Why All The Nerd Rage?

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“Look, fellas! A film that didn’t go the way we wanted. Let’s burn it! BURN IT!!”

First off, I am a nerd. I freely admit it. I’m interested in and excited by many of the same things one thinks of typical nerds being interested in and excited by. I like comic books, Harry Potter, old monster movies, Star Trek, toys, science stuff, Star Wars, etc. I work at a comic book store. I blog about nerdy things. I understand the passion nerds have toward their thing.

I’m not into everything nerd, though. I don’t do cosplay. I’ve never participated in roll playing games. (Well, there was that one time in the ’70s when a friend tried to get me interested in Dungeons & Dragons. It just wasn’t for me.) I don’t play video games, because, honestly, I was never very good at them. I’ve never watched an episode of Game Of Thrones. (Yes, I’m aware that last statement has become today’s version of the “I’m vegan” boast. Sorry.) But, not everybody is into everything. Who has the time?

Still, I understand the passion. There was a time when I scoffed at Trekkers who dress as their favorite characters and go to conventions, but I realized I was being a jerk. Let the people indulge their passion. As long as they aren’t hurting themselves or others – what’s the problem? Have fun! Nerd out! Be proud!

I also understand the disappointment a nerd might feel when they believe one of their passions has let them down. It’s the rage that some express so publicly and so vehemently that puzzles me. The internet has made it possible for every nerd to have their say and, boy, are we having our say. (See update below.) Much of which, that I’ve seen anyway, is fairly benign. Some of it is quite interesting and well thought out and well presented.

But, there seems to be a small segment that needs to rage about stuff. And they also seem to need to be the first to express hate for something. On my podcast Dimland Radio (available on iTunes), for the last couple weeks, I talked about my bewilderment about a couple of raging nerds on social media being first in line to hate two movies that haven’t even been released yet!

These folks were angry at teaser trailers!

Teaser trailers!

What the hell? The movies haven’t been released, but they appear to want to be able to say, “I was the first to hate it!”

One trailer is for DC Comics’ upcoming stand-alone film focusing on the origin story of perhaps the greatest villain in comic books – The Joker. As I understand it, Joker, to be released in October, will not be a part of the same DC Universe as the other DC movies. However, it might connect to a future Batman movie.

That didn’t stop one particular nerd from expressing their hatred of the movie. Their main gripe was that Joaquin Phoenix was cast in the title role. The nerd wanted Willem Dafoe. Dafoe might have been a fine choice, but to rage about it? I mean, they weren’t just disappointed about the casting choice. They were angry.

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I tried to settle the person down by reminding them (twice) that the movie hasn’t been released yet. I was suggesting they put their rage on hold until they actually see the movie. They wouldn’t budge.

I think Joker looks like it could be very interesting and I’m looking forward to it.

But, then there’s the Star Wars franchise. Oh, my goodness. There may be no other nerd passion that can cause more rage than Star Wars.

Full disclosure here. I think the Prequels missed the mark. I think there was way too much George Lucas involved. He had attained such a high level of success and power that there was no one around to rein him in. No one to suggest less Jar Jar and more Darth Maul. No one to suggest the love story in Episode II is awful. No one to suggest that, though it looks really cool, the final lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin taking place essentially inside a volcano is ridiculous.

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“Sniff. Sniff. Anakin? Do you smell something cooking?”

“I do, Master. It’s us! We’re surrounded by lava! It’s just like being in an oven!”

The biggest problem with the Prequels was the audience never knew who was supposed to be us. Which character were we supposed to identify with? Anakin? Padme? Obi-Wan? Jar Jar?

In movies I’ve previously blogged about the audience knows who to identify with. In 12 Angry Men (1957) it’s Juror #8. In The Maltese Falcon (1941) it’s Sam Spade. In L.A. Confidential (1997) the audience is given three characters to put ourselves in the place of: Officer White, Lt. Exley, and Sgt. Vincennes. In a lesser movie, this might confuse the audience. But, for this movie, the script and the direction are so great the audience goes right along with it.

The Prequels didn’t have great scripts and direction.

I will say the Prequels aren’t all bad. Visually they are stunning. Although, I would argue the over-reliance on green screen and CGI caused a problem with the tone of the movies. The tone just didn’t feel the same as it did in the original trilogy.

So, I was disappointed by them. I’m not angry about it. They didn’t destroy my childhood. And I should say that I also don’t sense the nerd anger as strongly when it comes to the Prequels. Mainly, I think, the nerd reaction is more of an eye-rolling. The anger wasn’t quite there.

Then came the Sequels.

The Sequels’ arrival happen to coincide with the ubiquity of opinion on the internet, with the rise of social media. Now the rage could begin in earnest.

The Force Awakens? That’s just the same as A New Hope. At least the Prequels were different! The Last Jedi? That’s… that’s just too… different. These new movies have destroyed my childhood!!

Settle down.

I think these new Star Wars films do precisely what the Prequels did not: They match the tone of the originals. That may be, in part, due to the far more prominent use of practical effects than in Episodes I, II & III. Practical effects are there. They have mass. The actors can act with them. They still work better than CG effects, although CG is getting pretty damn good.

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The characters are more well-defined. We are given a hero to follow and identify with: Rey. And we are given other new characters of interest: Finn and Poe. We have a complicated and compelling villain: Kylo Ren. We have a new plucky little friend: BB-8. And, of course, our old friends have returned: Han, Leia, Threepio, R2, Chewie, Yoda, and Luke.

Sure, the films aren’t perfect. Some of the jokes don’t land. Some of the dialogue is clunky. A character or two are bit on the cartoonish side. (Cough! Cough! Hux! Cough!) But the original trilogy wasn’t perfect either. Alec Guiness himself said at the time that he thought the dialogue wasn’t the best he’d read. So it’s not Mamet or Tarantino. So what? The Ewoks are a bit too teddy bearish to be taken seriously. So what? There’s no backstory for the Emperor. So what?

The movies are fun. And that’s what I want from a Star Wars movie.

Last week, the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker dropped. It looks fantastic! I don’t know that it will live up to the trailer, I’ll have to wait to see the movie to be sure, but I am excited.

I had an exchange with one angry nerd who, mere moments after the trailer was posted online, practically tripped over himself to announce to Facebook that they already hated it. “Look at me! I hated it first!”

The angry nerd lamented that Disney can’t match George Lucas’ storytelling ability. Really? Disney? Disney?!  Well, here’s his comment and my sarcastic response:

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For the record, I will say that I have really liked the Star Wars sequels and the side stories of Rogue One and Solo. In fact, I think The Last Jedi is one of the best of the entire series.

Maybe I’m just a nerd contrarian.

Update: I changed this line to include myself as one of the opinionated nerds. After all, I’m a nerd who is taking advantage of the internet to have my say, too. I’m just not raging about it.

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

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April Snow And A Missed Cheap Trick Concert

“Just when we thought it was safe to put the shovels away…”

Said just about everyone living in the Upper Midwest during the last day and a half. The weather reports started warning us last Sunday evening. They told us it was early yet, things could change, but, despite temperatures in the 60s Sunday and Monday, it was looking as though winter would return on Wednesday afternoon right through Friday. They predicted low temperatures, high winds, and lots of wet and heavy snow.

They were right. The jerkfaces.

Oh, I know. Don’t blame the meteorologists. They don’t make the weather. But just look at this. Grrrrrr.

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Western Minnesota, which got hit even harder than the Twin Cities, where I live. Photo credit: KARE11.com

This is the second April in a row in which Minnesota got dumped on. It’s quite a gut punch after seeing the grass and the trees starting to bud after a long winter. It was almost 70º on Monday. 70 degrees!!

So, as I sit here, resting my once again snow shoveling sore muscles, a snow-related story came to me. No, not last year’s April gut punch. Not the Halloween Blizzard of 1991, which I experienced. Oh, boy. That was something!

I want to take you back to November 23, 1983. I was going to art school. I had been there for only three months and I still hadn’t quite jumped on the punk rock bandwagon. I was being introduced to it, but I hadn’t got the feel for it yet. However, I would before that first school year was out.

One of my favorite bands in those days (and I still like them a lot) was coming to Minneapolis – Cheap Trick. It would be a one night engagement to promote their new album Next Position Please. An album I liked, but it hadn’t charted very well. Despite the excellent production by Todd Rundgren, there wasn’t any truly standout song in the collection. Although the opening track I Can’t Take It is pretty good.

Well, no matter. My friend John and I were going to see them. We got our tickets for a mere $9.92 each. $9.92! Boy, those were the days, eh? That wouldn’t even pay for parking now.

I must have been awfully excited about it, because my classmates were well aware that I was going to the show. I got a little bit of teasing by the punk rockers in class. “That’s kids’ stuff,” they’d say. I held my ground. “Can you honestly tell me you forgot? Forgot the magnetism of Robin Zander? The charisma of Rick Nielsen? How ’bout the tunes…”

Sorry. I seem to have drifted into an 80s teen comedy.

Anyway, it was late November. We were in Minnesota. And we know what can happen. Earlier in the week the weather forecasters began to predict snow. Lots of it. And right on the night of the big show. I was getting nervous. Please, let the weather person be wrong. Please, don’t snow.

I kept looking out the windows at school throughout that day. No snow yet. No snow yet. No sno… Was that a snowflake? Oh, no. Are those more? Don’t look. It’s not really happening. If I don’t look it won’t be snowing. Everything will be fine…

“Hey, Jim. Did you see outside? It doesn’t look good. Looks like you won’t be seeing Cheap Trick after all.”

The school day ended. Somehow the city bus got me home. When at home, I stood at the window looking at all that snow coming down. Realizing that not looking at it wouldn’t make it stop, I tried to will the weather to cease its impinging on my concert-going life.

The phone rang. It was John.

“Sorry, man. There’s no way I’m driving in this. We’re not going.”

“But, John! We paid $9.92! Each! It took me three hours of work to earn that!”

“It ain’t happening. And, geez, you earn crap.”

“I know. It’s minimum wage. What can I do? You know, one day this country will realize that people new to the workforce, such as myself, working entry level positions at unskilled jobs, such as working at Wendy’s, as I do, deserve a living wage…”

Sorry. I seem to have drifted into some 99% protest.

We didn’t go. The show went on without us. And, I suspect, without several other fans.

On July 11, 1997, I finally got to see Cheap Trick play live. It was at the legendary Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue & 7th Street Entry. It took more than 13 years, but it was worth the wait. They were great! I would go on to see them another four times.

One of those times was an outdoor show as part of the Minneapolis Rib Fest. It was free, but I could say I paid for it years in advance.

I got my $9.92 worth.

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The actual unused ticket.

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

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Space… It Makes For A Great Cover!

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Before John Byrne teamed up with Terry Austin on The All-New, All-Different X-Men #108 in 1977, taking the comic book world by storm, he had been working for Marvel Comics since 1975. He had also been pulling double duty in those early days working for Marvel and Charlton Comics. And it’s one of his Charlton covers I’m declaring to be great this month.

Based on the short-lived, but influential, sci-fi television series, comes this cover of Charton’s Space: 1999. The cover shows lead character Commander John Koenig in a pretty dire situation. He’s adrift in the vacuum of space, his ship wrecked behind him, his helmet just out of reach ahead of him. Surely, he is doomed!

Well, probably not, but it is a dramatic and eye-catching cover. The use of the planet on the left and space on the right in the background gives a sense of scale as well as place. Byrne does a fine job of setting the drama.

This is from early in his career and his drawing had not yet reached its peak, but the roots of the greatest that would break out a year later (his X-Men run) can be seen. The details of the ship and spacesuit, the layout of the page, the natural urgency of the pose, the character’s expression, all show that John Byrne was going to be one hell of a force in comic books.

There’s one other aspect of this cover that I think makes it great: The coloring. Byrne penciled, inked, and colored this cover. Charlton had several covers in those days that had a more sophisticated use of color than even Marvel and DC Comics. There’s a wonderful flow and texture to the watercolor used to color this cover. It’s subtle, but it adds a depth to the art that the standard coloring of comic books lacked.

Collectors with a discerning eye in 1976 would have thought to themselves when seeing this cover, “This Byrne fellow is gonna go far.”

And, of course, they would have been right.

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

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Great Album Retro Review: Great Divide By Semisonic

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Lest you think my musical tastes never advanced past the 1980s, I have a great album from 1996 to discuss. It’s the first full length album by Minneapolis band Semisonic. Formed from the ashes of another influential band from that fabled city of the Upper Midwest, Trip Shakespearse; Semisonic carried on the psychedelic ’60s influenced sound of Trip Shakespeare while giving it a more polished, heavier guitar feel.

The songs of Great Divide are catchy with the warm and welcoming vocals of lead singer and guitarist Dan Wilson. There’s sensuality mixed with bombast on this album. Romantic and grand. The swirling and layered guitars are occasionally accompanied by sound affects to add texture. It’s a pleasure to listen to this one.

The Tracks:

F.N.T. – Standing for Fascinating New Thing, F.N.T. starts of with a great guitar riff and kicks the album off right. It’s a song about that strong attraction one can feel for someone new. It’s an exciting feeling. But the song also take the long view in that this “new thing” will still be fascinating even when no longer new.

If I Run – This is a great road song. It about a guy who feels the need to drive on. It will be alright if he could just leave it all behind. All, that is, except that one person.

Delicious – Seems like this is a bit of a sex song. Dan Wilson’s vocal take on a sensuous nature as he describes the desire he’s feeling for that certain someone. Kinda sexy.

Down In Flames – This song shows that bombastic side of the band. It’s big. It’s grand. It’s pretty good. Starts slow and small, but builds quickly.

Across The Great Divide – Sort of the title track, this is my favorite song on the album. Another love song. This one is about devotion to a loved one despite the distance separating them. It seems autobiographical as Wilson sings of heading far off to a place and a life unknown to him to record this song.

Temptation – Wilson adopts a falsetto for this song about desiring someone that maybe he shouldn’t, but the temptation is too great.

The Prize – Another big song. More bombast. Some nice call and response vocals between Wilson and bassist John Munson. A little plodding in its pace. This is a rerecorded version of a song that appeared on the band’s 1995 EP – Pleasure.

No One Else – Another love song on an album loaded with love songs. This one is low key and quietly played. It’s as if it’s being sung to a lover in bed after a romantic encounter. A bit of pillow talk.

Brand New Baby – Another rerecording of a track from Pleasure, this song is about the brave face one puts on when their ex has a new love interest. They said they wanted their freedom, to be on their own, but there they are with someone else. Hey, that’s great. Good for you. Just keep smiling. Keep smiling.

Falling – Love again. This time the object of Wilson’s desire seems to want to keep things at arm’s length, but something’s brewing. I like the use of the amusement park ride as a metaphor for falling in love.

In Another Life – John Munson takes the lead vocal for this quiet, thoughtful track about a broken relationship that is beyond repairing. Too much time has past. The damage is done. Move on.

I Feel For You – The quietest track on the album closes it out. Guitars, bass, and plenty of whirling and swirling sounds work their way around your head. It’s a trippy lullaby.

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

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Love a good comedy panel show!

They may have blossomed on American television in the 1950s, but panel shows go back to the days of radio. According to Wikipedia (where I have gotten much of my information for this post), the first known panel show was called Information Please, on which a panel of celebrities would attempt to answer questions submitted by listeners. If the panel was stumped, the listener would win a cash prize.

Not having been alive in those days, from what I can gather that particular panel show was pretty straight forward. Maybe there would be a chuckle or two, but it wasn’t played for laughs. Then, in 1942, came It Pays To Be Ignorant.

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It Pays To Be Ignorant in the days of radio. L to R: Host Tom Howard and panelists George Shelton, Lulu McConnell, and Harry McNaughton.

It Pays To Be Ignorant may not have been the first panel show meant to be a comedy, but it certainly was early on and demonstrated that comedy panel shows could be very popular. The premise of the show was to have the group of regular panelists give nothing but wrong, and often funny, answers to obvious questions such as: What color is the red barn?

The show’s popularity helped move it to television for one season in 1949 and another season in 1951. The show was revived in 1973, but only lasted one year. It must have played better on radio.

In the 1950s, the panel show came into its own as American TV audiences tuned into such shows as To Tell The Truth, I’ve Got A Secret, and What’s Mine Line? (my favorite of these three). Again, I’m not so old that I got to watch What’s My Line? when it originally aired, but through the magic of oldies TV channels I’ve been able to watch it and I can see it’s appeal.

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The panelists would don blindfolds for the mystery celebrity guests.

I especially like its host John Daly. He was quite the happy host. He cracked up throughout and genuinely appeared to enjoy hosting the show. The man could get absolutely giddy as the panelists attempted to determine the occupation or particular distinction of the guests. I think he was a great host.

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The giddy John Daly with mystery celebrity guest Julie Andrews.

The 1970s had popular panel shows that were intended to provide laughs. There was The Gong Show, Hollywood Squares, and Match Game. The Gong Show was more of a watching car accidents kind of show, while Hollywood Squares and Match Game were just as funny if less edgy entertainment. Those shows would be especially funny when the celebrity panelists would get more “lubricated” as the day of taping went on.

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Match Game. Dig those fashions!

In America, the panel shows began to lose their appeal after the ’70s. There were a few that had success, the revival of Hollywood Squares comes to mind, but it seemed the day of the panel show was done.

The UK, however, beginning in the 1990s saw a great leap in the popularity of the comedy panel show. Again, according to Wikipedia, there had been panel shows on British TV for as long as there were on American TV, but in 1990 came the panel show Have I Got News For You. It was extremely successful in gathering an audience and is thought to have been the spark that set off an explosion of British comedy panel shows. Soon there were QI, Mock Of The Week, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Would I Lie To You?, and Never Mind The Buzzcocks.

I haven’t seen much of most of them, but I have watched a good deal of QI and Would I Lie To You? through YouTube. And they are hilarious. I love them! I wish America could produce such shows. Well, maybe it does and I just haven’t seen them.

QI stands for “quite interesting” and it is a show that explores little know facts of history, science, nature, literature, entertainment, and everyday life. The shows features four celebrities who attempt to answer questions put to them by the host. Right answers are good, but interesting answers are treasured. Points are awarded to the guests in some weird, mysterious, arbitrary fashion. But who cares about points? The show is very funny and totally fascinating.

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The awesome Stephen Fry.

It went on the air in 2003, with the great Stephen Fry as the schoolmaster-like host. He’s wonderful. I really like Fry. He has a level of intelligence, wit, and sophistication that is marvelous and, yet, he seems incredibly warm and welcoming. He strikes me as the kind of mentor everyone longs for. His interplay with the guests is terrifically entertaining and funny. Just watch this clip of the classic “They say of the Acropolis where the Parthenon is…” moment and you’ll see what I mean.

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The very funny Sandi Toksvig.

In 2016, Sandi Toksvig took over as the host of QI. She had been a regular guest for years and she has filled Fry’s vacated seat nicely. She brings her own acerbic and keen wit to the show. Her approach differs from Fry, but still feels right.

There used to be full episodes of QI on YouTube. It’s a shame that nearly all have been taken down now, but there are loads and loads of clips of the show posted on QI’s YouTube channel.

And then there’s Would I Lie To You? Oh, how I’ve been YouTube binging this show.

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L to R: David Mitchell, Rob Brydon, Lee Weeks.

The premise of this panel show is to figure out whether or not someone is lying. Each week four celebrities guests are brought on the show, two of each join show regulars, David Mitchell and Lee Mack, to form two teams of three. Then the team members are to read out cards revealing something interesting about themselves. Some statements are lies, some are true. The tricky part for the person telling the story is that they don’t know what’s on the card until they read it. So, their improv skills had better be sharp if they need to tell a lie.

When the show first aired in 2007 it was hosted by Angus Deayton. He’s funny, but I prefer the current host Rob Brydon, who took over in 2009.

These are the two British shows of which I am familiar, but I will probably start binging the other ones soon.

I am aware there has been a revival of Match Game, which is hosted by Alec Baldwin, but I haven’t seen any of it. (Have you watched it? Is it any good?) It just seems the Brits currently have the edge on us Americans when it comes to the comedy panel show. So, if you’re looking for a funny panel show you can look to America’s classic TV show channels or you can look over there.

Packing Peanuts!

Feel free to comment and share.

Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

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Pods Looking Back 4: More Podcast Recommendations

Here are a few more podcasts to recommend for your listening pleasure. There is a more or less nostalgic aspect to all of them, but one will also examine items that are more current. The first two are heavily, if not completely, filled with music content, the third has varying topics.

These shows may contain content and language that some might find objectionable.

Click of the titles to link to the podcasts.

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Discography This podcast is relatively new. Host Marc With A C does a deep dive into the musical output of “one legendary musician at a time.” What the host does is review all the albums and singles that make up a particular artist’s body of work. Marc places the music into the context of the times it was created. And he gives the histories of the musicians, their struggles and their triumphs, who created the music.

So far the show has covered Frank Zappa, Janet Jackson, and, my favorite band, The Who. Each artist gets several episodes to go through their canonical work. I must admit I’ve only listened to The Who series, because I’m most interested in their work.

And it is The Who that has gotten the most shows so far. There are eight episodes, because Marc thinks very highly of the band and he expanded his usual format to include examining the solo material of the individual members of the greatest rock band in the world. The series isn’t just a love letter to The Who though, Marc gives his honest opinion on the times the band and the individual artists fell short of greatness.

Marc is obviously an enthusiastic music fan and a good researcher. However, he makes one error that I will correct here. When he was talking about Pete Townshend’s acoustic set at the charity event The Secret Policeman’s Ball in 1979, he mentions that Pete was accompanied on the song ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ by John Williams. That is not the John Williams of Star Wars fame as Marc states. It’s a different John Williams. This one is a well-respected classical musician who plays acoustic guitar.

Hey. Nobody’s perfect.

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Rolling Stone Music Now This podcast by the venerable music magazine has been running for a few years and covers a wide variety of topics within the world of music, both old and new. The show will also touch on other aspects of the entertainment industry.

It is hosted by Brian Hiatt and has several regular contributors. Often the show starts with a round table discussion of what everyone is listening to at that time. There are plenty of interviews with musicians and they will explore the history and significance of an artist’s body of work. They will also examine some of the seminal albums of pop and rock history. They have discussions on The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s and the White Album (the remix versions), U2’s Pop, Radiohead’s OK Computer, and others.

They even have a show covering the times the magazine was less than complimentary of some of rock’s most highly revered bands, such as AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. They will also honestly assess the lesser work of artists they really like. And they really like The Who. I mean, The Who pops up in conversations with guests quite often. There’s an interview of Saturday Night Live alumnus Fred Armisen in which almost out of nowhere they go into a five minute discussion on the greatness of The Who. (How could I not like this podcast?!) But they’ll also honestly knock The Who for their less-than-stellar Superbowl Half-Time performance.

Hey. Nobody’s perfect.

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One Plus One This is the newest of the three podcasts and it’s very good. The host, Rico Gagliano, explores the history of great collaborations, times when two individuals combine their talents to produce greater work than either could do on their own. The podcast posits that:

“Every great collaboration is a love story. It’s intense. Passionate. Along the way, there’s flashes of love, hate, pride, ego, ambition, and brilliance.”

And, oh, boy! Do they start with an excellent collaboration!

The first six episodes focus on what is probably the greatest songwriting duo in pop music history: John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Rico looks into how the two met and began writing together, through their tremendous success and their tumultuous break-up and beyond. He digs into their pasts to show how these two were connected by more than their love of rock’n’roll. You see, each had lost his mother at a very young age. Paul was 14, John 17.

In fact, I had not known how John’s mother died. The story is quite tragic and very well told. The storytelling of this series is masterful. Rico weaves the stories of these two legendary artists together wonderfully. He’ll tease an event enough to pique your interest and then set it aside until the listener is set up for the full impact of the story.

For example, the first episode ‘Eyeball To Eyeball’ starts with Lennon heading over to McCartney’s place with a fragment of a song idea. He has something good, but he needs Paul to help flesh it out. Paul also had a bit of a song he had set aside. They sit “eyeball to eyeball”, combine the two songs, and get something pretty good. They bring it to the studio and invite some friends and an orchestra.

The song? A Day In The Life.

It’s an excellent podcast that won’t be focusing solely on musical collaborations. The next series, of which the first episode is available now, focuses on the collaboration of sports legends Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. If the first series is any indication, the Shaq and Kobe story should be fascinating.

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

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Neal Adams Gets Another Great Cover

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This is the third time one of the all-time greats, Neal Adams, gets a great cover declaration by me. Adams was quite a force in comic books in the late 1960s into the 1970s. He brought a greater sense of realism to the look of comic art. Along with writer Denny O’Neil, he helped to bring Batman away from the campy influence of Adam West’s version as seen on the popular TV series. His Batman was more menacing and frightening. He was grittier. And much more dangerous.

But, it’s not a Batman cover that I’m looking at this month. As you can see, it’s the cover of DC Comics’ Strange Adventures #212 (June 1968) and it features one of the coolest looking characters in comic books (at least I think so): Deadman.

Deadman was created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino. The character’s actual name was Boston Brand and he was a daring trapeze artist whose professional name was Deadman. Brand would wear the red costume and painted his face white for his performances under the big top. During a performance, an assassin known as Hook, whose missing hand had been replaced by a hook (what else?), murdered Brand. The acrobat became a ghost.

As a ghost, he kept the appearance of his Deadman trapeze artist persona. Deadman was determined to bring his murderer to justice. Using the power, given to him by the Hindu goddess Rama Kunsha, to possess the bodies of the living, he was determined to find his killer. Interesting character idea, don’t you think?

And look at that cover.

First off, it has a wicked Dutch angle. I like Dutch angles. It might be the influence of that campy Batman TV series on me, but I really do like them. And Adams gives us a darned dramatic one on this cover.

I think Adams also does an excellent job of using depth in this composition. Hook’s right arm and hook really look as though they are reaching off the cover toward the reader. It can be tricky getting that foreshortening just right. And Neal gets it just right.

And there’s the anatomy and poses of the characters that look real. This cover is a fine example of how Neal Adams made comic book art look possible in the real world while still being dynamic and exciting. This is also a good example of the grittiness this great artist was able to put across in his art. It’s so cinematic. This scene looks as though it resides in the same hard-bitten, dirty, grimy world as such film classics as The French Connection (1971), Midnight Cowboy (1969), and The Conversation (1974).

It’s a great cover.

Packing Peanuts!

Feel free to comment and share.

Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

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