Monthly ArchiveAugust 2009
Comic books 31 Aug 2009 12:44 pm
Let the Mickey Mouse vs. Spider-Man jokes begin:
Filthy Rich is one of two inaugural offerings in the Vertigo Crime imprint, published by DC Comics. (I haven’t seen the other volume, Dark Entries.) The graphic novel is written by Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets) and drawn by Victor Santos. It clocks in at 196 pages, with dimensions somewhere between a traditional paperback and a standard graphic novel.
Set in the 1960s, it tells the story of Richard “Junk” Junkin, a loser of monumental proportions. A high school all-star football player who blows out his knee in the final preseason game before the start of his professional career, Junk drifts into the hell of automotive sales as the almost-celebrity in residence. He’s a terrible car salesman, to boot, which is why he jumps at the opportunity to babysit the boss’s spoiled brat daughter, an heiress who hops nightclubs like a movie star. Stuff happens, and the washed-out gridiron hero and the dangerous debutante find themselves in the kind of trouble that only happens in noirish novels of the sort that Filthy Rich aspires to be.
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From the Aug. 27 Alliance Review, here is my review of Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of Parker the Hunter.
Parker, the professional criminal created by Richard Stark (pseudonym of late mystery writer Donald Westlake), is enjoying a resurgence.
Last year, the prestigious University of Chicago Press began reissuing early novels in the series. Now comes “Parker: The Hunter,” a comic-book adaptation of the book that first inflicted Parker on an unsuspecting world. The graphic novel is adapted and drawn by Eisner-award winner Darwyn Cooke, best known for a nostalgic version of 1950s Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman called “The New Frontier.”
For “The Hunter,” Cooke takes off the rose-colored glasses to render a gritty New York City in 1962. Parker, newly escaped from prison, blows into Manhattan seeking the two people who double-crossed him. In short order, one of the two is dead.
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Commentary 27 Aug 2009 11:19 pm
Here is my Aug. 27 column:
When little Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” comes down the steps wearing bunny pajamas, his father solemnly intones, “He looks like a pink nightmare.”
I can relate.
Half of my dining room has gone pink as my daughter prepares to leave for college on Saturday: pink pillows, bedspread, shower caddy, gooseneck lamps, memo board, laptop-computer cover and — the pièce de résistance, the ne plus ultra, the “fill-in-your-favorite over-the-top, snobby-sounding foreign phrase here” — a pink microwave.
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Comic books 25 Aug 2009 07:06 pm
The long-awaited Archie #600 came out last week, and despite a decent amount of media coverage for the issue where Archie pops the question to Veronica and ends one of comicdom’s longest running love triangles (the other corner of which is poor Betty), my local comic shop still had a dozen or more copies on the shelf. And I didn’t even show up to buy until three days after the magazine was released. So much for the power of the mainstream media, or public interest in the Riverdale gang.
Just to make sure that readers don’t think Archie is marrying Veronica in continuity, writer Michael Uslan uses not one, but two layers of unreality (like a double-blind taste test) to separate the never-changing Archie universe from this What If-style outing. First, he jumps ahead a few years to the night before Archie’s graduation from high school, giving us all the angst involved in the last gig for Archie and the band and the gang heading off to college. Then near-future Archie takes a walk to ponder his college plans (something any self-respecting high-school senior would have done long before graduation night) and strolls down that hoary Archie cliche of Memory Lane or Future Avenue or whatever it’s called, where he finds himself on the eve of his college graduation.
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Television 25 Aug 2009 06:43 pm
Am I the only person who watches Big Brother on CBS and imagines, when the contestants talk about “the power of veto,” some short little Danny DeVito-like character who breaks legs for the Mob? You know, the power of Vito?
Commentary 23 Aug 2009 03:31 pm
I ran three 5K races over the summer, the latest being the Steppin’ Out for Hospice Walk/Run on Saturday night. I came in 38th out of 294 participants (7th in my age group, 41-49) with a time of 23.19.50. Best of all, I beat my time from the Salem StarTrax run a few weeks back by more than two minutes, so I was really excited.
My wife has also been participating, and last night my parents and several friends were also among the walkers and runners. The races are a lot of fun, even with the knowledge that you’re going to hurt a little — or a lot — the next day. On Sept. 7, I plan to participate in the Castle Run, a 10K event. I’ve never run anything near 6.2 miles, so my goal there is simply to finish.
Commentary 21 Aug 2009 05:08 pm
Here is my Aug. 20, 2009, column from The Alliance Review:
I roam a long hallway, looking for my classroom. I find it, but don’t have a key. I’m magically transported inside, but I’ve lost the textbooks. I open my mouth to speak, but have no voice.
It is the Teacher Dream, and it comes every August. Never in June or July, but always in the eighth month, when weather and calendar are at odds. The dog days of summer, with their heat and humidity, conspire with the rapidly advancing dates, which indicate school will resume soon. It’s my subconscious mind’s way of knocking on my noggin and demanding I rejoin the real world.
Apparently, I’m not alone.
Google “teacher” and “nightmares” and thousands of hits appear. Many have to do with real-life nightmares: Not enough supplies, overcrowded classrooms, lack of administrative support. But subtract those, and you still have a goodly number of blogs and articles about genuine nightmares, the kind you wake up from in a cold sweat, relieved to learn they aren’t real.
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Remember “The Insult That Made a Man Out of Mac”? It was a comic strip that ran with ads for the Charles Atlas Dynamic-Tension system, and it appeared in almost every 1960s and 1970s comic book in America. I was always tempted to “gamble a stamp” and try the system, but I never did (as one look at my less-than-perfectly proportioned body shows).
The August issue of Smithsonian Magazine has a good article about Atlas. Turns out he’s one of the few public figures with no skeletons rattling around in his closet: — just a nice guy who was savvy enough to hire the right people to help market a fitness system that’s still around today. Atlas died in 1972, but Dynamic-Tension lives on.
Also of interest in the same magazine: The couple famously shown on Woodstock album covers, posters and other memorabilia is still together. Learn more about them in this article.
Commentary 14 Aug 2009 09:59 am
The three pages above, from Mad Magazine #157 (March 1973), are a reminder that times aren’t a-changin’ all that much. (Click on them to enlarge.) The gags about watching the president announcing the end of the recession on TV and staying home for vacation likely still strike a chord with many Americans. Who knew staycations were 36 years old?