is that still a thing?)

He Was Not The Joker


Comic-book panel of Batman saying, as he breaks a rifle in half, 'This is the weapon of the enemy. We do not need it. We will not use it.'

Nor was he Batman.

He was (is) a horrifyingly real person, this deranged individual who took a dozen lives during a 12:01 a.m. screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado.

"I don't want to know this man's name," Dan Slott posted early Friday on Twitter. "I don't want him to gain any kind of notoriety. He should vanish from history."

Like a lot of folks, I'm with Slott, and I won't be referring to the perpetrator by name here. Even the least sensationalized news of the shooting has to do just that as a matter of factual reporting, of course — the kind of reporting, sadly, that was in short supply early on, leading to erroneous associations on the part of more than one news organization between the shooter and political movements in both directions along the left/right spectrum.

HIVE Minded


The other night I had a rather strange dream.

I have strange dreams often, as I've mentioned here before — you can see all of my dream posts if you're intrigued by what follows — but the strange thing about this one was how of-the-moment it was. Upon waking it would be the 4th of July and my blogging buddy Teebore's next installment of his issue-by-issue X-Men analysis would be published; both figured into the dream. Sometimes I'm more surprised by dreams that relate to my actual everyday existence than those in which I'm playing for the Phillies or meeting Queen Elizabeth or hanging out with the Avengers.

When this dream began I was drawing, an activity in which I rarely engage anymore
in waking life as it's a lot harder physically than it used to be, yet one that I occasionally find myself pursuing in dreams — perhaps to keep those creative muscles limber, if
only inside my head. That drawing, centered on Superman, was getting to be rather intricate, too, I realized as I was inking it ("inking" = the stage of applying black ink by pen, marker, or brush to finish the line artwork after "penciling" a piece of art in the comics world).

The 'Works


Photo of fireworks going off in the night sky

At times like this I'm glad that I don't believe in Hell, 'cause I'd probably send myself there just by virtue (or actually, vice) of being snarky to the kids in my family.

We'd just started to watch the 4th of July display when I told my cousin's 9-year-old daughter L that fireworks were made by catching fairies, strapping them to small rockets, and shooting them into the sky.

"Do the fairies get hurt?" (L said this with a sly smile, playing along. She's a smart cookie — loves reading, has a high BS meter.)

"That's why we clap so hard during the finale," I replied. "We have to bring them back, like with Tinkerbell in Peter Pan."

Adventures in Maybe Twitting


I am now on Twitter.

I've just sent the 20 characters above as my first Twit, in fact. (Like I said a couple of posts ago, I can't accept "tweet" as either a noun or a verb when it comes to Twitter. It's not called Tweeter. It's called Twitter and so using the service is "twitting" or Twittering and the messages are Twits or perhaps Twitterings.)

My Twitter handle is @BrianLamken. I found out quite a while back that @blamken
was already taken; I rejected @blamsblog or something else along those lines because that would look weird when people use my handle to refer to me as a person — "still waiting for @BrianLamken to show up" — and @BrianSanerLamken is too long.

I don't expect to Twitter out many Twits of my own for a while, although enthusiasm may get the better of me. Eventually I'll be promoting the blog and other stuff when
my online activity increases, fingers crossed, and I'm sure that the more I follow other people on Twitter the more I'll want to join the conversation. For now, I've signed up mostly in the name of checking out the feeds of friends and acquaintances and folks I admire without having to click through from their own websites and such to catch up.

I won't make any promises but if you follow me I will very possibly follow you.



Related: Twitter-Pated Spamalittlemore
It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

S Is for Sweden and...


Schmutz! But I'll get back to that. First we must rewind to the uncensored scribblings of someone named Sonja, who last week sent out a controversial set of near-sentences via Twitter.

I refuse to use the word "tweet" — unless we're talking about birds, of course. Call your service Tweeter if you want the messages to be "tweets". If it's Twitter, the gerund is either "Twittering" or the backwards formation "twitting" and the messages are Twits. Since Twitter and other social-media services that encourage short bursts of prose or graphics are considered "microblogging" I suppose that makes the entries "microposts". All I know is that I refuse to say "tweet".

Where was I? Oh, right... This:

Ozy Ozy Ozy


Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in 'Game of Thrones' next to art of Adrian Veidt in 'Watchmen', both sporting blond hair and ornamental golden collar/breast plates over purple tunics and capes

I know that the above pic won't mean anything to anyone who hasn't both read Watchmen and seen Game of Thrones, but I'm guessing that a fair percentage of
this blog's dedicated visitors meet those criteria.

Lead the Wild Rumpus, Stark!


Or Cap. Whomever. I'd have figured Cap, y'know, but Tony has such an ego and he
is carrying Loki's staff.

MCU versions of Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk, Thor, and Loki marching in line, drawn in style of Maurice Sendak, evoking 'Where the Wild Things Are'

You can view the above collision between the mourning of Maurice Sendak's pass-
ing and the celebration of The Avengers' success at a larger size — and download it
in greater resolution for use as screen "wallpaper" or printing out — at its home post over at the DeviantArt site of its creator.



Related: The A Team Maurice Sendak 1928-2012 Huston, We Have Amalgam

Plumped-Up Lips


Photo of Lana Del Rey, a woman with pale skin, blonde-to-chestnut hair, and cartoonishly puffy lips, her mouth open just a bit, resting against a white wall as she looks off dreamily with 'bedroom eyes'

I linked to a clip of a genius song parody called "Hunger Games" a while back. Not
only did it mash up the concept of the book and movie of that name with Lana Del Rey's "Video Games"; it did the job almost too well. The voice and images were eerily spot-on, putting that song back on heavy rotation in my head — along with Foster the People's "Pumped-Up Kicks", for the simple if admittedly odd reason that I'd already imagined rewriting its lyrics to skewer Ms. Del Rey (born Elizabeth Woolrich Grant). Like...

Exile in Jayville


Last Thursday Conan O'Brien, now holding court weeknights on TBS's Conan, stopped by CBS's The Late Show with David Letterman to chat with Dave about something the hosts rather infamously have in common.

I refer of course to sons playing tee-ball.

Conan O'Brien in a guest chair, David Letterman gesturing while seated behind his desk

They also found time to discuss each man, in his own way, having been screwed out
of the former marquee gig in late-night broadcasting — Johnny Carson's (and Jack Paar's and Steve Allen's) old chair behind the Tonight Show desk — by NBC in favor of Jay Leno. It's a metaphorical chair, to be sure; Tonight hasn't been filmed in the studio Carson used, let alone with the same "home base" furniture and props, since Johnny left. And the TV landscape sure isn't the same as it was when Conan took over the post-Tonight slot at NBC from Dave when Letterman went to CBS to challenge Leno, never mind how different it is from Carson's heyday.

The A Team


photo-illustration of Tony Stark holding Cosmic Cube with dollar sign amidst viewscreens depicting Avengers promotional images

So have you heard about this little movie called The Avengers?

I not only saw it — opening day, in fact, which is always fun, but for the past dozen or so years not something that I've been able to count on doing given my health — I've written about it, too; that commentary just hasn't made it onto the blog yet.

As my review of / background feature on / "think piece" about the Joss Whedon gem began to meander, in addition to being delayed by migraines and technical glitches and stuff like that there, I decided to cleave the following musings on its mega-millions and other impressive statistics into their own post, which is a good thing given how they grew too.

Sweet 16


The first time I saw her, Pebbles was basically trying to climb into the sky.

Photo of an orange and white cat curled up on a blanket

She was on the top of a cat tree, one of those really tall posts made not just for scratching but for climbing. As she balanced on the very apex of it, this lovely and lithe orange Creamsicle of a kitten actually pushed at the ceiling tiles with her paws.

Her name wasn't Pebbles then.

Theme Building


I came up with a dozen entries for the Late Show with David Letterman website's current Top Ten contest [dead link]. You probably know the drill by now but in case you don't there's an explanation of how it works in one of my first blogposts — although winners no longer get prizes beyond satisfaction and bragging rights.

Categories are usually either seasonal or keyed to something in the news, and this week's is no different, being...

My Top Twelve Least-Popular 2012 Prom Themes

12. Let's All Judge Each Other One Last Time

11. Our Favorite Student/Faculty Romances

10. Party Like We'll All Have Jobs

9. How Would Jesus Dance?

8. A Night Away from Algebra and In-School Day Care

7. Mimes! Mimes! Mimes!

Maurice Sendak 1928-2012


Even with far more time and attention than I have right now it wouldn't possible to
do justice to Maurice Sendak with this post.


A familiar scene from Sendak's 'Where the Wild Things Are' of a young boy in a gray wolf costume and golden crown frozen in mid-dance with two large monsters to in front of him and two behind, amidst trees set against a starry blue sky with full silver moon

Sendak passed yesterday, at the age of 83, following a stroke. His career spanned 65 years and nearly 100 books as well as notable work in other media. You can find a timeline of his life and creations at the website of The Rosenbach Museum & Library, whose director also offers a nice remembrance of that Philadelphia institution's rela-tionship with the Brooklyn-born Sendak. (If you're ever in town, I highly recommend
a visit to the place — its collection includes a large repository of Lewis Carroll memor-abilia, James Joyce's handwritten manuscript to Ulysses, and "over 10,000 Sendak objects, including original drawings, preliminary sketches, manuscripts, photographs, proofs, and rare prints of Sendak books." Don't forget to try the incunabula!)

Spamabit


I don't usually have much good to say about the service that hosts this blog. To be
fair and give credit where it's due, I'll repeat that in addition to being free — without requiring advertising of any kind, a big plus to me — Blogger’s spam filter works very well. Frankly, I can't recall a single instance of 'bot messages getting through 
since I opted to turn off word verification on comments earlier this year in the wake
of the service's switch to a much uglier, more onerous CAPTCHA format. 

While the blog has in fact been getting more spam than it used to, all of that spam is getting queued up in a virtual folder to await my attention as it should. It seems like more spam comments made it through in the past, too, which leads me to suspect that in a rare instance of foresight Blogger worked to shore up its filtering in anticipation
of users ditching verification after the recent change.

Most of what got through were strings of Chinese hànzì characters that translated to some vaguely poetic phrase and linked to sites featuring images of scantily-clad women if not outright porn. And porn is, no surprise, still the #1 destination for most of the spam that the filter catches, but for every few blatant "comments" that hawk pics of nude celebrities there's one that pretends to be actual conversation with poetry of its own — in English; often broken English to be sure, yet therein lies much of the skewed poetry.

"You can definitely see your expertise within the paintings you write," one especially lyrical slice of spam read. "The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. All the time go after your heart."

I was almost touched. 

Nice Day for a Sprite Wedding


Here's another homage/parody cover of mine for CAPA-Alpha, done around the same time as the one I shared the other day.



This one's much less of a straight copy, adding characters and foregoing the logo. It uses as its springboard Marvel Comics' The Uncanny X-Men #179 — dated Mar. 1984, penciled by John Romita Jr., and inked by Dan Green. I drew it for Rich Rubenstein's 'zine after we had a discussion about superheroes who were explicitly identified as Jewish.

Imperceptible Sally


Early this year I wrote about some of the most popular search terms that lead people to Blam's Blog and shortly thereafter shared some of the weirder ones. It's time to share some more.

As I said then, I started checking my Stats page randomly throughout the day after getting consistent chuckles from the kind of off-the-wall phrases that you only see in the Stats page's Traffic Sources section fleetingly, usually in the "Now" view, by dint of their very strangeness; things get more normal in the "Daily" view as a search term will have to be entered multiple times to rank as one of the ten strings logged there at any given moment, and by the time we're up to "Weekly" it's just boring stuff like Superman covers or Fat Albert or the surprisingly popular Geoff Peterson.

I find that the really funny searches tend to fall into at least one of three categories: very specific; almost impossibly broad; and totally bizarre in juxtaposition. Some fall into more than one of those categories, like the two-word phrase used for this post's title — What in the world could that be? It does not hit on the name of a blog, a book or TV or movie title, or even a band name (although it would be an awesome band name). It brings up a complete smorgasbord of images. It does not appear to be a Peanuts reference and in fact the graphic that it picks up from this blog, below, only displays because the word "imperceptible" appears the in paragraph before it (in the post "Foyer, Guns, and Honeys", about the graphic novel It Rhymes with Lust) and "Sally" is elsewhere on the page in my list of labels (as part of "When Harry Met Sally"). Of course now that string appears on the Web, atop this post — for apparently the first time, as a search on it with quotes around the words yields nothing — without being of any help, but them's the breaks.

Dream a Little Dream of Meep; or,
The Subconscious and the Frog


Although my dreams continue to be vivid and enjoyable, I haven't shared any here in ages.

The other day, however, I put together such an interesting vision in that odd twilight state between dreaming and waking up that I can't help but write about it. While I tried my best to stay in it, I was aware that I was beginning to come out of it and I probably have my emerging consciousness to thank for its being so brief as well as having an ending — a pretty rare thing for dreams, which in my experience tend to slide into one another or just slip away. It was also rare in that I wasn't actually in the dream, neither as myself nor even as a POV character.

Animal, Pepé the Prawn, Gonzo, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and the Swedish Chef all seated in a movie theater with drinks and snacks

Just so that I don't bury the lead any farther, I'll mention now that the dream starred the Muppets.

Grimm Tidings


If it feels like the blog has been focusing a bit more on my picture-making recently, well, it has. That's due in part to me simply having so much fun putting together those Pictogags. But this entry is due to me going through files to get old articles entered on my current computer and eventually archived up on the Interwebs, files amongst which I'm also finding old sketches and cartoons.



The 1995 drawing above right, a mock cover to the nonexistent Mr. K-a's Pal, Benjy Grimm done for CAPA-Alpha, was a riff on the cover of DC Comics' Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #102, above left — dated June 1967, penciled by Curt Swan, inked by George Klein, and lettered by Ira Schnapp.

Thrones for a Loop


So it turns out that putting together these "pictogags" for HBO's Game of Thrones is rather addictive. I'm working on still more, but here are a few that I've done since I posted my first batch.



The last one, I should warn you, is mildly off-color, although if you watch the series it ain't gonna bother you.

Week Links


There's no denying that this photo of President Barack Obama and Nichelle Nichols — Star Trek's original and definitive Lt. Uhura — making the Vulcan salute in the Oval Office is just plain cool, whatever your politics may be.



While it was apparently taken on Leap Day, Feb. 29th, Nichols only shared it via TwitPic on Apr. 4th.

23 Skidoo


I saw a headline earlier today that mistakenly omitted a space between words in the title of the new ABC comedy Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23.

My immediate reaction was that I would totally be curious about a show called Don't Trust the Bitchin' Apartment 23.

Why not? Is it haunted? Could it have some sort of weird Lost mystery going on? Does it trap you in the 1980s? Maybe it's actually a sentient traveling location like Danny the Street from Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol (which had the added curiosity of being a transvestite sentient traveling location). Does it come with a secret freezer-closet of cold beer like in those commercials — or, being Apartment 23, perhaps cans of Dr. Pepper — but they're all laced with GHB, and the furniture has its way with you after you pass out?

How simultaneously rad and dangerous is Apartment 23 that it's bitchin' yet we still should not trust it? I need to know.

This post has been brought to you by the number 23 and the letter B.

Week Links


And now just under 2 minutes of increasing weirdness titled "A Dramatic Surprise on a Quiet Square"...



I came across it the other day on Mark Evanier's News from ME, a frequent recommendation of mine. The fact that it turns out to be [spoiler warning, kinda-sorta, maybe] a promotional video for TNT in Belgium is somewhat disappointing, but even though it's a commercial it's still a fun little thing.

Cabin Fever


I made it to a 12:01 a.m. showing of The Cabin in the Woods late Thursday night – well, first thing on the morning of Friday the 13th.

Wood cabin floating in air, each face of it having door and windows, trisected into tiers of which the middle is turned at a diagonal to the others

And I loved it. But I can't really talk about it.

Honestly, I can't. You may have read that audiences have been urged at advance screenings not to divulge any of Cabin's twists, and that's with good reason. If you have read that, you're probably enough of a movie (or media) buff to know whether or not you want to see the film; I'm guessing, furthermore, that you do.

Blonde on Blonde


If you're familiar with HBO's Game of Thrones — or with the George R.R. Martin series of novels on which it's based, A Song of Ice and Fire — then you love to hate (maybe even hate to love) King Joffrey.



Joffrey, I should explain for those not in the know, is nominally the son of Cersei Lannister and the recently deceased King Robert Baratheon — but he and his siblings are actually the offspring of Cersei and her twin brother, Jaime Lannister. No, I'm not kidding. Joffrey is ruling the land of Westeros as Robert's supposed heir, with his mother serving as Queen Regent, but all sorts of machinations are underway from various quarters to depose him and/or to simply claim independence from the so-called Iron Throne in King's Landing.

eXtras


What follows was taken out of a post from last month due to technical problems.

Wolverine crouched on the floor, chest smoldering

I paused at the above panel of Wolverine when reading along for the methodical
X-Men examinations done by Austin Gorton under the nom du blog Teebore. Source
is The Uncanny X-Men #147, whose battle between Doctor Doom and Marvel's merry mutants (or so Smilin' Stan Lee often called them; they're actually infamously angst-ridden) was underwhelming to many readers, as reflected in Teebore's assessment of that issue and the follow-up comments.

The nice panel composition and set dressing aside, I'm really keen on the way the character's face and smoldering chest are recessed in shadow, although I don't know how much to credit recently returned penciler Dave Cockrum. While pencilers tend to mark off areas of solid black even when they're only roughing out art for an inker to embellish, Josef Rubinstein could have a heavy hand in that role. More curious to me is how little the figure work resembles Cockrum's, because Wolverine is usually depicted in the comics as about a foot shorter than his silver-screen vessel Hugh Jackman — whereas in this panel and the preceding one, unlike the rest of the issue, he's clearly musclebound but lankier and longer-limbed than his usual stocky, compact self, akin
to how Brent Anderson drew him.

Low and Inside


Illustration of baseball mitt with baseball in the pocket
Clip art via TopEnd Sports © 2012 Rob Wood.

I came up with a (personal) record number of entries for this week's edition of the
Top Ten contest
[dead link] held at The Late Show with David Letterman's website.

My frustration with the Phillies' rough start to the 2012 baseball season could have fueled the creative burst. Whatever the impetus, I hereby offer up my overly obvious, voluminous, and hopefully humorous...

Top Seventeen Punch Lines to Dirty Baseball Jokes

17. "That's the pitcher's mound."

16. "Actually, I play for the other team."

15. "Try the split-finger grip."

14. "I said 'fungo'!"

13. "Would you mind choking up a little?"

12. "So who's the designated hitter?"

11. "It turns out he corked his bat."