Friday, October 06, 2006

Song Of The Week:

Sean Lennon has an astounding new album out. "Friendly Fire" was released on October 3, and it's a concept album about how his girlfriend (Bijou Phillips) left him for his best friend, who then died in an accident before the two friends could reconcile. It's a stunning, emotionally gut-wrenching work, and our SOTW this week not on that CD. "Idea" is an instrumental that hints at the tender melodies that Lennon uses on "Friendly Fire."

For a better teaser for the CD, you can go to Lennon's mySpace page and listen to "Dead Meat", which recreates the ugly confrontation between the lovers with a strikingly beautiful tune.

Lennon's birthday is October 9, and coincidentally, he shares that birthday with his late father. Also coincidentally, he turns 31, which is roughly the age his father was when he recorded "Imagine." The younger Lennon bears a slight vocal resemblance to his father, but it's not as pronounced as his older half-brother, Julian. "Friendly Fire" comes with a DVD with short films for each of the tracks on the album. You can read more about Sean Lennon and his new CD at his website.

Cool Toy Of The Week: Lil' Sideshow Playsets

The latest bit of twisted coolness from Archie McPhee is their new series of Sideshow Playsets, featuring the Bearded Lady, the Strongman, Frog Girl & Lobster Boy, and the World's Tallest Man & World's Smallest Man. Recreate the long-ago days when a traveling carnival meant more than riding on unsafe rides, eating dangerous food, and having the scary one-eyed guy who runs the Tilt-a-Whirl hit on your girlfriend. You can have your own carnival right on your desktop, without feeling guilty about exploiting the sorrows of real, unfortunate examples of humanity.

To be honest, these little pseudo-action figures don't really do much. They're minimally posable, if at all, and the sculpting is somewhat less than state-of-the-art, but still, the concept is so twisted that it overwhelms the absent craftsmanship.

Each playset comes with a small plastic stage and a small square vinyl banner featuring an old-time sideshow banner. The figures are around four inches tall, give or take a few inches for various horizontally-affected characters. You can order them from Archie McPhee, which is a must-visit website for those of us who like to indulge in off-kilter gift-giving. Be warned, that at fourteen bucks a pop, these strange little hunks of plastic are ridiculously overpriced, but doesn't it make you sleep better at night knowing that these cool toys exist?

Well, if not that, then isn't it handy to know where you can get a really repulsive gift to give someone who's way too polite to act horrified when they open the package?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

10-4 Birthday Wishes!

75 years ago today, one of our most famous detectives, Dick Tracy, made his debut on the comics page of the Chicago Tribune. The creation of Chester Gould, at one point Dick Tracy was one of the most-read comic strips in the country, inspiring memorable parodies like Bob Clampett's "Duck Twacy" Daffy Duck cartoon and Fearless Fosdick, who became a recurring character in Al Capp's "Lil' Abner" comic strip. Tracy himself starred in a radio show, movie series, and cartoon show.

Dick Tracy holds up remarkably well. Gould's bizarre villains and great detective stories rank among the most entertaining comic strip stories ever told. A new series of books that present the complete adventures of Dick Tracy--printing every strip in order, from day one, is coming out from IDW Publishing. The first volume is due out in a couple of weeks, and it can be pre-ordered here. I've been a fan of Dick Tracy literally as long as I can remember. This series of strip collections is long overdue.

You can still follow the adventures of Dick Tracy every day. Dick Locher is currently writing and drawing the adventures of America's foremost detective, keeping him current by having him deal with computer crimes, terrorists and pedophile Republican Congressmen (okay, I made that last one up). If you aren't lucky enough to have a newspaper that still carries his strip, you can read it here. Personally, I have never forgiven Garfield for replacing Dick Tracy in the Gazette back in 1978. I've been volunteering my services as a comics page editor ever since, to no avail.

Another long-running comic strip has been paying tribute to Tracy for the past couple of weeks. Dick Tracy was driving through Gasoline Alley, when he stopped to solve a crime. Below you'll find Gasoline Alley cartoonist Jim Scancarelli's tribute strip from today.

October fourth is also the birthday of somebody else important--my kid sister. Happy Birthday Diana, I'm working on your cake right now!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over!

The Month That Was.

September seemed to fly by in about five minutes. There was so much stuff going on that I didn't have time to write any proper recaps. So now, in convenient capsule form, here's September in Review:

September 2--My Brother's birthday(celebrated a couple of days early). I cooked dinner, pizza, Italian monster salad, and birthday cake (lemon with chocolate icing). A good time was had by all.

September 7--Mel and I had the cover story on The Gazz, about Danny Boyd's wrestling show at WVSU.

September 8--Danny Boyd and AWA Apex present "September To Dismember" at the Davis Fine Arts Auditorium at WVSU. It was an incredible night of old-school wrestling. Danny and his partner, Death Falcon, captured the AWA Apex tag-team titles. Also, episode five of Radio Free Charleston, featuring Kevin Duffer and the Appalachian Celtic Consort goes online at GazzTV.

September 9--Mel and I attended a reception for my buddy Eric Pardue's exhibit at the Frankenberger Art Gallery at the University Of Charleston. Eric does these great mixed media collages that capture frozen stream of consciousness moments with a great balance of humor and a wonderful subdued palette. And the Frankenberger Gallery is a terrific space. It was my first time seeing it.

September 14--Fresh bagged spinach is pulled off of grocery store shelves. Our long national nightmare begins.

September 15--Opening night of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra's new season. Mel and I had front-row seats to see virtuoso pianist Yakov Kasman perform Prokofiev. The symphony also treated us to Beethoven and Brahms. It was a great night, and we ran into Sean Richardson, from The Sleeping Dons, there.

September 16--IWA East Coast's day of two tournaments. An amazing day, with the Zero G high-flyers tourney in the afternoon--TNA star Sonjay Dutt captured the Zero G cup--and the Masters of Pain tourney in the evening. "Crazy Monkey" Jun Kasai won the Masters Of Pain cup, and the tournament itself lived up to its billing, with each match featuring an extreme gimmick. You can buy the DVDs of both shows here, but let me warn you about one thing: animal lovers might want to skip the first match. It was a hardcore masterpiece, and it featured one spot that will become legend, and will be talked about for years. The squeamish among you might want to look away from the screen.

Those poor lobsters!

September 21--We taped Professor Mike at LiveMix Studios for episode six of Radio Free Charleston. It was an incredible night and they are an amazing band. We'll probably have them back for one of our Halloween specials.

September 23--Mel and I went to see Jackass Number Two. It was gut-bustingly funny, but less so than the first movie. Seemed to be an awfully gay movie, though, not that there's anything wrong with that.

September 25--My Z debuted on Suddenlink, a few days ahead of schedule. Needs more local programming.

September 28--Season debut of Smallville on The CW. Just in time to wash the taste of "Superman Returns" away. This is the real Superman.

September 29--"The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (abridged)" at the Labelle Theater in South Charleston. Everyman Players put on an extremely entertaining evening at one of our favorite local venues. After the show, we ran over to The Sound Factory to catch Professor Mike. We had to call it an early night and take off before the Mikes took the stage, but we were quite impressed with the show that A Place Of Solace put on. Earlier in the day, episode six of RFC, with Professor Mike and Two Watts Of Power goes online at GazzTV.

September 30--The reason we had to leave the show early was that we had a wedding to attend the next day. Area wrestler Atrocity tied the knot with his lovely bride, and we ended the month on a romantic note. Later that night, the new season of Saturday Night Live debuted. Dane Cook continues to impress me by managing to be the complete antithesis of funny. I've laughed more at funerals.

October will be spent napping.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monday Morning Art: Warmask Two

We have a new Warmask kicking off the week this morning. It's another computer-colored Sharpie doodle from last week. "Warmask Two" is a bit Tiki-ish, yet also somewhat bulldogesque.

Anyone interested in owning overpriced shirts and trinkets bearing this image can click here. Other examples of Monday Morning Art can be found here.

As always, click to enlarge.