The holidays are here and that means reliving cherished childhood memories. One of my fondest Christmas memories is driving to Little Falls, NJ (not far from the place of my birth) to see the Christmas lights. These weren’t just ordinary holiday decorations, they were really something special. You know that one house in the neighborhood that is completed covered in decorations? The people that run lights around the doors and windows, along the rain gutters, in all the trees, in order to prove to the neighbors that they’re the most devout believers on the block? We made it an annual pilgrimage to drive by this one house and see what new decorations had been added. A waving Santa on the roof, live reindeer in the garage, singing snowmen and snow-women? Nothing was too much.
Traffic was always tied up, horns were honking, and the neighbors found even more reasons to dislike this Christmas eyesore. But my favorite was the Nativity Scene. There were Joseph and Mary gathered around the Christ child. Animals were lowing. The Three Wise Men were approaching bearing gifts. Along with Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble, Pixie & Dixie and Mr. Jinks. Yes, overwhelmed by religious fervor, anxious to out-do everyone else on the street, they included crude plywood cut-outs of popular Hanna-Barbera characters along with the Three Wise Men – changing the Christmas story slightly. Improved? You decide.
I always enjoyed the sheer sacrilege of it all, especially since that was the opposite of their intention.
To commemorate this annual atrocity we have a song about Pixie, Dixie and Mr. Jinks.
The cartoon cut-outs didn’t look quite this good.
Click the link below and make a new Christmas memory!
Some of you probably saw the headline above and thought, “Gee, D.J. David B. is late with his Thanksgiving post. How could he forget Thanksgiving?” To you I say, “Wrong, punkin’ puss!” I’m actually early with next year’s Thanksgiving. Not one to leave things to the last minute I thought I’d start now celebrating Thanksgiving 2015. You’re welcome.
Naturally, it isn’t Thanksgiving without Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. So gather the family ‘round the table about 11 months from now and enjoy this holiday classic along with your traditional meal.
Next week, It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. I’m getting a jump on next Halloween.
With all this talk about Gotham, The Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (not to mention Arrow, which I haven’t mentioned yet) I’m ready for a change of pace. Are you?
Let’s get away from the spies, violence and meta-humans (not to mention arrows) and let our minds drift back to a simpler time of fairy tales and kettle drums, fractured by Jay Ward, as only he can fracture them.
Note: This song sounds like a lullaby. Please do not listen while driving. Remember, friends don’t let friends drive while asleep.
As a long-time record collector I know all too well that not all songs are created equal. There are songs and there are songs, if you know what I mean. And this is one of them. It’s a real GFR (Great Fantastic Record). And it ties in nicely with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the TV show that has me mystified. But more on that later.
As you listen to this record notice the neat S.H.I.E.L.D. reference, as well as a Mopar mention, plus nifty nod to Chuck Berry at the end. This song has it all!
T. Rex, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Back to S.H.I.E.L.D. I’ve seen something about how the show is better than ever. I’m not sure about that. But it sure has changed. It seems whenever I like something they either change it or stop making it all together. It doesn’t matter if it’s a kind of cookies I like or my favorite toothpaste. Once the word gets out, somebody at the top gets a memo, “D.J. David B. likes our product. Do something fast!” And then it’s yanked off the shelves quicker than you can say “Pure and Natural bath soap.”
It seems like a couple of my favorite shows came back different this season, including Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Not necessarily improved, but there’s been a change in tone and in theme. We don’t see super-powered beings on the show anymore and there’s a greater focus on spies, double agents and triple agents. Eh. It kind of leaves me cold. I liked it better the way it was. Next time I like something I’m going to keep my mouth shut!
Now let’s listen and enjoy this early S.H.I.E.L.D. song and forget our troubles.
It’s been busy lately, here at I.T.C.H. H.Q. What with all the comics-oriented TV shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Gotham and The Flash (not to mention Arrow, which I haven’t even mentioned yet) we’re not lacking for comics tunes to write about. We’re living in a new Golden Age, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Sixties – when Batman, Green Hornet, The Addams Family, and Dennis the Menace could all be seen on television. Comics are back to being pop culture!
So, apropos of nothing, I’d like to present a song that dates back to an earlier time. Recorded by one of the Fab Four (that’s The Beatles to you youngsters) it has no less than three comics characters in it. At the moment, there’s no Titanium Man TV show and he hasn’t been in the Iron Man films. Neither has the Crimson Dynamo, for that matter, although we’ve seen plenty of Magneto. By now you’ve figured out which song it is so let’s jump to the appropriate cover gallery, shall we?
Click the link below and listen to a classic song about metals and magnets.
More than once on this blog we have discussed Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Gotham, but there’s another comic book TV series that we haven’t even mentioned! That changes right now: The Flash! Yes, The Flash, the fastest man alive who once again has a weekly television show. Did you ever think you’d see the day when super-heroes were the source material for so many movies and TV shows? I’m so busy watching TV I scarcely have time to read comics.
The Flash ran on treadmills before they were popular.
The Flash is particularly interesting in the context of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Gotham in that it isn’t dark, gritty or, ugh, realistic. In fact, it’s refreshingly comic-booky in its approach. It’s the kind of show where the villain stands there spouting dialogue like “It’s the end of the line, Scarlet Speedster, you’ve met your match in Captain Cold” with a straight face. Kudos to the actors who do a wonderful job of not cracking up (although I dare them to not burst out laughing when Captain Boomerang arrives on the scene.)
Barry Allen trying hard not to laugh
The show takes place in an alternate universe where police chemists are about 16 years old and all the actors look like they belong on Dawson’s Creek. Boys have crushes on girls and girls have crushes on boys, and nobody gets stabbed in the eye. (See Gotham.)
The cast of The Flash
To celebrate the Scarlet Speedster’s return to the small screen, let’s enjoy this vintage opening theme.
Here’s a riddle for you. Q: How can a TV show which started out so bad turn out so good? A: When yours truly, DJ David B. steps in to straighten it out! Although I’m not one to brag, I take full credit for the recent turnaround of the TV series Gotham. It’s all thanks to the scathing editorial I wrote a couple weeks back (check the archives if you don’t believe me). I wrote about the excessive violence of the first few episodes and the powers that be at Warner Brothers/DC Comics listened. You’re welcome.
Which brings me to The Riddler. Last night’s episode featured one Edward Nygma getting on everyone’s nerves. Now I didn’t come down with the last raindrop. I can see that Mr. E. Nygma is sooner or later going to become The Riddler, and get on Batman’s nerves. (In Gotham, that’s a career path.)
The Riddler was a minor villain in the comic books, became world famous on the 1966 Batman TV show, and continued to be a major player in the Batman movies. It’s only fitting that this giggling enigma – oh, I just got that! – play a big part in the Gotham show.
Q: When is an action figure not an action figure? A: When it’s still in the package.
To celebrate The Riddler’s increasingly active role, we present our usual: some cool pictures, a comic book cover, and a record. Don’t thank us, it’s what we do.
Click the link below and see if you can solve the riddle before the Boy Wonder.
All I can say is, “Thank you, DC Comics.” Thanks for cleaning up Gotham.
After last Tuesday’s editorial about excessive, graphic violence in Gotham, the new Fox TV series about Batman before he was Batman, this week’s episode was very toned down. Sure there was violence, but it happened off-screen or otherwise out of our view. Yes, the Penguin’s face was bleeding but there was no visible blood-spurting, no open chest wounds, no on-camera bludgeonings. An entire hour-long episode without a single eye-gouging!
A dapper, non-bleeding Penguin.
It’s very gratifying to think that a little (albeit well-written) editorial by yours truly, could have an effect on a big organization like Time-Warner and DC Comics. Our opinions are heard. The little guy does matter. The squeaky wheel does get greased. Good triumphs over evil. It’s like a story out of a comic book!
Hey, maybe I should get on a soapbox more often! Now that I know it works I may have a few suggestions for The Flash and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
But let me make this clear to the powers that be at DC: I’m not looking for any credit. You don’t have to thank me for straightening out your show. I’m not asking for a fat check or a producer’s credit. Just the personal satisfaction that I made a difference is reward enough. (Although cash is always welcomed.)
To celebrate this David B.-versus-Goliath victory I’m sharing a classic cover gallery featuring the Penguin. You’ll see the Penguin using his trick umbrella and refraining from any brutal violence – just the way I like him.
Click the link below and listen to yet another vintage record about the Penguin.
The stated purpose of this blog is to celebrate the nexus of comics and records, that wonderful place where two of my hobbies intersect. Songs relating to comic characters. How fun is that? But today I’m getting on my soapbox to editorialize a bit. (Don’t worry, there’s a record coming up later.)
I’ve been watching Gotham, the new Fox TV series that makes The Dark Night look like a day at the beach. It’s not just violent, it’s the kind of ultraviolence that got A Clockwork Orange an X rating. And it’s on television. At 8:00 pm. Gotham is the kind of show you’d expect to see on HBO after 11pm. But it airs during “the family hour” on a broadcast network. It’s easy to believe that Fox would sink so low, but I’m surprised at DC Comics and Warner Brothers. They should know better.
The Penguin with the least amount of blood on his face I could find.
Anyone in the comic book business knows that when violence goes too far, people get riled up and put a stop to it. Ever hear of Fredric Wertham? In Wertham’s book Seduction of the Innocent, the doctor pointed out to parents how violent comics had become and it just about killed the entire comic book industry. You can’t blame Freddy. Comics were horrifically violent at that time. Although they’re just “lines on paper,” those lines crossed the line, so to speak. Arguably, movies and TV shows have the potential to be worse since they show actual people being hurt, not just cartoon drawings.
One of Wertham’s pet peeves was the injury to the eye motif. Here’s an example:
Given how horrible that image is, why did the creators of Gotham do THE EXACT SAME THING on this week’s episode? In fact, they went even further, actually showing people being killed by having a spike shoved into their eyeballs. Is this really necessary?
If this level of explicit, disgusting violence continues on Gotham, are we headed for another crackdown? Will a new Fredric Wertham arise to try to curtail injury to the eye, being burned alive, and other graphic horrors? Will I be that person?
Classic injury to the eye motif
Also available on a totebag
It’s too much for me. I think it’s unnecessary to show so much bloodletting and torture in order to tell a compelling story. You people should be ashamed. I’m talking to you, DC Comics! If you’re putting your name on this show you’re asking for the same thing that happened in the 1950’s. Think about it.
Click the link below and listen to a more innocent, non-violent Penguin.
You don’t have to claw my eyes out or hit me over the head with a bat (bat, get it?) to tell me that Gotham takes TV violence to a new level. All that brutality has overshadowed the exciting return of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a thoroughly action-packed show that seems tame in comparison. Although there’s plenty of fighting in S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s done in a comic-booky way, where no blood is spurted and no one gets permanently killed (I’m talking to you, Lucy Lawless).
The season starts off with Agent Coulson as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury is off somewhere relaxing. I’m glad to see Coulson get a promotion, but it’s sad to see Nick go. Nick Fury was a sergeant in World War Eye-Eye (in the comics, anyway) and he really earned the job as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Once you’ve run a group like the Howling Commandos, you deserve to head up a spy agency. I’ve never heard Agent Coulson howl, not even once. You’d think Phil would give us a “Wah-hooo!” once in a while. Oh well. Nick is out and Phil is in, and that’s the way it is (for now). Still, I miss good ol’ Sgt. Fury. I hope he’s on an island somewhere under an umbrella sipping a drink with an umbrella in it. If you see him, give him my regards.
Which is my sneaky segue to this song called “Sergeant Fury.” See what I did there?
Original art by Jack Kirby, himself a World War II vet.
Click the link below and relive your memories of World War Two!