RIP – Ken Tobey

I really wasn’t planning a Zablo Zone update on Christmas, but I just read that KEN TOBEY died on December 22 at the age of 85. Many of you might not recognize the name, but I’m sure you’d recognize his face. Mr. TOBEY appeared in 100 movies and made nearly as many tv show appearances.

He usually played a cop or soldier, as in his most famous role, that of Captain Patrick Hendry in the original “The Thing From Another World.” You’ll also find KEN TOBEY popping up in movies such as “Beast From 20,000 Fathoms,” “Marlowe,” “Billy Jack,” “Airplane,” “Big Top Pee Wee,”… well, you get the idea.

If you’d ask me to list my favorite actors, it ‘d have been a while before I got around to listing his name. Reading that he’d passed on though, reminded me of just how many times he has entertained me. Check out his filmography and list of tv appearances and I’m sure that you’ll feel the same way.

So that’s why I decided to do an update… because what better gift can you get on Christmas, than one filled with fond memories?

Be Careful What You Ask For

What is the old saying? Be careful what you ask for… because you just might get it.

Dick Giordano tells a great story that illustrates just that point. If you don’t know who Mr. Giordano is, let me simply say, he’s one of the legends of comics. In addition to inking all of the best artists of the last 50 years, Dick was also the head honcho of DC Comics [you know, the folks who publish Superman, and Batman], worked with Neal Adams at Continuity Studios, and currently co-owns, with Bob Layton, Future Comics.

Dick had the assignment of pencilling a cover that featured a sexy female super-hero. He turned in the pencils for final approval and received back a note from the editor who shall remain nameless [ *cough* Jim Shooter *cough*]. The note said, “Make her breasts bigger.”

Now Dick is known for drawing well-endowed women. He shook his head and went back and re-drew the breasts larger. He sent the artwork back to the editor.

Once again the page was sent back to Dick and this time with a note that simply stated: “MORE BREASTS.”

Dick didn’t want to disappoint the editor so he sat back down, drew a third breast on the character and sent the page back in. Needless to say, it wasn’t returned again.

Not My Rawhide Kid

One of the comics I enjoyed as a boy was The Rawhide Kid. The Rawhide Kid was young, quick with a gun and thought to be an outlaw but wasn’t. He traveled from town to town, stayed long enough to right a wrong and then moved on. He never drew his gun first, was shy and even drank milk. He even had a real cool “costume” that was easily recognizable. Sure, he sounds like a cliché, but don’t most kids’ comics when you break them down into the essentials? At any rate, he was a great role model for a young ‘un like myself.

When the western craze died out, so did The Rawhide Kid.

Now he’s returning in a new mini-series called “Slap Leather.” I can’t recommend it though. See, Marvel has decided to make the Rawhide Kid gay… not that there is anything wrong with being gay. My problem with the series is: 1) They’re approaching it as a joke. You know, like NOW we know why he was shy and moved from town to town * wink* *wink*… and 2) If they wanted to create a gay cowboy, why not create a new character instead of one that has been around for nearly 50 years?

And consider this… if the argument is that it will give a role model to young gay kids… how is it going to make them feel when they realize that the “hero” is being treated as the punchline?

Anomalies Unlimited

Yikes! Sorry, if I scared you with the picture to the left.

As you’re probably aware, if you read my Zablo Zone commentaries, I enjoy unexplained phenomena, conspiracy theories and the like. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fanatic but I do enjoy them from time to time.

If you do as well, then check out Anomalies Unlimited. It’s a site dedicated to strange stuff… UFOs, Aliens, Conspiracy Theories, the missing link… You can find all kinds of interesting stuff here.

Some will amuse you [optical illusions], some will surprise you [Disney secrets],some may intrigue you [aliens, ufo’s, etc.] and some will gross you out [odd pics]. And some items, like the one about the Evolution of Michael Jackson’s Nose will do all of the above.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Da Goon

Eric Powell writes and draws “The Goon” which is published by Albatross Exploding Funny Books. The Goon combines horror, sci-fi, humor, zombies, ufos, humor, gangsters, humor, werewolves… well, let’s just say anything that Eric wants to write or draw about would work in the series. And did I mention that it’s fun and funny?

Right now the second issue of the second series is on newstands. But don’t worry, you can still get all of the back issues and a trade edition is coming in January. I’ll be getting it, even though I already have the issues off the stands. That should tell you just how much I enjoy Eric‘s work. I’ll bet you would too.

So check out his site, and tell him I sent ya! [If ya don’t expect a visit from The Goon — and I ain’t talking about Big Beatty or myself!!]

Dick the Bruiser

For some reason, the image of an obviously enraged Dick the Bruiser all dressed up in a suit and bow tie and sporting stitches in his head seems such an odd combination, that every time I see the picture I smile.

Dick the Bruiser, whose real name was Richard Afflis, was a real-life tough guy. He played professional football and developed a reputation as a bar room brawler. Bruiser was 6′ 1″ and 260 pounds of muscle, so when his football career ended, it was only natural that he turn to professional wrestling.

Bruiser started his wrestling career in the 50’s and wrestled into the 80’s! Even after he retired, he worked as a talent scout for the WCW. Bruiser died in 1991 at the age of 62. He left behind a legacy as one of the most popular wrestlers to ever step into the ring.

I was fortunate to see the Bruiser wrestle live many times when I was growing up. Those memories bring an even bigger smile to my face than the picture.

Below Rises to the Top

On October 11th, there are three films coming out that I really want to see. My bet is that you’ve heard of two of them.

The films are “Below,” “Knockaround Guys,” and “The Transporter.” Had you heard about all three, or was I right?

“The Transporter” has been advertised everywhere and looks to be an, action-packed thrill ride. “Knockaround Guys” has a great cast including Vin Diesel. Despite the fact that it’s been sitting on the shelf for quite a while, I think it’s going to be enjoyable and will do well at the box office. It’s funny, the one I want to see most has had the least press.

What’s “Below” then? It’s co-written and directed by David Twohy. Twohy did the same duties on “Pitch Black.” Remember how that turned out? “Below” is the story of an American submarine facing Nazi war ships on the surface and something worse below. Harry Knowles calls it “a haunted house flick, where there is no door to sneak out of…” that “… combines elements of CAINE MUTINY, Robert Wise’s THE HAUNTING, LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, DAS BOOT and some stuff that I haven’t seen in any of those movies.” Stuff that Harry hasn’t seen?!
Whew!

Still not sold? Check out the full review. Want to see more? How about a look at the trailer? Here’s the website. I think that despite the terrible publicity, this will be the movie to see on October 11th.

It’s been a while since there have been three movies coming out on the same day that I want to see.

Any bets on which one I’m gonna see first?

A Real Hardcase

Have you heard of Dan Simmons?

Simmons‘ first published story, “The River Styx Runs Upstream,” won the Rod Serling Memorial Award. His first novel, Song of Kali, won the World Fantasy Award. His first horror novel, Carrion Comfort, won the Bram Stoker Award. His first science fiction novel, Hyperion, won the Hugo Award.

Even with all the awards, I was only vaguely familiar with his work. I don’t read fantasy, and very little science fiction or horror. I do love a hardboiled thriller though! You know, the kind written by Vachss, or Izzi, Hunter, or Stark… or Simmons. That’s right! With one book, Simmons has jumped to the top of the list!

Joe Kurtz was a PI… before he was an ex-con. See he killed a man, a couple of men actually. They’d murdered his girl and unborn child. While it’s pretty reasonable to me that he threw one of ’em off a six story building, the jury didn’t see it that way.

Now, out of prison after eleven-and-a-half years…

…you’d think things would be looking up for Kurtz. You’d be wrong. Too many people want him dead…

Hardcase is the best novel that I’ve read this year [tied with Jack Kelly‘s Line of Sight]. For more about Hardcase, click here.

Ever heard of Dan Simmons?

My prediction is that you will. But remember that you FIRST heard about him here!

Hardcase rates an A+

Emmy Predictions

In the last few years I’ve found myself being much more selective about the television that I watch. I map out my viewing for the week and then pretty much stick to that. This helps me to not miss the few shows that I really enjoy, and it also helps me avoid “vegging” out in front of shows I don’t care about.

The Emmy Awards are on tonight, and while I probably won’t watch them [I haven’t mapped out the week yet], there are a few shows/actors that I hope win.

In the best DRAMA category, I am pulling for West Wing but I wouldn’t be upset if 24 won against CSI, Law and Order, and Six Feet Under.

In the COMEDY category, it would appear that Friends is a lock against Curb Your Enthusiasm , Everybody Loves Raymond, Sex and the City and Will & Grace.

For best WRITING for a DRAMA series, there are several very worthy contenders. I would like to see The Shield • Pilot • Shawn Ryan, Writer win because it was such a groundbreaking episode, but it would be hard to argue against Alias • Truth Be Told (Pilot) • J.J. Abrams, Writer; ER • On The Beach • John Wells, Writer; 24 • Midnight – 1:00 a.m. (Pilot) • Joel Surnow, Robert Cochran, Writers; or The West Wing • Posse Comitatus • Aaron Sorkin, Writer.

The LEAD ACTOR in a DRAMA is another [though not as] tough category. I am going to pull for either Michael Chiklis as Detective Vic Mackey in The Shield or Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer – 24 who are up against Michael C. Hall as David Fisher – Six Feet Under, Peter Krause as Nate Fisher – Six Feet Under and Martin Sheen as Josiah Bartlet – The West Wing.

I’m gonna pull for Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow star of Alias for the LEAD ACTRESS in a DRAMA category. She’s up against Amy Brenneman as Judge Amy Gray – Judging Amy; Rachel Griffiths as Brenda Chenowith – Six Feet Under; Frances Conroy as Ruth Fisher – Six Feet Under; and Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg – The West Wing.

The SUPPORTING ACTOR in a DRAMA is dominated by West Wing actors and my choice is John Spencer as Leo McGarry – The West Wing up against Victor Garber as CIA Agent Jack D. Bristow – Alias; Freddy Rodriguez as Federico Diaz – Six Feet Under; Dulé Hill as Charlie Young – The West Wing; Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman – The West Wing; and Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler – The West Wing.

These are the categories in which I am “pulling” for a winner. I would have given my predictions in other categories but it’s time for me to plan out my viewing for the week. ; )

The Mechanic

Charles Bronson had a long career staring and co-staring in a bunch of great movies. “The Dirty Dozen.” “The Magnificent Seven.” “Death Wish.” “Hard Times.” One of my personal favorites is “The Mechanic.”

Never heard of it? Well, it’s coming out on dvd on October 8th and you owe it to yourself to at least check it out.

Bronson is a hit man… perhaps the best in the business. If he takes a job, the target is as good as dead. Jan Michael Vincent is the son of a mafioso who becomes Bronson‘s protoge… not knowing that Bronson has recently murdered his father…

The Mechanic” was directed by Michael Winner [who also directed Bronson in “Death Wish“] with a flair for action without compromising the story. [The opening scene shows Bronson setting up a hit and goes on for several minutes without a word of dialogue!] And although I won’t give it away, be prepared for a great “surprise” ending!

I’m looking forward to adding “The Mechanic” to my dvd collection. Watch it once, and odds are you will too!

The Mechanic” rates an A

Bobby the Brain

Bobby Heenan. “The Weasel.” “Bobby the Brain.” Call him what you want, but you’d have to admit that he was an “entertainer.”

Heenan spent nearly 40 years in the world of pro wrestling. He wasn’t your typical wrestler. He wasn’t gigantic. He wasn’t musclebound. He didn’t fly through the air [unless being thrown by the Bruiser or some other good guy].

Fans loved or hated him, but no one was neutral about Bobby Heenan. He could “rassle” with anyone and make them look better. No one could work a crowd like “the Brain.” And Bobby Heenan was witty. His one-liners and off-the-cuff comments were at times more entertaining than the matches themselves.

Bobby Heenan has written a book and he “tells all the stories, names all the names and doesn’t care who gets mad about it.” Hulk Hogan, Andre “The Giant,” and Vince McMahon are just a few of the many colorful characters that Heenan discusses.

Heenan‘s book is available now. So call him what you want… BrainWeaselEntertainer… but be sure and add author to the list!

Bobby the Brain rates an A

The Biz

Isn’t the drawing above nice? It’s been a while since I’ve seen a piece of art that has really blown me away like this piece does.

It’s by Simon Bizley. The Biz is best known for his work on Judge Dredd… but he is able to do so much more.

Check out this site and you’ll see what I mean.

Hostage as Cool as Elvis

I was lucky enough to discover Robert Crais with his second novel, Stalking the Angel [ his first was The Monkey’s Raincoat which introduced detectives Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.] The series was modern, well written and reminded me of an updated version of Robert B. Parker‘s Spenser and Hawk [well actually, an updated Spenser and Sylvester Stallone‘s Cobra].

Crais is one of the few authors whose work I buy in hardcover as soon as it’s published. With my time being what it is, I just got around to reading Hostage, Crais‘ latest [which is now out in paperback]. Although not an Elvis Cole novel, it is without a doubt my favorite work by Crais [who as I’ve said is always very good].

The cool thing about this novel is that the suspense starts on page one and continues to build and build and build. The book has received outstanding reviews from critics and fans alike. Bruce Willis has optioned the book for a movie [which would be an excellent vehicle for him]!

So what are you waiting for? Click here to order the paperback… and watch for Elvis and Joe Pike to return soon in Crais The Last Detective!

Diesel’s Streak

Vin Diesel has a great streak going… Pitch BlackThe Fast and the Furious

…and now XXX.

All of these films are/will be in my dvd library.

With talks of sequels for both Pitch Black and XXX, Vin could actually join Sean Connery, Sly Stallone, and Harrison Ford who all have had TWO movie franchises going at the same time!

XXX works. Diesel is more than believable as the extreme sports junkie recruited to become a government agent. The set-up and “training” sequences are really fun and include some of the best scenes in the movie. [And ya gotta love how they show a James Bond type trying to survive in this “new world.] Samuel L. Jackson is always a plus and I hope that we get to see more of him [in action] in the sequel.

Vin Diesel‘s next film could be the sequel to Pitch Black followed by the sequel to XXX. Both of these are fan favorites so it looks like the streak will continue to grow…

… and so will my movie collection!

The Signs are There

The signs were all there.

M. Night Shyamalan had already written and directed the oh-so-cool “Sixth Sense” and the well done “Unbreakable.” Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix were set to co-star. M. Night was back as writer and director. The trailers were full of suspense, and left you wanting more. Yeah, the signs were all in place for a winner.

But you never know.

I saw “Signs” yesterday and it’s been on my mind constantly since. The story does involve aliens.. but probably not in the way that you’re expecting. It’s as much about family, redemption, and faith as it is aliens… and it is scaryvery scary at times! But it will also make you laugh, move you to the verge of tears, and more than likely leave you feeling very happy for seeing it.

This is my favorite movie of the year thus far. It rates a solid “A.” I think you’ll enjoy it to because…

… the signs are all there!

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