Fay Just Teased Us… So Far

The diagram above shows the projected path that tropical storm Fay is expected to follow for the next few days. How accurate it is, is hard to say. Fay was supposed to come through the Daytona Beach area starting tonight and hit hardest around 2am. Before that ever happened she shifted and headed out towards sea. As you can see now, Fay is projected to double back and land further up the coast. We’ll find out tonight if schools will be in session tomorrow. We’re still supposed to have high winds and rain through Wednesday.

Oh, if you’re wondering how the day at the shelter went, it was pretty uneventful. We opened on time at 10am. Usually, when we open a shelter, there are bunches of people waiting to get in. Not today. The first person didn’t arrive until almost eleven. At 12:30, only six people had come in. At 2:30pm we were closed down and people who still wanted shelter were sent to a new location. So the end result was no injuries, no property damage and only one story. [One of the people who came to the shelter ended up getting arrested. When the man signed in, a Deputy ran his name and it turned out he was wanted on an outstanding warrant.] My guess, is the man won’t be worried about shelter for a while.

Fay is Gonna Smack Us

Four years ago three hurricanes struck the Daytona Beach area in just over a month’s time. Try calculating the odds of that. For each of the hurricanes I spent time working at a special needs shelter. The stories I can tell. On a personal level, although we were left without power during each storm [and once for a five day stretch] no one in the family was hurt and property damage was minor.

Tomorrow morning I’ll go in to work at another special needs shelter. You see we’re directly in the path of Tropical Storm Fay. I’m planning to be there for at least two days [hopefully the shelter won’t be needed longer]. If we’re lucky, no one will be injured, property damage will be nil and I’ll come out with a good story or two.

The Shield’s Final Season

Isn’t that a cool poster?

I am so ready for the final season of The Shield. It’s not because I’m looking forward to the series to end. I’m not. In fact as the final season draws to it’s ultimate conclusion, you just know that I’ll be wishing that there was more to come.

I’ve been with The Shield since the first episode of the premiere season. I’ve never missed a single show. It’s been a great ride. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

3 Real Life Heroes

Comic book legends Neal Adams, Jack Kubert and Stan Lee have teamed in an effort to do what their creations are known for… to right a wrong. The only difference is this is not fiction.

Dina Gottliebova Babbitt is an 85 year old woman who survived Auschwitz due to her artistic talents. Sent to the camp at the age of 19, Ms. Gottliebova [she was not yet married] came to the attention of the infamous Nazi, Josef Mengele, after she painted a mural of Snow White in an effort to raise the spirits of young children being held there. When she was taken to meet Mengele, Ms. Gottliebova believed that he was about to order her execution. Instead he told her he wanted her to paint portraits of the gypsies he used in his experiments. She would also paint portraits of Nazi officers and their families and even Mengele himself. Ms. Gottliebova summoned up her courage and said that if her mother would be spared the gas chamber, she would agree to his demands. Her mother was spared and Ms. Gottliebova created the artwork. Ms. Gottliebova and her mother both survived until the camp was liberated.

After the war, Ms. Gottliebova met Arthur Babbitt, an American, who made his living as a cartoon animator. Coincidentally, he worked on the classic “Snow White!” Ms. Gottliebova became Mrs. Babbitt and moved to the United States where she became employed as a cartoon animator for Warner Bros., MGM and Jay Ward Productions. In 1973, Ms. Babbitt was contacted by officials at the Auschwitz State Museum. They had several of her portraits on display and wanted her to verify that she had created them. At her own expense she traveled to Poland and confirmed that they were hers. Ms. Babbitt believed the museum would give her the originals and keep prints for display… but that wasn’t to be.

To this day the museum continues to refuse to return her paintings to her. Over the years she has been given a number of excuses: the education value of the paintings outweighs her rights to them [despite the fact the high quality prints are usually on display instead of the originals], that returning her paintings might encourage other survivors to take back their objects on display [somehow this logic gives trump to the museum’s rights over the true owners], and even that the paintings were the legal property of Josef Mengele [despite receiving letters from over four dozen lawyers calling the claim “preposterous and offensive” and pointing out “a war criminal does not deserve to enjoy the fruits of his crime.”

The paintings still have not been returned to Ms. Babbitt. So Neal Adams, Joe Kubert and Stan Lee teamed up to create a six page summary of her story that was printed in the New York Times. They are attempting to get the word out to the world. You can view all six pages of the strip by following this link to the Times article. The “Multimedia” box in the left hand column of the Times page will take you to the story. After you’ve read it, if you’re so inclined you can send an email to the Museum director personally expressing your feelings.

Mr. Piotr Cywinski, Director
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
Oswiecim, Poland

It’s nice to know that Neal Adams, Joe Kubert and Stan Lee don’t just create heroes — they are heroes.



Greatest Comic Characters

EmpireOnLine.com posted their choices for The 50 Greatest Comic Characters of All Time. Using just their picks, here are my top ten:

I only really read Iron Man way back when David Micheline and Bob Layton were charting his adventures. That coupled with the fact that I really liked the movie is enough to put Iron Man in the number 10 spot.

Superman was Empire’s #1 character. I can see why: Superman is one of the most popular characters ever created. He’s been the star of comics, radio, tv and movies. For my tastes though, he’s just too dang powerful. Superman has super speed, super strength, super hearing, x-ray vision, he can fly, he’s impervious to pain and he’s really, really nice. Unless he’s up against a chunk of Kryptonite [and isn’t THAT stuff easy to find], where’s the drama? Still, I did love me some Superman when I was about 5 and that’s good enough to get him the number 9 slot.

At number 8 we have Captain America. I’ve enjoyed the good Captain in bursts over the years. When I was a wee lad, I loved Jack Kirby’s Cap. You’d open to the splash and there was Cap having just been thrown out of a plane without a parachute or maybe he was already in battle against Batroc the Leaper! Years later Steranko did a couple of issues and they were beautiful. I still go back and read them from time to time. When I was in college, my buddies Mike Zeck and John Beatty had a nice run on Cap. I went along for the ride and had a blast.

Up until high school my favorite comic character was Spider-Man. It didn’t matter who was drawing him; although John Romita Jr., Gil Kane, and John Byrne were favorites. Spider-Man aka Peter Parker always seemed to be in just a bit over his head. Despite that, he always tried to do the right thing. And that’s why he comes in a number 7.

The Punisher never looked better than when he was being drawn by Zeck and Beatty. Throw Steven Grant into the mix as the writer and you have a winning team. They did the first Punisher mini-series and took him from a second rate villain to one of the most popular characters ever. And that’s where the troubles started. Suddenly the Punisher had his own monthly comic. He was teamed with a partner [Microchip?] and ended up doing things like being a substitute teacher. Ugh! Still there were more bright spots from time to time. Grant, Zeck and Beatty re-teamed for a couple more Punisher graphic novels and John Romita Jr. had a nice little run with the character. The high spots are enough to take the character to the sixth spot on our list.

Mike Mignola’s Hellboy is number 5. I’ve been riding the Hellboy express since his first appearance in Dark Horse Presents scripted by John Byrne. It’s been a fun trip, although I wish Mignola did more of the driving. Guest artists are fun, but Mike’s writing coupled with his art really makes Hellboy soar. And hey, the movies ain’t bad either!

Wolverine’s journey is very similar to the Punisher’s. Once he got his own series things went south. At first Wolverine was the mysterious, violent character in the X-Men. Then when he got his own series he was living on an island and wearing an eyepatch with the name Patch. Huh? Give me the Wolverine from the Claremont, Byrne and Austin run on the X-Men. Give me the Miller and Rubstein Wolverine from their mini-series. Give me the Barry Windsor Smith Weapon X Wolverine. Just keep the eyepatch for yourself. Wolverine comes in fourth.

Third place belongs to Frank Miller’s Marv from Sin City. How can you not dig the big lug? I wish Miller would give us more.

The # 2 spot goes to Daredevil on the strength of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s run back in the early 80’s. That was comics are their best.

Batman gets my number one slot. It doesn’t really matter who writes or draws the character. Think about it. Batman has been done as comedy, as camp, with the focus on Bruce Wayne, with the focus on Batman, as a vigilante, as a confidant to the police, as a wanted criminal, with a kid partner, as an old man, as a young man finding his way. Batman just works and that’s why he’s my number 1 choice.

Remembering “The Immortal” [2008]

Maybe it’s due to some of the programming on RTN. Maybe it’s because of posts by Ivan Shreve at his Thrilling Days of Yesteryear site. For whatever reason, lately I’ve been thinking about tv shows that I enjoyed as a kid. Regular readers know that I was a fan of “The Wild, Wild West,” the original “Star Trek,” and shows like “The Jack Benny Program,” “The Honeymooners,” and “The Twilight Zone.”

Another series that I really enjoyed was “The Immortal.” Christopher George played Ben Richards, a man whose blood made him immune to disease and aging. Richards was on the run from thugs hired by an old billionaire who knew that repeated transfusions from Richards would extend his life. The show premiered in September of 1970 and lasted for one season of fifteen episodes.

I haven’t seen it, since it went of the air, but I sure do remember thinking it was great stuff. Of course I was eleven and sometimes things don’t age well. Then again, maybe “The Immortal” would fit right in with “The Wild, Wild West,” the original “Star Trek,” and shows like “The Jack Benny Program,” “The Honeymooners,” and “The Twilight Zone.”


Need a Ride?

Ridelust.com charts their picks for the 50 Most Famous Cars from Movies and TV. Looking at the list I’m surprised that my #2 choice didn’t show up anywhere! How in the world could Marion Cobretti‘s custom 1950 Mercury not make the list?Oh well. Using just their choices here are my top ten:

10. 1970 Dodge Charger from The Fast and The Furious film. Fun movie and a fun car!

09. 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 fastback from Gone in 60 Seconds. I didn’t care for the movie at all. I am a huge fan of Mustangs though. In fact I owned a sweet little 72 Mustang back in high school. I did love that car!

08. 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am from Smokey and The Bandit. It seemed that everyone wanted a Trans Am back in the late 70’s. They were cool for a while, but then kind of went the way of disco.

07. 1981 DeLorean DMC 12 from Back To The Future. Who wouldn’t want a car that could be cleaned with a brillo pad?

06. 1973 [heavily modified] Ford Falcon XB GT from Mad Max. Hey, the year 2012 will soon be here, so I may need that car!

05. 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 from Miami Vice television series. Heck, I’d even push my jacket sleeves up when driving it.

04. 2054 Lexus CS from Minority Report. All of my previous choices have been heavily influenced by the movie/tv show that the car appeared in, except for #9 and this one. This car is just too cool looking not to want… despite the movie just being okay.

03. 1974 Ford Gran Torino from the Starsky and Hutch television series. There was a time when everyone wanted one of these. People with other makes of cars had the Starsky and Hutch stripe painted on them. I believe that John Beatty would have even given up his beloved Charger for this bad boy.

02. 1966 Chrysler Crown Imperial from The Green Hornet television series. Who wouldn’t want a car that Bruce Lee used to drive?

01. 1955 Lincoln Futura Concept Car from the Batman [1966-1968] television series. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it now, If I was a rich man, this would be my ride.

When Titans Clash… Indeed

When titans clash… indeed.

This is going to get worse before it gets better… I just don’t see how.

Toilets are always funny… apparently not.

I just hope that what we are seeing when we watch this clip is some sort of drug induced dream sequence. Even still… this is not making me excited to to see Frank Miller’s movie adaptation of The Spirit.

You know what the best thing about this post is? That Chris Mills may watch the clip and leave more of his thoughts in the comments section.

Severance Package

The Pitch: “Three Days of the Condor“ meets “Die Hard.“

The Overview: Seven staffers for a small financial firm are called in for an early Saturday morning meeting. They convene in the conference room on the 36th floor of the isolated and deserted office building. The meeting is called to order and the CEO tells them that the company is closing down and unfortunately all of them are going to have to die. The good news, if you can call it that is that they can drink poison that will kill them instantly. The bad news is a bullet to the brain awaits those who want to opt out. Should they try to run and are lucky enough to get out of the office, the floor and all doors out have been laced with poisonous gas and booby traps. Bottoms up, anyone?

The Good: Swierczynski’s novels move and Severance Package is no exception. The security guard, Vincent Marella, [a familiar face if you‘ve read The Blonde] tries to overome his fears and do the right thing. The cover and illustrations by Dennis Calero. What people are willing to go through to survive. The twists that Swierczynski throws in to keep things interesting. Stuart’s belief that it’s all a training exercise and how he plans to excel. The last page.

The Bad: Performing a tracheotomy on yourself. The Vincent Marella’s luck. What happens to Jamie’s hand/fingers.

The Ugly: “She was fixated so much, she didn’t fully notice when something cold and wet lashed across her wrists.”

The Summary: I’ve been singing praises for Duane Swierczynski since I discovered The Wheelman just under two years ago. I loved it. I then sought out Secret Dead Men and was impressed. From that point on, I have purchased Swierczynski’s novels as each was released [The Blonde and now Severance Package]. Each one has left me looking forward to the next. What better praise can there be for a writer? [Click HERE if you’d like to hear how Duane Swierczynski came up with the idea for Severance Package.]

The Art of the Olympics

Did you happen to catch any of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies? As always, they were amazing. I particularly loved the giant fireworks footprints moving through the city, the figures running around the giant globe [much more impressive than it sounds] and the amazing space scene created by the spacemen “flying” around the top of the stadium.

I was surprised [although I shouldn’t have been because he always has amazing true stories] that ZONE buddy, Rafael Kayanan worked on the designs of the space suits! You can read more about it here at Raf’s blog. [While you’re there don’t forget to order your copy of Raf’s new art book!]

Click here if you want to check out some really nice photographs of the opening ceremonies.

Remembering Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes died today at the age of 65.  The multi-talented Hayes, who was a self-taught songwriter, singer, record producer, actor and more, will be missed by fans of all ages.
I first discovered Isaac Hayes thanks to his Academy Award and Grammy winning theme song for the motion picture “Shaft.” I’ve never met a person who didn’t like THAT song. If the theme from “Shaft” was all that he ever did, Isaac Hayes would have left his mark on popular culture. Hayes went on to produce more albums as well as work on the soundtracks of dozens of movies. 
I first saw Isaac Hayes the actor guest starring on “The Rockford Files” as ex-con Gandolph Fitch. He was excellent in the role and who can forget him repeatedly calling James Garner’s Rockford character “Rockfish”? Hayes reprised the role three different times. My next memory of Isaac Hayes the actor, is in the cult classic, John Carpenter’s “Escape from New York” where he played the Duke of New York. The role was tailor made for Hayes. Younger fans probably know Isaac Hayes best as the voice of “The Chef” on “South Park.”

Isaac Hayes will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.