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All And Accounted For in the Craziness of STATS, IN THE CRAZINESS 2018

31 Dec

Well, another year has come and gone, and by this year’s standards compared to last, it would seem that I’ve fallen a tad short of matching last year’s tally of 7972 by a measly 114 views. As of 1:30 PM today, I have a total of 7858 views, and I doubt I’ll even tie that number by the time the silver ball drops in Times Square. However, I’m having a great December with nearly a 1000 views and counting and I suppose I should have the specters of Harry Perzigian and Hugh O’ Connor to thank for that as blog subjects about them soared to amazing heights. It seems that this blog attracts fans of dead and buried drug abusers more than it does with the everyday Yes fan on the street, blu ray disc couch potato connoisseurs, or dedicated comic book enthusiasts.

I don’t get the reason why people are so fascinated with this. I know it was hard getting the word out about Harry Perzigian’s death into some form of media – but the obsession with people Europe still idolizing Hugh O’ Connor? What in the fucking world is that all about?? Unless, In The Heat of the Night is driving up foreign royalty checks up the yin yang for whatever is left of the O’Connor family from nightly reruns (and I know of no local digital station or streaming site running them) then I guess I would stand corrected. Well, I’ll see what I can stir up for the sequel of “Hugh O’Connor was A Piece of Shit Loser Who Never Amounted to Anything” sometime this April.

Next year, I’ll probably be concentrating more on contributing blu ray reviews rather than talking about super hero genre show ratings. It seems as if Nielsen is no longer providing L + 3 and L + 7 numbers anymore to secondary sites such as Zap It TV. However, finding methods to track the number of clicks for streaming shows seems to be the new hipster thing in vogue. A website dedicated to these kind of stats called Parrot Analytics is quickly on its’ way to becoming my new best friend.

Of course, there will be more Yes Log supplemental, more blogs dedicated to other assorted Prog Rock groups (I haven’t been keeping up with my Heroes of KScope series and that’s going to change quickly when the O.R.k ((a new offshoot band from the makers of King Crimson and Porcupine Tree)) releases their debut album early next year), Free Comic Book Day, Criterion movies, and my new Deposit Man book coming out before the year ends – fingers crossed).

It’s best to put 2018 behind. It’s been a sad year for me with the loss of Harlan Ellison, Steve Ditko Norm Breyfogle, Marie Severin, and Stan Lee – all people I idolized and looked up to in my youth. All my heroes are dissipating before my eyes, and I fear that 2019 might start to look a lot worse – especially when you have motherfucking inexperienced unprofessional racist genital fondling bozos like Donald Trump pretending to run the show.

Well, here are the stats, and see you a few weeks into 2019.

The top ten most read blogs of 2018

10. Jonny Quest, Past, Present, and Future with 96 views
9. Of Wine, Women And Post Progressive Sounds – A Guide to The Heroines of K-Scope Music with 100 views
8. The Beef Curtain Misadventures of Rikki Lixxx & The Escape From Hazeltine Hellmouth with 128 views
7. Yes Log: A Happy 74th Birthday To A 1970’s Renaissance Man – Jon Anderson of Yes with 143 views
6. Yes Log 1970: You Coulda Been a Golden Age Contender with 322 views
5. Two Mournings Later in the Extraordinary Afterlife of Harry Perzigian with 390 views
4. Hugh O’Connor Was A Piece of Shit Nobody Loser Who Amounted To Anything with 488 views
3. Three Mournings Later in The Extraordinary Afterlife of Harry Perzigian with 616 views
2. The Songs of Harry Perzigian with 898 views
and No 1. (For the Fourth Fucking Time Running) One Mourning In The Extraordinary Afterlife of Harry Perzigian with 1597 views

There’s just no escaping this insane notoriety of a lowly blogger such as myself of breaking the news to the world about the death of songwriter and alleged cocaine dealer to the stars – Harry Perzigian. If you add up all the stats, including the one about Hugh O’Connor – it comes out to a staggering 3989 views – that’s roughly more than half of my total output including logging on to this site’s homepage!!
For the past four years, it’s been an overwhelming curse and blessing

Contributing reasons why this is happening: The blog post has gotten attention by Vice and I would hazard a guess that the blog post about Hugh O’Connor had made honorable mention on a LBGT community message board along with some assorted disparaging remarks about Harry in their message boards of which I am powerless to defend. Also, old news report videos of Harry’s trial against Carroll O’Connor for slander has making the youtube rounds.

And that’s all I have for this year. Since I’m using a lesser version of WordPress on my laptop, rather than the upgrade on my workstation desktop, I don’t have access to the list of referrers or how many people are reading my blog around the world, or the list of my top ten Google searchers (Boy, there are some sick perverted fucks out there). When I get to back to work on Wednesday, I’ll be sure to include those demented little puppies.

Happy New Year 2019!!

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YES LOG SUPPLEMENTAL 2018 Part 2: Blu Ray Dreamer, Easy in the Couch Potato That Really Fits You

28 Dec

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Last time on the PPGPP, I gushed over the welcoming release of the classic 1973 Yessongs film to the wonderous technological world of the high-definition blu ray format. This time around, I’ll be tackling the recent blu ray release focusing on the debut concert of Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman of two summers ago touring under the unavoidable acronym of ARW. Contrary to popular belief, the name of the band has absolutely nothing to do with the preference of root beer.

The material of this disc was recorded on the evening of March 25, 2017 at the 02 Apollo Theater in Manchester, U.K. I understand that this is as close as we can get for a sort of  hometown reunion of Accrington for Jon Anderson as Manchester is 22 miles south from the county of Lancashire where Jon was born and raised.

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get my hands on a blu ray disc, rather I bought the dvd at the recent Greek Theater Show that occurred over the summer and the sole reason that it was an impulse buy was because I was able to purchase it at the band’s official tour merchandise stand a week before its official release date. However, as I prattled on before of accumulating so many home video releases,  and NOT having the time to relax and enjoy them I finally made time over the holiday weekend to crack open the cellophane and watch it on my month old 50” UHD TV  so I could put notes down on it for prosperity.

My UHD TV and the camera on my cellphone seem to have hit it off.

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Jon Anderson is caught astral travelling again during the set’s near climatic closer, “Awaken”.

The video’s retro cold opening got me scared for a second there, as I originally thought my disc had turned out to be defective, but the blurry black & white images soon dissolved and adjusted to a stark and sharp contrast and I would venture to say, that the digital images projected on UHD tv were just as compelling if I were watching it on a blu ray disc.

Suffice to say that the quality of the product is near top-notch, with a couple of exceptions here and there of audio pops and clicks – and that could be on my end, because I’m playing a dvd through a blu ray player and monitoring the presentation on a 4K UHD 50″ Samsung TV. Another contributing factor is that I haven’t had the time to seek out a good 5.1 soundbar that would be compatible with my set, even though I have the sound settings set to Amplify. I definitely going to seek one out soon, as I’m jonesing again to hear those 5.1 remixes of my entire King Crimson collection and the selected classic Yes and Jethro Tull albums by Steven Wilson (and I’ve got his latest blu ray concert set up in the queue) that I haven’t heard since my friend Harry Perzigian passed away when he owned a compatible system that able to play them. I have to dedicate a blog to all of those releases one of these days, because they are jam-packed with a treasure trove of bells and whistles.

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Trevor Rabin spas out during a solo on “Lift Me Up

The band now calls themselves Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman and during their recent modified tour, they provided a pinch of new material in the opening of the set of what perhaps to expect from them when they finally get around to releasing a package of new material.

Also, I’ve heard a demo of this new song, “Fragile” making the rounds. I was cajoling in the prospects of where the music may be heading, a sort of a pick up from the ABWH days until some troll in the youtube comment board put a whole damper by comparing it to something left off the Union album.

It would be pretty inventive, if the entire new album would consist of songs of nothing but alluding to past Yes album titles. In addition to “Fragile”, the trio could pen songs based on past unused song titles such as “Relayer” or “Tormato”. How 80’s style rocking could the ACTUAL song “90125” be?

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The differences between the material that is on this disc and the show that I recently took in is The old ABWH duet of Jon Anderson & Rick Wakeman “The Meeting” was omitted on this tour, from what I remember seeing at the Las Vegas show a couple of years back, for what I would assume to be due to time constraints (the DVD clocks in at nearly a perfect two hours, give or take a few seconds) or maybe it just didn’t sound right in the final mixing (to which Rabin is also given credit). The new number that was introduced on the last tour was The Trevor Rabin and Jon Anderson penned number “I Am Waiting” from 1994’s Talk. Otherwise, the dvd serves as the perfect souvenir companion along with the wad of my other hard earned cash dropped on concert tv-shirts, baseball caps, and coffee mugs.

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Perhaps the real live outstanding moment that we in the audience witnessed was when Jon Anderson propped his grandson (from daughter Jade) up on onstage during the encore of “Owner of A Lonely Heart”. Poor kid looked as if entered a junior deer staring into a car’s headlight contest. Regrettably, my cellphone ran out of juice to capture that rather awkward moment. But, everyone in the audience agreed in that ‘aw geez whiz’ juncture, that JA has earned the props to give kudos to his grandkids

And just as on the stage as it was chronicled in the dvd, there is always a kissy face scene with wife Jane.

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Rick Wakeman overreaches in keyboard excellence.

What this interpretation represents in the current Yes annuals is the beefing up of some of the old arrangements. Out are the simple organ Tony Kaye flourishes and in come the sonic synthesizer flair arrangements that Rick adds to the YesWest material. This disc makes it a worthwhile document of Rick making the Big Generator material sound more orchestral appealing by supplementing meat to a long forgotten late eighties single such as “Rhythm of Love” and giving more room to stretch out in the form of a captivating Mini-moog solo towards the song’s end, which I could relive over and over either live on stage or on this disc. “Hold On” get honorable mention for this too. “Changes” – not so much, because of the simple four note repeat patterned motif that opens that number somewhat looks boring for Wakeman to regurgitate night after night.

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Of course, The biggest highlight of the show is when Rick jumps into the fray and personally invites you to duet with him on Chopsticks.

One major complaint, I’ve been seeing in a lot of customer views, especially on Amazon, and other dvd/blu ray review website is that people are accusing the distributor, Eagle Rock Records of adding canned audience clapping in the sound mix that is somehow overwhelmingly distracting and that it belittles the overall enjoyment of the product.

Again, I have to chalk it up to my 4K UHD TV’s lack of its’ proper 5.1 soundbar senses. This did not hamper my enjoyment of the product one bit. Perhaps, my only grievance I wish to air is that, unlike Yessongs which featured great shots of the band members’ fingering of instruments, ARW’s Live at the Apollo can’t seem to focus on Wakeman’s keyboard technique for more than five seconds other than the showstopper pulse pounding “Owner of A Lonely Heart” finale when Rabin and Wakeman take an evening stroll through the audience with their respective guitars and keytars. I felt the camera should have focused more on Wakeman’s mountain scale descent all through “Awaken”, rather than Rabin’s Steve Howe impersonation.

But then, that’s just me.

Personal pics of my the last Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, & Rick Wakeman gig show at the Greek Theater last summer.

I wanted to cram more talk about other Yes products released this year, such as the reissue of Yes’ 2011’s Fly From Here with Benoit David’s original vocals scratched out of the mix and replaced with Trevor Horn, and the Reader Digest’s abridged version of the Yes box set, Seven Shows From Seventy-Two, condensed into a two disc set called “Progeny” – but I literally have no time with full-time work and some long ago discarded comic book scripting that’s currently on my plate.

I will be back on New Year’s Eve morning with the annual stats and hopefully some words from my Native American associate, Zak Alvarez to decipher what Longwalker really means in the “Longwalker Speaks” track off of the 1996 Jon Anderson solo album, “Toltec” – but if not, we’ll just have to table it for next year.

 

YES LOG SUPPLEMENTAL 2018: BLU RAY TAIL, TAIL BLU RAY FLY

18 Dec

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Yessongs was finally released in high-definition blu ray a few months back and we’re going to be talking about that among a few other Yes related items in this special year-end event split into two parts.

Yes did double time touring this summer. I dutifully attended both incarnations of the band at two separate venues in Los Angeles.

Now I want to make something abundantly clear: I categorize all my coverage of Yes products live products either it be live dvds or blu ray videos and retro concert tours as supplemental. If it were a CD or DVD-A 5.1 format collection of new music (such as the upcoming ARW studio album) THEN that would be considered to me as an official YES LOG – because in addition of me critiquing about the new compositions, I’d try to make it serve as a piece of a time capsule and how much my personal life would be impacted by the whole ambiance of that release.  But a question that I wouldn’t mind addressing to both factions of Yes: Is new Yes music even salvageable in this age of the fake age of the Trump presidency? How can Billy Sherwood or Jon Anderson even compose music and even make it sound remotely relevant in the way the world is heading towards this intolerant course of uncharted fear and xenophobia?

But that’s something nor the place to ramble right about now…, but that is my definition of the difference between a And that is the difference between a YesLog and a YesLog Supplemental.

Yes, indeed there was plenty of Yes activity in 2018, but was it new YES material proper activity? Unless you count the opening suite that I and everyone in the audience heard open last August’s Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin show that took place at the Los Angeles Greek Theater (apparently material previewed from the forthcoming ARW’s debut album) – then the answer would be a revealing science of NO.

However, I have a diddy of a story about the first time I ever saw Yessongs at my local movie theater in Parsippany NJ. My high school sponsored a series of concert films to be screened as a Friday weekly event shortly after I concluded my freshman year, so I’m talking circa 1979, this concert film series featured the likes of Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains the Same, Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii, and I believe Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleep was just released that year also managed to make the cut, but I forgot which were the remaining two films. During the screening I got into a few shouting matches with a few of my personal high school hall wandering nemeses; inebriated bullies who pestered me throughout the movie by throwing popcorn and chunks of soda ice at my hair, calling me all sorts of names, like faggot or hippie – EVEN though they’re all watching a movie starring long-haired hippie musicians. Anyway, the taunting escalated with me missing most of The Close to The Edge footage because I was too busy decking the shit of this stupid albino white-haired punk named Michael Johnson in the men’s restroom. After he split crying like a little man pussy, I got back into my seat just as Rick Wakeman was launching into his solo barrage of The Six Wives of Henry the VIII.

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This crudely shot 1973 classic concert film demonstrated Yes at the tip of their creative prowess with the release of “Close To The Edge” and the recent departure of Bill Bruford had to be replaced by John Lennon/Yoko Ono band drummer alumni Alan White – who, as most Yes historians would recall had to learn the entire set list WITHIN days of rehearsals, mostly consisting of material off their three last best-selling albums, The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close To The Edge.  The concert film was shot entirely at London’s Rainbow Theatre over the course of two nights (a church now stands in its place these days) as according to Steve Howe was produced on a ‘shoestring budget’ by a company called A 1 OK Productions where Steve’s brother once worked as a film editor, but yet, it still serves as a musician’s teaching tool, with a lot of camera footage focused on Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Rick Wakeman’s adept fingering techniques on all their assorted instruments. What you get from watching this film is a straight-forward to no barred concert performance with no additives of behind the scenes backstage tomfoolery. What you see is Yes at their rarest, delivering the best in progressive rock organic performance. Everything you see onscreen looked primitive in its’ day before the onslaught of  lighting and computerized automation boards took over control of all the world’s stages, even right down to the stacks of touring cases doing double time duty utilizing themselves as Rick Wakeman’s keyboard stands.

I watched the blu ray for the first time utilizing my brand new Samsung 4k UHD 50′ television set. Even though the transfer is marginally better than watching it a decade or so back on dvd where there was so much black lighting in previous versions – you would think that goblins were lurking in the darkness to perform for you  . The images are more crisper;  but beware there’s still some fuzziness to the film quality that makes it seems a little off-putting, but there’s no denying that the best effect of having a blu ray edition of this piping through a brand new television set is no doubt, hands down, the blinding glitter of Rick Wakeman’s cape during his rousing solo performance of ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII”, complete with all its’ added oomph of various Christmas favorites if you want to wow your uncles and aunts that are visiting for the holidays. Unfortunately I can’t comment too much on the sound quality as I haven’t got my hands on a suitable 5.1 soundbar yet, but playing it amplified through the TV’s own PCM stereo feature didn’t distract me from being captivated in all its’ glorious musical splendor.

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Following the film is a documentary entitled “Yessongs: 40 years On” on the making of the concert film from a few years back in 2012 that spotlights interviews with Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Roger Dean.  Also included as a bonus is some rare promotional material for Steve Howe’s first solo album, Beginnings released way back in 1975. So this is a real treat for me. I haven’t really written much up about how the Yes Wave of first solo albums affected my teen age high school years. I was a mere sixth grader when they all were released in rapid succession. The treasure trove of reviewing this old material is the inclusion of Patrick Moraz in a fine duet of his fine virtuoso harpsichord playing skills with Howe on classical guitar as they pour through the title track of Howe’s album with nary a fuss. I wasn’t even aware that this footage had even existed.

The interviews were conducted shortly after the release of 2011’s “Fly From Here” as it’s mentioned several times by all involved that it is the band newest release and Squire brags about how he discovered Benoit David in a YouTube search. Dean had a couple of bombshells to drop that I never knew about: he had contributed painting ideas and sketches for 1977’s “Going For the One“, but Jon Anderson wanted to forge on with a concept cover all of his own and that had put a spike in their relationship. Dean didn’t find it safe to come of artistic hibernation until Chris and Steve asked him to contribute to 1980’s Drama after Anderson and Wakeman had called it quits. Dean was also shafted by RCA, who at the time was distributing 2001’s “Magnification”. The record company lost all of Dean’s concept art plans for that album and failed to deliver them to the band.  Also the triple live Yessongs collection was the biggest selling hit in Germany more than anywhere else in the world, and the band only received 1/10 of the advance paid on it. Someone with nefarious intentions was certainly cooking the books back then.

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The menu screens are outstanding as you can see above in the pictures I took, no doubt taken from the inside sleeves of the triple live Yessongs 3LP set. An upsetting caveat you may discover is that the only way the disc can be stopped is by playing the movie. The menus do allow you to stop or eject the disc unless the film is being played. I found that sort of annoying. But on the plus side, this commemorative blu ray collections comes with a nifty set of 4 Roger Dean painted postcards so you can send them out to all your fellow Yes worldly pen pals with holiday greetings of tide and joy. So, get writing Yesgang!

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Other Yes Blu ray concert discs that I will discussing next week is the high def edition of  ARW’s show at Birmingham’s Apollo Theater. You get practically the entire 2016 two-hour concert captured for prosperity for your personal home video use

Tony Kaye, Alan White dropped in on the Yes 50th Anniversary celebration at Anson Ford Theater last June

And how the heck did Jon Anderson’s grandson get dragged out on stage during grandpappy JA’s ‘Owner of A Lonely Heart’ encore at the Greek.

I’ll also throw in a few words about the shortened edited version of Progeny that I haven’t even cracked open the cellophane yet

AND as a special bonus treat, My Native American friend Zak Alvarez is willing to discuss his take of  Jon Anderson’s Toltec album that was released back some twenty odd years .

Merry Christmas to all and may all your sugarplum Starship Trooper dreams come true.

Hey Buddy, IS THAT Your Batman: The Animated Series BLU RAY Hanging Out?

30 Nov

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Funny story about that title….

Without going into too much of what I’ve already revealed before in countless Yeslogs, BUT around the time that Batman: The Animated Series was just a silly incubated germ of an idea, I had a girl crush named Jennifer Ellis when I lived in the Encinitas area of North San Diego in the late eighties and for some reason, my regular bathing suit was either in the washer or dryer and both her brother, Jene and she of whom I shared the  apartment with insisted on with me joining them to chug down beers at the pool area and told me to grab these blinding yellow boxers emblazoned with the Batman logo all over it.

It had  nothing but snaps to keep peeking peckers from popping out.

It was supposed to masquerade as a swimsuit, but It fucking didn’t work.

I dived in the pool to brush off some laps, and BUT when I emerged from the pool to grab a towel , Gene gestured to his sister and pointed her gaze towards: , ‘hey, your Batman is hanging out’. And I looked down and saw my batpenis had indeed peeked its way out the little door and lo and behold, I TECHNICALLY invented the term ‘bat wardrobe malfunction’ way before Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake made it into a crazy household word.

And you thought Bruce Wayne had problems?

Dude, Batman: The Damned is practically MY BIOGRAPHY!!

Although, completely red-faced embarrassed looked back at the incident, I started dating Jenny and before we both knew, it wasn’t long before any of us realized that in a small matter of  a Bat time or a change of bat channel,  she eventually got a good Bat anus pounding in a Burbank motel after she attended a Mike & The Mechanics concert with me right over on Olive Street just next door to Frank’s Restaurant.

So that’s the origin behind the title.

So, Batman: The Animated Series….

Where to begin?

This ambitious animated show debuted in the early fall of 1992. While the show was being put together and pitched by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Tom Ruegger of Animaniacs and Tiny Toons, I was living in the Northridge section of the San Fernando Valley and working alongside my old high school chum from Parsippany, Joe Zullo at a bank and living with his younger brother Mark at the time this series was in development. I know that this would the perfect timeframe, because I distinctively remember seeing Batman Returns for the first time in the basement of the Northridge Fashion Mall when there were still GCC theaters not far from the house we were renting.   I forget whose dog was responsible for wrecking the house, either Joe’s or one of our other roommates, but we got evicted because of the damage caused by a dog. But  before I made the mistake of moving back to Encinitas and finding everything I left behind all gone, I had gotten laid off from a job working at the bank. It was a bad first attempt trying to live in LA on me in the last chokehold of First Bush economy.

In the months before becoming homeless, I was lucky to have seen the pilot episode, “On Leather Wings” previewed at Bruce Schwartz’s local area Los Angeles Comic Book & Sci Fi convention. Because of someone flaking on me with living accommodations upon my retreat back to San Diego, I wound up spending my entire summer on the beaches of North San Diego sleeping on beaches, getting blow jobs from tweaked out prostitutes and getting into fist fights with local redneck brawlers. I was getting all these scraps because the EDD fucked me over on sending my unemployment checks down  over to my aunt Megan’s PO Box that she said I could use.  once I finally managed did manage to get money, it was barely enough to afford weekly motel rates at the Red Cabin Inn that was located along the Pacific Coast Highway in Leucadia.

Back the days of attending Comic Con, I used to prepay for my four-day passes for the following year at the convention. So even though, I was technically a transient, I was still fortunate enough to attend the 1992 San Diego Comic Con with only $25 in my pocket. The landlord at the Red Cabin Inn who tried his best to get the tweaking meth head rabble rousers away from my room loaned me his VCR, so I could tape and watch  the summer mini-series of the Human Target (from the makers of The Flash) that aired on ABC and starred teen aged heartthrob Rick Springfield. So here’s a fun fact I learned while I was out practicing destitution:  believe it or not, you could use your VCR to tape something on a black & white tv and STILL get to watch it on a color tv and it would still be in color and not in black & white. That was so fucking cool.

Chalk it up to becoming a pupil of low-level dumpster dive science.

As explained in previous Yeslogs, I moved in with a ex- co-worker of mine David Foulk in his Ocean Beach area cottage and taped the majority of the first season episodes of Batman: The Animated Series at his house.  Soon, weekday parties at Foulk’s apartment amongst the drug addicted unemployed denizens in the area usually joined us in watching the early episodes. The show was such a success, that the Fox Kids Network, Marvel and Saban decided to team up to bring The X-Men to animation and that show premiered on the Fox Kids Network during the Thanksgiving weekend of late 1992 – but that’s a blog subject for another time.

After first forty episodes or so, (after the Riddler was finally introduced, voiced by John Glover in the episode, If You’re So Smart, Then Why Aren’t You Rich?)- who wound up in the role of Lionel Luthor on Smallville), I was bold to make the trek back to LA in hopefully landing a position at Universal Music where Joe Zullo worked and we watched a good chunk of episodes in our North Hollywood apartment usually to the tune of giant bowls of pasta and salads loaded with garbanzo beans. I also distinctly recall watching the premiere of one of Paul Dini’s ultimate scripted episodes, “Almost Got Him’ while making out with a Hispanic girl I was dating in San Diego just before making my encore exodus back to Los Angeles.

I didn’t land that position at Universal Music (but I would eventually work briefly for them twenty years or so down the line after I had gotten laid off from Sony Television).

As I was getting resettled in Los Angeles, I remember running into Paul Dini by chance at the Sherman Oaks Galleria food court when I stopped there for a bite to eat on my way home from an odd job I took at a vitamin packaging factory in Chatsworth before the Northridge earthquake had destroyed it and had to be reconstructed.  That’s how I found out that the WB Animation main production office existed there when Mr. Dini told me he was there on a break grabbing dinner. Even as I were writing editorials and other way out comic book industry opinion pieces for the weekly newspaper catering to the comic book industry, The Comics Buyer Guide, I was still having trouble making ends meet and had to take on stupid odd jobs to make ends meet.

When my friend Joe Zullo and his first wife split, I ended up watching the remaining episodes of the first season of Batman TAS (then called the Adventures of Batman and Robin)  at some boarding house where members of some wacky religious cult in Northridge were holed up at where some obese woman who rented a room to me belonged to.  I got chastised on a daily basis by my some of my brainwashed teenage fellow roommates who were persistent in trying to convince me that ‘Batman was evil’ and that he was sinner from hell, i. e:; Mexico who was imbued with sinister intentions.

Luck began to turn for the better for me when my dad during a very rare Holiday time phone conversation (because shit was getting SO financially bad that I almost went running back to my mom in New Jersey)  dropped the bombshell on me that I had a half-sister that he had with his third wife who was Jewish and living in the valley just happened to had remarried a guy who coincidentally was a co-owner of a comic book store. Once I met my jewish stepmom and explained I needed a boost in obtaining more regular work and a more permanent place to stay. She was kind of skeptical about it, NOT having a real kind word to say of my dad almost passed me over, but her husband realized after having long discussions about my knowledge of comic books viewed me as an asset to his newly opened store and decided to give me a shot at living there because his oldest son moved back east. So I moved in an upscale Sherman Oaks house that once was the house that belonged to actor Jack Haley Jr., aka the Tinman in the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie with Judy Garland and that’s where I first saw The remaining crop of episodes now newly revamped as The Batman/Superman Hour. Those were the episodes that debut the new sleek simpler line work, brought on Batgirl and the Tim Drake Robin, along with all new designs of several of the rogue’s gallery including The Scarecrow and Catwoman  I lived in that house for nearly a decade before my step-mom decided to retire, sell the house and move out to a condo in Las Vegas. And my sister soon followed suit a decade later after giving birth to her second daughter. My friend and mentor, Dan Wan Kenobi, as I used to call him, because of his uncanny resemblance to Alec Guinness,  passed away out there last year at the rather young age of 84 and is buried not far from the McCarran Airport where in his final days he used to enjoy seeing 747 jets take off and land. Lots of memories of him watching those Superman and Batman cartoons with me.

I was only about probably 1 of 5 people who saw The Mask of the Phantasm on opening Christmas Day in 1993 in a UA movie theater directly across the street from Rookies & Allstars, the comic book store in North Hollywood I helped manage with my half sister’s stepdad. When the DVD of Sub-Zero came out. I Remember buying it in the Glendale Galleria during the time I was temping for a bank. Both of these films are included as extras with the new Blu Ray collection.

Even in my most downtrodden times, I always had Batman: The Animated Series as the most positive thing to look forward to, simply because it was free on Broadcast TV. Didn’t need cable wires, internet modem, or a Netflix passwords. You got a good $20 pair of rabbit ears and you were good to go. Most Fox Kids Network had great reception in those days. I remember my mom scolding me on a long distance phone call whilst asking for a $100 spiffy to keep the roof over my head at dumpy rat infested motel room in the Hillcrest area of downtown San Diego – not far from where Revolutionary Press published got murdered or was rumored to be murdered by Andrew Cunanan – of how much I was looking forward to seeing my true definitive Batman that I grew up reading coming to life. My mom freaking out on the phone, ‘you’re almost thirty years old and you still give a shit about cartoons??” Still, I considered it something to look forward to and the sheer notion of it inspired me not to give up on life or to sink some corner of depravity.

I Bought all the dvd sets while I was employed at Warner Bros. I helped my co-worker at the time Bradley Marcus to transcribe a few Static Shock episode scripts for archival storage that had guest starred Batman and voiced by the incomparable Kevin Conroy.  – even though I wasn’t very good as my co-worker Brad, while he was a twenty year of script transcribing I only pitched in when I ran out of my regular studio services duties and was looking for something to do instead of jerking off on the internet, It felt like it was a privilege to see a few episodes before its actual airtime. I wasn’t too keen on The Batman series developed by Jeff Matsuda (Jackie Chan Adventures and association with Rob Liefeld which even sours any appreciation for his artwork at all)  that launched in 2004 with Conroy being replaced by Rino Romero who also voiced Spider-Man for the failed Ulimate Spider-Man that only lasted one season after FoxKids had cancelled  Spider-Man after five seasons.

IMG_4384     Out with the old…

The complete dvd series set was purchased with a $100 check that my mom had sent for my birthday didn’t tell her that I used to that money buying it at Tower Records. Since many weren’t manufactured, it sells for a lot of money these days on Ebay.

Over the years I’ve made friends that were involved with the series such as Elliot S. Maggin! (who I have dinner with occasionally at least once a month as he part of a facebook group that consists of local Los Angeles area comic book professionals) who wrote the great Cape And Cowl Conspiracy episode which is one of my all-time perennial favorites. Paul Dini and Bruce Timm can spot me out of a perp line up because I used to hang around the original previously mentioned WB Animation offices at the old Sherman Oaks Galleria where the show was produced. I’ve known director Kevin Altieri through my connection with my occasional Deposit Man contributor, Rafael Navarro. Kevin now works on the Netflix original series based on Stretch Armstrong & The Flex Fighters action figures which is also the title of a comic book being published today by IDW Publishing.

From my connections over the years, I was also privy to some episode storyboard and scripts of episodes that never got the Bat traffic light go-ahead: Kevin Altieri had pitched the idea of an Enemy Ace episode based on a classic Dennis O’Neil /Neal Adams story (which I remember reading in an old oversized DC Treasury edition dedicated to Batman when I was a kid). Len Wein had planned to introduce Hugo Strange as a solo villain episode that would have debuted earlier than “The Strange Case of Hugo Strange” episode that winded up with Strange becoming a laughing-stock to the Joker, The Penguin, and Two-Face after his expose of Batman actually being Batman had proven to be a total farce. I remember reading in Comics Buyer’s Guide concerning an nixed episode idea of the Doug Moench created character, female vampire/succubus Nocturne, as well as fashion designer/ gangster sociopath Black Mask that had no hope of getting past Fox Kids head of programming Margaret Loesch and the FCC.  And Paul Dini recently revealed in an interview about a long-lost of script written by Tom Ruegger that tells the origin of the gun that made its’ way into Gotham City that eventually got used in the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Yeah, right.  Like that had any chance of passing the network’s censors.

We’ve lost some talent during these past twenty-five years, most notably writer Steve Perry of Thundercats fame, who had scripted “The Night of the Ninja” episode that introduced Bruce Wayne’s sensei and his disgruntled student rival Kyodai Ken, along with its’ follow-up episode, “Day of the Samurai”. Regrettably writer Steve Perry was founded murdered in Florida, his head nearly decapitated by some transient drug dealers who took prisoner of him in his own home. Mr. Perry was an adamant supporter of the charitable organization, The Hero Initiative and Mr. Perry’s endearing contribution to that organization is one reason why I write a good sizable check every year.

Batman: The Animated Series, although it occupied plenty of timeslots on weekday afternoons was an adult show trapped in a child’s afterschool timeslot. (there was a brief try out period on prime time Sunday, The origin of the Batmobile episode, The Mechanic made its’ debut during that date and time.) It shared the cultural phenomenon’s second wave of Batman in the world-wide media made enjoyable by the Burton movies that hadn’t been seen since the 1960’s live action Adam West/Burt Ward series. Mark Hamill’s voice interpretation of The Joker nearly made him a household name again other than his role as Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy. Most importantly, the series brought to the world. the birth and instant overnight fame of Harlequin, the Joker’s henchgirl to an unprecedented wave of popularity that made the series gain even more and more notice as she became a big draw in the latter episodes of the first season. Now fully integrated in the actual DC Universe where she is welcome to mingle with other mainstream characters such as Superman and Wonder Woman, Harley has blossomed into her own live action movies, solo comic book series and coming soon, her upcoming very own animated series debuting soon on the DC Universe streaming service.

 Batman: The Animated Series has gone to win an entire shitload of accolades and awards including multiple Daytime Emmy awards, particularly for the debut episode of Mr. Freeze entitled “Heart of Ice”, so it’s only fitting that we reached the next plateau in the evolution of this series much earned appreciation: The Blu Ray collection of the entire series and the first two movies that spawned from it (although, I’d argue that the third direct to DVD outing, Mystery of the Batwoman utilizing the final season’s character designs should have been included, but you get a brand new 100 minute documentary of the making of the show in its’ place – so it’s an even trade-off).

IMG_4385 And in with the new…

Here’s the one major caveat before diving into this set. All the bonus features, audio commentaries, and whatever extra bat bells and bat whistle that may be included are all culled from all the various dvd sets that came before it. There is the inclusion of a few snippets of executive producer Bruce Timm giving brief introductions to a handful of the early episodes when they came out on single disc collections that I haven’t seen before. The 25 minute documentary that was once featured on a bonus disc in the DVD collection is omitted and replaced with a feature-length behind the scenes making of the series as I previously mentioned. A few days before Thanksgiving, I bought a giant 50′ Samsung 4k UHD and I was wondering what was in store for me, once I started watching the Pretty Poison episode that introduced Poison Ivy to the show, and man, I was blown away.

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Thank goodness, I junked the 32′. Netflix cartoons may have looked impressive filtered through my blu ray, but this, THIS looks incredibly eye-popping when reformatted in 2k or 4k. The backgrounds remind of me of grade school diorama projects come to life showcasing Batman kicking the Joker’s ass front and center live in your living room. It’s a whole new spin on a never out of date classic.

However die-hard videophiles might rise their noses in disgust that the original television screen 1:33 boxed ratio has been used, rather seeing sprawled across a widescreen, but the 1080p high-definition and the instantly noticeable improvements in sound quality makes this purchase an automatic win. Also you get some nice gift incentives with your 109.99 retail price – a collection of 7 original cell lenticular trading cards that highlight some special moments from the series’ run and 3 Funko pocket figures of The Joker, Harlequin, and Batman – which I plan on leaving in its’ package forever.

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At the rate I’m going with rewatching these episodes, it may take me up to more than two years to polish this giant home video behemoth off. I decided to skip over the 2nd produced episode “Christmas With the Joker” and save it for holiday viewing instead.  Hey, you know how I love to milk it. Anyway, it’s the perfect gift for anyone who likes to have his inner Batman all hang out – just not in his or hers’ short shorts.

 

Life is But A Hazardous Unhealthy Stream

16 Nov

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Suddenly I wake up to find the entire world of media at my fingertips.

Probably more than likely it’s going to killing me.

I recently had a roommate move in. He insisted that he needed cable and Wi-Fi streaming, because he’s a giant hockey fan and The LA Kings has just recently started its’ new season. Originally I told him, I don’t really need it since I’m in league with one of my relatives’ data plan and I get all my Netflix and Hulu (and recently added DC Universe) off of my tablet and heavily utilize the screen mirror function to hook it up to my Smart TV. The routine has been working for me for the better part of two years. But he insisted that the service would completely be free to me, since I cut him a deal with the rent. Now I got this giant windfall of cash, since my rent bill has almost been cut in half (but that doesn’t somehow exonerate me from the percolating explosion of electric and gas bills that’s about to come my way next month).

Since I own a Sony blu ray, he told me that it functions just like a PlayStation once I hook up my unit to the internet. Once he said that, I instantly remembered the time I had to rush this same piece of equipment back to Best Buy, because a Game of Thrones blu ray disc froze on me in mid-play.  A message on the screen had popped up saying that I needed to download new software onto the blu ray in order for the unit to  continue playing.

What the fuck? Since when does a blu ray player need Wi-Fi in order to continue operating?

And when I finally did get around to hooking my blu ray up to Wi-Fi, the answer became blatantly obvious: A whole new streaming world opened before me. I had access to both my Netflix and Hulu accounts, but unfortunately it screwed me out of my DC Universe. But, if you listen closely you can hear the streaming siren call for me to sign up for Amazon, so I can no longer purchase bootleg dvd copies of The Man in The High Castle at comic cons, and soon one day,  I shall be onboard with other upcoming comic book related content like The Boys and East Meets West that Amazon has up in the queue. One other thing that to mention that’s extremely amazing is that all my Netflix shows look so sharp and pristine AS IF I’m actually watching them on blu ray. I no longer struggle to make out dark shadowy images such as Matt Murdock stealthily maneuvering in pitch black alleys in the latest season of Daredevil that looked so murky to me when watching them on a tablet.

I guess that’s why they call it a High Definition television set. So you can see things better. Even without glasses.

You know what they say, about having too much of one thing – you become a freakin’ addict. Now I’ve known plenty of addicts in my day: I lost one ex-adopted brother to prescription bills, a friend to heroin in San Diego, and a friend in Brentwood to seven giant-size industrial bottles of Canadian fine Mist with a few scattered showers of Meth found spilled all over the bathroom floor.  But when it comes to me and the fall TV season comes around: it’s nothing but weekend of long hours of tv show marathon and a couple packs of cigarettes, and I’m scrambling around to cram all them in one massive weekend long cavalcade, so I can do other things like write comic book scripts, fuck around with keyboards, and work on updating a spreadsheet of mine that lists all of my vintage comic books.

But like I mentioned a couple of paragraphs back, I’m also shitting away cash on various comic book related movies and prog rock concerts on blu ray.

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I mean, look at this goddamn mess. I’m not in financial straits any more, but it seems like that my only free time is spent buying more than I can handle. brand new fall season episodes of my favorite television shows are throwing all of these into unsealed limbo such as the new Steven Wilson concert blu ray, Home Invasion that I’m showing you above. Once word hit me that this was being released last week, there was no border nor barricade in front of me in obtaining it IMMEDIATELY!! Once anything newly released is  pulsating in my callused 50 + middle age little palms – its instant gratification, like blowing a giant load in between the most prestigious thighs of the hottest supermodel in the world, but whereas lies the rub: when will I actually find the time to watch it?? A week from now? A month from now? A year? Geez, going through that stack, there’s actually stuff in there that I have no memory of ever buying. Everything to me has suddenly become an impulse item.

But has the danger of unhealthy bingeing finally caught up to me?? Am I going to make it to the deep-rooted age of 84 like Harlan Ellison did (even with a bum ticker) or to 95 like Stan Lee (who, upon moving from New York to Los Angeles gave up the luxury of puffing fine Cuban cigars in exchange for a regimental diet of Kale smoothies or wheatgrass shots)? As long as the proliferation of broadcast, cable, and streaming television keeps expanding, I’m forced to keep up. When my roommate signed up for cable, it even made things more of a headache for me – because I’ve got a DVR full of shows that I missed the first go around, or have been waiting to show up on dvd or blu ray such as Outcast, Happy!, and Krypton. I have access to them all. I have access to everything that I have ever wanted.

And it’s making me into a spoiled media bastardized child. I don’t when to say when. I know when it comes to broadcast television shows such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the CW shows, and The X-Men influenced, The Gifted – Netflix subscribers would rather wait to watch all the episodes at once when the current season runs its’ course. The CW immediately makes their Arrowverse related shows 8 days after the subsequent season finale episodes air and that deal remains in place for the next 4 to 5 years. This deal is hurting potential new subscribers to the DC Universe streaming service which is offering original live action programming by the same producers of those Arrowverse shows like Titans, Swamp Thing, Doom Patrol, and Stargirl. Sadly there is no connection between these new streaming offerings and CW’s roster of shows because the new streaming service can’t offer them, even though they look and feel the same (albeit harsher language and mature themes) as the network shows. Only three months out of the gate, the streaming service needs to make greater strides in getting at least a fraction of that audience number for the network shows. Just before the Titans was set to premiere last month, DC Universe’s streaming service had only managed to rack up 148,000 signatures for a year-long subscription. That number MAY have increased for the past five weeks since the show’s debut, but that is not a strong number to sustain an operating cost for these more than life bombastic shows. So just to side with caution, I’m going to keep maintaining a monthly subscription for the time being. Once I find that numbers are showing improvement – say one to five million subscribers – then that will justify me signing up as a yearly resident. When I was presenting my finding to my boss at work, she suggested that I exercise some patience for the floundering service and cited as an example that CBS All Access Rome was not built-in a day. The addition of new Star Trek was successful in upping the new subscriber ante that the network now boasts of having more than 2 million subscribers.

This is the breakdown of what type of programming goes on in the imaginary network of mine, that people dub, The Cary Coatney Network – a.k.a CCN – sort of like a parallel universe or dark mirror version of CNN, but only in this universe, I keep things fun and interesting.

Friday, as soon as I’m off work I strive to  streaming shows on hulu, Amazon, and Netflix, I limit myself to one screener to finish off, and then I retire to reading an hour of classic Marvel comics, then posting the covers of comics of how many I got to read within the span of that hour right up on my facebook page.

I split Saturday and Sunday mornings in half with loaded CW and broadcast shows. I no longer have to venture out of the house to a neighboring Starbucks to watch on my tablet since my roommate hooked my smart tv to Spectrum’s Services. It’s all stored on my smart tv. Yayyy for me

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Saturday – Holy shit! Cartoons, sometimes to 25 shows a day. Netflix barrage of original animated shows is wearing me down. They’ve upped the ante with fall season premieres of all my perennial foul mouth favorites such as Big Mouth, Paradise PD, F is For Family, Castlevania, and softball hits such as Stretch Armstrong, Trollhunters, Fullmetal Alchemist, and leading the pack is my all time favorite Hollywood animated angst ridden nightmare, Bojack HorsemanThe Simpsons and the rest of the Fox Sunday line-up along with South Park are stored up on my hulu, and I combine those with dvd and blu rays including my newly required Batman: The Animated Series, that I’m usually batting down the hatches at 4:30 in the afternoon and I may shut down at 3 AM the following morning.

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Sunday – Screeners, dvds, and blu ray shows. This pile happens to be my favorite. I seem to prefer the blu ray versions of Walking Dead, Ash vs Evil, The Expanse, or The Deuce rather than watching them live because of the accompanying bells and whistles such as crew commentaries, deleted scenes, and special making of documentaries – which are as just as riveting and interesting as watching the episodes themselves. Games of Thrones is particularly noteworthy because they show everything shot in various countries such as Ireland, Spain, Croatia, or wherever they set up a fucking remote crew and are somehow synced to roll production simultaneously at once.

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I’m like a motherhawk when it comes to a pile of unopened material. I don’t like lending something out without breaking the cellophane first. To borrow and open something of mine is like taking an underage son or daughter of mine and deflowering he or she without my permission. I kinda lost it on a friend of mine who came by haranguing me to borrow my brand new copy of Ant-Man and the Wasp. I just got the goddamn thing. My persistent friend gives me an entire sob story that his girlfriend is too goddamn sick to go to a movie theater and is usually housebound, plus it isn’t that big of a deal since it’s box office wasn’t as big as Avengers: Infinity War. So I gave in, but then he comes back and wants to borrow my brand new Deadpool 2 and that’s when I put my foot down and loudly berated him by telling him that I’m not a goddamn Redbox!!

But Redbox doesn’t rent you blu rays with all bells and whistles.

“When will you be done with the disc?”

I don’t know – soon as the cannonade of fall season premieres dies down. Not until Mid-December. Fucking deal with it.

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Another thing that desperately needs a colonic cleanse upon is my humongous bookshelf of collected Marvel & DC Omnibuses that I’ve been accumulating for the past three years at various comic book conventions since I’ve found full-time employment. These tomes don’t come cheap. The Infinity Gauntlet tome alone was purchased close to $200. It’s my childhood remastered and recolored for eternal prosperity to last the remainder of my lifetime (especially when I only dedicate an hour a week perusing through these wonderful books, so you imagine that I’m not even half way through these volumes). There’s just something life fulfilling when you can afford to reread all your favorites in conveniently saddle stitched hardbounds that can also dazzle up the ornamentation of your living room. I think the most stand-out addition are the two-volume bound editions of the old black & white magazine, Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu that introduced the greatest of martial arts based super-heroes to a more mature audience such as Iron Fist, White Tiger, Shang-Chi, and the Daughters of the Dragon. The complete 37 issue series, plus one annual are reproduced with all the printing error warts, ads, letter pages and meticulously researched articles plus movie reviews. Some of the art featured work from Ruby Nebres, who was an uncle of one of my Parsippany High School classmates, Al Dumapit. Starting in 2019, now that Marvel has retrieved all the rights back to Conan the Barbarian, there were will be Omnibus versions of all the Barry Smith early Conan issues, and the more risqué black & white Savage Sword of Conan. I’m definitely looking forward to those. I sure hope I get to that DC Swamp Thing Bronze Age Omnibus before the new series debuts on the DC Universe streaming service.

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Piles of comic book both read and unread fester beneath my SmartTV. Three unread piles represent a pile of unread Marvels, unread DC’s, and unread various independents. I try to at least tackle two or three issues a weeknight after I finish watching a Wonder Woman rerun on my DC Universe streaming service before I hitting the sack and I start it up all over again.

I don’t how long I can keep up the pace with the substance of fatty meats, cigarettes, and a couple handful of blueberries being my only source of life support.

Look for the next blog entry at the end of this month. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving.

The Parsippany Persona Non Grata Picture Show: The Lament of Passing Ships on Lake Parsippany

31 Oct

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Welcome back to yet another yearly sojourn to all my past, present, and future – the roots of the area that molded my great majestic liberal thinking cap and its’ imminent escape: the horrific mental anguish of growing up in Parsippany, NJ.

I promise myself every year as long as I have a generous income pouring in that I would be checking in once a year on my mother who still thinks it’s a real hoot to be still living there, even though she complains on a daily basis of how much the town is going to shit with the all political corruption, the property taxes going through the roof and the shitload of immigrants coming in via Mumbai to sweep up all the mom and pop businesses located all along Route 46.

Looks as if time has completely stood still since the last time I dropped in. Last year I focused on the little area I used to hang out to the northwest of my mom’s house called Lake Hiawatha. In this annual sojourn, I focus on the area south of me, Lake Parsippany sprinkled with yet even remarkable origin stories from my youth.

And a lot of these stories at this go around have a lot with Batman.

The mission this time around was to somehow get Danika Yarosh’s latest movie, The Miracle Season into the hands of her estranged Freeman clan. The ones that her mom, who I used to date on and off through high school, has mysteriously cut her off from communicating with. Her grandmother was a little under the weather, so I had to get the dvd copy of Danika into the hands of her aunt Lisa in the hope that somehow that she could set up a dvd player at her mom’s house, so that she could at least watch some piece of her granddaughter’s work before shifting off this mortal coil (and why not bedsprings too? Why does it always have to be coils?)

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Personally, the movie was a chore to sit through. Something better off left in the basement level of the forgotten tv movies hidden in the deep dark syrupy vaults of The Hallmark or Lifetime Channel, never to be shown on cable. To be honest, Danika’s and her co-star Erin Moriarty’s performances as the tragic high school girl volleyball superstar Caroline Line (Yarosh) Found and her best friend (Moriarty) Kelley Fliehler are the BEST and only thing worthy of saving this piece of junk from total oblivion. I have never beheld such wooden performances from such seasoned thespians William Hurt as Caroline’s father and Helen Hunt as disheveled coach Kathy Bresnahan that I was wishing that I would’ve rather watched snot dry underneath my desk at work to find any worthy redeeming entertainment value of this snoozefest. Screenwriter David Cohen of Friday Night Lights fame can’t really seem to find a way to capture lightning twice in terms of finding that follow-up sports film to rival his biggest hit. I tried to get this movie booked at work and I can see why I wasn’t successful in convincing the committee to get it to screen it to our fellow union members. And it’s budget truly shows. A lot of the Vancouver area sets made up to look like an Iowa farm look as if they were borrowing  dumpster dived dusted up props from the CW decade old Superman teen angst series, Smallville.

Upon arrival at JFK, I had to grab a airtrain to The A subway line to Port Authority. Wandering the terminal I came across a miniature 2nd Floor Candyland.

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I didn’t bother to ask what the gimmick was all about. I passed by an entire bevy of them as I fought through the commuter rush bursting out of the arrival gates (it got too hectic that I had to conceal myself from the stampede approaching me in a nearly Dunkin’ Donuts and wait until the herd thinned itself out. Then I proceeded to the ticket purchase window selling Lakeland Bus tickets to make my final jaunt to Parsippany, NJ.

$11.50 for a one way ticket. It costs me $3.50 EVERY DAY for me to commute back and forth between West Los Angeles where I work to my home in Sherman Oaks. 2 buses and a subway train. That’s three and half trips I could make on what you have to pony up in metropolitan transportation costs.

So far, despite the ok airfare ($350 roundtrip to and from Burbank), I took a Airtrain ($7), to subway $2.75) and a bus for ($11.50). That’s $20.00 give a penny or two. How in the fuck is someone supposed to make a living out there? And people jump on my ass for saying that Los Angeles is too expensive to live.

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Got back into the regular idyllic Parsippany suburban life routine. My mom’s dog, Bebe is still hanging in there, and of course, with my mom at the age of 75 STILL working two jobs (yeah, thanks a lot TRUMP taxcut), it had befallen unto me to take her out twice a day for a walk.

Now, I thought that we had an understanding between Bebe and I: a two shit minimum. I bring out three plastic bags. Two for pick up, one for storage. But this old hag (she’s 12 now) tried to bend the rules a bit when we would do the rounds to Lake Hiawatha School (where I attended 1st grade along with classmate James Vigilante who became involved heavily with local politics and had passed away some four years back) and upon heading back and had filled her minimum requirement and welch on our deal. But that was tough doggy teat treats, if a neighbor woke up to a fresh steaming pile of Bebe’s rectal delights, it wasn’t my problem. Even though, I’m an environmentally concerned citizen of California, picking up someone else’s dogshit is not my usual area of expertise – simply put because: I DON’T HAVE OR WANT THE RESPONSIBILTY OF OWNING A PET.

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My mom’s Hungarian roommate Anna is still around, although she’s technically not living with my mom anymore but she still comes around to hang out. So to help my mom out with mortgage payments she convinced a friend from back home in Budapest named Antonia (seated above) to take her place in paying my mom rent. Anna speaks much better English now than when I saw her last year. She can understand mostly of what I saw with less interpretation and translation. Now she’s passing the baton on to her friend, along with tips on keeping that really tight fine looking ass of hers in good shape.

Friday’s mini-mission was to visit the East Coast branch office of my employer which is located in this building somewhere in the Soho District in a building that built right ABOVE the Holland Tunnel. I had to walk around the Holland Tunnel to get to the front entrance. When I approached a cop directing traffic into the tunnel, he had his entire hand at the gun holster at his hip and came walking toward me. Some bicyclist doing some tire repair warns me not to approach the office, because he could mistake your laptop bag as a bomb.

And you know how New York City feels about bombs these days. So I wisely heeded his warning and the cop directed me to the crosswalks set up to walk around the traffic.

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I’m not going to go into graphic detail as to where I was visiting my East Coast branch, but I will tell you that the journey to get there was arduous. I actually walked from 42nd Street Port Authority Terminal to The Soho District, because I’m not very  NOR EVER HAVE I BEEN fond of the NYC Subway. I haven’t attempted this length of a walk since my early twenties when a stroll up the New York University and Greenwich Village area would be a cakewalk. It was a good thing I was wearing new comfortable sneakers, otherwise, I’d probably be shaking my fist to the sky and cursing the gods of Dr. Scholl’s. But look at all these cool sights I encountered along the way:

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The Flat Iron Building built-in 1902 was designed by an architect from of all places….CHICAGO. As if back then you didn’t have enough to deal with gangsters and runny deep dish pizza – but the building was most famous for is where the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company got its’ start and its’ triangular design served as the gateway to the Flatiron District, The Madison Square District, and The Ladies Mile District. Other than being declared one of the most photographed building in New York City, it also serves as an important landmark in comic book lore. The Flatiron doubles as The Daily Bugle Newspaper seen in all the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films and Damage Control seen in a handful of Agent of SHIELD episodes both share some office space in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while, April O’Neil, reporter for Channel Six News in the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies has her news station there and I understand the new upcoming The Boys series on Amazon based on Garth Ennis’ Dynamite Entertainment series will have its management offices based here.

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A Statue of William H. Seward was once a governor of New York during the Civil War and was against slavery  He used to pal around with Abraham Lincoln back in the day, so they gave him a statue for it. It’s located in Madison Square Park The statue looks like it hasn’t been polished since the days of the Civil War. Imagine what a little varnish could do?

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Greenwich Village Arch. Haven’t been back here since 1984, which was 34 years ago. It used to be the hotspot for me to take in synthesizer seminars at NYU (I once hung out here with Eddie Jobson, keyboardist and violinist for Roxy Music, Jethro Tull, U.K, and Yes ),  perusing the local record store for Marillion bootleg concerts, pitchers of Sangria with the Zullo brothers on McDougall Street, and the best pizza slices any fucking where on the planet.

My kind of vendor. Bravo to this guy for coming up with some clever zingers manufactured on buttons poking fun at the most disgusting person to ever walk the planet. A fucking big poseur who absolutely has no experience in being politician doesn’t deserve to be a politician.

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BUT on the one hand, other than the item that I did purchase that made me a walking billboard in anti- swearing in a rapey Supreme Court judge, the button also served a dual purpose: It’s the day I’ve been forever waiting for is finally here! October 30th is the blu ray release of my all time favorite animated series, Batman: The Animated Series remastered  in Blu Ray form! Fuck yeah!!

It’s all I ever wanted, all 109 episodes of the original and The New Adventures of Batman & Robin, an extra disc of interviews, AND two bonus discs featuring motion picture release of The Mask of The Phantasm and the first direct video release of Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero in one complete package!!

It’s going to be pricey, but it’s definitely going to be worth it. Unfortunately, I just literally found out today that it’s only available for sale online and major retail outlets such as Best Buy and Target have reported their pre-stock being completely SOLD OUT!! LUCKILY for me, a co-worker allowed me to use her Amazon account to order it, so I SHOULD be receiving it in a couple of days.

Speaking of Batman: a major bat event happened while I was away in New Jersey, and I didn’t know what the ruckus was concerning this book until I was back in Los Angeles.

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I already bought my copy at Funny Books, located in Lake Hiawatha. Retailer Steve Conti had plenty on hand, but however, a leisurely stroll to a Greenwich Village mom and pop bookstore that late Friday afternoon revealed a more frantic retailer in crisis.

I couldn’t help overhear the owner harping about how one guy came into his store and bought out his complete stock of this new format book called Batman: The Damned that DC Comics is introducing on its’ new DC Black Label. It’s a fully beautifully painted adventure into the dark HBOification realm of Batman by Lee Bermejo under a so-so story by Brian Azzarello that deals with the Batman searching the supernatural and enlists the aid of his fellow Justice League Dark colleagues of John Constantine and Deadman to help him solve the mystery of how he killed The Joker.

I couldn’t wrap my head around the Bat brouhaha of why this book was selling like hotcakes until I got back to Los Angeles when I posted my disdain on facebook. It was Las Vegas area retailer Ralph Mathieu of Alternative Reality Comics (the go to area in Vegas when I’m visiting my sister Becky or one of the scattered Zullo brothers) that responded with one simple word in a thread that I had posted.

Penis.

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Can’t see it? I sure didn’t see it at first after my first initial reading.

Look closer. Go ahead, and sniff that dark inked bat cock if you can. (What, you never sniffed a fresh printed comic book before? I do it all the time with my nose buried under the conveyor belt as new minted copies of Deposit Man fly off the press!!)

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You can’t really see it unless you take your finger and enlarge the photo on your phone or tablet (careful with my Batman, ladies).

In Issue #2 scheduled to ship next month, I wonder of we’ll get a silhouetted cameo of Catwoman’s vag? It’s only fair, right? – since Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are now married.

Anyway, let’s flip through the rest of this New York stuff.

It’s still here after these years. The classic McDougall Street Treat

New York is where I’d rather stay, I get allergic smelling hay, I just adore a penthouse view but Dah-ling motherfucker,  I love you, but goddamn give me Park Avenue.

By the way, they moved Supergirl to Sundays at 8:00PM – which is the slot they should’ve had CBS have it aired it in the first place.

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Uh oh. Trump’s stormtrooper Gestapos are everywhere. Must find my local Lakeland bus depot to escape back to Parsippany.

Now what’s wrong with these pictures?? Both of them are out-of-place in Parsippany. In an area of rednecks rallying against illegal immigrants, they should be sending their ICE thugs to round-up all the white kids who can’t even pronounce the words quesadilla and chalupa and send them out to in the fields to pick strawberries just for shit and giggles and. It would be something out of a revival of Scared Straight: The #metooIcan’tspeakSpanishforshitGeneration.

No one knows what the hell authentic Mexican food is in Parsippany, so seeing this is a massive insult to my scarred cultural repressed upbringing.

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This must be the work of a vast conspiracy. This is the fucking thing that bugs me: I moved to California for a change of culture, unique special food to experience that I couldn’t find anywhere else: Jamba Juice smoothies, Sonic Drive Ins, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and for fuck’s sakes: LA FITNESS???

Why??

Why not name it NJ Fitness?? The atmosphere is all wrong. People who work out in a LA Fitness, SHOULD BE IN LOS ANGELES!! It’s called LA Fitness for a reason; for beautiful people in California to work out in. Not plump Italian girls with peach fuzz mustaches to run on treadmills or to pump iron. What the fuck is wrong with this state that it can’t invent an original idea for a food franchise other than Jersey Mike’s Subs?

Leave my fucking fresh fruit smoothies and breakfast burritos alone, YOU HEAR ME?? I’m so sick and tired of New Jersey and New York trying to copy on my West Coast trending leisurely rituals and culinary delights.

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Thank goodness for some neutral sanity. At least they’re from Seattle.

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My mom’s next door neighbor from Germany who goes by the name of Hans has a coy pond.  Hans and I got into an interesting conversation about how this New Jersey councilwoman or mayor of Tom’s River enlisted the consulting services of some Netherlands area mogul to help build a floodgate that is about the size of two Effel Towers that would make the entire eastern seaboard of New Jersey impervious to hurricanes, such as Katrina. We talked about a remarkable segment on 60 Minutes that talked about this subject. You can read more about it here through this old New York Times article . 

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Contrary to popular belief: THIS IS NOT the movie poster to the sequel of the Incredible Mr. Limpet.

Incidentally, actress Danika Yarosh’s uncle Robert who resides in Florida builds carp and  coy farms for a living.

On my final day, while my mom was at work I decided to do a hike up to Lake Parsippany. First I passed my old high school, then I decided to take in lunch at my other favorite haunt while growing up.

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The more pleasant alternative to Parsippany High School Cafeteria Pizza, that is, if you weren’t snatched up by a truant officer, as many students were prone to do sneaking off of campus. I like to think that today, my local 7/11 likes to pay homage to Parsippany High School Pizza when they try to jam you for a dollar their day old pizza slices – it still has that same old school cafeteria cardboard texture, plus you couldn’t really tell the difference between such fabulous 7/11 cuisine or if you baked it at home and called it Digiorno (because that’s what it actually is!).

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Isn’t that a beauty? My then local pizza parlor had the best Silician slices in town. Pizza King off of Route 46 in Mountain Lakes had the second best.

According to historical records, this giant spire behemoth of worship, called the Parsippany Presbyterian Church has been standing on this spot in Route 46 since the late the year 1755. That’s a very fucking long time. Ask anyone who might have been alive back then. But you can’t – BECAUSE THEY’RE NO LONGER ALIVE!! They might still be across the street at the VAIL Memorial CEMETARY, where rumors of ghosts from the Revolutionary War era still haunt its’ grounds. Any one of them could be the lead in the live action FUNKY PHANTOM movie – IF it ever gets past the pre-production stage. This church sticks in the craw of my memory, because it was where I used to attend Boy Scout meetings in the cellar and I once broke in here to hide and spend the night hiding from the clutches of my step-father after we got into a heated physical battle. When my local grade school, Northvail Garden had an overflow of sixth graders, this church would serve as an annex

The mouth that leads to my old apartment complex Vail Gardens, Veteran Memorial Park where a trailer park used to be (is James Vigilante’s name listed on the plague? It was roped off, so I couldn’t go over to read), Good ol’ Jersey City Reservoir (why was it in Parsippany in the first place? And how much rent do we charge?) Legends tell us that the Old Town Boonton ruins are really down at the bottom. My apartment complex had to be fenced in at the pool area from wandering deer, geese, black bears, fawns, and ferrets.

Walking on Livingston Road, here lie the leftover Martian ships from the 1938 Invasion- which was 80 years ago to this very day. Orson Welles certainly saved humanity from imminent destruction that day.

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My mom told me that she doesn’t want to be cremated here.

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Back in my high school days, I once rode my bicycle up here and I stumbled upon my first copies of Genesis album, Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot. They were cut out copies that went for only a $ 1.00 each and they didn’t come with the bells and whistles of fold out sleeves that displayed Peter Gabriel’s lyrics.

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I remember the first time I listened to these albums was I first bought my Pioneer hi-fi system, blasting them in my headphones while I had to insert advertisement circulars in all my Sunday morning papers that I had to deliver on my route (and I had around 250 customers, so I needed at least 2 hours to prep early in the morning)  But it was from that moment on that begin my rapid devotion to collection all the early era albums of Genesis.

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Mac & Cheese is a big deal in Parsippany these day. You can even serve them up as slop in breakfast bowls. Finally some culinary idea not lifted from California.

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While I was making arrangements to get the Miracle Season dvd into friendly Freeman family hands I talked to Linda Freeman’s sister, Lisa (whom I also took out on dates. We saw Genesis and Asia together) and I told I was taking this hike up to Lake Parsippany she relayed me this amusing anecdote about the time when they used to work here and due to a mishap of accidentally shutting off the refrigerator lights (or perhaps getting too stoned to forget), both Lisa and Linda managed to at least melt hundreds of dollars worth of Ice Cream. Hilarious Mr. Softy hijinks later ensued.  I used to buy a huge bevy of Warren Creepy black and white mags here, along with Heavy Metal, Savage Sword of Conan, and reprints of The Spirit (also a Warren mag), but I’m pretty by the time when I made this place my instant go to for black & white comic magazines, the Freeman sisters were probably already let go. IMG_3813

Linda Freeman and I used to go to this library and other hanging out with her here, it was my favorite library because it used to get the entertainment trades every week like Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and Billboard, and I think it was the time when I started to get interested in reading the charts. I was also checking how British acts such as Marillion, Mike Oldfield, or The Human League were performing in their own country and all across Europe. Variety would publish all the Nielsen rankings and I supposed I should thank this library for getting me to where I am today. HOWEVER, it is no longer a library, it is now the center headquarters for the Morris County Board of Education. They moved the library to somewhere near Morris Plains where it absolutely no longer accessible by public transportation. Thank goodness I can just download my favorite trade publications online these days, otherwise I’d never survive a walk to a Parsippany library located all the fuckbutt way out to near Morristown. Especially if I were to be stuck in a 12 foot blizzard.

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NOT FAR from that abandoned library, one of my aunt told me that this was where I first moved to in Parsippany, NJ when I was three months old after my grandfather told my dad to get lost and he packed all his goodies and left for California.

Imagine in a Marvel What If parallel universe, IF it was my father who got custody of me and took me to California with him, HOW my life would’ve been dramatically different.

I didn’t stay here for too long, my grandfather packed us up and moved my mom, my two aunts, and me into a gorgeous home out in East Hanover that was a block away from a golf course that eventually was sold to the Nabisco Company and became a factory. A year later in 1965 or so, my grandfather allowed my Uncle Max to move in after he was released from prison after serving time for MANSALUGHTER!  During the early seventies when I would occasionally sleep over on weekends after moving back to Parsippany after my mom got remarried, we would be pelted in the morning with the aromas of Oreo, Nutter Butter, and Vienna Finger cookies being baked fresh from the factory.

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I suppose people are just as obsessed with Game of Thrones out here as we are in California.

So on my final day before heading back to JFK to catch my 5:30 PM flight, I took one last rainy stroll through the city where I was recommended to check out a used record store that specializes in blu ray television season sets. I was on the hunt for a science fiction based show called The Expanse. I haven’t seen the third season yet.

They didn’t have it, so I ended up dragging all my shit around Times Square for three hours and took in the ambiance. Until a thunderstorm and a torrential downpour of rain came down when the time came I had to get to Grand Central Station to catch a shuttlebus to JFK. I didn’t know the MTA system all that well, but a pretty female Puerto Rican bus driver saw me walking up 8th Avenue in distress of the possibility of missing my flight, that she let me ride the bus free so I wouldn’t get my ass soaked.

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Back to Times Square. you can see the clouds rolling in.

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In all its’ pristine glory.

Anyway, I was wandering lonely as a dark cloud, I was thinking about a little tiff I got into with my mom. My mom suddenly has a issue with people who ‘dwell too much in the past’ and harped on my desire to go revisit places of my past, such as the house I spent my toddler years in East Hanover. My mom argues that it does nothing for you. You should always move forward and stop looking back at past events. But I digress- because I consider to be a man of the past, present, and future rolled into one. Although I’ve pledged my loyalty to be a full blooded California as my real blood dad once was, I still admit to having roots in New Jersey as distasteful as I even care to admonish- THAT’S NOT SAYING there weren’t pockets of pleasant memories here and there, but telling the truth hurts my mom whenever she asks me for my opinion on whether I had a happy childhood or not. IT fucking wasn’t. I think my mom made a mistake of getting remarried while I was three years old, she didn’t really put my upbringing needs up first and got remarried and popped out another kid, much to the advice of other relatives not to. I mean, I had a great house to grow up in East Hanover and that was taken away from me in order to move back to a two bedroom apartment and ended up sharing a room for the remainder of my childhood with a baby sister – while my grandfather was raking in millions globetrotting around the world developing cake and pie recipes for big restaurant chains such as Marie Calendar’s, Coco’s and Denny’s and living in not one, but 2 big houses in the town of East Hanover.

I dwell in all areas of my past. I reminisce pleasant memories about the late seventies spent at Laguna Beach, Mid eighties times spent at early San Diego Comic Con when it was held at the Concourse, the beaches of Encinitas and Solana Beach burying my face in Jennifer Ellis’ bikini ass and us drinking beer together, the house in Sherman Oaks where I spent nearly a decade living with my half sister on my dad’s side with my rich Jewish stepmom and working at a comic book shop that her husband half owned.

And I dwell on bad memories of places I no longer have a desire to see again, like Williamsburg, Virginia where I foolishly proposed to marry Tamar, at the exact same age that my parents age. That was a shitty ass life lesson that I have no regrets about – I probably would’ve died in that car crash with her. Living in Kansas City sucked during 1986 in attempt to get along with other scattered members of my dad’s family that I only lasted six months before I came crawling back to San Diego. No desire to ever see London again, until Islamist extremists stopping bombing the joint. And on and on it goes.

Let’s just enjoy the rest of the walk.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles getting swallowed up by the Lion King

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Rainy days and Tuesdays always get me down.

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Harry Potter sez, here’s looking down on you, kid. Can anyone tell it’s Harry Potter. I couldn’t really give a fuck. J.K. Rowling ripped off the entire concept of Harry Potter from Neil Gaiman when he created teen sorcerer Timothy Hunter as part of his Sandman universe. Timothy debuted in a 1990 mini-series DC Comics published called The Books of Magic and was co-created by painter artist John Bolton before he was awarded his own Vertigo comic book series that lasted for 75 issues (but incidentally, a new series just started this week) and predated Rowling’s knock off by 7 years when Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone was published. I don’t see Tim Hunter getting his own eight movie series (plus prequels!) and Broadway plays named in his honor anytime soon. Look it up on Wikipedia if you don’t believe me.

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So The Walking Dead isn’t doing too well. People have ‘walked away’ in droves in lieu of lead actor Andrew Lincoln’s departure, whose fate will be revealed this weekend – and I suppose after the airing of that episode, the crew should just pack up their creepy crawler fake blood and prosthetic goodies and call it a night, because NO ONE’S sticking around after Lincoln is gone. The ratings are like being brain eaten fast, and is unlikely to survive for much longer. People are instead beginning to pledge their loyalty to its’ spin off, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD where Lennie James’ Morgan character managed to jump ship.

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And so we end on that note.

 

 

Prologue to Another Persona Non Grata Picture Show

10 Oct

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I had a very busy two days leading up to me taking a red flight to New York at the middle of last month. On Saturday, September 15th, I was fortunate to find out information about where a memorial service was being held for the late fantastical leviathan of a writer, Harlan Ellison, a person whom I admired and idolized very much since making Los Angeles my permanent home.

I technically crashed it, but there was really no one around to tell me to skidaddle at an undisclosed theater location in Beverly Hills.  I was fortunate enough to mask my intrusion by running into people involved with the comic book industry whom I haven’t talked to in decades, including my one time editor over at Comics’ Buyer’s Guide, Maggie Thompson.

Before I begin, let me state that is indeed a lovely sketch portrait of Harlan in the photo above rendered beautifully by Bill Sienkiewicz. You were invited to offer words of condolences to Susan before leaving (this was part of a pair) and I took a photo before I wrote some words of gratitude thanking him for the encouraging pep talk some twenty plus years back.

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I caught a faint whiff of nostalgia remembering that only a mere block away from where this service was being held, there was once a museum or art gallery called The Morpheus Gallery located in the basement of a huge high-rise where I used to report for an entertainment work related agency  that had exhibited paintings and sculptures from artists such as H.R. Giger and Jacek Yerka, There were a few paintings on display that were used for one of Harlan’s massive books called Mind Fields that had contained a whopping 34 short stories that Harlan had written around these subversive paintings of Yerka’s featured in the book. I don’t know if Harlan had any input on how the gallery was run or if a painting had been sold and he was entitled to a cut of it.

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Unlike many memorials, Harlan’s widow, Susan did not allow many to eulogize. Only four people were allowed to step up to the podium including ex- IDW Publishing Editor in Chief and once upon a time writer of ROM Spaceknight, Chris Ryall. I wanted to step up and tell the story of how I managed to wrangle Harlan in giving needy kids a pep talk in taking up writing or to pursue dream careers in the world of animation and comics at the Los Angeles Downtown Library, but I was probably better off since I haven’t done any public speaking in a real long time. Besides,  I already chronicled about various Harlan related events I attended over the years here and here,. Christina Valada, Harlan’s private attorney and sadly, another widow to Wolverine and Swamp Thing creator, Len Wein was the first to speak some consoling words and thoughts. Chris Ryall then tearfully told a fairly new tale of Harlan when he and his wife joined Harlan and Susan for dinner in Universal City and it winded up taking a drastic turn which found Harlan directing traffic in a heavy pouring rain storm which was bittersweet and humorous.

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Susan told us to go and mingle and to have a great time. More celebrities started to pile on in just as people were exiting the auditorium, including George Takei, which I captured having a conversation with Chris Ryall.

I talked to long time comic book writing veteran Tony Isabella, co-creator of Black Lightning for the very first time. We talked about the show airing on the CW, which of the time of this writing just premiered its 2nd season last night (sadly, it’s initial overnight rating were not impressive following The Flash, it lost at least half its’ audience), and it’s a show that somehow that the CW Network is trying to faintly mold with what Netflix is trying to do with The Marvel Knights (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist & The Punisher) interlocking series : being gritty and promiscuous in its’ approach to violence and social issues – but in BL’s case,  almost in a way that can appeal to the entire family that can perhaps provoke much-needed conversation around the dinner table. That is, if they can pull their eyeballs away from their portable devices streaming the show long enough to have that conversation.

I also ran into retired Cleveland (Harlan’s hometown!) area lawyer Bob Ingersoll, who like Tony (Tips), Isabella contributed mightily to the now defunct Comics Buyer’s Guide in a series of columns called The Law is An Ass, where Bob used to provide unique analysis into all our favorite comic book character’s legal predicaments. So it was great talking to those two and was even impressed they even still remembered from my name after such a long hiatus. It’s nice not to be forgotten.

I spotted Leonard Maltin strolling in with his wife. Then again, you can spot Leonard Maltin anywhere in this town if you look hard enough. You can run into Leonard Maltin at your local post office, you can run into Leonard Maltin stuffing his face into a giant Pastrami and Rye at your local Jewish deli such as Brent’s in Northridge or Cantor’s in the Fairfax District, or you can run into Leonard Maltin at a cartoon festival held every year at The Alex Theatre in Glendale. THERE’S NO SHORTAGE OF NOT RUNNING into Leonard Maltin in this town. Can you tell I’m sick already of talking about Leonard Maltin?

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Walter Koenig was there. Walter used to come visit me at my old comic book store, Rookies & Allstars in North Hollywood and we used to talk about Harlan’s Dream Corridor, his love for everything John Carter and Tarzan, and other science fiction writers he used to read. Walter and his assistant never exited my store without buying a comic book hero button or a piece of candy. Harlan and Walter eventually became the best of friends – at least, that’s what Walter used to tell me. I believe it was Walter who put in a good word for Rookies & Allstars, because Harlan’s assistant started calling the store from time to time looking for something he may have missed in a Diamond Comics Distributor shipment or asking how much Dark Horse Comics product was arriving, but if we told him that we can order for it and call him when that particular item arrived, but the assistant would tell us he’d get back to us if it resorted to that.

The gentlemen in the makeshift dapper blue stripe on white (or would that be white stripe on blue?) collared shirt with t-shirt demonstrating to all how Harlan would’ve showed up to his own memorial with his camera aimed at watching me watching him is none other than Harlan’s biographer, Nat Segaloff, who earlier gave us a few minutes up at the podium.

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George R.R. Martin flew in from New Mexico and by the looks of it, Games of Thrones is STILL NOT FINISHED, and I bet, by the time he flies back – IT WILL STILL NOT BE FINISHED. I bet it’s the first time in science fiction/fantasy history where a fantasy author yields to allowing a premium cable channel to pick up where he’s too lazy to finish where he left off. HOWEVER, looking forward to checking out the Syfy series adaptation of his Nightflyers debuting towards the end of this year.

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Food was served by Loteria, a very popular Mexican taco stand headquartered at the historical Farmer’s Market located in the Fairfax district. The Potato Taquitos, Margaritas, Horchatas and Watermelon daiquiris were in full deliciously devouring force that night. You can find lots of fine authentic Mexican fare at these three separate locations throughout Los Angeles. It’s not Mexican food from Parsippany, New Jersey  folks, which will be a subject I’m going to be ragging about in my next Persona Non Grata Picture Show edition right in this exact spot in a few weeks time.

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Former Comics Buyer’s Guide editor (now a contributor to Comic Con International’s online blog ) Maggie Thompson is here conversing with legendary comic book writer Marv Wolfman – probably both are planning some big comic book related tribute to Harlan and don’t want the rest of us to overhear. Someone on facebook recently pointed out to me that the man with his back to us standing to the right is Paul Chadwick – who  collaborated with Harlan a few years back on a DC graphic novel entitled “7 Against Chaos”. Paul is also the creator of a beloved Dark Horse Comics original character called Concrete – which has not been adapted in Hollywood in any shape or form. That’s very disappointing.

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It seems that Susan cleared out some of the books from The Kilimanjaro Corporation ‘warehouse’. I was lucky to have snagged these two following items:

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One of Harlan’s books that I never got around to reading, but always meant to pick up. Jeez, I even remember seeing this at my once upon a time local Tower Records (old) in Sherman Oaks twenty some odd years ago. If I can recall running into Angie Dickinson and still thinking she still looked like a good piece of ass way back then you’ll have some clue as to ‘how old’ you think I am. What I’ve read so far that was slightly bemusing was the William Shatner story about him doing a favor for Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry in trying to talk some sense to Harlan in writing another sensible unpaid for endless draft of “City on the Edge of Forever” and wound up skidding his motorcycle on Harlan’s front lawn is a real hoot. That skid mark stayed until the 1994 Northridge Earthquake gave Harlan’s lawn new scars. Man,  I did not realize how much of a puppet and errand boy Bill was for the late Gene Roddenberry until Harlan pointed it out. Maybe that’s why Bill was a ‘no-show’ at the service, because parking in the building is only free after you’ve reached the fourth level. He’d probably skid off the parking garage and go spilling all over the pavement.

Most importantly, Harlan’s tortured memoir of his time working for Star Trek is a masterclass in itself and a very indepensible tool in teaching screenwriting going back  from conceptual treatments to early draft teleplays and revising of scripts. Harlan also gives a crash coarse in establishing the type of shots he sees in his head when describing  scenes and dialogue.

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It seems that ‘Night And the Enemy’ did the trick of clearing up my clogged up sinus memory passages. I might have said that my ‘real first exposure’ to Harlan’s prose was an introduction to a Doctor Who novelization collection of Tom Baker-era stories, but I think maybe glossing over serialized chapters of this appearing in Marvel’s Epic Magazine may have predated that. Marvel’s Epic Magazine was Marvel’s version of Heavy Metal Magazine which was published between 1980 – 1986 and lasted 34 issues. 3 short stories from Harlan’s and artist/collaborator Ken Steacy’s graphic novel collection (whom Chris Ryall informed me on facebook was also in attendance) were “Sleeping Dogs” in issue #4, “Life Hutch” in issue #6, & “Run For The Stars” #11. I think my earliest memory of seeing Harlan in person for the first time was either at the 1986 or 1987 San Diego Comic Con signing a giant pile of these books at a table. But I wasn’t really familiar of who Harlan was back then, and I do remember attending a lecture of his that took place one Saturday night at one of the auditoriums of the old San Diego Civic Center where he said some crass unbelievable things about comic book industry people that you wouldn’t want to repeat at family holiday dinner gathering. If San Diego Comic Con International ever gets its’ streaming service in operation, I bet that 2 hour plus personal one on one with a packed audience makes it to the top of the archive pile.

Above is an old opinion piece I wrote in Comic Buyer’s Guide that prompted Harlan to call me out of the blue while I was working at a Farmer’s Insurance office to shower me with praise. Damn. I can’t believe this was 23 years ago. Where the fuck does time fly?

Due to my Superman/Flash race with time in prepping up for my annual trip to New Jersey, I was only allotted to stay for the first hour and a half. I was out the door once I completed in personally offered my condolences to Susan Ellison, so I have no idea of who may have showed up afterward. Seeing as how I spotted a few Star Trek alumni (including story editor D.C. Fontana from the original show and the subsequent 1973 animated series) scattered around the theater here and there, I was kind of perturbed  not to bump into anyone who worked with Harlan on Babylon 5 other than writer Peter David, a show that Harlan had a much deeper involvement than anything I’ve known him to be associated with. The show lasted five years and Harlan served as creative consultant, even supplying a script or two. I half expected to at least have caught a glimpse of creator J. Michael Straczynski or actor Bill Mumy  as I was in a hurry to get out.

But hey, if there’s a magic Djinn out there (straight, no chaser) who can hook me up with a dvd or blu ray series collection of The Starlost, created by under that great fictional pseudonym, Victor Lawrence Talbot Frankenstein, then I would be eternally grateful.

Anyway, now that I’ve paid my final respects, I can go on through the remainder of my life slaphappy as a ‘soup sandwich’.

New Jersey – on the other hand, refuses to die. In two weeks, the annual pilgrimage to the Parsippany Persona Non Grata Picture Show begins once where we shall explore the wild habitats of Lake Parsippany and New York’s Greenwich Village once more.