I've been on Twitter now — @BrianLamken — for pretty much exactly six months.

Faithful readers here know that I periodically collect my Twits (which, 
as first noted when discussing Sonya from Sweden, I refuse to call "tweets") in posts like this. They also know that I've wrestled with how to incorporate Twitter, which I joined as much to connect with folks with whom I'd fallen out of touch as to share my particular brand of pith, into a daily life that isn't nearly as productive as I'd like and that is pretty much the opposite of conducive to something that requires constant interaction. Anyone reading this post after following a link on Facebook, I trust that either I've told you or you've sussed out that the same explanation holds at least in part for why it took me so long to join Facebook. 

Giving up Twitter several times but getting sucked back into it after checking the feeds of a few eminently followable people finally let me comfortably arrive at my current relationship with the service, which is to post links to my blogs when I remember, throw out some random humor when I can, even participate in conversations when I have the time and focus, all with the understanding that it's gonna come 'n' go. Twitter is basically a radio station made up of its users' contributions: It's always there, and you're guaranteed to miss out on stuff you'd love to hear, but you can't have it on all the time. You can't be "on" all the time. You just have to let yourself tune in when you can. Facebook and the blogosphere are — chat rooms and bulletin boards and Usenet newsgroups are/were, since the dawn of cyberspace — the same way, although Twitter is so high-volume and has so many streams that it's singularly impossible to catch everything (the understanding of which I think might ironically be an ingredient in what makes it easier to take it and leave it).

I realize that some of you may find the preceding ridiculously obvious, but from my experience several of you will understand where I'm coming from. Some folks have a literal mania about being comprehensive, some folks just think that they really can absorb it all, some folks don't feel that it's worthwhile (or representative of their own value as a participant) to take part in anything that they can't take part in completely. It can be hard to give in to the tide without feeling like you're letting the technology beat you, but actually in doing so you're the one controlling the technology. There ain't nobody gonna read the entire Internet, bubbeleh.

What follows are my Twits for a general audience, minus those that are scraps of a larger exchange, from the past couple of months. These latest Twits and those from previous posts are now on a dedicated page of the blog's called "Greatest Twits".

Fringe Thinking: This Boy

As most of us bask in the afterglow of the Winter Solstice holidays, anticipate New Year's festivities, and either curse or bless the dearth of new television, I've decided to go ahead and post my thoughts on...

Not to be confused with "Jenny 867-5309".

I considered waiting until just before Fringe returned for its final fortnight, but then realized that some folks might be using this fallow period as an opportunity to catch up on their viewing and/or their blogreading. So here's my scattershot analysis of the series' antepenultimate night, with the next hour to come on Jan. 11th before the double-shot finale airs on Jan. 18th.

See You Next B'ak'tun!

I got the above from the blog of Nikki Stafford, who doesn't know the source. Given that its focus is the prophecies of Nostradamus rather than the current hubbub, I suppose it could be from an actual Weekly World News front page of yesteryear rather than a gag mockup; Google image searches aren't turning up anything, nor is a quick survey of the Weekly World News website. Of course I realize that the world is not ending and that in fact all the apocalyptic frenzy is actually misinterpretation, playfully willful or otherwise, of the Mayan Long-Count Calendar, but just in c

Fringe Thinking: Glass Onion

More than once this season I've been particularly disappointed in an installment of Fringe one week only to have the following chapter stoke my enthusiasm considerably.

... was an inventive, at times elegiac episode that once again lifted me to heights of guarded optimism about the series wrapping up next month in a way that makes Season Five a worthy, even essential conclusion rather than merely a quirky coda to the past. It felt much more connected to Fringe as a whole, full of echoes and portents.

We got so many references to Fringe-gone-by, in fact, that I opted to use "Glass Onion" as the subtitle for this writeup instead of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".

Keep On Walking

Photo from The Walking Dead 3.01 "Seed": Gene Page for AMC © 2012 
TWD Productions LLC. Font: Cracked. Text and design: Brian Saner Lamken.

Even as I finished up and posted my previous batch of The Walking Dead Pictogags, more were forming in my fevered brain. Some were inspired by images from the season to date lingering in my mind's eye, not all of which could be realized due to lack of photos or screencaps, while others — like the above — were entirely prompted by the photos at TWD's section of the AMC website that I scrolled through for use in the first volley. This quartet will be posted shortly over at my new Tumblr blog, an offshoot devoted purely to my graphical tinkerings.

Happy Feet

The post title is not a reference to the old jazz number, the recent animated-film franchise, nor even (my own immediate, favorite association with the term) the sudden exclamation in Steve Martin's classic stand-up routine.

No, I bring you, as you can see above, a pitch for The Charlie Brown School of Dance. Like good ol' Mark Evanier — on whose cornucopian blog News from Me I first saw the link — said, "Just watch it...". I hope you'll pass it on.

Paging Xander Harris!

Related Posts: Muppet Monday; Missing Links

Fringe Thinking:
Watching the Wheels

I have to offer my apologies for being so late with my writeup on...

... especially with Fringe having returned from a fortnight's hiatus last Friday. It airs tomorrow and next Friday, Dec. 21st, then takes another two weeks off for the holidays before returning Jan. 11th and concluding with a double-shot finale Jan. 18th — the latter presumably beginning at 8 rather than 9 p.m. ET/PT, since Fox doesn't program the 10 o'clock hour.

With only 6 hours (or "hours" — episodes run less than 45 minutes sans commercials) left in the series, I was disheartened that last week's chapter felt like such a placeholder.

It's not that nothing happened. Our team got a new piece in Walter's scavenger hunt of a puzzle, the industrial-sized electromagnet; Peter and Windmark had a minorly epic battle; Olivia talked Peter down from his precarious position atop Corruption-of-Power Falls. Yet I was strangely nonplussed, a feeling that I'm not entirely unused to having this season. The whole was less than the sum of its parts.

Meaning Less

Yesterday the Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup went up in the sidebar to indicate that posts here are backed up and slow with the going. I've been under the weather and less productive than usual lately, perhaps as a cosmic reminder not to make grand plans. On top of that, my Internet connection turned equally lethargic today.

So while things will hopefully get up to speed again soon I wanted to at least publish this note as preamble to a batch of word-verification definitions. Faithful readers are familiar with the exercise; anyone who isn't can find an explanation in "The Mean Streak", a page on the blog collecting all such entries to date.

As reflected in the title, I'm running out of content for these posts, largely because of Blogger's switch earlier this year to a different verification mechanism that prompts fewer imagined definitions from me. The next installment in this series will probably be the last.

assfu — [ass foo] n. Martial art based on literally kicking your opponent's butt.

bininsic — [bin in sik] phr. Quick explanation for lack of activity outside the home.

compery — [kom puh ree] n. Rackin' up freebies.

dectus — [dek tuss] n. A catcus as big as ten normal cacti.

Essencei™ — [eh sen say] The cologne for hard-working dojo masters. "You chop the sandalwood in half. We combine its fragrant oil with hints of strawberry and musk. Essencei."

No Guts, No Story

It occurred to me while catching up on some episode reviews of The Walking Dead after last Sunday's mid-season finale that a turn of phrase I used a couple of years ago in discussing a moment on Lost would lend itself even more perfectly to a Pictogag for a recent scene from AMC's zombie drama.

Photo from The Walking Dead 3.05 "Say the Word": Greg Nicotero 
for AMC © 2012 TWD Productions LLC. Font: Didot. Type manipulation, 
based on Absolutely Fabulous logo: Brian Saner Lamken © 2012 for Blam's Blog.

As happens with these things, I found it hard to stop with that one.

There's at least one definite spoiler in the half-dozen Pictogags that follow, so those of you who plan to watch Season Three and haven't — as well as those of you for whom the gore in the one above was more than you care to, um, stomach — should probably stop now.

42 Favorites: #11

Until my post on The Iron Giant, this fits-'n'-starts 40 41 42 Favorites series had
run in alphanumeric order — from 1980s superhero-team comics to Airplane! on through crossword puzzles. I'll probably keep with that order for the most part, but sometimes circumstances suggest breaking it. Now, for instance, is a great time to
talk about seeing movies in a theater.

If I put my shoulder into it and fortune favors me, a slew of posts on movies from
the past year will be up this month. Year's end is a time for reflection in general, but certain aspects of life (school) and pop culture in particular (the TV season, traditionally) don't fit neatly with the Gregorian calendar. Movies do — partly insofar as, film not being a largely serial medium like television is, the end of the year could fall anywhere; it's easy enough to make a list of the best movies or books or music releases in the 365 (or 366) days prior to Date X. But it also works out nicely that we get a volley of would-be blockbusters in the spring and summer months, when days are long and the air-conditioned multiplex beckons, followed by a smaller batch of commercial tentpoles amidst more serious, more intimate fare in the wintertime, when packed theaters offer a respite from the dreariness and cold. In truth many of the Oscar hopefuls don't even hit most markets until late December at the earliest, instead bridging one year to the next; this season will be no different, unless the folks misinterpreting the Mayan Long Count calendar turn out to be onto something.

There's nothing like settling into an auditorium with stadium seating as one swatch in a patchwork quilt made up of various bunches of a couple or a few or a dozen friends.

What's in a Name

I recently and somewhat randomly came across the poster below for the 1966 film Maya.

Poster for the film 'Maya' with the title in giant 'stone' letters, getting hit by lightning, as various animals stampede
Poster © 1966 King Bros. Productions and/or MGM Studios.

There's a Maya in my family, and I know some other Mayas too. But that was only the first name that jumped at me.

It was interesting to see Jay North — who played the title character in the TV incarnation of Dennis the Menace in the early '60s and, I found out to my surprise not long ago, voiced the teenage Bamm-Bamm Rubble in the early '70s — in the credits. That's not the main point here either, however.

The punch line of this chance experience was the name "Clint" — seen on the poster thanks to star Clint Walker. If you glanced at it earlier, or just now at my prompting, and had a brief shock at mistaking the name for another word, then you see why cartoonists, typesetters, and pretty much anyone else who finds themselves displaying "Clint" in all capitals usually takes care to put enough space between the "L" and the "I" lest they appear to merge into a "U".

[Warning: Comments get explicit.]

Head Space

I had a neat dream last night. Since content might otherwise be light here due to some family stuff, despite a few posts nearly ready to go, I've decided to write it up along with a couple of others I scribbled down from earlier this year.

The one from last night involved the work of Nikki Stafford, author of books about Lost and other cult TV, whose blog was one of my select re-entry points to online activity after I finally got a working computer a handful of years ago now. Co-starring in the others were actor/filmmaker Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO series Girls, and comics writer Kurt Busiek, creator of Astro City, whom I've had the pleasure of speaking with online and in person a fair amount over the past couple of decades.

In the snippet of last night's dreams that left an impression, I was mostly running around from table to table in a large dining room with a gravy boat of blue-cheese dressing. At a certain point that scene, which I vaguely associated with a college dining hall, transitioned to me teaching a class on Buffy the Vampire Slayer that drew from Nikki's work as well as my own blogposts. The real-world irony of the latter is that while I'd hoped to publish a series of relevant posts during Nikki's year-long "rewatch" of that series (posts on the companion series Angel and some of the comics, too), I had to suspend that plan. [I have too full a plate to return to those posts anytime soon but a notion to finish and roll them out in 2017, the 20th anniversary of the TV series and the 25th anniversary of the feature film that preceded it.]

Up in the Sky

A home movie of the Superman balloon's first appearance in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1940 was uploaded to YouTube in November of last year, but I got word of it too late to post it in time for the holiday then. Gracias to Rodrigo Baeza, who blogs at Comics Commentary, for sharing the link on the Grand Comics Database chat list! The Man of Helium shows up at the 1:30 mark.

Superman ® DC Comics.

Fringe Thinking: Borrowed Time

The fifth and final season of Fringe reached its midpoint last night with...

And so it's fitting that the episode hearkens back to the start of of Season One.

"Our first Fringe experience would be their last," said a vengeful Peter Bishop to Olivia Dunham, sharing with her that he'd used the jaw-dropping bioweapon from Episode 1.1 on three high-ranking Observers.

But "Five-Twenty-Ten" may have referred in a much more oblique way to the end of Season Two as well, and therefore given us yet another oh-so-tangential allusion to the parallel universe that occupies an essential place in Fringe lore. I'm no Jeff Jensen, but I had to wonder if the title to 5.07 — which turned out to be a safe combination used by Walter Bishop in one of William Bell's old laboratories — had any other significance. Sure enough, I hit paydirt with the first try: 05-20-10 is the American numerical rendering of May 20th, 2010, which turns out to be the original US air date of Episode 2.21, "Over There (Part 2)". This is a purely meta-level piece of information, of course, nothing to do with the characters within the show; it may however be a clue that the Other Side will yet figure into Season Five after all. I have a thought as to how, to be shared later in the post.

Fringe Thinking: There's a Place

Now we're talkin'!

... was a great episode, probably the best since the Season Five opener. I'm sorry that I didn't get this post up sooner, but once I realized it wouldn't be within a couple of days after airing I decided to wait until the day of the next episode to maximize some semblance of relevance. The way we justify or rationalize things to ourselves, as fortune would have it, is also very relevant to what Peter's doing.

One of the reasons why the hour grabbed me, no doubt, was its integration of premises past and present.

Spider-Man, Spider-Man /
Use His Face in a Frying Pan

Spider-Man's head as the end of a spatula

Williams-Sonoma is selling a Marvel Spider-Man Flexible Spatula.

How freaking awesome is that?

I got one from my cousins as a belated birthday gift, along with a Spider-Man Cupcake-Decorating Kit. The latter is no longer available from the Williams-Sonoma website; neither is the Marvel Heroes Cupcake-Decorating Kit featuring Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. I'm linking to them anyway in case that changes and including some images below because they're freaking awesome.

After the Flood

I thought that Bryan Walsh contributed a good piece on Hurricane Sandy to last week's issue of Time.

Walsh details some of what Sandy wrought, but also suggests how to prepare as storms like Sandy — a hurricane turned post-tropical cyclone after merging with the Arctic jet stream to form a hybrid nor'easter that some dubbed "Frankenstorm" — become a fact of life in what (most rational minds now agree) is an era of consequential climate change.

I've felt a bit of survivor's guilt over Sandy, to be honest.

My home in the Philadelphia suburbs lost power for about 30 seconds total on the night the storm hit — going dark just long enough the final time to convince me that several days without electricity lay ahead (since it would take so long for crews to work safely and get to everybody) only to pop back on with nary a complication thereafter save remembering to reset the blinking clocks. Lots of areas nearby had it much worse. I got to watch news coverage on a television in a lit room while checking E-mail.

Robin -- To the Bat-Polls!

Panel of friendly Batman saying 'Don't believe those crackpot lies about people who worship differently, or whose skin is of a different color, or whose parents come from another country. Remember our American heritage of freedom and equality!'
Panel from "Batman and Robin Stand Up for Sportsmanship!" in
Batman #57 (and other issues) © 1949 DC Comics. Script: Jack Schiff.
Pencils, Inks: Win Mortimer. Letters: Ira Schnapp. Colors: Unknown.
[via Tom Peyer with thanks to my pal Bully, the Little Stuffed Bull]

Fringe Thinking:
Gimme Some Truth

Peter Bishop took a pivotal step at the end of...

If you thought that with a title like that the episode would be providing more background on the Observers, now known as the Invaders, well, you thought wrong.

Same goes for background on Etta Bishop's life under Invader rule after she was separated from her parents 20 years ago. Ditto hitherto unrevealed secret connections among the members of our familiar former Fringe Division team.

This origin story was Peter's. And it wasn't a flashback to previously unspooled history. It was the first look at the next chapter of his journey. Etta's death pushed Peter over the edge — or at least an edge; there are certainly still darker places to go. He's using his enemies' own devices against them, but it remains to be seen to what extent he will become the very thing he's fighting.

Let me backtrack just a bit, although as always I assume that you've seen the episode before reading this and won't be recapping the whole plot:

House of the Rising Moon

'Mockingbird Lane' title card with main cast

Last Friday NBC ran the pilot for Mockingbird Lane, Bryan Fuller's revamp of The Munsters. At this writing you can still watch it via that link.

I took in the hour-long episode as a Halloween treat after hearing that it was good — already intrigued by the premise and the talent involved, despite rebooting or reimagining a familiar property for TV being a dicey prospect (Battlestar Galactica at one recent extreme, Wonder Woman at the other). Even after it was passed over for this season, Lane apparently had an outside shot at being picked up for 2013 if it turned out to be an October surprise. While I'm unsure that a 1.5 rating/5 share in the 18-49 demo (5.47 million viewers overall) is enough to do the trick, this was a Friday and this is the tentatively resurgent NBC.

I'd like to see more.


As I noted a couple of weeks ago, I've been flirting with Twitter again. I'm still completely at a loss as to how to include it as part of a balanced diet — and since I really want to finally get on Facebook, I suspect that it'll be cut out dang near totally for a while. (Once I reconnect with old friends and acquaintances on Facebook, of course, I'll probably want to follow some of them on Twitter...) Just a month after my last batch of select Twitter postlets for the foreseeable future, then, I leave you with another, minus the ones from the above link re the Presidential town-hall debate.

12 October 2012

Visit #Chipotle in costume after 4 p.m. on Halloween; get a $2 burrito and laughed at by the punks skating outside.

Yankees had "a champagne shower" in the clubhouse tonight after clinching the ALDS — or, as Alex Rodriguez calls it, "a shower".

14 October 2012

I'm 42 today. The only career I've really had is as a writer/editor. And I still find it weird to to use "comprise" except in the passive.

15 October 2012

Now I'm getting my car detailed as a gift. We've been here for an hour and the guy talks so slowly he's only up to "ignition coil".

21 October 2012

#FakeNews: Mitt Romney joined at campaign event by reclusive brothers Bat, Helmet, and Faceguard Romney

#FakeNews: 1952 batch of Whoops Still Tears Back to the Drawing Board shampoo found in Johnson & Johnson warehouse

#FakeNews: Chan Marshall, Connor Oberst, and Natasha Khan to form alias supergroup Cat Eye Lashes

Siteseeing: Quick Hits

Here's a little bit of link-bloggery appropriate to the evening.

First up is the video for "Can't Play Dead" from The Heavy, which premiered exclusively at the other day. It's a great track on its own merits, I think — but if you disagree, just turn the sound down and groove to the Día de los Muertos stop-motion B-movie-trailer visuals.

Fringe Thinking:
Happiness Is a Warm Gun

The good news is that after a week away, Fringe was back on Fox at 9 p.m. ET last Friday. And the even better news is that...

... was a real return to form after the letdown that was the previous episode.

The bad news? Well, I'm sorry that I don't have more of substance to say about such a pivotal chapter of Season 5 and I wish I'd been able to get this post up sooner. More to the point in-story, um, there's a big honkin' plot twist to address which I'll be getting to shortly.

Keitel Records

You think you're done with "Call Me Maybe"? You cringe when your car radio lands on it for even a moment? You swear that no cover, mashup, or parody could ever get you to listen to that song again?

I'm here to sympathize but also to tell you that you're wrong. You must hear it one more time, at least if you haven't yet seen the duet between Harvey Keitel and Carly Rae Jepsen from Night of Too Many Stars.

Keitel pulls a William Shatner by doing his part as a spoken-word performance exactly as you'd imagine Harvey Keitel would.

Night of Too Many Stars is the biennial variety-show fundraiser hosted by Jon Stewart to benefit autism programs. This year's edition aired last Sunday on Comedy Central in partnership with Stewart's Busboy Productions, combining a live telethon with clips from a show held the previous Sunday at New York City's Beacon Theatre.

Other standout moments are Katy Perry singing "Fireworks" with 11-year-old Jodi DiPiazza, a clip that's been burning up YouTube, and Louis CK auctioning off a holiday-card photo with Al Pacino.

You can still donate online via the links above.

The Garlicks Is Cookin'

Lea Hernandez has less than 48 hours to go in the campaign to raise money for her project The Garlicks on Indiegogo.

So, yeah, I'm putting up this post kind-of late, but that's no reflection on my enthusiasm. I also figured, maybe wrongly, that promoting the project towards the end rather than towards the beginning might be better. Anyway...

The Garlicks is the tale of young Pandora Garlick and her family. Pan's mom is a human who runs a butcher shop. Pan's dad is a vampire barista. Pan's baby sister, Ham, turns into a fishbat — that's right: a fishbat — while Pan can't turn into anything at all. But she can and does make comics inspired by her crazy life.

42 Favorites: #10

As I mentioned in my last post, The Iron Giant is one of my favorite things.

It was released a week before the 1999 San Diego Comic-Con was held; I didn't get to see it in advance of heading out to the show, but Scott McCloud raved about it — a huge recommendation for sure — and I thankfully got to see it in the theater after returning home. Unfortunately, I was one of the relatively few who did, as Warner Bros. rather infamously failed to properly market this beautiful, poignant tale for young and old.

Save Yourself

The winter holidays are fast approaching. Expect Christmas stuff in stores the day after Halloween — Kwanzaa and Chanukah, which comes early this year, too, depending on where you live. So let's help each other out.

I'll share some great Amazon deals perfect for the pop-culture fan in your life, including yourself, if he/she/you is anything like me. When you purchase them, or almost any other item that you place in your cart, through the links provided in this post (or the standing link over in the sidebar) I earn a small fee. It's the perfect way to thank me for alerting you to the deals and/or for providing whatever little bit of entertainment you get from my posts, while reinforcing my decision not to clutter up the blog with any other advertising.

How great are these deals? 

Abrams ComicArts' Shazam!: The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest Mortal is marked down from $35 to $7.

Twitti Politi

I confess to dabbling with Twitter again over the past week. Based on the Mars-rover landing, among other events, I was curious to see what it would be like to experience last Thursday's Vice-Presidential Debate with an eye on the Twitterverse. Tonight I dipped back in again during the Presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. I found myself predictably struggling with, on one hand, a desire to jot down a thought that amused me in the hope that it would amuse others, versus, on the other hand, my general inability to both do that and keep listening to the debate itself, then struggling further with the fact that Twitter was so congested that I often couldn't get my Twits out in a timely fashion. What I did let fly over the evening follows, largely nonpartisan, focused mostly on random things that struck me as funny or just the absurd theater of it all, but I advise those of you who stay away from sociopolitical material on principle to move along.

Audience: "I have a question." Candidate: "Great... I have a canned response that does not quite directly address that question." #debate

Please just fistfight. #debate

When Romney says that middle-income families have been buried, is he implying that more Americans die under Obama? #debate

Uh-oh... Romney said "foreign". #debate

A road to Greece would actually be pretty cool. #debate

Not to make light of income inequality, but Lilly Ledbetter and The Glass Ceiling is my new band name. #debate

Binders Full of Women is our opening act. #debate

Joker Lice

Along with my word-verification definitions (see yesterday) and, more recently, my Twitter postlets (see tomorrow), I've made a small running thing out of sharing weird search terms that Blogger's Stats info says lead people here.

My first such post was in January; the second, in April, was titled after one of those oddball terms, as is this one. To cut to the chase: I can't find any record of joker lice being a thing, in Gotham City or anywhere else.

A dozen more strange — or in a couple of cases, strangely mundane — strings, some of which totally befuddle me not only inherently but in how they led people here:

15-year-old with a fencing sword

action figure rod stewart

business team with laptops in the white cubes

csi ny lindsay and danny with baby & furious man in the lighttower

david boreanaz smolder

The Meaning of It All

My birthday ends at the stroke of midnight, and if you're up on your Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy then the title of this post will tell you just how many years it marked. There is, well, a double meaning to that title to boot; regular readers of the blog will recognize that it fits the pattern of my occasional volleys of word-verification definitions, collected (and explained for the uninitiated) at that link. I've taken to publishing these when I expect the blog to lie fallow for a spell, as well as simply when the mood strikes, but while I can see some things getting in the way of new posts here over the next couple of weeks I confess that I'm not yet sure to which scenario this entry applies.

androjor — [an dro jor] n. Robot duplicate of Superman's Kryptonian father.

bucritas — [buh kree tahss] pl. n. A Mexican dish made from pirate meat.

cobside — [kob syd] adj. Near an ear of corn.

dingdoc — [ding dok] n. Popular subgenre in Australian cinema of nature films featuring wild dogs.

entheist (1) — [en thee ist] n. One who worships the 14th letter of the English alphabet.

Fringe Thinking:
Magical Mystery Tour

I'm afraid that I don't have many kind words to say about...

The episode was a letdown, overall — not in spectacularly bad ways that prompt their own kind of commentary; it was just sort-of meh. I'm not sure when (if ever) Fringe last left me feeling that way before. Has it frustrated me? Yes. Has it grossed me out? Sure. Has it turned in a lackluster installment that felt like the script needed at least one more pass? Not that I recall.

Which is a particular shame given that, as my Beatles subtitle of the day reflects, "The Recordist" kicks off what appears to be the impetus for at least a good early-to-middle chunk of this final, 13-episode season of Fringe.


100 years ago this month, give or take, Frank Munsey's pulp magazine The All-Story premiered one of the longest-lived fictional characters of modern times in a complete novel: Tarzan of the Apes.

cover to October 2012's The All-Story

It wasn't fledgling writer Edgar Rice Burroughs' first work for the magazine. John Carter had debuted in All-Story's February 2012 issue with the serialized novel "Under the Moons of Mars"; later collected as A Princess of Mars, it spawned a set of sequels and adaptations into other media that would surely be as much as any franchise-minded author could hope for — had that author not created Tarzan as well.

Tarzan of the Apes was released in 1914 as a stand-alone book by A.C. McClurg. Its Fred J. Arting cover was entirely different in feel from, yet just as captivating as, the one painted by Clinton Pettee for the novel's original All-Story publication. Library of America reissued that book in hardcover earlier this year.

41 Favorites: #7-9

For my 40th birthday I brainstormed a list of some of my favorite things to launch a series of occasional posts. It's not that I was ever in danger of running out of topics to write on; my aim was more that I'd have some brief entries covering a variety of subjects during a time when I was generally retreating from new content out of frustration with the blog.

That was two years ago. I had to switch the title from 40 Favorites to 41 Favorites in 2011 and I've only added three posts to the series, comprising five favorite things, since then — including this one. As of Sunday the series title will have to change again.

I'm planning to throw another one of my omphaloskepsic posts up here soon, so that's enough of that right now. Let's talk instead about...

7. coffee

Mmm, I loves me the coffee.

To many folks it's merely a delivery system for a much-needed jolt of caffeine, and I'm not above using it that way myself — albeit for a slightly different reason than most. .

Fringe Thinking: Mother

I was a little concerned about using up "Mother" so soon, as we'll doubtless get another episode about the Olivia & Etta dynamic before Fringe is done, but there are now fewer than a dozen episodes left and I've learned not to be too precious about such things.

Here, partly in honor of Walter's addled state but mostly because it's all I'm able to put together, are some disjointed thoughts on...

No Swedish or Portuguese, I promise.

Aping Mad

The first issue of Mad hit the stands 60 years ago this week — or not. But I'll get back to that.

What does this have to do with the image above, cropped from a 15-year-old drawing of mine?

Comics fans of some knowledge will recognize DC's Ambush Bug and Marvel's Forbush Man, as well as the fact that the characters have been inserted into the cover of Mad #1. They almost certainly won't recognize the hippie dude in the bowler. But I'll get back to that, too.

Fringe Thinking:
Yellow Submarine

With its fifth and final season, Fringe has entered a new dimension. Or is that descriptor unavailable, lest the senses of the word be confused? The series has, after all, built much of its mythology on transdimensional travel to a parallel Earth — Over There, a.k.a. the Other Side, home to doppelgangers of our heroes and villains. Instead, Fringe's future lies in the actual (well, the actual fictional) future, as viewers had already been made aware through advance promotion and as was seen on Friday night in the Season Five opener...

I'll get back to the future shortly. First I want to take a few moments to welcome any new readers by way of giving these writeups (and their titles) some context.


After this preamble comes another batch of my Twitter postlets, very possibly the last batch for a little while. I've decided to step away from the twitting and reassess because it's just too much of a time-suck. Nice as it was to dip further back into the crazy, crowded, hopefully chlorinated pool that is the comics world in all of its increasingly splintered splendor, I spent way more time following conversations and links and all that jazz than I should have given that I really wanted to get back in touch with a bunch of folks this summer; Twitter was supposed to be merely one means to that end, and instead it ended any hope of pursuing other means.

Screencap © 2012 ABC TV and/or Angst Productions.

I wasn't able to catch up on enough television before the fall season began, either, but I did make a small dent in the eight episodes of Trust Us with Your Life in my Hulu queue. The improv show was a summer-season entry on ABC starring some of the Whose Line Is It Anyway? regulars, cut short due to ratings competition from the Olympics — or Fred Willard's arrest for lewd activity in a triple-X movie house, depending on what you read. Colin Mochrie's unusually colored wardrobe in the first episode had already caught my eye when he fluffed out his hair in one sketch and prompted me to grab the screencap above.

Like I said on Twitter, Mochrie has to play Mr. Mxyzptlk.

Greatly Reduced Expectations

The downside to not sharing my entries in hashtag sprees within a day or so of them being a thing on Twitter, whether as part of a "Twitticisms" post or in a Top X list like the one that follows, is, I've come to realize, that anyone interested in heading over to Twitter to see the full range of contributions will turn up zilch.

Maybe a hashtag comes back into fashion or someone joins in late or a totally different group of people hit on the same idea, maybe, but those earlier entries are gone. Twits seem to leave Twitter's institutional memory pretty quickly, unless there are tricks to its search function I don't know about (which is very, very possible). You can at least head to my own Favorites on Twitter, scroll down a bit, and see a heaping handful of others' offerings that I found amusing enough to save. It's not at all the same, though, as being in the thick of it — and this one, #unpromisingsequels, was a good one; I was immensely grateful to have a clear, quick-thinking head for as long as I did.

Here, in roughly the order I posted them, save for the favorite that I've moved to the end, are my...

Top Thirty (Yes, Thirty!) Unpromising Sequels

30. The Day After the Day After

29. Hastily-Dressed Lunch

28. Reincarnation of a Salesman

27. Acquaintances on a Train

26. Love in the Time of Cholera Vaccines

25. The Executive Producers

24. Fiddler at the Window: Allegro!

23. Sgt. Pepper's Well-Adjusted, Engagingly Social Hearts Club Band

22. Evaporation Man

21. The Well-Scrubbed Dozen

20. Admiral EO

Tales from the Hartman

I was hoping to have a review of Rachel Hartman's novel Seraphina posted by now. The upshot is that Hartman, who may be familiar to some — if not enough — for her delightful minicomic Amy Unbounded (partly collected in one TPB, Belondweg Blossoming, from Hartman's own Pug House Press), has turned out an equally delightful prose debut in Seraphina. It was released in July by Random House Books for Young Readers, tearing up the charts and garnering rave reviews.

While she lives and writes (as the author bios go) in Vancouver now, Hartman will be returning to her old stomping grounds this coming Tuesday at 7 p.m. as part of the Seraphina tour when she visits Children's Book World in Haverford, Pennsylvania — about a mile away from Bryn Mawr College. I haven't seen Rachel in a decade; I hope that I get to attend so I can let her know in person how much I enjoyed the book.

I realize that traffic for this blog isn't torrential, but it can't hurt to spread the word. More on Hartman, Seraphina, and her book tour can be found via the hyperlink in her name above. If you're in the vicinity and have read Seraphina (or Amy Unbounded), would like to see a great independent children's-book store, and/or just want a chance of meeting me, I hope you'll come on down.


Last Friday the title of the 2013 sequel to J.J. Abrams' 2009 Star Trek movie was announced. The site at the preceding link and other news outlets report it as Star Trek Into Darkness [sic].

Um... Okay.

I hope that, if the title sticks, someone at Bad Robot or Paramount realizes that it either has to be Star Trek: Into Darkness or Star Trek into Darkness, with the preposition uncapitalized.

Bamm-Bamm Lamken 1996-2012

He was a sweet boy.

We had a storm the other night. I thought of Bamm-Bamm. A day hasn't gone by since he died that I don't think of him, really; it's just a matter of why I do.

For the past 15 years of my life, excepting the last 6 months, thunder has meant one thing — well, besides the fact that it was probably gonna rain and that I very likely had been or soon would be dealing with a migraine. It meant that Bamm-Bamm was about to run for cover.

He died on the first day of March after a see-saw week's worth of sudden, puzzling sickliness, and I'm still not used to his absence. Not seeing him sprint when thunder booms, not having him rub my legs when I get out of the shower, not feeling him curled up next to me when I roll over in bed... Il me manque, as they say in French. We translate it as "I miss him" but literally it's "He is lacking to me," which is so much more poignantly to the point. My life lacks the Bamm-Bamm.


It's time for another batch of selected Twits from Twitter. As usual, I've mostly culled the overtly (would-be) humorous lines and left out the mundane as well as my part in various conversations.

I should alert those averse to political humor that the past week's worth of Twits — i.e., the last half of this batch — touch upon the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Like The Daily Show, I probably appear to lean to the so-called left (or, if you prefer, "pinko commie liberal"), but only because an open mind, inclusion, and social justice come naturally to me; also like The Daily Show, I hope that when the situation warrants it — and/or just when the joke is there begging to be made — I'm an equal-opportunity caller on bullshit, regardless of party, conservative or progressive, albeit not for 21 minutes plus commercials in a studio 4 nights a week. I do mostly avoid outright political stuff on the blog, although I suspect that as the November elections near I will make at least one big exception to that avoidance in addition to smaller ones in the form of my Twitterings.

You've been warned.

Joe Kubert 1926-2012

Art from Joe Kubert Presents #1 © 2012 DC Comics. Pencils: Kubert.

Joe Kubert died three weeks ago yesterday, on Aug. 12th, at the age of 85.

Anyone who follows comics knows this already, thanks to news sites, social networking, etc., and has almost surely seen a fuller portrait of the man than I can provide. I've been wanting to put up at least a brief post about him, though, for the benefit of readers who come here mostly for the non-comics stuff I muse upon yet still have some curiosity about this strange demimonde that's begun spawning billion-dollar movies. Jack Kirby, discussed the other day, may have been the King of Comics — to mix metaphors, perhaps part of American comics' Holy Trinity, with Will Eisner and Harvey Kurtzman, in terms of establishing its visual language — but Kubert was at least a Great Duke. Joe Kubert art is, to his eternal credit, as unmistakable as it is beautiful.

The Late Posts

Panel of The Black Racer, a caped and colorfully armored man on skis with poles, emerging from a Boom Tube in the sky / 'So, Destiny has changed and my my course and takes me here -- to Earth!
Splash panel of The Black Racer from The New Gods #3 
© 1971 DC Comics. Script, Pencils: Jack Kirby. Inks: Vince 
Colletta. Letters: John Costanza. Colors: Unknown.

Decades before The Late Show was the title of David Letterman's CBS alternative to Jay Leno, it was the rather generic name of after-hours broadcasts of old movies on local TV stations. The phrase also came to be used, with morbid punnery, for the Oscars' familiar montage of industry folks who'd passed away in the previous year.

I've been planning for some time to use a variation of it to introduce, contextualize, and/or apologize for a batch of posts that weren't up for very long, or never quite went up at all, just a bit too long ago to republish them randomly without some explanation.
Now seemed like a good idea, when now — the languid end of summer — was still a few weeks in the future. At least one memorial was already planned for this particular bunch, too, but more out of coincidence than dark humor.


Or, if you prefer, Spockulation... That's Leonard Nimoy hitting the skins next to Adam West.

Hungry Like Marv Wolfman

My old buddy Stefan Blitz, proprietor of Forces of Geek, mused on Twitter several weeks ago that if he opened a restaurant built around the theme of people who created comics the menu would include Joe Quesadilla, Howard Chicken, and Darwyn Cookies.

This means nothing if you aren't in the loop and don't appreciate the puns, but I got more than a smile out of it — I got a hashtag challenge.

So, adapted for the blog, here are my...

Top Twenty Dishes, Drinks, and Desserts
Served at the Comics-Creators Cafe

20. Karen Burgers

19. Gary Franks

18. Steak Ditko

17. Tuna Isabella

16. Veal Adams

15. Clams Robins

14. P. Craig Mussels

13. Marie Severin-Layer Dip

12. Nachos Whedon

Neil Armstrong 1930-2012

We lost Neil Armstrong to the stars on Saturday at the age of 81.

Neil Armstrong in the Eagle module after the moonwalk.
Photo: Buzz Aldrin for NASA.

An obituary up on the NASA website includes excerpts from and links to statements from the Armstrong family, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and President Barack Obama. The page also has embedded video of Armstrong and links to information on the historic moon landing of July 20th, 1969.

You can find The New York Times' front page for that day online, in miniature, along with the text of John Noble Wilford's article. Worth a look too, but not for delicate sensibilities, is The Onion's mockup of how that satirical paper would've run the story.

Twitticisms & TCB

First up are a few bits of blog business, followed by the second installment of your humble host's Twitter postlets.

My clean-up work is moving along steadily if far more slowly than I'd hoped. I can say the same for my various online endeavors, including but not limited to the formal move of Blam's Blog to a new home outside the bare-bones redundant echoes I'd set up on Blogger, WordPress, and TypePad for emergency activation after I confirmed vandalism hackage here. Yeah, I know, it seems like I've been talking about that almost since the blog began. As long as the blog is being updated and isn't being moved, however, I want to make it look as good and operate as cleanly as possible within the Blogger framework. I'm fairly pleased with how that's going, at least.

The service — a term that constantly tempts me to place irony quotes around it (I stop when I remember that it's free and that I have no-one to blame for me sticking around but myself) — did fix some of the comments bugs that I complained about during its latest would-be upgrade, although there remain plenty of changes to Blogger's behind-the-scenes features that defy belief. Example: Labels are no longer listed down the side of our Dashboard's (I think it's all called the Dashboard) Posts view; I now have to scroll through the Label selection in a small pop-up window, no alphabetical jumps by keystroke allowed. Blogger still gets points for spam control, however.

Hello, Goodbye

Photo: Jeff Robertson / AP © 2012

Aloha, Shane Victorino!

I'm a few weeks late in bidding a fond farewell to the Flyin' Hawaiian, traded by the Phillies on July 31st to the LA Dodgers — the team that drafted him back in 1999, although his Major League debut came with San Diego. The Padres got him as a Rule 5 selection, just as the Phils did a couple of years later. During his Phillies tenure the goofy, hardscrabble Victorino was sent to two All-Star Games, rode in one World Series parade, and got lodged in the hearts of thousands if not millions of fans.

Everybody Wong Foo Tonight

The blog's faithful readers know that from time to time I've shared my submissions to an online Top Ten contest held regularly at CBS's Late Show with David Letterman website.

A few months ago, I put up a post with my riffs on a Twitter hashtag begun by Tony Isabella (@TonyIsabella), writer of and about comics, champion of the oppressed, scourge of the unjust. I knew that I'd be joining Twitter sooner rather than later, and it dawned on me that when I collected my Top Ten entries on a dedicated page here on Blam's Blog — which should be happening shortly — I could throw any hashtag-spree contributions into the mix. What I didn't know was that the online Top Ten contest, along with the weekly Late Show E-mail newsletter, would shortly be coming to an abrupt end.

I participated in the quite enjoyable #badnoir hashtag a day into my Twitterpation, as seen in my first collection of Twitticisms, but I left out of that post a little bout of hashtag humor that I started myself — the result of a pithy Twit of Julius Sharpe's (@juliussharpe) reTwtitted by the lovely and palindromic Hannah Kincade (@HannahKincade), which read "I think every movie should be personally addressed to Wong Foo".

Sharpe was, of course, referring to the 1995 film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.

Five-Panel Draw

I was quite taken by the following sequence from The Uncanny X-Men #166, dated Feb. 1983.

Excerpt from The Uncanny X-Men #166 © 1982 and characters TM/® Marvel Comics.
Script: Chris Claremont. Pencils: Paul Smith. Inks: Bob Wiacek. Colors: Glynis
Wein/Oliver. Letters: Tom Orzechowski. Editing: Louise Jones/Simonson.

The set of five panels is at the bottom of Pg. 12 of the issue's extra-length story, "Live Free or Die!", drawn by Paul Smith in his second issue as penciler of the series.

If you're unfamiliar with the issue and would like some context, you can head over to my blog-buddy Teebore's post on it — the reason I was rereading the issue in the first place. What I have to say about the panels below is taken from comments I made there, but I thought I'd repost the passage here even though I'm on some semblance of a vacation. It seems fitting to be publishing this analysis online from the same library where I did my first historical and critical reading about comics 35 years ago.

Midsummer's Meaning

With new posts being sparse here lately and several months having passed since my last volley of word-verification definitions, I declare it to be time for another.

The backlog is growing short, as I wrote earlier this year, thanks to Blogger's switch in formats yielding less choice material. I'll probably close the door on this series after a few more installments, based on current reserves and the sluggish pace at which new entires are added to my stockpile, whereas for quite some time after I began the well was replenished at a strong, steady pace. You are hereby referred to my stand-alone page collecting past entries, where this phenomenon is explained, if it's unfamiliar to you.

agamsee — [uh gam see] phr. Edward G. Robinson pointing out some dame's leg.

clonyma — [kloh nee mah] n. Your mother's genetically engineered duplicate.

counduct — [kown dukt] n. How Dracula behaves.

daymews — [day myooz] pl.n. My cat's morning wake-up sounds.

eReesen. A peanut-butter cup you can eat in Second Life. (Is that still a thing?)

frisaint — [frih zaint] n. The sensation of lacking the thrill that those around you are feeling.

hemizend — [heh mee zend] n. Where East meets West.

ladvat — [lad vat] n. Melting pot for reconstituting unwanted male members of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Nausol™ — [naw sol] The world's leading nauseating aerosol product.

He Was Not The Joker

Nor was he Batman. He was (is) just a horrifyingly real person, this deranged individual who took a dozen lives during a 12:01 a.m. screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado.

"I don't want to know this man's name," Dan Slott posted on Twitter early Friday morning. "I don't want him to gain any kind of notoriety. He should vanish from history."

Like a lot of folks, I'm with Slott, and I won't be referring to the perpetrator by name here. Even the least sensationalized news of the shooting has to do just that as a matter of factual reporting, of course — the kind of reporting, sadly, that was in short supply early on, leading to erroneous associations on the part of more than one news organization between the shooter and political movements in both directions along the left/right spectrum.


I've been on Twitter — @BrianLamken — for close to three weeks now.

Overall, it's gone pretty much as I'd expected: I got back in touch with some folks from my life in the comics sphere. I sent out the occasional pithy, humorous Twits, or 
so I'd like to think; only the "occasional" part is for me to judge. I found myself a bit at sea, unaware of certain jargon and traditions, overwhelmed by the number of messages from various feeds that I wanted to follow, and uneducated in certain aspects of le Twittage. I rued not being able to read or reply to Twits for entire days, just as I regularly do my inability to get all manner of other stuff done, although it's a happy thing at least that lately what's exhausting me so is spending as much time as possible reading to, playing with, and just soaking up my visiting sister's beautiful kids. I decided rather masochistically to follow more folks every time I reached a passable equilibrium of what to skim, what to skip, and what to engage with through link-clicking or conversation of the feeds I already followed.

With this year's State of the Blog post and some other articles of self-examination planned for not too far down the pike, I'll hold off on further handwringing here. I do want to share, as promised, some select Twits from these early days of my Twittertude. I've taken the liberty of italicizing handles and hashtags, which on Twitter are links, as well as the usual things you'd italicize but which on Twitter one has to capitalize or (my preference) place in single quotes. Also, I've conjoined serial Twits that on Twitter were separated by the ol' ellipsis.

You can view my latest handful of Twits, including reTwits of others, in the sidebar gadget at left. For more you can click on the bottom or top of it or otherwise click my handle at the start of this post; from my profile page there you can also see some Twits of others that I've marked as favorites.

I'll make this a periodic thing unless I decide not to.

The Amazing Spider-Man
Minus Andrew Garfield Plus Garfield

Garfield head © year of creation Paws Inc. 
Original version of quote: Stan Lee for Marvel Comics © 1962
Spider-Man photo © 2012 Marvel Entertainment LLC
Tweak to text & digital maniupulation: Brian Saner Lamken for Blam's Blog
Just a goof! No infringement upon intellectual property is intended or implied.
[Update: Now on Tumblr!]

One good Garfield deserves another. You've heard of Garfield Minus Garfield, right? Here's... well, I think the post title says it all.

I don't know why, but I always seem to come up with this sort of stuff when I have a migraine. Feel free to (in fact, please) share!


The other night I had a rather strange dream.

I have strange dreams often, as I've mentioned here before — you can see all of my dream posts if you're intrigued by what follows — but the strange thing about this one was how of-the-moment it was. Both the 4th of July and my blogging buddy Teebore's next installment of his weekly issue-by-issue X-Men analysis would greet me when I woke up, and both figured into the dream. Sometimes I'm more surprised by dreams that relate to my actual everyday existence than those in which I'm playing for the Phillies or meeting Queen Elizabeth or attending a Survivor cast reunion.

When the dream began I was drawing, an activity in which I rarely engage anymore in waking life as it's a lot harder than it used to be, yet one that I occasionally find myself pursuing in dreams — perhaps to keep those creative muscles limber, if only inside my head. The drawing, centered on Superman, was getting to be rather intricate, too,

The 'Works

photo of fireworks, mostly orange and blue, going off in the night sky

At times like this I'm glad that I don't believe in Hell, 'cause I'd probably send myself there just by virtue (or actually, vice) of being snarky to the kids in my family.

We'd just started to watch the 4th of July display when I told my cousin's 9-year-old daughter L that fireworks were made by catching fairies, strapping them to small rockets, and shooting them into the sky.

"Do the fairies get hurt?" (L said this with a sly smile, playing along. She's a smart cookie — loves reading, has a high BS meter.)

"That's why we clap so hard during the finale," I replied. "We have to bring them back, like with Tinkerbell in Peter Pan."

Adventures in Maybe-Twitting

I am now on Twitter.

I've just sent the 20 characters above as my first Twit, in fact. (As I explained a couple of posts ago, I do not accept "tweet" as either a noun or a verb when it comes to Twitter. Using the service is twitting or Twittering and the messages are Twits or perhaps themselves Twitterings. You are welcome to virtually slap me upside the head if you notice me lapse into the vernacular.)

My Twitter handle is @brianlamken. I found out quite a while back that @blamken was already taken; I rejected @blamsblog or something like it because it'll feel weird when people use my handle to refer to me as a person — "still waiting for @brianlamken to show up" — and @briansanerlamken is too long.

I don't expect to Twitter out Twits of my own with alacrity for a while, although enthusiasm may get the better of me. Eventually I'll be promoting the blog and other stuff when my online activity increases, fingers crossed, at the end of the summer, and I'm sure that the more I follow other people on Twitter the more I'll want to join the conversation. I've already installed one of those sidebar gadgets with my Twitter feed, but 
when the pace picks up I'll probably publish a notice to that effect here. For now, I've signed up for Twitter mostly so that I can follow the feeds of friends and acquaintances and folks I admire without having to remember to click through from their own websites and such to catch up.

I'm slightly surprised to see that I have over a half-dozen posts about Twitter on the blog already, either as the primary subject or as part of an omnibus links post. You can click on the label below to see them all.