Saturday, July 21, 2007



Uh! Oh! Oh! I fell asleep! I fell asleep and now it is past ten in the evening! Oh no! The bookstores have all closed again and now I won't be able to get my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! Oh nooooooo.

Wait a minute...what's that? What's this?

Could it be...?

Yes! Yes! It is! It's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!!!!

All was well.















HAygsk terafu pbnah

i wnana gsftoa, nvzrtgs

wan fweosn tbavs leoafan[a lasgt of teh nnamm!!!%$&!!%$& WHYWYY


i wnana go skleep

i wnanana gop sleep

iim so tired soos verty very tred but i cant gio tgo s,eep


hellp i am scared

i think i hear ZOMBIES coming down teh street i thin k ZOBMIES are coming to get mee

please come up sun pelase make it daytime soon PLEEZE

why isnt it saturdy morning yet i want to go to sleep i wan it to be DAYTMIE

i wanna go to SLEEEP

adn i think i drabnk too much ovatltine

Oh wait...

...this isn't Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban...

It's Zombies of Mora-Tau (1957): "Sailors try to salvage a sunken treasure guarded by zombie seamen."



I am tired. I am very tired. I am very very tired. My eyes are heavy and I can barely stay awake. I have such good positive thinking about being tired that I'm sure I will go to sleep any seco

Hey, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is on cable now! Brilliant.

Wow, there is really nothing good on TV at 3:30 in the morning.

And what's on mostly stars Danny Bonaduce.

Separated at Birth: Hedwig and the Angry Yo-Yo

Well, I'm wide awake, so now is as good a time as any to do the usual Saturday Separated at Birth:

L: panel from The Books of Magic #1 (1990), written by Neil Gaiman, art by John Bolton
R: movie still from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), based on the novel by J. K. Rowling (published June 1997)

Lest you misunderstand: absolutely no fingers hooves pointed. Neil himself "has been quoted as saying that any similarities between the two are largely superficial and most likely reflect the fact that both draw on common archetypes." (Wikipedia). And I like both, an awful, awful lot.

Just, always remember:

It's very quiet and everyone has gone to sleep. 'Cept me.

I wonder where John keeps the Oreos? And maybe I will make myself some Ovaltine. I'm sure that will relax me.

Hey, maybe I will re-read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince again. I re-read it earlier this week but p'raps now I will pick up some clues about what will happen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, don't you think?

Sometimes when you aren't sleepy, reading a book will put you right to sleep. I'm sure that will work for me. I just have to stop being so overexcited and jittery. Morning will come very fast if I can just relax!

Mmmmm, Ovaltine.

It is after midnight!

It's Saturday! It's after midnight! I am up and looking out the window and there are kids and adults on the street coming back from the bookstore and some of them are wearing wizard hats and waving wands and they are heading home and the have bookstore bags with big books stuffed inside them and they are laughing and smiling and so happy...

I am pressing my nose up against the window pane and hoping maybe someone will see me and bring me a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Maybe if someone bought two by accident and...well, maybe if they don't want that extra copy, they will bring it up to me and...

Sigh. Back to bed. This time I will go to sleep for sure.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A little poem about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Oh Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,
Your exciting adventures I'd truly follow
You're a book I'd love to keep
If only I could get to sleep!

Okay. Okay. This time for sure. G'night everybody!

Urggggggggggg I can't sleep!

C'mon c'mon c'mon c'mon c'mon c'mon



Didja ever notice the harder you try to go to sleep...

...the more awake you are?

So, I shall fool Mister Morpheus by using reverse psychology on him. I will be awake now! Ho hum, I am not going to go to sleep at all. Here I am lying in bed in my fuzzy pajamas but I am going to stay wide awake! Don't you sprinkle sand in my little button eyes, you inverse-word-ballooned Robert Smith-look-alike! This little stuffed bull is wide awake! Haw!

Also, on second reflection p'raps it wasn't the best idea to have those three Starbuck's frappuccinos at 7:15 PM.

Okay, it surely must be past midnight by now.

(gets up, trots over to the clock, peers at it carefully)


(trots back to bed)

I'm just up getting a cup of water.

Don't mind me. I'll be asleep any moment now, and'll be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows time!

Slurp. Slurp. Mmmmm, good water. And sleep!

What's that noise? Is it Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?

What's that noise outside? I heard children laughing and shouting outside so I had to get out of bed, where I was just getting ready to go to sleep. I had to peer out of the blinds and see if maybe they had gotten ahold of their copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yet. It's hard to tell even with my binoculars, so I started looking in the windows of the apartments across the street to see if anyone over there was reading it yet. Then John came in and took away my binoculars and told me if I kept doing that the neighbors will be calling the police on me, and despite my protests that I was just surveying the neighborhood for any early sign of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows activity, he sent me off to bed again. "It'll be morning before you know it, kiddo," he said, patting me on the head and tucking me in. "You go to sleep now."

I am trying now very hard to go to sleep.

I will be asleep any moment now.

Well, I'm still awake. I rolled over a bit in bed and stared at the ceiling for quite some time but I could not get to sleep, so I hopped out of bed and trotted over to my laptop to see if maybe while I was in bed they decided to release Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows four hours early, but no such luck.

John has looked up from watching Flight of the Conchords and said to me "I thought you were going to bed early tonight, Bully." I fixed him with my very stern stare and said "I am already in bed but simply taking a short break from sleeping," and then trotted back quickly with my laptop under my arm, just in case there is some breaking HP-early release news.

I am now going to totally go to sleep. When I wake up it will be morning and time to go to get Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Goodnight, everyone! Sweet dreams! I shall be dreaming of Quidditch and Cho Chang myself.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I am as anxious and as excited as a long-tailed cat in a room full of long-tailed cat squishing machines, because tomorrow is The Big Day! No, it's not the day I get to change the filter in the Brita water pitcher! Oh wait. Yes, it is that day tomorrow, but that's not what I'm so excited about. Well, at least not as excited as I am about this: the newest and final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is coming out tomorrow! Hoo hoo!

I am the biggest little stuffed Harry Potter fan in the world (yes, even more so than my discussion board archrival, stufflepuff_giraffe23). I have read each one of the books several times from cover to cover and then back again. (Trust me, they make more sense the first way round). In case you are interested, here is my prediction about what will happen in Book Seven. I will not put up a spoiler warning because this is just me guessin', okay? So please do not sue me with your crack team of be-wigged British solicitors, Miss Rowling! I am jus' a li'l stuffed fan and not one of those scary book pirates with the eyepatches and the wooden legs and the Xerox machines. I believe that in Book Seven, Harry and Voldemort will team up to fight a greater evil. Once that is defeated, Voldemort dies, but not before making peace with Harry. Voldemort—now reborn as Tom Riddle—appears as a ghostly form alongside Dumbledore and Sirius Black as Harry and his friends dance and rejoice with a bunch of fuzzy furry beings in the forest, all singing a "yub yub" song. Fifteen years later, J. K. Rowling announces plans to a series of prequels tracking the evolution of Tom Riddle into Voldemort. Tom will accompanied on his adventures by a powerful wizard, a young Albus Dumbledore, and an annoying house-elf named "Raj-Raj."

Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Bookstores all around the country are putting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on sale at 12:01 AM Saturday morning, which is a mere few hours away. So you'd think I'd be getting my clever little hooves on it very soon, wouldn't you? Wouldn't you? Humph. When I suggested to John that we could go down to Yavin IV Comics and wait in line to get it at midnight, he shook his head and told me that was waaaaaay past my bedtime. Also, that Yavin IV Comics is in Southern California and I live in Brooklyn. Also, that Miss Lydia is much too busy working tonight to have me hanging around showing off to her and shouting up at her "Look at me, Miss Lydia! I am doing a clever trick! Look at me, Miss Lydia!" Pfui. Miss Lydia is very kind and patient with me and always has time and a lovely pat on the head for me.

In any case, because John is a big meanie and that every kid in America will have a jump start on me in reading HP7, I am not allowed to stay up tonight and have to wait until tomorrow to go to the bookstore with my change purse full of dimes. I am very very very very very excited about it and cannot wait for tomorrow to come. I will be first in line when the bookstore opens tomorrow, standing waiting with my croissant and cup of coffee, peering into the window while Henry Mancini's "Moon River" plays on my iPod. Precisely at 10 AM I shall march proudly into the store at the head of the by-now-long-line. I shall slide my dimes on the counter and say in a very casual and debonair tone, "Please may I buy a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?" And the very cute bookstore sales clerk girl will smile at me and ruffle my fur and coo, "Of course you may, you cute little stuffed bull! And you do not even have to share it with your sister, Marshall, who is a much slower reader than you are and will hog the book for days. Also, here are some very special free bookmarks!" Then she will ring it up and put it in a bag and i shall sprint home and lay on the couch all day with my be-ringed nose buried in the massive nose, only emerging periodically to take a bite of my buttered crumpet or sip my cup of tea. Yes, that is what tomorrow shall be like. I can see it now.

Therefore, while I know it's very early, I'm going to go to bed right now, in order that I will fall asleep quickly and tomorrow morning shall come all the faster! It's a trick that I have used many times on days where I wish the morning would come all the faster: Christmas, Halloween, my birthday. And it never works, but in the words of my favorite cartoon spokesmoose, this time fer shure!

So, here I go off, yawning, with my stuffed owl under my arm, to climb into bed. Even though the sun is still out right now, I shall be asleep in a matter of seconds, and the night will pass faster than the Nimbus 2001 in regulation tournament Quidditch play. Next time you hear from me, I will be happily reading away in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so come and get me, Mister Morpheus: I'm all ready for ya!

Friday Night Fights: Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together

Some people like rich milk chocolate...or maybe crunchy rock candy...

Fantastic Four: The World's Greatest Comic Magazine 32 panel
All panels in this post are from Fantastic Four: The World's Greatest Comic Magazine #2
(March 2001), script by Chuck Dixon, art in this panel by Paul Ryan and Al Milgrom

Other folks prefer creamy peanut butter...or, possibly chewy, tangy salt water taffy...

Fantastic Four: The World's Greatest Comic Magazine 32 panel
Art in this panel and the next by Frank Fosco and Bruce Timm

...But there's nothing compared to the delicious super team-up of the pair: the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, or, in the Marvel Universe, two fighting powerhouses, each with their own distinct catchphrases, punching a big-ass Kree robot to kingdom come:

Fantastic Four: The World's Greatest Comic Magazine 32 panel

Balactus can take a sunrise, sprinkle it in dew, cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dumbass things you shouldn't do in the Marvel Universe, Number 48

Don't worry your pretty li'l heads, folks, he ain't hurt...
...he's just a dumbass:

All panels in this post are from the legendary Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966),
written by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Let's Do Math! (with The Mighty Avengers!)

Thor > Hulk.

Nick Fury ≠ Marcus Welby, M.D.

Having Captain America and Rick Jones ≠ Keeping Captain America and Rick Jones.

Thor < Hulk.

No one > Hulk.

(Yellowjacket x 2) = Captain America.

Thor > mortal man.

(Thor - Mjolnir) + 60 seconds = Don Blake.

Hulk > everyone.

Captain America ≠ Captain Midnight.

Hawkeye - (bow + arrow) > Rick Jones.

Thor > Hulk.

Tsetse fly:elephant :: Captain America:Man-Ape

Solve for y: If a is b, where a = Captain Mar-Vell and b = spy, then x is y, where x = Rick Jones.

(Answer: y = Joe Cocker.)

Hulk = Thor!

Avengers = jerks.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Calling All She-Hulks

Hollywood casting directors take note! Here's two actual and unrelated photos from the two major New York City weekly magazines:

From Time Out New York #614 (July 6-11, 2007), their "Green" (environmental) theme issue gives them a chance to have a supposedly clever visual pun by featuring a green woman in their "Public Eye" New Yorker on the street feature: Lisa Brescia, actress who plays Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in Broadway's Wicked:
Lisa Brescia

...and from New York (July 16, 2007), a (color-tinted) photo of the ex-Mrs. Salman Rushdie, Padma Lakshmi, Photoshopped viridian to accompany a short "Intelligencer" gossip article about her environmentally-responsible (i.e., green) luxury penthouse duplex:
Padma Lakshimi

I didn't pick up The New Yorker this week, but if it didn't look like this, I don't wanna know about it:
Eustace Tilley

Monday, July 16, 2007



(Confused? See Dorian.)

A Wodehouse a Week #12: Laughing Gas

A Wodehouse a Week

Like his eccentric earls, dotty dukes, and batty butlers, P. G. Wodehouse's Laughing Gas (1936) is a bit of a queer duck. It's one of his non-series romances, so there's plenty of coincidences, mix-ups, squabbles and mistaken identities. It's set in Hollywood and pokes a good deal of fun at the silver screen. The hero is cheerful and straightforward and the heroine is pretty, smart, and resourceful. Sounds like a good number of Wodehouse's books? What if I tell you it's narrated in the first person...par for the course for a Jeeves or Ukridge novel, but unusual for a non-series Wodehouse romance? Oh, you say, big whoop...a mild stylistic difference. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mixed it up with Sherlock Holmes stories occasionally narrated not by Doctor Watson but by a third person or, on occasion, even Holmes himself. But what if I tell you that Laughing Gas is the closest Wodehouse came to writing fantasy? "Huh?" you say? "Certainly you're joking!" I'm not joking! (And don't call me Certainly.) Let's take a wee bit of a test, shall we? Get out your number two pencils and answer me the following: what do the following have in common?:
Body swap comedies

And no...the answer is not "they all co-star sizzling hot Jamie Lee Curtis." (Although, that's never a bad answer to anything.) No, the true answer is that these are all body-swap comedies. Yes, long before Freaky Friday or Dream a Little Dream or Switch (Jimmy Smits!), there was Laughing Gas, and I'm ashamed of Wikipedia that the novel isn't even listed on its supposedly exhaustive Body Swaps in Fiction page. It's not the first body swap novel—Thomas Anstey Guthrie's Victorian novel Vice Versa seems to be one of the first, if not the first. I wouldn't be surprised to find the theme in much earlier literature—but it certainly is the most Wodehousey. And in the end, isn't that what's important?

Yes, long before Dr. Janice Lester stepped into the manly body of James T. Kirk, Reggie Havershot, British Earl with a heart of gold and the mug of a defeated prizefighter, travels to Hollywood to retrieve his cheerfully alcoholic cousin Egremount (the aptly nicknamed "Eggy"). Simple enough task if he hadn't run into the lovely starlet April June on the Union Pacific cross-country train. (Wodehouse, so fond of simple and plain names for his heroines like "Sally" and "Jill," often gives his Hollywood starlet characters wonderfully outrageous monikers like "April June" and, in The Luck of the Bodkins, "Lotus Blossom.") It's love at first sight for poor Reggie, and the course of pure love seems like it should probably run pretty smoothly. You'd think that, wouldn't you? Wodehouse throws in his usual coincidences to keep the plot rolling along: Eggy's engaged to Reggie's ex-fianceé Ann Bannister; Ann's pushing Eggy into a job as elocution teacher to bratty child screen star Joey Cooley; Joey Cooley's made motion pictures with April June. The coincidences fade to merely shadows beside the main turning point of the plot when Reggie gets his mind swapped with Joey Cooley's while under the influence of nitrous oxide at the dentist.; Such a fantastic plot point isn't the usual Wodehouse style, but the casual swift explanation of it from Reggie certainly is:
'Hell!' I cried.

Well, I mean to say, who wouldn't have? I saw right away what had happened. Someone, as the poet says, had blundered. Joey Cooley and I must have gone under gas at exactly the same moment and, owing presumably to some bad staffwork during the period when we were simultaneously sauntering about in the fourth dimension, or whatever they call it, there had been an unfortunate switch. The impetuous young cuckoo had gone and barged into my body, and I, having nowhere else to go, had toddled along and got into his.

His fault, of course, the silly ass. I had told him to stop shoving.
That's about as technical an explanation as we're going to get, because the why doesn't matter as much as the what happens next. And what happens next? Why, hilarity, of course...did you think anything else could? Reggie-in-Joey's-body is trapped under the stern guardianship of Miss Brinkmeyer (sister of Hollywood mogul T.P. Brinkmeyer), a classic Wodehouse wicked witch in the vein of Lord Emsworth's sister Connie and Mrs. Huddington from last week's The Small Bachelor. Forced to exist on a diet of prunes and roped into embarrassing public appearances, Joey's struck back in the past by planting strategic horned toads and frogs in Miss Brinkmeyer's bed, a plan of attack that seems perfectly apt to Reggie in the same Buster Browns. Meanwhile, now in the beefy brawny body of Reggie, Joey's out and about Hollywood punching in the snoot everyone on his extensive "enemy's list"...from gossip columnists to movie critics to his hated co-star April June. Will Reggie-as-Joey break out of Brinkmeyer Manor in time to prevent Joey-as-Reggie from giving Miss April June a fistful of fives? How will he get enough spending money to bribe Chaffinch the butler to bring his sausages instead of prunes for his breakfast? And what will happen when the Hollywood press photographs young Joey, darling of millions, puffing on a cigar and downing a whisky?

Though the general structure (boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets another girl) is familiar enough to those of us who've sauntered through a dozen or so Wodehouse novels over the past three months by now, the body swap fantasy element makes it unique, and Reggie's first person narration is essential and spot-on for the tone of the adventure. Wodehouse generally reserved first-person for the Jeeves and Bertie adventures, but this is a rare occasion where breaking his usual rules pays off: we're seeing this strange new world from Reggie's point of view (four feet from the floor). He's a bit sharper and more savvy than Bertie, who he probably knows: Reggie is also a member of the Drones Club, placing this novel firmly in the Jeevesiverse. (One might wonder what Jeeves would have said if this had happened to Bertie—he'd quote Hamlet about more things dreamt of in heaven and earth, most likely.) There's more than a touch of Bertie about Reggie, however—you can almost hear Hugh Laurie or Richard Briers protesting being put in his bath when he's in the body of the kid Joey:
'I don't want to,' I said.

'Want to?' The Brinkmeyer came through with one of her well-known snorts. 'It isn't a question of what you want, it's a question—'

'Of modesty,' I thundered, cutting her short. 'The whole matter is one of principle. One has one's code. To a bath, qud bath,' I said, borrowing some of old Horace Plimsoll's stuff, 'I have no objection whatever. In fact, I should enjoy one. But when I am asked to countenance turning the thing into a sort of Babylonian orgy—'

The Brinkmeyer looked at Ann.

'What is he talking about?'

'I don't know. He's funny to-night.'

'He doesn't amuse me.'
There's a lot of good-natured and gentle but pointed humor at the expense of the tropes of Hollywood in here as well, from poking fun at film star fan clubs and personal appearances to the rage over collecting memorabilia of the stars. Well before eBay and certificates of authenticity, the Brinkmeyer's butler suggests he can sell Joey's extracted tooth to a movie magazine for a couple thousand dollars:
'Think, sir, think! Reflect what a position you hold in the public esteem, sir. You are the Idol of American Motherhood. And the fans are inordinately desirous of obtaining souvenirs of their favourites, I can assure you. I have known large sums to change hands for one of Mr Fred Astaire's trouser buttons, very large sums indeed. And the human appeal of a trouser button cannot be compared with that of a tooth.'
The butler, of course, not only swindles Reggie but turns out to be one of an increasingly ubiquitous series of peripheral characters working for the Brinkmeyers who is a would-be actor: the butler, gardener, footman and chauffeur are all biding their time hoping to be discovered by their movie mogul boss. Well, beats waiting tables, don't it? Even the kidnappers who chloroform and hijack Reggie-as-Joey for a publicity stunt, are wannabe-actors with Hollywood stardust in their eyes:
'But lady, that Roscoe he's got is loaded.'

'What on Earth did you want with a loaded gun?'

'That's Fred," said Eddie, directing another reproachful glance at him. 'He's so thorough.'

'He likes doing things right,' said George.

'I'm an artist," said Fred defiantly. 'I saw that gun as loaded. That's how I felt it—felt it here,' he said, slapping his chest.

'The fact of the whole matter is,' said George, 'Fred's never been the same man since he was an extra in Lepers of Broadway.'
Happy endings all 'round, of course, for Reggie and Joey (put back in their own bodies by circumstances as off-the-cuff and ultimately unimportant as the laughing gas that swapped them in the first place). April June's true colors are revealed (she's a dandy role for Angelina Jolie, now that I think about it) and Reggie finds true love in the arms of helpful and never-wavering Ann, and everyone gets a hot steaming plate of sausages. Happy endings all round, that is, except for the pig. Which ain't a bad average in Hollywood.

Its uniqueness in fantastic plot device makes Laughing Gas either an ideal book to introduce a non-fan to (it's fast, funny, has a great high concept twist, and doesn't rely on knowledge of any other Wodehouse for enjoyment), or one that you'd want to read much later in your perusal of the Master (none of his other books are quite like it, and you don't want to go in thinking that every novel will feature some paranormal event). Whether it's your first or twelfth Wodehouse, I still recommend it as great fun. You can pick it up, as usual, by clicking on the box to the right: the Penguin edition shown is out of print in the US (get on the ball, Mister Penguin!) but there are plenty of third-party used copies available, or, for those of you flush with your earnings from selling celebrity teeth, you may wish to splash out on the elegant and gorgeous Overlook Press hardcover edition.Me? I've got a trio of different editions of Laughing Gas. I re-read it this past week in a mass market Ballantine Books paperback reprint from 1977 (the golden age of several publishers picking up as many Wodehouse reprints as they could, so that his canon was spread out among dozens of American paperback publishers). It features this cover illustration...
Ballantine edition of Laughing Gas

...which I think captures chubby-cheeked, Fauntleroy-curled Joey to a T (check out the lovely art deco ice cream and lollipop wallpaper behind him) but which misses the mark totally by making Reggie appear dashing and elegantly handsome. Read the book, Mister Illustrator!:
You see, I have kept it from you till now, but there are certain defects in my personal appearance which prevent me being everybody's money where the opposite sex is concerned. Externally, I take after the pater, and you had ever seen the pater you would realize what that means. He was a gallant solider and played a hot game of polo, but he had a face like a gorilla—much more so, indeed, than most gorillas have—and was, so I am informed, affectionately known to his little circle of cronies as Consul, the Almost Human. And I am his living image.

These things weigh with girls. They shrink from linking their lot with a fellow whose appearance gives the impression that at any moment he may shin up trees and start throwing coconuts.
I also own the Everyman Library hardcover reissue, and a battered and ex-library but vintage American hardcover edition from Sun Dial Press that's missing its dust jacket but which therefore reveals some lovely wraparound cover art:

I got excited for a moment when I saw first printings of this Sun Dial Press edition were going for.A quick glance at a Wodehouse collector's magazine I keep on my shelf alerted me that my poor ex-library edition isn't a first printing, however (it's identical to one but doesn't say first printing; ergo, 'tis not). Just as well. It's a rare and glorious thing to have a lovely edition of a fun and fanciful Wodehouse book, and I'd rather have that than a sackful of filthy lucre, all the tea in China, or even swapping bodies with Mister George Clooney. Well, maybe for just an afternoon. If he's co-starring with Keira Knightley.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ten of a Kind: Creepy, Disturbing Bears

Homage where homage is due: I couldn't bear to do Ten of a Kind without having the indispensable reference of The Grand Comic Book Database cued up on my browser. Visit them today and explore the wonderful world of comics covers and indexes!

(More Ten of a Kind here.)