Monday, April 25, 2005

"No Mystery To Me"

Re-watching The Fountainhead recently (1949: Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, Raymond Massey), I remembered how much I used to think everyone in that film was such a drama queen with their acting. But then, thinking about it again over time and the Ayn Rand novel upon which it is based that I read years ago, that's exactly how those characters were written.

Ms. Rand was certainly brilliant. She knew that if she expressed her objectivistic philosophies in an outright format that it would be too intellectual for the common man. Therefore, she put these beliefs into a fictional novel about a totally ethical architect who would not bend to the will of society, or compromise his principles to achieve his goal of building structures the way they should be constructed.

And, re-watching this film version of one of Ayn Rand's work, also got me to thinking about artist, Steve Ditko. About how so many fans of his work consider him somewhat of the man of mystery because he denies interviews and publicity in general. How he's always been a free-lance artist, picking and choosing which assignments he wishes over the years, but refusing the return to do characters again that gave him most of his reknown.

But, Mr. Ditko is no mystery at all if you understand Ms. Rand's writings, because her beliefs are pretty much his as well.

Most recall Steve Ditko as being the co-creator of Spider-man, and Dr. Strange, and Captain Atom, The Question, the silver-age version of The Blue Beetle, The Creeper, Hawk & Dove, (etc.), but you know he made his mark on his characters by actually doing very few issues. Spider-man was the longest and the most issues at around 40 (including the Annuals), followed by Dr. Strange. And the prime reason that he left Spider-man wasn't because he grew bored with the strip; rather conflicts with Stan Lee on the direction in which he wanted to take the characters in the title. When he wouldn't bend to Lee's will, he simply left the title (and the company as well as a "regular" artist), moving on to new projects.

Although he's best known for the work he did at Charlton, Marvel and DC Comics, none of this is as much the true Steve Ditko as his own characters published in independent works, such as Mr. A and The Avenging World. In those you will find the true Ditko with characters very similiar to the ones in The Fountainhead. "Heroes" that would not give in to the popularity of style or compromise their principles just because everyone else is doing it. They are characters basically with B&W ideas of Right & Wrong. They do what they do for purpose and because it's the way it's supposed to be done. The self-satisfaction of their work comes not from the admiration of those around them (although it IS gratifying when that does occur) but simply to see it be done as they themselves wish it to be.

Steve Ditko is an objectivist and his philosophies and beliefs reflect those of Ayn Rand. So, if you want to read an interview with him, those specific works he has done outside of the mainstream of the "regular" comic book IS just that. In those works you will know Steve Ditko.
(However, I have never considered the comic book format as impressive as Ms. Rand did with cinema although the medias are closely related. Movies have a tendency to cause a deeper impression I feel, in general, and that is perhaps because we can actually hear the emotions being expressed by the actors rather than relying on our fantasies to create such upon which to reflect.)

There will come a day when a retrospect of Mr. Ditko's life will be indeed be written. His fans will discover many secrets, I'm sure, about his life that for certain he considers no ones' business except his own, because if he thought them important enough to let people know, he'd already told us.

And, I'm also certain that it won't be in his life time because, just like Ayn Rand's fictional characters, he'll never compromise his principles or corrupt his personal philosophies just for publicity or the admiration.

For as he has stated occasionally when his fans have requested more personal information from him regarding his life, we will have to let "his work speak for him".

Thursday, April 21, 2005

"Take ANOTHER Little Piece of My Heart Now, Baby!"

Well, here just the last time I posted I was talking about how nice it was to see something not change for several decades, and now I'm today getting ready to whine about something that has!

As I was out driving down the road today I noticed that an old barn had been torn down. It's not that it didn't need to be demolished ('cause, it WAS in pretty bad shape); it's just that it was a local landmark to me, and the familiarity of its existence, covered in signs from the past, now been taken away. Every time something like that happens it's like another small piece of me vanishes, especially since the barn had been there longer than I can remember (and I'm nearly 54).

I'm afraid that we as humans on this planet grow way too fond of material things such as this which seem to hold some sort of lock & key on memories of "other days" and remind us of the simplier times of our childhood.

Or, maybe I'm just too sentimental. But to top it off, I went by my bank to get some change and noticed that yet another old barn building, one at least as old as the other, was being torn down as well! It's not like either of the buildings really "needed" to be destroyed. I mean, I live in a little 'burg here in South-Central, KY., and neither my town or any of the towns in the immediate vicinity have over 2,000 people, so...what do they think they're gonna put in those spots? Shopping centers, or sumthin'? (Oh,well...)

On a more enjoyable note, I stopped by the local tobacco store and noticed the guy in front of me was buying a can of Prince Albert tobacco. I just had to ask, "Is that Prince Albert in a can?" To which he replied, "Yes". And I had to come back with the traditional, "Well, you'd better let him out! He's suffocating!"

God, the old jokes are still the best ones!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

"Steppin' In A Time Zone"

With everything changing so much in this increasingly faster paced world, it's nice to see something staying basically the same for a good 60-70 years.

Such is the case with the wrappers on "Tootsie Pops". The images displayed upon them are still of children playing games such as "marbles" and tennis; they're riding ponies dressed in cowboy outfits or riding in a hand-built "soap-box" racer. Obviously these wrappers were designed in the 1930-40's, and each scene upon them look like something out of a Hal Roach "Our Gang" short. I'm gonna miss that if they ever change it.

'Course, the price has changed since I first ate one in the mid-1950's; they were 2 cents back then, and now cost a dime (5 times as much).

On another subject today, Lexmark has finally lost me as a customer for good now. I got hold of a bad ink cartridge a little over a month ago and never got a chance to return it, so I went by Wallyworld today to just buy me another one of their "disposible" printers for my pc. Lexmark printers only cost around thirty-some bucks and come with starter cartridges anyway. To purchase new cartridges you have to pay at least $30. a shot, so it's just as cheap to throw the old printer out and get a new one.

The last one I bought was a Z25, and so I wanted another. I was told that it was no longer available; the company had stopped making that model!

Well, quite frankly, this pisses me off! You see, the first Lexmark I bought was the Z11, and after it finally wore out I went to buy a new one of that, just to be told the same thing, and here I was stuck with GOOD ink cartridges, and nothing to use them in. Now, they're telling me the supposingly newer model is discontinued as well? That's BS, folks.

Looks like I'll be spending a little more on a different company's printer; one that when the cartridges go dry I only have to spend 1/3rd. as much for a new cartridge, and I'll throw this old useless piece of junk in the garbage can (where it belongs).

Monday, April 18, 2005

"Living High On The Hog-Zilla!"

Unlike other questionable legends of weird and wonderful unknown creatures in this world (Big Foot, Nessie, 100 Ft. snakes, etc.), Hogzilla actually existed! An 800 lb. feral pig, shot by hunting guide Chris Griffen recently in Alapaha, GA., it was a mixture of a domestic pig and a wild boar, and eight foot in length!

Dat's a lot of bacon!

There will be a documentary about this legendary hog on the National Geographic Channel, April 24th. at 10 PM CST (so check yer listings).

John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, has agreed to serve as chairwoman of an art competition and exhibition for the 100th. anniversary of the treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese War. It'll be called: "The Art of Peace", and is scheduled for July 20th. thru Sept. the 5th. at Portsmouth, N.H.

In personal news, while at the local flea market yesterday I found a couple of copies of the "regular"-size religious comic by J.T. Chick called The Crusaders which was published in the 1970's. One of them (issue #10, from 1976) was on various symbols supposingly used by the occult. There was a statement in it that I thought was quite a hoot when he says that "the circled six-sided star ("hexagram") which is used by Masons and other Lucifer Worshippers..."

(*heh*) You KNOW The Masons loved THAT one!

BTW, I got in my copy of Doom Patrol V1 #103 today in the mail, and I've also won both a #115 and a Teen Titans V1 #6, so when those get in as well I will have finally completed my silver-age set of the original DP which also includes such comics as their Challengers of the Unknown and The Brave & The Bold app.'s! And, say! It's only taken about a year and a half; not bad!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

"Happy 100th. Birthday, Pauline!"

Yesterday, April 11th., would have been the 100th. Birthday of Pauline T. Webster.

Big Deal? Who's Pauline T. Webster? Perhaps you'd know her better if I just called her: Pauline?

Pauline was probably one of the most famous "madams" in history (if not the most famous). She operated her house of ill repute on Clay Street in Bowling Green, Kentucky from the 1930's until the 1969, when BG underwent some urban "improvements" and the house was torn down. The bricks from that house were sold upwards to $100. each as souveniers.

She then moved her "business" to a farm outside of BG for a few years before finally retiring when she was in her 70's . Then she wrote a book about her life, one limited to just 5000 copies, which is scarce and much sought after today.

Miss Pauline was so famous in fact that she made multiple appearences on The Dick Cavett Show. After retirement she moved to Texas where she finally died at age 84.

Pauline serviced both the rich and poor, famous and infamous, civilians and servicemen alike. She wouldn't let her "girls" walk the streets like hookers, telling them they were all just there for a short time in her house to make some extra money. She was extremely generous; if a house burnt down in the city she'd be one of the first ones to donate money to the victims. She was kind, outspoken, and generally well-liked by all that ever met her.

Back in 1968 or so, I was fortunate to meet Miss Pauline when I was on Main Street one Summer day in Bowling Green at a little grocery store she frequented. I noticed her in line right behind me and recognized who she was. I asked her if she'd like to come ahead of me in line, then introduced myself and told her it was an honor to meet her. She cheerfully replied that she thought I was a nice, young man, and I should come and "visit" with her sometime! (I'll never forget that!)

My Uncle Herbert used to be a milkman in Bowling Green back in the 1940's and he used to tell a tale about how he delived cans of milk to her "house". She kept two milkcans : one for him to replace with a full one, but an extra empty one never for him to refill, because if there were 2 cans outside at anytime, or 1 can after 12PM, it meant that things were a little "hot" for her in the local church community that week and for "customers" to stay away until things cooled back down. It was a little in code, because she was afraid that the BG police might raid her establishment and one of the customers they might arrest within could be a town official!

So here's to ya, Miss Pauline! You were a hell of a great ol' gal! You made money as an independent business woman when people were starving during The Great Depression, was never prejudice about customers your ladies serviced, and loved and helped your community, which is a great more than we can say about many of those who wanted to force you out of town "on-a-rail" and claimed to be fine, upstanding Christian folks during your time!

And as an ending ironic note, the library at Western University in Bowling Green declared that when your book was first published it would never be added to their collection. Now they keep that very same autobiography safely stored for its protection under lock and key!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

"Never Too Old To Learn A Lesson"

There's two lessons in life that I occasionally forget:

1) If something's too good to be true, it usually is.

2) You don't get sum'thin' fer nuttin'.

But, like I said , I occasionally forget those rules and do something bidding on "one cent" on-line auctions. This was the case of a few weeks past when I thought I'd try to get together most of the issues of The Demon V2 series from DC, and place a one cent bid on several listings from this one particular dealer.

The issue numbers over-lapped from one listing to the other; there'd be like a #2 listed on two different listings along with other issues, or just one different issue I needed in different listings, so I knew ahead of time that I'd have duplicates if I won the lots, but also figured that maybe I could put the dup's together in a set as well, re-sell them on auction and actually maybe make a little from it. So total I won 8 different auctions at one cent each, a total of eight cents for 51 books, 14 of which were duplication leaving me with 27 different issues (which was about half of the run).

The seller had stated $6.00 per listing as postage, but---said he'd combine postage costs on multiple wins. Now here's where I goofed up. I SHOULD have asked him before I even bidded what the total cost would be on say, 5-6 auctions, instead of waiting until I won them all. I figured he might say, $10.00 postage total, and mail it first class or priority.

Silly me.

He stated that my postage rate would be an outrageous $32.00!

I wasn't the happiest of campers because of this, but went ahead and paid it anyway simply because I've never NOT paid for any auction I've bidded on and won. Sent him the payment...and waited just to see what the exact postage costs would be. Two weeks later the package arrived, one (fortunately duplicate) book torn, and the cost on the package?

$2.68! The SOB didn't even have the courtesy to mail it either First Class or Priority, but Media Mail.

Out-right price gouging on postage to try to make up his loss on the books. The books I thought I'd get cheap ended up costing me more than $1. each for the ones I actually needed; books that, to me, weren't worth over fifty cents each.

I should blame only myself in this matter, but I've bidded on other one cent auctions before and always those dealers stated a reasonable amount for postage. This one did not. Needless to say I won't be leaving him feedback; I don't know that many four-letter words (okay; so I DO know that many, but...), and I'll mark this down to a costly experience, one of the few I've ever had buying from on-line auctions. But from now on, you better know that I'll know how much that postage will be ahead of time.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

"Sorta Fonda Her"

Was watching Jane Fonda on The David Letterman Show last night. She dropped out of films for a good number of years and has written a new book and has now gotten back into the limelight a bit.

An early time I ever took notice of Ms. Fonda was one Summer Sunday back in 1968, when I was reading the comic section of the newspaper, and at the bottom of one of the pages was a 1/3 page advertizement for Barbarella. The movie looked like something I'd want to see, being both a comics and sci-fi fan, but back then my choices were somewhat limited when it came to seeing a new movie. Either I'd have to go to The Plaza(a movie theatre in another town), or the local drive-ins; plus, all the new flicks usually took from 3 to 6 months before they were ever shown here in "Nowheresville", KY. I had seen Jane Fonda in a few flicks before, but to me she was just another actress.

I had bought the Grove Press Edition of Barbarella, which sported a photo of Jane Fonda in costume on the front cover a bit before. And even though it had a photo cover, for "some" reason it didn't dawn on me that a movie had been made.

The book read much like the many undergrounds I'd picked up; the French didn't have cencorship in their comics. I thought it was pretty darned good, and this only made me want to see the movie even more so.

And finally, it was being shown at our drive-in. A fellow comic collector friend of mine expressed interest in seeing it as well, but he lived around 20 miles from here and didn't have a car, so I told him I'd drive up and get him that Friday night and we'd go. That Friday it began raining; a hard rain off and on all day, but it slacked up towards movie time so we went ahead.

And then, it started raining again, and rained more so all night, so we got to view this flick in between the swishes of the windshield wipers.

Finally about 11 PM, the movie was over so I was going to drive him home, but it just started pouring! I asked him if he'd like to stay over in the guest room at my folk's house that night and I'd drive him back in the morning, but he had promiced his folks he'd be back after the movie was over, so I started on the 20 mile journey to take him home. We got about 10 miles from the theatre and started up a steep hill, and about 1/2 way up it, the car died! Drowned out from the torrents of rain! Here we were out in the middle of the country at nearly midnight in a pouring rain, with me outside with no jacket on, getting soaked to the bone and waving a flashlight to keep oncoming cars from hitting us. Finally I put on the blinkers and walked up the hill to a house and hesitantly knocked on the door, expecting some irate person to give me a good cursing for awakening them at that hour. But the person there was very nice and let me come inside and use their telephone to call my dad (the difference in living in a small community in the 60's instead of a city, I'm sure). Dad wasn't the happiest person in the world at that hour, but he came to help us get the auto up to that person's driveway to leave until the next morning, then drive my buddy on home, then take me on home as well.

I really expected him to be more mad about the situation than he was, but he was actually pretty understanding about the whole thing, and the next morning took me back to the house where I'd left the car. I thanked the person again that lived there for their help and all, and got in the vehicle, which had since dried out , and with rain gone, and it started right up, so I drove it home. I didn't find out until a couple of months later while visiting my great uncle in Louisville where the car drowned out again, that it had a cracked coil, and when water got up in it, it would short out the electrical system, causing it to die. He changed the coil for me, and afterwards I never had trouble with that car drowning out again from the rain.

And, what did I think of the flick? Well...somewhat disapointed, of course. Barbarella was a product of the late camp era, expressing "groovy and mod-type" themes and probably more enjoyable had I'd been doing L.S.D., or some such mind-bending drug. Actually, it was just out-right silly in most places with it's only true value giving spawn to the name of a future rock group (Duran Duran, named afyer a scientist in the film).

And, I've seen the movie a few times since (somewhat edited) on the t.v.; looking back at it I feel it wasn't worth the effort in 1968 for all the trouble it caused me. I never realized that Jane Fonda was around 30 years old when she made that movie (she's 67 now), although she certainly didn't look it.

I will admit that even with all of its silliness and pop-art style (and really just God-Awful "acting"), Barbarella was a fairly faithful adaptation of its source material; maybe even more so than some of the comic book adaptation flicks of recent years.

And , what did I think of Barbarella, herself? Well...she's psychedelic.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

"The Good Scout"

Someone was showing me the latest Norman Rockwell Calendar today and I got to thinking about when the first time was I ever actually took notice of his work.

It wasn't one of his wonderful covers for The Saturday Evening Post, but rather when I was eleven years old and joined The Boy Scouts. The Boy Scout Handbooks always had a Rockwell cover illustration ( pictured is as the one I had, and is a 6th. Editon/3rd. printing from 1961).

Pulling out that old copy and looking through it got me to thinking about my days as a Scout, of course. Living in a small town there wasn't a whole lot of activities for pre-teen age boys to enjoy outside of just playing with the neighborhood kids (and, of course like myself, collecting/reading comic books). So The Scouts was an opportunity to relieve the small town boredom (and also a good excuse for my folks to get me out-of-their-hair from time-to-time, and given the choice between Scouts and the Summer Christian Service Camp, get the picture).

And I must admit that I DID have a fairly enjoyable time as a Boy Scout. It really wasn't anything new to me having been a Cub Scout for 4 years before I joined, and as a Cub Scout you always seemed to aspire to become like the older Boy Scouts you saw at the Camp Jamborees we attended(usually held at Mammoth Cave National Park Campground).

I can't say that our troop had all the basic qualities a picture-perfect troop should of had. They weren't always a good team, nor did some of them even get along very well together, but somehow, someway in those 4 years or so that I was a member, specific qualities and morals that are part of the Boy Scout Organization DID creep into that young mind, and those have basically remained with me to this day.

Things like respect for women and elders, knowing first aid, respect for religion and government, and obeying The Law. Not to say I haven't slipped from those basic ideas occasionally; I'm not Jesus Christ, but I do still try hard to carry those qualities with me every day in my adult life.

So I guess I learned something.

It's a shame that The Boy Scout Organization has gotten so much flack in the past few years. This country to USE a few more Good Scouts.

Monday, April 04, 2005

"Quicky Post"

Here's best wishes to a speedy recovery for Neil Young. From the last report I heard he'll be just fine from the operation to remove a small clot on his brain.

Sin City led the box office for the weekend at 28.1 Million. No surprize there.

Sorry no blogger post last night folks but I got totally engrossed in watching the flick From Hell w/Johnny Depp, based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell that I just didn't have the extra time. A great flick!!

Very disapointed with the new animated "The Batman" which debuted last weekend. His face is drawn waaayyyy to angular. Looks like the Disney version of "Tarzan", and not like other animated versions of the character; not even like the current one in Justice League Unlimited. Neither was I impressed with the way they depicted "The Joker". Probably be the only episode I'll even watch of that (unless there's just nothing else on).

Saturday, April 02, 2005

"No Man Knows The Hour---"

With all the talk about The Pope's death, it might be interesting to note that end of the world predictions say that'll come during the reign of the next pope. This would correspond with the Mayan Calendar which is slated to run out between December 21st.-23rd., 2012, and mark the return of their "winged serpent" god.

Also it would be good to note that the Mayans may be actually refering to a comet, which oddly enough, will return very close to The Earth around that date.

Just myriad speculation, of course, but it still might be wise to live-it-up, at least for the next 7-1/2 years.

Friday, April 01, 2005

"Happy Birthday, DAD!"

Went by my folk's house when I got off from work today to give my father his birthday card and present since I knew I was going to have to work tomorrow (which is his actual birthday). He'll turn 85! This is the first time anyone in my family has lived that long since his father, who has been dead now probably a good 25 years. And my dad is in relatively good health for his age. Oh, his memory's bad and he hasn't the strength he did even 5 years ago, but he's still active, mows his yard, still drives (and well, I might add), and does very well. My mother is 80, herself, and still works every weekday at the local library. I can only wish that I will be still around and kickin' IF I live so long. So...

Happy Birthday, Dad! Hope you have only the Best One Ever!

(Incidently, next Saturday will be my folk's 62nd. Wedding Anniversary as well!)