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.]

Head Space


I had a neat dream last night. Since content might be light here for a spell, I've
written it up along with a couple more I scribbled down from earlier this year.

The one from last night involved the work of Nikki Stafford, author of books about Lost and other cult TV, whose blog was among my select re-entry points to online activity when I finally got a working computer a handful of years ago now. Co-starring in the older dreams were actor/filmmaker Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO series Girls, whom I've never met, and comics scribe Kurt Busiek, creator of Astro City, whom I've had the pleasure of speaking with online and in person a fair amount over the past couple of decades.

In the snippet of last night's dream that left an impression, I was mostly running around from table to table in a large dining room with a gravy boat of salad dressing.
At a certain point that scene, which I vaguely associated with a college dining hall, transitioned to me teaching a class on Buffy the Vampire Slayer that drew from Nikki's work as well as my own blogposts. The real-world irony of the latter is that while I'd hoped to publish a series of relevant posts during Nikki's year-long rewatch of that show, I had to suspend that plan. (I did earlier share thoughts on my first exposure to Buffy on television and review the original movie.)

Up in the Sky


Close-up screen capture of head and chest of inflated Superman balloon, with cartoonish face and vintage 'S' insignia on blue top, thin white strings visible

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.

Kindred Posts: Supe of the DayWho? The Skies as Clark KentPanel to Frame

Fringe Thinking: Borrowed Time


The fifth and final season of Fringe reached its midpoint last night with...




And so it's fitting that the episode hearkens back to the start of of Season One.

"Our first Fringe experience would be their last," said a vengeful Peter Bishop to Olivia Dunham, sharing with her that he'd used the jaw-dropping bioweapon from Episode 1.1 on three high-ranking Observers.

But "Five-Twenty-Ten" may have referred in a much more oblique way to the end of Season Two as well, and therefore given us yet another oh-so-tangential allusion to the parallel universe that occupies an essential place in Fringe lore. I'm no Jeff Jensen, but I had to wonder if the title to 5.07 — which turned out to be a safe combination used by Walter Bishop in one of William Bell's old laboratories — had any other significance. Sure enough, I hit paydirt with the first try: 05-20-10 is the American numerical rendering of May 20th, 2010, which turns out to be the original US air date of Episode 2.21, "Over There (Part 2)". This is a purely meta-level piece of information, of course, nothing to do with the characters within the show; it may however be a clue that the Other Side will yet figure into Season Five after all. I have a thought as to how, to be shared later in the post.

Fringe Thinking: There's a Place


Now we're talkin'!



... was a great episode, probably the best since the Season Five opener. I'm sorry that I didn't get this post up sooner, but once I realized it wouldn't be within a couple of days after airing I decided to wait until the day of the next episode to maximize some semblance of relevance. The way we justify or rationalize things to ourselves, as fortune would have it, is also very relevant to what Peter's doing.

One of the reasons why the hour grabbed me, no doubt, was its integration of premises past and present.

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 got one from my cousins as a belated birthday 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 because 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/above 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.

Fringe Thinking:
Gimme Some Truth


Peter Bishop took a pivotal step at the end of...



If you thought that with a title like that the episode would be providing more background on the Observers, now known as the Invaders, well, you thought wrong.

Same goes for background on Etta Bishop's life under Invader rule after she was separated from her parents 20 years ago. Ditto hitherto unrevealed secret connections among the members of our familiar former Fringe Division team.

This origin story was Peter's. And it wasn't a flashback to previously unspooled history. It was the first look at the next chapter of his journey. Etta's death pushed Peter over the edge — or at least an edge; there are certainly still darker places to go. He's using his enemies' own devices against them, but it remains to be seen to what extent he will become the very thing he's fighting.

Let me backtrack just a bit, although as always I assume that you've seen the episode before reading this and won't be recapping the whole plot:

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.