Saturday, September 13, 2008

Separated at Birth: Then comes Selina with a baby carriage

Lone Wolf & Cub #5/Catwoman #57
L: Lone Wolf & Cub #5 (September 1987), art by Frank Miller
R: Catwoman v.2 #57 (September 2006), art by Adam Hughes
(Click picture to Gojira-size)

Saturday Morning Cartoon: Magneto and Titanium Man

"Magneto and Titanium Man" by Paul McCartney and Wings,
set to clips from Marvel Comics cartoons

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Night Fights, Ladies Night: Oh Gwendy, Gwendy left me alone/Hurt so bad

Friday again? That can only mean one thing: Larry and Balki! Oh wait, no...that actually means it's Bahlactus's Friday Night Fights, Ladies Night! And what better time to bring out our ultimate fighter? Some say her hair is made of satin, that her laughter can make the bitterest enemies kiss and make up, and that if you throw her off the Brooklyn Bridge, she'll just bounce back and knee you in the bollocks. All we know is, she's called Gwen Stacy:

Amazing Spider-Man #69 panel
Amazing Spider-Man #69 panel
Amazing Spider-Man #69 panel
Amazing Spider-Man #69 panel
Amazing Spider-Man #69 panel
All panels tonight (and in yesterday's post, for that matter) are from Amazing Spider-Man #69, written by Stan Lee, storyboarded by John Romita, finished by Jim Mooney, lettered by Sam Rosen

The last time anyone tried to toss Bahlactus off a bridge, he just ate them.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Can You Guess What's In This Mysterious Mailing Tube?

What's in this mailing tube?
Can you guess what's in this mysterious mailing tube? Readers of Marvel comics cover-dated December 1965 were challenged with this impossible puzzle, and even in this era of massive social change and cultural controversy, this guessing game became all the rage among heads of state, celebrities, and the hoi pallois. What do you think it is?

What's in this mailing tube?
Is it a boxing glove arrow?

What's in this mailing tube?
Is it a rolled-up replacement Cloak of Levitation?

What's in this mailing tube?
Is it a fifth of delicious Kentucky Bourbon?

What's in this mailing tube?
Is it Rogaine?

What's in this mailing tube?
Is it Gwen Stacy's ashes?

What's in this mailing tube?
Is it clobberin' time?

Luckily for everyone's sanity, Marvel-maniacs didn't have to wait long, as the following month's (January 1966) issues brought the answer to them in living color:
What's in this mailing tube?
It's a poster of Spider-Man.

But better order yours never know when they might run out of stock...
What's in this mailing tube?
Oh Stan, you crazy kidder, you!

Still, seems to me Marvel didn't take full advantage of this ad campaign—there are literally hundreds...okay, four more spokespersons they could have gotten to hawk for this mystery tube ad. Let's take a look through the magic of Photoshop, shall we?

What's in this mailing tube?
Black Bolt!

What's in this mailing tube?
Mary Jane Watson!

What's in this mailing tube?

And not forgetting...
What's in this mailing tube?
All Star Batman!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Another London Underground video

"Warwick Avenue" by Duffy (2008).

Underground station: Warwick Avenue Station on the Bakerloo Line (glimpsed briefly at the beginning of the video)

When I get to Warwick Avenue
Meet me by the entrance of the tube

I'll be there to meet you, Miss Duffy!:
I love the Underground

Monday, September 08, 2008

A Wodehouse a Week #67: A Damsel in Distress

A Wodehouse a Week banner

I spend quite a bit of time casting imaginary movies of books during A Wodehouse a Week (usually involving Keira Knightley as the heroine), but A Damsel in Distress (1919) comes ready-made-to-order, with perhaps one of the most appropriate Wodehouse actors ever:

Yes, that's Mister Fred Astaire, as airy and delightful on his feet as Wodehouse is on the page, along with George Burns and Gracie Allen (playing, at a stretch, the characters "George" and "Gracie.") The movie is the 1937 musical version of the novel. The movie's script is co-written by one P. G. Wodehouse, the music's by George and Ira Gershwin (including some of their most winning tunes, "A Foggy Day (In London Town)," "Nice Work If You Can Get It," and "Stiff Upper Lip":

It's a fine film: if not exactly faithful to the original book, it at least preserves some of the better moments and the dialogue is authentically Wodehouse. It's the first of Fred's post-Fred-and-Ginger musical pictures and suffers a bit from the absence of the talented Miss Rogers, but for what it is, it's 100 minutes of fluffy cheerful joy. Sadly, it's not available on DVD—but you can still pick it up on VHS, if you have one of those steam-powered wankel-rotary engine devices in your home. Barring that, here's a fine summary and analysis of the movie, and here's the Turner Classic Movies webpage for the film. (Make sure you vote for it to come out on DVD!)

What about the book? Well, that's a fine thing too. It's in many ways a proto-Blandings novel, with an absent-minded Lord who wants nothing to do except work in his garden, his shrewish sister, a very British butler (in fact, it's Keggs, who we meet again later on Something Fishy), a prig of a brother, and two star-crossed lovers slated to be together, if only they can overcome the Earl, the sister, the butler, the brother, and Fate. All that's missing is the Pig.

The heroine's named Maud (Alyce in the movie), the hero's George (Jerry in the film), but the basic plot's the same: Maud has so many suitors the household staff, led by the devious Keggs, is running book on which of the many houseguests at the manor will be the one she'll become engaged to. American composer George is a dark horse unknown, especially since Maud is truly enamored of Geoffrey, a sportsman she met in Wales last year. When Maud enlists George's help to get in touch with Geoffrey so they can continue their romance, what else can George do but agree? Selflessness like this is the standard of the Wodehouse hero, and George is one of the selflessnessest, especially in the funny early scene where he hides Maud in his taxicab (before he even knows her name) to keep her out of sight from her prying fat brother:
The stout young man, whose peculiar behaviour had drawn all this flattering attention from the many-headed and who appeared considerably ruffled by the publicity, had been puffing noisily during the foregoing conversation. Now, having recovered sufficient breath to resume the attack, he addressed himself to George once more.

'Damn you, sir, will you let me look inside that cab?'

'Leave me,' said George, 'I would be alone.'

'There is a young lady in that cab. I saw her get in, and I have been watching ever since, and she has not got out, so she is there now.'

George nodded approval of this close reasoning.

'Your argument seems to be without a flaw. But what then? We applaud the Man of Logic, but what of the Man of Action? What are you going to do about it?'

'Get out of my way!'

'I won't.'

'Then I'll force my way in!'

'If you try it, I shall infallibly bust you one on the jaw.'

The stout young man drew back a pace.

'You can't do that sort of thing, you know.'

'I know I can't,' said George, 'but I shall. In this life, my dear sir, we must be prepared for every emergency. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible. It would be unusual for a comparative stranger to lean out of a cab window and sock you one, but you appear to have laid your plans on the assumption that it would be impossible. Let this be a lesson to you!'
This is, of course, all showing that George is a Good Egg™, well-worthy of being loved, yet for much of the novel the love is unrequited:
He draws a deep breath, misled young man. The night is very beautiful. It is near to the dawn now and in the bushes live things are beginning to stir and whisper.


Surely she can hear him?


The silver stars looked down dispassionately. This sort of thing had no novelty for them.
Come in the garden, Maud, she doesn't. Poor George! Fred Astaire now, he'd break into a sad sort of dance to while away the dark night, but George can only shuffle home.

How much is this like a Blandings novel? Well, witness this exchange between Lord Emsworth and sister Connie Lord Marshmoreton and sister Caroline:
'...When I arrived there he was standing on the pavement outside. There were no signs of Maud. I demanded that he tell me her whereabouts...'

'That reminds me,' said Lord Marshmoreton cheerfully, 'of a story I read in one of the papers. I daresay it's old. Stop me if you've heard it. A woman says to the maid: 'Do you know anything of my husband's whereabouts?' And the maid replies-'

'Do be quiet,' snapped Lady Caroline. 'I should have thought that you would be interested in a matter affecting the vital welfare of your only daughter.'

'I am. I am,' said Lord Marshmoreton hastily. 'The maid replied: 'They're at the wash.' Of course I am. Go on, Percy. Good God, boy, don't take all day telling us your story.'
And like Blandings, which is more populated by imposters than it is the nobility, George's invades the castle posing as a waiter during a grand ball (quite probably the same grand ball seen in this section of the movie):

George is one of my favorite Wodehouse heroes, not merely for his quick wit, his steadfast devotion, friendly attitude and can-do demeanor—add to all that, he's a Brooklyn boy:
"And then, that is one point I wish to make, you know. Ours is an old family, I would like to remind you that there were Marshmoretons in Belpher before the War of the Roses."

"There were Bevans in Brooklyn before the B.R.T."

"I beg your pardon?"

"I was only pointing out that I can trace my ancestry a long way. You have to trace things a long way in Brooklyn, if you want to find them."

"I have never heard of Brooklyn."

"You've heard of New York?"


"New York's one of the outlying suburbs."

Lord Marshmoreton relit his pipe. He had a feeling that they were wandering from the point.
Au contraire, m'lord. Brooklyn is never far from the point.

In short, this is a delightful and brisk book, and even if it hadn't been made into a motion picture, I still would count it as one of my favorites of Wodehouse's work, for this section at least:
Consider his position, you faint-hearted and self-pitying young men who think you have a tough row to hoe just because, when you pay your evening visit with the pound box of candy under your arm, you see the handsome sophomore from Yale sitting beside her on the porch, playing the ukulele. If ever the world has turned black to you in such a situation and the moon gone in behind a cloud, think of George Bevan and what he was up against. You are at least on the spot. You can at least put up a fight. If there are ukuleles in the world, there are also guitars, and tomorrow it may be you and not he who sits on the moonlit porch; it may be he and not you who arrives late. Who knows? Tomorrow he may not show up till you have finished the Bedouin's Love Song and are annoying the local birds, roosting in the trees, with Poor Butterfly.

What I mean to say is, you are on the map. You have a sporting chance. Whereas George...Well, just go over to England and try wooing an earl's daughter whom you have only met once-and then without an introduction; whose brother's hat you have smashed beyond repair; whose family wishes her to marry some other man: who wants to marry some other man herself-and not the same other man, but another other man; who is closely immured in a mediaeval castle...Well, all I say is-try it. And then go back to your porch with a chastened spirit and admit that you might be a whole lot worse off.
...or this particularly fine piece of pathetic fallacy:
Unconscious of these eulogies, which, coming from one whose judgment he respected, might have cheered him up, George wandered down Shaftesbury Avenue feeling more depressed than ever. The sun had gone in for the time being, and the east wind was frolicking round him like a playful puppy, patting him with a cold paw, nuzzling his ankles, bounding away and bounding back again, and behaving generally as east winds do when they discover a victim who has come out without his spring overcoat. It was plain to George now that the sun and the wind were a couple of confidence tricksters working together as a team. The sun had disarmed him with specious promises and an air of cheery good fellowship, and had delivered him into the hands of the wind, which was now going through him with the swift thoroughness of the professional hold-up artist. He quickened his steps, and began to wonder if he was so sunk in senile decay as to have acquired a liver.
Why, I'll even forgive him this slur against bulls:
Observe Bertram the Bull when things are not going just as he could wish. He stamps. He snorts. He paws the ground. He throws back his head and bellows. He is upset, and he doesn't care who knows it.
Let's face it: this is the book that inspired the sight of Fred Astaire dancing in Piccadilly in London. And that is, as I like to say, a Very Good Thing. (But watch out for the taxicabs, Fred! Didn't your mama teach you not to dance in traffic?)

A Wodehouse a Week #71: A Damsel in Distress

I have four copies of the book A Damsel in Distress. But I don't have the Fred Astaire movie. I'm going to remedy that as soon as possible, by buying one of the used VHS copies out there and hoping it hits DVD someday. You should, too, and look how easy I've made it for you with handy Amazon links and the like! And by the way, you ought to know that the book was also made into a silent movie the same year the book came out, 1919? Now you do. And I'd like to see that movie, too. It was probably pretty fun. But did it have this? No. No, it did not:

A Wodehouse a Week Index.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ten of a Kind: PWNED!!!

(More Ten of a Kind here.)