Plankwalk Empire

Last Thursday was International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day, and Comedy Central's @Midnight celebrated with an appropriate Hashtag Wars segment. As current as it is, the show tapes a little while before it actually airs to allow for editing, so the producers post the subject of each night's segment on Twitter at about 11:30 p.m. ET and invite fans to join the fun early. My old buddy and occasional Blam's Blog commenter Arben noticed the night's subject, liked it, and gave me a heads-up so that I could brainstorm along with him, then graciously allowed me to add some of his entries to mine for publication here for a total of our...

Top Twelve Pirate TV Shows

12. The Plunder Years

11. One and a Half Legs

10. So You Think You Can Penzance

9. The Avast-Me-Hearty Boys

8. Doubloony Tunes

Huston, We Have Amalgam

Just imagine Humphrey Bogart playing not Sam Spade but Sam Wilson — a 1941 version of Sam Wilson, hangdog gumshoe turned Captain America's unorthodox partner.

fake movie poster in vintage style: Warner Bros. and Republic Present / Humphrey Bogart / Dick Purcell / with Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Gladys George / a John Huston film / Captain America and the Maltese Falcon

That's what I did in mashing and mocking up this poster for Captain America and the Maltese Falcon.

I'd brainstormed the title a couple of years ago for a #BadNoir hashtag game on Twitter. While it was merely meant as a gag line, it just has so much Reese's Peanut-Butter Cup potential.

Don Pardo 1918-2014

black-&-white photo of Don Pardo at microphone
Photo: Al Levine / NBC © 1982.

What's most surprising about Don Pardo's passing on Monday is either half of this sentence taken with the other: He was 96 and still working as the primary voice of Saturday Night Live.

Robin Williams 1951-2014

That was a really difficult post title to type.

promo shot of Robin Williams as Mork
Photo: Jim Britt / ABC © 1978.

I was introduced to Robin Williams, who died on Monday at the age of 63, in his guise of Mork — first on Happy Days and then, of course, on Mork & Mindy. Although I'm twenty years younger, I aged with him, or vice versa, through his stand-up and dramatic roles and talk-show appearances and film comedies and mush and, just this past year, his return to network TV.

Which I think is a big part of why his death hits so hard.

Happy Batmanniversary!

I have a few posts about Batman queued up — some by coincidence; some because
of his belated 75th birthday bash.

Criminals on a rooftop see a menacing costumed figure behind them and one exclaims 'The Bat-Man!!!'
Panel from "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate" in Detective Comics #27 © 1939 DC Comics.
Script: Bill Finger. Pencils, Inks, Letters: Bob Kane. Colors: Unknown.

Which I'm kind-of resisting. Batman debuted at the hands of writer Bill Finger and artist Bob Kane in Detective Comics #27, dated May 1939 but likely on sale in April of that year. Given how slow publisher DC Comics was to roll out logos and other celebratory stuff for Superman's diamond anniversary in 2013 — not to mention the whole company's a few years before that — I shouldn't be surprised that today, July 23rd, was designated by DC as Batman Day.

I understand why DC would want to position the event on a Wednesday, since that's when new arrivals hit comics shops, and why it would want to do something in proximity to this weekend's San Diego Comic-Con as well. There are in fact several Batman panels scheduled for the latter, but surely that doesn't preclude (let alone abrogate) historical accuracy. Some fun stuff did see the light closer to Batman's actual birthdate, to be fair, including material in the aforementioned upcoming posts. I really should be willing to cut DC considerable slack given how commemorations of other legends over at Adventures in Comicology got punted down the line, although I finally had the sense to cut bait and reschedule — I'm about as confident as I ever get that my retrospectives marking Superman's and Batman's 80th birthdays will be worth the wait. Since I've been around for more than half of his existence now, and five years hence feels like it'll be here before we know it, maybe the answer is that I'm just turning into an old crank myself.

Related Posts: 'Zantennial; Superman at 75; A Wing and a Prayer


TFAW - Since 1979 - Things from Another World

Things from Another World is in the middle of a brief 4th of July sale that ends
on Monday. I've praised TFAW before and may well again. While the current sale isn't as long or as deep as its roughly semi-annual blowouts, the site is on my mind because of how spectacularly it made good on a recent (and rare) problem.

I order from TFAW once, maybe twice a year, either during those big sales or from
the Nick & Dent section where certain barely scuffed items that don't meet the site's — or its brick-and-mortar West Coast stores' — standards are always at least 50% off retail. On exactly one occasion was I able to tell for sure what the nick and/or dent on an item was supposed to be. This past May, however, during another brief sale, an order arrived with two fairly thick softcovers whose entire top-right corners were bent up, as if someone had dogeared the entire book. Even had they been Nick & Dent items, which they weren't, it would've been an unacceptable situation. I contacted TFAW customer service, explained the issue, and was told that new copies would be sent out immediately; meantime, I could do with the problem books whatever I wanted. Sure enough, I got the new copies in short order and they looked great.

Just as remarkable as the ease of getting replacements, without any hassle of exchange, is the fact that the moment I saw the bent books I knew that something must've gone very wrong in TFAW's packing process and that resolving the issue would be easy. So if you're looking for a recommendation on a site with new comics, recent back issues, trade paperbacks, hardcovers, and comics-related collectibles, often deeply discounted, here's a ringing endorsement. I have no relationship with Things from Another World beyond simply being a happy customer.

Luke Who's Talking

Nothing against Heath Ledger or Cesar Romero, each of whom took an indelibly unique turn as Batman's nemesis, but for me Mark Hammill speaking Paul Dini's dialogue is the definite screen Joker. In a clip from a one-on-one interview during a recent Star Wars Weekend at Walt Disney World, Hammill gives Dini some mad love after treating the audience to an improvised dialogue between Gotham's Clown Prince of Crime and a certain young Skywalker.

Hammill gesticulating as The Joker at 2014 'Star Wars' Weekend

The Fourth Grows Weak

excerpt of Quadrilogies charts showing decline in box-office gross and IMDB user ratings for first through fourth films in 'Jaws' and 'Superman' franchises

Kate Willaert, who shares a bunch of cool stuff over at her Uncool Artblog no matter what the name says, has designed an infographic charting IMDB user ratings and domestic box-office gross (adjusted for inflation) across movie quadrilogies — film series that have produced at least four installments. The diminishing returns come as no surprise, although there are exceptions to that general rule. Film series sampled aren't nearly as numerous as those used in the sequel map that I wrote about a few years ago, but of course even in our current cinematic climate there are plenty more franchises with just one or two follow-ups than three or more.

Related Posts: The A Team; After-Math

Long Day's Journey into Mystery

Watching the Tony Awards telecast last Sunday, I found myself coming up with comics-related twists on the titles of various plays and musicals. The game continued for several days until my list grew long enough to split into two — one for Marvel, one for DC (last post) — while still paring each down to about half the rough draft. Some entries are more accessible to non-comics-reading folks than others; the only rule was passing over titles that wouldn't need to be changed at all, such as The Iceman Cometh or Beauty and The Beast.

Now take your seats for my...

Top Twenty Marvel Comics Broadway Mashups

20. You're a Mole Man, Charlie Brown

19. Dirty Rotten Fandral

18. Jess Is the Spider-Woman

17. Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Hulk

16. Thoroughly Modeled Millie

A Swamp Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Watching the Tony Awards telecast last Sunday, I found myself coming up with comics-related twists on the titles of various plays and musicals. The game continued for several days until my list grew long enough to split into two — one for DC, one for Marvel (next post) — while still paring each down to about half the rough draft. Some entries are more accessible to non-comics-reading folks than others; the only rule was passing over titles that wouldn't need to be changed at all, such as Man and Superman.

Now take your seats for my...

Top Twenty DC Comics Broadway Mashups

20. Riddler on the Roof

19. My Fair Lady Blackhawk

18. Ain't Mister Mxyzptlk

17. Captain Carrot and His Amazing Technicolor Zoo Crew

16. The Justice League of American Buffalos

News of Future Posts

So. You might've noticed that content around here has been sparse to nonexistent lately.

The reasons for this are, unfortunately, manifold. I spent much of last year setting up Adventures in Comicology, a website meant to archive my past writing on comics and steadily stream new material to boot. Posting here on Blam's Blog in 2013 fell to well under one whole freaking half the volume of previous annual totals — just a third of 2012's high-water mark — and even though I'm working to resume the flow this week I'll barely have reached a meager dozen entries for 2014 to date by July. I'd honestly be fine with that if technical problems, along with the inability to properly deal with those problems due to other life stuff, hadn't ground progress on Comicology and related projects to a halt. While it's bad enough simply not being able to put in as much time and effort as I'd like, it's far more frustrating to put in considerable time and effort yet have so little to show.

More pressing matters will continue to demand my attention in the short term, but hopefully by summer's end you'll see things pick up here a bit. Another, more detailed status update on all things me will be along when that happens. Stay cool.

Cynicalman Gets Schooled

Panel from Stupid Boy strip / 'Hi, Stupid Boy!' 'Duh, HI, Cynicalman!'
Panel © 2014 and Cynicalman ® Matt Feazell.

I've guest-written a strip for Matt Feazell that just went live at the Cynicalman website. Episodes don't get updated online as often as they used to, but I'm still not sure how long it'll be up before a new one replaces it and it's archived for eventual collection. Speaking of which, The Amazing Cynicalman Volumes 1 & 2 — highly recommended; ditto any or all Feazell minicomics you care to grab — are available via that same website. Matt's been doing hilarious work with astounding economy of line since the days people mailed paper to one another in envelopes. I'm hoping to contribute more gags in the future — like he needs my help.

Miley at Twerk
(An Emoticomic)




Text-art © 2014 Brian Saner Lamken.
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Rush to Judgment

We got a (more-or-less) full look today at the suit Grant Gustin will be wearing as Barry Allen in the upcoming CW Flash series.

Grant Gustin in costume as The Flash
Photo: Jack Rowand for Warner Bros. Entertainment © 2013.


Feed Me Rewrite!

I was finally successful this year in not writing about the Oscars before or after the telecast. The bad news is that this wasn't due purely to willpower; I've been sitting on this post for a while with the aim of running it on, as they say, Movies' Biggest Night, but I couldn't.

Sometime last year I came up with a couple of the following lines and realized that the concept would make a fun hashtag game. What you do is take a reasonably well-known quote from books or films and substitute one or two words with food. I'm very rarely on Twitter anymore, though, so I ended up just brainstorming a bit and setting the list aside to run on the blog as my...

Top Twenty Supermarket Lines of Dialogue

20. "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my cold cuts."

19. "Nobody puts baked beans in a corner."

18. "Take your stinking pasta off me, you damn dirty apes!"

17. "It was the best of thymes, it was the worst of thymes."

16. "Open the pad thai doors, HAL."

15. "There's no cayenne in baseball!"

14. "Oh, Stewardess… I speak chives."

13. "You've got meat? Who's got juice?!?"

Harold Ramis 1944-2014

Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and  Ernie Hudson in 'Ghostbusters'
Ghostbusters screencap © 1984 Columbia Pictures (I guess).

The year is 1989. I'm a day-camp counselor for kids 5 to 6 years old. At that age boys have their favorite whatevers on their lunch boxes, their shirts, their underwear. Ghostbusters was big in our bunk — mostly, I assume, from the animated TV series based on the 1984 movie (Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters) rather than the movie itself. So I chaperone a few boys into the restroom. Two of them stand at the same urinal, pants down, focused on doing what you do. One suddenly exclaims "Don't cross the streams!" and they crack up so hard it's a miracle that no mopping was required.

I think Harold Ramis, who died this past Monday at 69, would've been proud. Godspeed, ghosts, gophers, and groundhogs be with him.

Dive's the Bomb

Lake Street Dive is my new jam. All of it. I've been listening to everything that the band has done in anticipation of today's release of their latest album, Bad Self-Portraits.

cover to Lake Street Dive album 'Bad Self-Portraits' — members posing stiffly in a drawing room, with B&W photos of them posing goofily in closeup framed on mantle

The quartet, whose members met at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music, consists of Rachael Price (lead vocals), Mike "McDuck" Olson (guitar, trumpet, backing vocals), Bridget Kearney (acoustic bass, backing vocals), and Mike Calabrese (drums, backing vocals).

I guess I'd describe Lake Street Dive's music as stripped-down indie pop/rock liberally inflected with jazz, blues, and soul. Maybe that sounds like a little bit of everything — because it is, in a good way, but Dive is also as focused as a laser, at once familiar and not quite like anything I've heard in way too long.

Yesterday and Today

High crane shot of The Beatles on set of 'The Ed Sullivan Show' with full stage and cameras in view
Photo © 1964 SOFA Entertainment.

I'm a little surprised at how emotional I got watching the Beatles tribute earlier tonight.

And I shouldn't be. Surprised, I mean, because I am a very easy mark when it comes to that sort of thing. Nostalgia is practically my religion.

CBS aired The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles at 8 p.m. ET — 50 years to the hour from The Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was taped a couple weeks ago, on the day after this year's live Grammy Awards telecast, which is why there were so many stars on hand who might otherwise have been working elsewhere and why Pharrell was wearing that hat.