Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kirby Kovers!

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First up this time around is Tales of Suspense #24, with the Insect Man! This is a very cool design, if you ask me -- maybe could've used a little more variation in the coloring, but still a nicely effective monster!

Cliffhanger! King of the Rocket Men, Chapter 5!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Beatles Cartoon, Episode 1!

So, since I'm in no great hurry to get through all the MST3K episodes or all the Monkees episodes, whenever my rotation would have an extra installment of one of those in a month, I'll be putting in an installment of this instead, looking at an episode of the 1965 Beatles cartoon!

This cartoon originally aired on ABC-TV, and was produced by King Studios. The Beatles had nothing to do with the cartoon other than their music being used -- the voices for the Beatles' animated counterparts were done by Paul Frees (John and George) and Lance Percival (Paul and Ringo). Paul Frees also did other bit character voices in the program. Don't get me wrong, I think Paul Frees was an excellent voice man, but I don't know that he ever heard John or George speak before the voicework was done, because he didn't even come close! Lance Percival did a better job with Paul and George, although to be honest, the guys doing the voices for "Yellow Submarine" did a much better job overall.

Aside from this, two things amaze me about this program: First of all, the editing that's done to the songs themselves -- I don't know why they did what they did to them, shuffling verses around, deleting the opening instrumental bars, but it's pretty jarring; Secondly, there's a segment in the middle of the show where the kids watching at home were supposed to sing along with the songs, with the lyrics provided on-screen, and some of the lyrics were really messed up! So you can bet I'll be pointing out these!

One more note: The copies of these shows that I have aren't of the greatest quality in the world. I've tried to clean up the screen caps as best as I can, but like I said, they're not good!

0101The first segment of episode one is "A Hard Day's Night." Each of the cartoons within the show was titled the same as the song used in it. The cartoon opens at Transylvania Station, where the Beatles were rehearsing the title song, but George is off-beat, because so many of the local kids are gathered around him. Paul says they can't rehearse with all the people around them. It's obvious that he's right. Ringo announces he knows the perfect place, it's big and empty.

0102Ringo leads them to a castle, which Paul insists is haunted. Outside the castle, one of the graves in the graveyard opens, and someone comes out to greet them. He's the caretaker, and welcomes company. John asks if they could rehearse in the castle, and the caretaker says it could use some livening up. They start to play the title song, and it's obvious whoever was animating this didn't know that the lead vocals were just John and Paul for the most part, as they have George singing right along! They're interrupted by a howl of a wolf, and try to flee the castle, but they're locked in.

0103Next, they're pursued by a Frankenstein-like monster, a ghost, and a bunch of other monsters. Finally, they're surrounded, and the monsters ask if they were singing. They want the Beatles to continue playing! So they start playing the song again, and the monsters dance along. The Beatles end up fainting before they're done, but the instruments continue to play themselves.

0104This is followed by the singalong portion. This always began with one of the Beatles (either Paul, John or George) coming on a stage to introduce it, and asking for the prop man (who's always out, and Ringo is filling in). Ringo brings some kind of prop he thinks will fit the song, usually misunderstanding what is meant and being the brunt of a joke about how dumb he is. In this instance, for "Not a Second Time," Paul is introducing it, and since it's a tender, romantic love song, Ringo shows up dressed as Cupid. The first messed-up lyric replaces "My crying is through, oh..." with "I cried it's through, oh." This is, of course, repeated the second time the line comes around.

Oh, I forgot to mention, between the two singalongs, whichever Beatle is introducing it tries to encourage the kids at home to sing, usually saying something like, "Some of you were practically humming along!" Occasionally, names are mentioned!

0105The next singalong song is "Devil In Her Heart," and for this one, Paul asks for something appropriate for a torch song. Ringo comes up with a Statue of Liberty costume, and he lights the torch, setting off fireworks. While the song is played, a lot of the still shots are of George with a cute witch. Fortunately, there's no lyrics messed up on-screen!

0106The final segment features "I Want To Hold Your Hand," and takes place on a cruise ship -- at least it starts out that way! An announcer (Frees again) goes on about the Beatles finding time to relax, but of course, the girls always find them and chase them! No matter what disguise they use, the girls keep finding them. Finally, John asks the announcer to go away and stop giving away their location, so the narrator goes to the lounge.

0107Meanwhile, the Beatles end up ducking into a bathysphere, where a scientist (who sounds like Boris Badenov -- no surprise, as it's Frees again doing the voice) looks at an octopus he captured the day before. The octopus appears sad, so the scientist sends the bathysphere down to capture another specimen, unaware the Beatles are inside. Naturally, it lands not far from a lady octopus, which the Beatles meet up with. They perform "I Want to Hold Your Hand," and escape the clutches of the lady octopus. The opening guitar riff of the song is cut in half, but otherwise the song is left alone. Anyway, they're back in the bathysphere when it's brought back to the ship, Ringo buys the octopus from the scientist, and they send it back to the bottom of the ocean, reuniting it with its girlfriend!

So, all things considered, this is a fun cartoon to watch... although I have to admit, it takes some getting used to listening to the voices being way off, as well as dealing with some of the song edits!

CBT: Planet of the Apes Activity Book!

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dog of the Geek: Scruffy!

Scruffy2smallBreed: Wire Fox Terrier

Original Appearances: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1945 novel)

Other Appearances: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947 film), The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (1968)

Biography: Scruffy is the family pet of Mrs. Carolyn Muir, a widowed writer who lives at Schooner Bay, New England in Gull Cottage, formerly owned by Captain Daniel Gregg. Captain Gregg's ghost still haunts the house, and Scruffy doesn't like him.

Powers: None

Group Affiliation: Muir Family

Miscellaneous: Given how often the TV show has aired, it's sometimes difficult to remember that the show was based on a much older movie and book! Scruffy was played by a dog named Scruffy on the TV show.

Cover Redux!

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First up this time around is Sgt. Fury #34 and the reprint in Sgt. Fury #136! Here's what I see... Dum-Dum Dugan's been reworked -- note that the black stripes on his shirt are much thinner, and the smoke coming from the machine gun behind Fury has been changed, plus the "Blitzkrieg!" blurb has been removed! The only other changes I can spot are coloring differences... but as always, if you spot something different, let me know!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It Oughtta Be...

...a TV Series!

What should? Why, the Phantom Stranger! Remember last month I advocated for a half-hour Spirit TV show? I think a half-hour Phantom Stranger show would work well with it.

There'd be two types of episodes, like there were two types of stories in the comics: One type would have the Stranger merely acting like Rod Serling, introducing the characters and situation and then providing the wrap-up. These would be done to help save some budget for SFX for episodes where the Stranger takes more of a hand in things!

They'd definitely have to cast the Stranger extremely well -- it would have to be someone who could pull off the kind of dialogue the Stranger spouts and have it be entirely believable, as well as someone who could wear that outfit! Unfortunately, nobody really comes to mind right now that could be that imposing (at least, nobody that doesn't already have a regular gig, anyway).

The scripts would almost write themselves -- adapting issues of the original comic book for the most part, expanding on them to make sure the half-hour (really, 22 minutes) is filled.

What do you think?

Fandom Library: Huckleberry Hound's Kite Fun Book!

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Monday, May 21, 2012

10 of a Kind: 50s & 60s Music Groups I Like (other than the Beatles)

Just because you guys already I know I like the Beatles. And what the heck, let's leave the Monkees out too, since you know I'm a fan there!

1. The Beach Boys: How can you be a fan of 60s music and not be a fan of the Beach Boys?

2. The Doors: I've been a fan of these guys for a while... maybe it's because Morrison sang in my own range?

3. The Mamas and the Papas: I would love to see some footage of them actually performing -- the Ed Sullivan appearances I've seen were all mimed to recordings. Love their harmonies!

4. Bill Haley and the Comets: The first real rock and roll band? Even if they'd just done "Rock Around the Clock," they'd have earned their place in rock and roll history, but went on to do other songs too, such as their version of "Shake, Rattle and Roll." They were iconic enough of the 1950s that Happy Days used "Rock Around the Clock" as their theme originally!

5. The Dave Clark Five: It may surprise you to learn that after the Beatles, these guys are my second-favorite British Invasion group. But they are followed rather closely by...

6. The Rolling Stones: Still prefer their 1960s stuff and some of the early 70s stuff -- you've got to admire these guys, they've been performing longer than anyone!

7. The Byrds: Another group with wonderful harmonies!

8. The Ventures: My favorite instrumental band of all time!

9. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass: My second favorite instrumental band of all time!

10. The Cowsills: Odd choice? Perhaps, but I love their version of "Hair"!

Puzzle Time!

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Geek TV: Bones!

bonesConcept: A forensic anthropologist and a cocky FBI agent team up to investigate murders. Inspired by the real-life forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs. Why is this even being listed in Geek TV? Read on, my friends, read on.

Total Episodes: 135 as of this writing.

Original Air Dates: 2005-present.

Original Network: Fox

Geek Factor: 5

Characters:

BonesPicDr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel): A forensic anthropologist working at the Jeffersonian Institute (read: Smithsonian Institute) in Washington, DC. Very unaware of most pop culture out there (although she is a fan of Wonder Woman), and decidedly lacking in social skills. Bones tends to say what she thinks without worrying first whether or not someone might be offended. At the end of the sixth season, it's revealed that she's pregnant with Booth's child. Her birth parents were bank robbers; her mother was murdered in 1993, and her father has committed several murders since then, although he's not been convicted of any of them. Bones is a best-selling author, trained in three types of martial arts, and speaks eight languages.

Special Agent Seely Booth (David Boreanaz): A former Army Ranger and Special Forces sniper, he's very good at guessing people's motives, and also provides an “excuse” for the writers to translate the scientific jargon for the layman. He calls in Bones along with her colleagues to help investigate murders when there's human remains that are difficult to identify. He tends to refer to Bones' colleagues as “squints”. He's afraid of clowns, and is a descendant of John Wilkes Booth. He's apparently a fan of Family Guy, as he had once hallucinated that Stewie Griffin was present and speaking to him when he was suffering from a brain tumor.

Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin): The daughter of Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top, Angela specializes in forensic facial reconstruction, and has an undergraduate degree in visual arts with a minor in computer science. One of her biggest contributions was a holographic computer simulation that use used to try to determine how a murder was committed – not a full immersion simulator, like the Holodeck, but more of a tabletop projector system. She is married to Jack Hodgins.

Dr. Jack Stanley Hodgins IV (T.J. Thyne): Hodgins (even Angela calls him this) is a forensic entomologist, forensic mineralogist, forensic palynologist, and a forensic chemist – probably why he often refers to himself as “King of the Lab”! He's into conspiracy theories as a hobby. Jack comes from an extremely wealthy family (something he doesn't like to talk about, and hid from his friends at the Jeffersonian for some time). He's very sarcastic.

Dr. Zachary “Zack” Addy (Eric Mllegan): Introduced as Bones' assistant, he appeared in the first three seasons working closely with the team. He's got two doctorates, one in forensic anthropology and the other in applied engineering. Zack becomes the apprentice of the serial killer Gormogon, thanks to having a weak personality tat could be manipulated. Despite this, he was able to remain loyal to his friends, and gives up Gormogon after Bones uses logic to convince him to do so. He's since been a recurring character.

Dr. Camile (Cam) Saroyan (Tamara Taylor): Cam is the head of the Forensic Division of the Jeffersonian, and as such is Bones and the rest of the squints' boss. She is a hard line boss, but will listen to her team. She used to be romantically involved with Booth, and is now seeing a doctor named Paul. She is raising Michelle Welton, the daughter of a former fiancee of hers who was killed.

Dr. Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley): Sweets is a psychiatrist who works for the FBI. Initially, he was assigned to counsel Bones and Booth, but they soon realized that Sweets has a talent for profiling, and often call on his assistance (this despite Bones' assertion that psychiatry and psychology is useless). Sweets is currently in a serious relationship with Daisy Wick, one of the interns at the Jeffersonian.

Geek Guest-Stars:

Ernie Hudson appeared in two episodes as David Barron. He's probably best known for playing Winston Zeddemore in Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. But that's not all! He also voiced Cyborg on The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians.

Anne Dudek appeared in two episodes as Tessa Jankow before going on to play Dr. Amber Volakis (aka “Cutthroat Bitch”) on House, and currently is seen on Covert Affairs. Dietrich Bader appeared in three episodes as Andrew Hacker, but he's also done a lot of cartoon voice work, including Adonis in the 1998-1999 Hercules, Warp Darkmatter on Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, and of course, Batman on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Oh and he also appeared on some obscure sitcom called The Drew Carey Show.

Stephen Fry appeared in five episodes as Dr. Gordan Wyatt, but I was first introduced to him in Blackadder II playing Lord Melchett (he also had appearances in other Blackadder series, especially in Blackadder Goes Forth portraying General Melchett). He was also a delight in A Bit of Fry and Laurie, which co-starred Hugh (House) Laurie, and I'm just mentioning it because it's hilarious. He was also the narrator for various Harry Potter video games.

Geek Pedigree:

Emily Deschanel played a receptionist in Spider-Man 2. David Boreanaz, of course, played Angel on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. He was also the voice of Hal Jordan/Green Lantern in Justice League: The New Frontier. T.J. Thyne guested on an episode of Early Edition, had a small part in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, voiced Stu Lou Who in the 2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas, appeared in an episode of The Tick (2001), three episodes of Angel, and an episode of Charmed.

Tamara Taylor guested on an episode of Early Edition. John Francis Daley played Sam Weir on Freaks and Geeks.

Executive producer Barry Josephson was executive producer for The Tick (2001-2002), Tales From the Crypt (1991-1992), and also exec produced the 1998 Fantasy Island and the 2000 Secret Agent Man.

DVD Release: Full seasons.


Notes: Despite what I wrote above, there are a fair amount of geek references made in this program. The producers were enough aware of the geek market for this show that many of the cast members have appeared at San Diego Comic Con to promote it, too.

Toy Spotlight: Aurora Monster Models!

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First, a couple of built-up Creature kits and boxes! And below, a pretty awesome customization job someone did, and the Monogram reissue!
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