Sunday, September 10, 2017

Len Wein (1948-2017)

   Len Wein, one of my favorite comic book writers, has passed away after a long illness. Wein was active in both DC and marvel Comics from the late '60's onward. He most notably created Swamp Thing for DC and the ever popular Wolverine for Marvel, as well as revitalized the X-Men in general in the mid-'70's for the company. I particularly enjoyed his long runs on Amazing Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk from the late '70's. When I first began collecting old comics, Wein's runs on those titles were some of the first I sought out.
     While Wein is most known for creating Swamp Thing and many of the second generation of X-Men, he was a journeyman in the world of comics who wrote short runs of just about every character you could name. My personal favorite was the penultimate Marvel Feature #11 from 1973. I stumbled across it at a convention in Charlotte in 1990. The story featured an obscure alien character placing a wager with Hulk's arch-nemesis ,the Leader, that the Fantastic Four's strongmen, the Thing, in a fight. For a long time there, fan debate raged over which of the two was strongest, and any match up between Hulk and the Thing was highly sought after. The issue lead to the Thing earning his own title in which he teamed up with another character every issue.
    Later in his career, Wein branched out to script writing. He penned a number of stories for animated series featuring comics characters. Most notably were Batman: The Animated Series, Spider-Man, and X-Men.
     Wein was in poor health most of his life and on dialysis for the last few years. He came to love comics in much the same manner as I did—he was given stacks of comics to read in order to pass the time while recuperating from various illnesses as a child. His health was in decline so long, I do not remember a time when rumors of his imminent passing were not floating about in comics fandom. Yet he always managed to bounce back with new endeavors. He often appeared at conventions to meet fans. I imagine in person meetings were the catalyst for persistent rumors of his inevitable death. But he always beat the odds...until this morning.
     Godspeed, Len Wein.  

The Wind Took Your Answer

     Caligula was one of the most colorful and insane rulers of Rome. A case in point is the time he ordered a legion of soldiers to stab at the sea. Afterward, he declared victory and ordered his men to gather sea shells as war trophies. There are two stories possibly explaining Caligula's actions. The first, from sensationalist historian Suetonius, stated Caligula declared war on Neptune, the god of the oceans, in order to establish dominion over his maritime realm. The second is a legion of Romans nearly mutinied over orders to invade Britain, and the act was done as a way of declaring some kind of victory. The bottom line is Caligula was crazy because—and not only because—the act accomplished nothing.
     Flash forward a few centuries, and the idea has spread among some Florida residents that shooting at Hurricane Irma makes landfall in the Keys and moves up the Gulf Coast will push the storm back into the ocean. The suggestion came from an online post as a joking suggestion to relieve stress and boredom, but some in Florida took it seriously enough a local sheriff tweeted out a warning for citizens not to fire a gun during the fierce winds will send the bullets astray. The Facebook event at which Irma was supposed to be attacked had 26,000 people signed up to attend.
     A couple other events were planned via Facebook, such as meeting together to push Irma back out to sea and a peaceful protest against Irma to demonstrate its ideology of violence and destruction is not welcome in Gainsville. I confess to liking the jab at social justice warriors with that one. Aside from these two examples, there are other acts of absurdity planned for real. There is a fellow who planned to tie himself to a pole to wait out the storm. No word as to whether he went through with it. If he did, I assume he is now a Darwin Award finalist.
     In all seriousness, I hope everyone is Florida stays as safe as possible during Irma. Hurricanes are no laughing matter. Even in a place like Florida which suffers hurricanes frequently, never underestimate when a particularly powerful one comes along. When nature decides to show you who is really in charge, take heed.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Labor Day!

    I hope everyone is enjoying Labor Day. As mentioned here in recent days, it is the final holiday of the summer. I made the most of it with hamburgers and BBQ chicken. Not much to complain about there, no? If you are curious how I managed to gain several pounds over the last couple weeks, today's lunch is a good clue.
     Here is my usual holiday selfie for Labor Day.     

Sunday, September 3, 2017

"409"--Junior Brown

     Yes, it is another Beach boys song. A pattern is developing before your very eyes.
     This is my favorites out of all the country covers I posted this week. Junior Brown puts a definite country twist on the song. The beach boys not only sing backup, but appear as though they are having the time of their lives doing so. The lively spirit is infectious.   
     Compare this performance to yesterday's "Just give me the paycheck" reaction KISS had to playing with Garth Brooks as he goofs around on "Hard Luck Woman.'  

Saturday, September 2, 2017

A Periodic Reminder

      One may insist the spirit of this post runs contrary to the general advice to “let dead leaves fall,” but I did vow months ago to make a periodic reminder of the status of my personal belongings. While it is important to let go of the little things, it is also important to keep your word. I weighed the two concepts and decided keeping a vow is more important under the circumstances. What good is a person who fails to keep his promises?
      You may recall when I intervened in the Darlington County sheriff's race I had been abandoned to a nursing home by Team Chavis while they kept all of my personal belongings, surrogate for the campaign said all of my belongings were actually boxed up. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows this claim is false. No reason exist to keep any of my stuff if Team Chavis has no intention of ever contacting me again. But I called their bluff and will continue to do so. I have friends in Hartsville who are willing to retrieve my stuff. All they need is the go ahead fro Team Chavis. It is a go ahead that will, of course, never come.
     This is the character of your new sheriff, Darlington. He does not care about doing the right thing. He only cares about the sense of self-worth he derives from wearing a uniform. I will continue to serve as a source of truth for this matter.

"Hard Luck Woman"--Garth Brooks

     So here is a particular oddity for you. Not only do I consider Garth Brooks' reign in country music as the beginning of it drift away from tradition, I do not consider his rendition of KISS' “Hard luck Woman” to be all that good. But there is a particular novelty to watching KISS play backup for Brooks. Gene Simmons admitted they only played on the cover because brooks groveled . I get the impression they would rather be anyone else but on that stage.
     Before anyone blasts me, I do like a lot of Brook's music from the early '90's. He went off the rails after refusing the Artist of the Year from the American Music Awards. The less said about his turn as Chris Gaines, the better. The bottom line is I am giving both credit and blame where I fairly think it belongs. Your mileage may vary.    

Friday, September 1, 2017

"Take It Easy"--Travis Tritt

    Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles was released in 1993 as a benefit for Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Walden Pond is famous for being the place in which Henry David Thoreau wrote his famous work, Waldon; or Life in the Woods. Preserving Waldon Pond has been a longtime project for Eagles' drummer and environmentalist Don Henley.
     The album featured country artists covering songs of the Eagles. The eagles are right up there with Jimmy Buffett in terms of my favorite artists and at the time of the release, refugee fan of their kind of music were migrating to country in order to escape the mess rap, pop, and dance had made of mainstream music. Common Thread was one of the first Cd I ever bought. It enjoyed heavy rotation right up until I switched to MP3 a few years ago.
    Many fans have criticized some of the country artists for butchering the originals. Fair enough. Such criticism comes with the territory of cover songs. There are a few on the CD I am not too fond of, either. None compare to the originals, either. But there are some good efforts. I could have easily chosen three or four, but I went with Travis Tritt's cover of “Take It Easy.” It appears to be among the most favored covers. As with the song I chose yesterday, the original band plays backup.
     Not everyone was happy with Common Thread, but the Cd compelled the Eagles to tour again in 1994 after a fourteen year hiatus. The Eagles' new found success lead to about a dozen farewell tours since then, so there is that.
        Godspeed, Glenn Frey.