Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Batman: On The Dark Knight's Diamond Jubilee

It was 75 years ago today. Doesn't necessarily roll of the tongue the way The Beatles' "It was 20 years ago today" line from Sgt. Pepper does, but it is nonetheless an accurate statement when discussing today's Diamond Jubilee anniversary of the very first appearance of The World's Greatest Detective. To get all the boilerplate stuff out of the way, the date was March 30, 1939 (like you couldn't have figured that one out already) and the comic book was Detective Comics #27. It was the dawn of the superhero in American popular culture. Superman had debuted just the previous year, and characters such as Captain America, Flash, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman would all appear within the next few years. Over the intervening 75 years, The Batman would become one of the most popular, and one of the most prolific (seriously, how many titles does one superhero need?) comic book characters of all-time. With this in mind, we here at All Things Kevyn (aka, your not-so-humble narrator, aka yours truly, aka me) have decided to celebrate this Diamond Jubilee (I love that phrase) with an array of Bat-images. These are some of my favourite Bat-pics from around the ole world wide web. Some are official DC products, many are not. So, without further ado, awaaaaaaay we go...

So apparently, Vincent Van Gogh was a big Caped Crusader fan. Who knew? This earlier companion piece to "A Starry Night," titled "A Starry Dark Knight," is one of the Dutch Master's most underrated works. It was done around the same time the whole cutting off the ear thing happened, so places like Gawker and TMZ were filled with gossip and hubbub over that scandal, and therefore this work just sort of fell through the cracks, to later be usurped by the strikingly similar "A Starry Night." Alas, poor Vinnie, you knew Batman well. Oh, and by the by, Van Gogh and Batman actually share a birthday - just 86 years apart. But enough of this art history class (see what you can learn by reading my blog!) let's move onto some other Batty imagery. Howzabout a Bat-collage?

The above image is one of my favourite pieces of fan Bat art. It was done using actual comic panels. The Bat fan artist in question, is Mike Alcantara. His work can be found at his Deviant Art site (linked oh so conveniently right here), and includes many non Bat works, including Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Flash, Captain America, and many others. You should really check the place out - there are some really cool works of superhero collage art to be found there. Mike even has pieces for sale on his Etsy site (which, oh so conveniently as well, can be viewed here). But what about another Mike? One a bit more famous (sorry Mr. Alcantara). What about Mike Allred? Yeah, what about him...

Mike Allred has drawn some of the most iconic characters in comics history, from Daredevil to Wolverine to Wonder Woman to She-Hulk to Aquaman to Dr. Strange to The Mighty Avengers to Doop (wait. what?) to his own creation, Madman. And now he is doing Silver Surfer!! I have gotta say, he is one of my favourite artists working today. So, when the guy is hired to work on Batman '66, how could it not be a very very very good thing, indeed!? His Adam West-ish Caped Crusader doing the Bat-Dance has just got to be included in this 75th Birthday festivities - so there he is, swinging his Bat-swing just above. How ya like him now! Check out this Mike's stuff over at the Allred HQ. Now, on with the show...

As most people have undoubtedly heard by now, there may be some homoerotic innuendo in the life of Batman and his Dynamic Duo little buddy, Robin. Some I am sure was intentional, but most is probably not. You can check out my tie-in romantic Valentine's Day post, if you want more info on the subject. Oh, and by the by, the above image is actually from a real live Batman comic book (Detective Comics #241 to be exact), although the fabulous was added by someone else. But enough of this oh so fabulous Batman. Let's move on to a younger version. An elementary school version even. 

Writer/artist Yale Stewart writes and draws a great comic strip known as JL8. It is about the adventures of a grade school Justice League - the Little Justice League (which is what it was originally called), if you will. Everyone is here. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Power Girl, Green Lantern. And they are all just 8 years old. This Bat-specific one is one of my faves of the 160+ strips that Yale has done over the years. You may have to click on this one to make it bigger. They are all fun and filled with pathos at times (one of 'em even kinda devastates), and you should probably go on and check them out over at the official JL8 site. You can also check out Yale at his personal Tumblr. site. Aaaaand, since we are on the subject of Bat-related comic strips, has anyone checked out La-La & Lu-Lu lately?

That's right kids, even I've gotten into the Bat-frenzy. Yeah, like that's a surprise to anyone. For those who are unaware, I do my own comic strip. It's called La-La & Lu-Lu (which should be a give-way considering the damn strip is right above here) and I created it back in the Summer of 2012 (yup, waaaay back). I, of course, have done a bunch of superhero related ones, but this is one of the Battier ones. La-La & Lu-Lu is a creation by me that is published (for lack of a better term) by my comic label, Brain Tumor Comix. New strips will be appear right here at All Things Kevyn (the next of which will be coming in mid-April), so keep an eye out for those. If ya wanna check out all my La-La & Lu-Lu's, in one oh so convenient place, head on over to their very own Tumblr. site, and peruse to your heart's delight. 

My friend Rufus, loves The Dark Knight. and he loves Joy Division, so when he saw the above image, he pretty much exploded with excitement. Yeah, Rufus is kind of a little bitch like that. Anyway, this piece was done by a Brazilian artist by the name of Butcher Billy. He actually has a whole series of these, blending post punk era bands with members of the Justice League. His work can be found at his Tumblr. site, and he has prints available at the Red Bubble Butcher Billy page. So, I should probably stop rambling on here. We don't want this post to go on for another 75 years. See what I did there? But before I go, I would be remiss if I did not post the following picture...

Yup. That's our puppy. Her name is Marcy Proust (my lovely wife picked the name) and she is our little Chihuahua/Pug/Jack Russell mix (otherwise known as a Jack-Pug-a-wow-wow). This is a pic of little Marcy Proust in her very first outfit - a Batman sweater (and pink booties). She was just about two months old here. She has since outgrown said Bat-sweater, but not by much. Oh, and don't worry, there will be a Marcy Proust fashion show post coming up soon, here at All Things Kevyn. I know you were worried there wouldn't be one. So I suppose that's all I have to say about that. I would like to close out by saying happy 75th birthday Mr. Wayne. Oops, did I just let your secret identity out of the bag? Sorry dude. And now we close out with Frank Miller's classic Dark Knight - one of my all-time favourite Batman images. Happy Bat-Birthday. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spectacularly Bad TV: Episode #2

There is TV, and there is bad TV, and then there is spectacularly bad TV. Sometimes this is TV that is so spectacularly bad, that it has come full circle, and is actually good again. Other times, it's just plain bad. Spectacularly bad. Well, it is this spectacularly bad TV for which we are here today. This is the first in a series that will explore the worst of broadcast history, the most mind-blowingly ridiculous and utterly unexplainable in all of television programming. In each episode we will take a look at five random TV shows that will most certainly make you wonder what the hell they were thinking. So, without further ado, on with the show.

Cavemen - Let's make a TV sit-com! Step one: let's take a series of witty commercials for an insurance company, and turn them into a half hour situation comedy. Intriguing, and possibly rather daring as well, but would it ever work? Let's move on to the next step and find out (as if you haven't already figured out how this is going to end). Let's see, step two: let's not make the show even remotely funny. Not one bit. Um, I think one of these steps is off. Seriously though, this ABC series did have an interesting premise - placing unevolved cavemen in with the rest of modern society. Yeah, it came from a TV commercial, but really, I do think under better circumstances, it could have been a smart and funny show. There was more than ample room for social satire here - a very promising premise indeed. Sadly enough though, this is one of the most unfunny shows I have ever seen. It's not that the thing was bad. At least not bad in the sense of Joanie Loves Chachi bad. It certainly wasn't Small Wonder bad, or ALF bad. It definitely wasn't Homeboys in Outer Space bad. It wasn't bad so much as it was just boring. Damn boring. Granted there are a handful of humourous moments in the six episodes which aired (another seven episodes went unaired after cancellation) but these moments are way too few and way too far between, for anyone's good. And to think, the series was the brainchild of Joe Lawson, who would go on to be a writer and producer on Modern Family, one of the best and wittiest sit-coms in television history.

Overall, Cavemen suffered the same fate as many an SNL sketch-turned-motion picture. Yeah, on Saturday Night Live, a five to seven minute sketch may be damn funny, but when one tries to stretch those five to seven minutes out to an hour and  a half or more, we get things like The Coneheads movie or A Night at the Roxbury. Yeah, I know there are successes coming from SNL as well (Blues Brothers, Wayne's World) but these are the oh so vast minority. Most of these sketch-turned-movies, even the ones that are funny in short spurts, are disasters on the big screen. So, just like Stuart Saves His Family or Ladies Man, even though they were funny in sketch form, were just godawful in long form, Cavemen were funny in their short commercial spots, but in their half hour run...alas, not so much. And I haven't even mentioned the anger of the supposed racism in the never-aired pilot episode (cavemen being used as cheap metaphor for the African American in modern society, yada yada) and the writers and producers rushing to change the show enough for their actual TV debut. But to steer away from the terribleness of it all, there is one interesting bit of trivia that goes along with this show - and you know you love some bits of trivia. Comedienne Stephanie Courtney had a small role on the show. Miss Courtney is better known these days as Flo, the commercial spokesperson for Progressive Insurance, a competitor of the Cavemen's own Geico. But enough of this, let's move on to a show that is truly spectacularly bad...and quite spectacularly good as well.

Cop Rock - This is one of those shows that are so so soooo bad, that they are actually quite a lot of fun. This Steven Bochco created musical cop drama, which aired for eleven weeks in 1990, was terrifically terrible, awesomely awful, brilliantly bad. I gotta admit, I liked the show, but since it is so panned (nearly universally banned actually) and is as hated and despised as a gay couple at a Tea Party picnic, I have included it in this episode of Spectacularly Bad TV. But oh oh oh, it is so so sooo spectacularly good - or at least spectacularly what-the-hell-were-they-thinking fun. Getting down to basics, Cop Rock is Hill Street Blues done as a musical. Bochco, who also created Hill Street Blues by the by (and would go on to give us NYPD Blue a few years after this), must have decided there just wasn't enough singing and dancing in his hit cop show. And let's face facts, there really wasn't enough singing and dancing in Hill Street Blues. So, Bochco took his tough guy cop show and blended it with Fame, and came up with this ill-fated show. I think the best part of it all (other than the actual singing and dancing, of course) is how the show is set up. This isn't your typical musical. This is a serious cop drama, with all the typical procedural cop show tricks and tropes, and all the expected guts and gore, and disturbing crime scene scenarios, only now we add in singing and dancing as well. Great stuff. So bad, it is so so good. So good, it's a shame to include it here. Hey, and we get a still unknown Sheryl Crow popping up in the final episode as well. Howzabout that!?

Pink Lady and Jeff - This 1980 variety show is a strange creature, indeed. It could actually be the strangest of all the variety shows. Not the dumbest or the worst, mind you - after all, The Brady Bunch Hour does exist - but very possibly the strangest. The premise is a show hosted by Japanese pop singing duo Pink Lady and very whitebread American comic, Jeff Altman. There would be music and comedy sketches and guest stars and all the typical variety show jazz. The strange thing is that neither of the Pink Ladies spoke any English. Perhaps the girls spoke a handful of words (though they did sing their songs in English, this was only memorization of the lyrics) but the running gag on the show was the fact that they knew only a modicum of broken English. Not that this gag ran all that long, since the show only lasted six episodes, the last of which never even aired. The show was produced by Sid and Marty Krofft, the minds behind such classic cheezy kid's programming as H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville, Dr. Shrinker, and Land of the Lost (anyone of my generation will fondly remember these and many more from their childhood), and as with their aforementioned Brady Bunch Hour variety show (yeah, they were behind that too), the final result was just a big ole steaming pile of weird. But I must admit, I actually do remember this show rather fondly as well. Granted, it only aired five times, but the show did have videos by the likes of Blondie and Cheap Trick (back when videos were still a very new thing), and guest stars such as Roy Orbison and Sid Ceasar and Jerry Lewis and Hugh Hefner and Florence Henderson - all paid extremely well in order to agree to appear on a dying genre like the variety show. At the end of each show, the bikini-clad Pink Ladies would pull co-host Jeff Altman, tuxedo-clad himself, into the stage hot tub. Maybe that's the reason Hugh Hefner did the show. I know my thirteen year old self sure enjoyed it.

The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer - One could look at this 1998 UPN series as the comedic companion piece to last year's Oscar winning slave drama, 12 Years a Slave. Yeah, okay...maybe not, but if this show were to air this season, it would most definitely be seen as a parody of the Oscar winner. There was a slew of controversy over this show though, and most of it due to this basically being a comedy about a black English nobleman who is kidnapped into slavery, before eventually becoming the house butler, a la Benson, in the White House of Abraham Lincoln. Before the show even aired, groups such as the NAACP protested its existence. These protests apparently worked, as the episode in question, a pilot seen by only a few (but apparently the correct few), was never aired, in it's place a less controversial episode was aired on October 5th. This episode, by the by, involved the titular Mr. Pfeiffer (and no, the P is not silent) and his humpbacked lackey searching for hidden treasure in the White House, while President Lincoln (played by Dann Florek between his gigs on Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) has an "on-line" affair via the telegraph. Much like the controversial Heil Honey, I'm Home (a 1950's-esque take on Hitler in suburbia), this show had great potential as social and political satire (there was an attempt to lampoon the Clinton Administration at the time), but said potential was wasted, mainly due to this being just an incredibly stupid, and incredibly stereotypical comedy. The show aired only four of the nine episodes that were filmed, before being fatefully pulled from the UPN line-up.

Blansky's Beauties - This show was just dumb dumb dumb, but it does intrigue many a TV scholar (myself included - and yeah, I just called myself a TV scholar) due to it's intertwining history with one TV's most beloved sit-coms, Happy Days. The ABC show, which ran for thirteen episodes as a midseason replacement in 1977, is about Nancy Blansky (played with the usual puckish aplomb by Nancy Walker), a Vegas showbiz vet and den mother to a bevy of Vegas showgirls. Now, technically, by the oh so slightest of margins, this is a spin-off of the aforementioned Happy Days. In a special anniversary clip show in season 4, Walker's Blansky guest starred as a cousin of Howard Cunningham. A week later Blansky's Beauties began. Not exactly the stuff spin-offs are made of, but there ya go. Now the strange thing was that the Happy Days episode she guested on was sent around 1957, while Blansky's Beauties took place in the then contemporary year of 1977, but there seems to be no real differentiation between the two decades.

In one episode, Roz Kelly guests as Pinky Tuscadero, Fonzie's on-again off-again girl on Happy Days, seemingly not aging a day in the twenty year gap between the show settings. Later, Pat Morita was added to the cast as Arnold, his character from Happy Days, and he too seems to have not aged even a day in the two decades since he was last seen running Arnold's Drive-In. Man, they must have had some pretty heady anti-aging cream back in the day. Have I mentioned this show is dumb dumb dumb? Anyhoo, other precarious tie-ins with Happy Days, include Eddie Mekka playing the younger cousin of his Big Ragoo character from Laverne & Shirley, a real spin-off of Happy Days (though another one that plays a bit fast and loose with it's continuity to it's parent show), as well as cast members Lynda Goodfriend and Scott Baio, both of whom would join the Happy Days cast shortly after the cancellation of Blansky's Beauties. So, other than these intriguing Happy Days tie-ins, Blansky's Beauties was a real D-U-D, dud. Well, that's enough of all this jazz. Next time I'll be back with some more spectacularly bad TV. Perhaps even taking a look at a ridiculously bad time travel show from the creator of Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch. And maybe a look at some reality TV. I know, that genre is pretty much 99% bad, so which show would stand out enough to be the most spectacularly bad of the already spectacularly bad? I guess you'll just have to wait to find out. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Heavenly Body of the Week: Starship Mario

"Life is a game, kid! It all depends on how you play!" - Mario Mario, the only video game icon (that I know of) with an entire planet shaped like his head. How cool is that!?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 26, 2014: My Ten Year Online Anniversary

Now I have been rating and ranking movies since I was a little kid. I remember sitting on the floor of my aunt and uncle's condo, probably around ten or so, watching my uncle's all-time favourite film, The African Queen. Looking back, I am sure I didn't get all the sexual tension that was going on in the narrative, but I was still amazed at what I was watching. Scary and tough, Bogart epitomized the classic movie star for me. I have been hooked on movies ever since. Filling notebooks and more notebooks with my thoughts on the films I watched, the younger me was a born film critic. And I kept this critical mindset up all throughout my teen years and all throughout my twentysomethings. My first actual published film review came in 1998, at the tender age of 31. It was a review of Run Lola Run, and was written for and published in a  little local film mag called Film Speak. I would do some other stuff for Film Speak over the next year or so, as well as writing about our local film festival (and a side jaunt into poetry, as both a published poet and the co-editor of a nine issue run on a poetry magazine), but it would not be until March 26, 2004, that I would finally enter the cyberworld of online film criticism. It was on this day, exactly ten years ago, that I would first enter the world wide web as a (soon-to-be) known film critic. It was on this day that The Cinematheque was born.

But just what is this Cinematheque, buddy-boy? We thought this was All Things Kevyn! Well it is guys. It most certainly is, but this ain't my first trip to the rodeo, ya know. You see, The Cinematheque was my first attempt at creating a film site.  It was first done on a platform once known as Geocities. Anyone remember those guys? Yeah. Well, eventually Geocities collapsed and I was doing my site on Yahoo. Now this wasn't a blog, mind you. No, this was a website full of HTML code cracking, and all that jazz. Well, after teaching myself how to do HTML (it really isn't as difficult as it would seem when first looking at that crowded backstage area of the intrawebs), my site grew and grew and grew. For nearly five and a half years, The Cinematheque was the sole place where I laid my critical bent upon the world. Then, in the Fall of 2009, I created what was meant to be a companion blog to my film site. I had tried another companion blog in 2005-06, called Film Lovers R Sick People, but it went kaput after thirteen months or so. This new place, this fresh new blog would be a place to showcase anything I felt like writing on the cinema. Less of a structured place than The Cinematheque. This place was called The Most Beautiful Fraud in the World. This is where I would start making real headway into the world of film criticism - and become a much better writer in the process. Yay me!

After a few months into my new blog, it would turn from companion piece to the main place I did what I did...and do. Meanwhile, I would start getting some other gigs around this time too. I did a few reviews over at a place called Plume-Noire, and a few more over at a place called The Vigilant Monkey, and some more over at a place called MovieZeal. There was also a site called Gone Cinema Poaching (silly name), and one called Anomalous Material, the latter of which is where I plied my stock trade of creating movie-themed top ten lists. I don't think any of these places are around anymore, so don't even bother looking for them. They fell into the obscurities of cyberspace, just like so many other places on the web. The internet is a fickle place after all. I also did a recurring series for the fine folks over at Forces of Geek. That place is still around, but they probably aren't worth looking up either, as my pieces may not even be around anymore. You see, even though I did some deep film history writing there, I only lasted a few months before being told my services were no longer needed. Something about my pieces on the history of science fiction cinema not being entertaining enough, or something like that. Oh well, I digress.

After a few years of tending to both The Cinematheque and The Most Beautiful Fraud in the World, using my first site as merely a film review spot, and the latter as a place for everything else cinema-related, I decided to shut down my original site, and concentrate solely on The Most Beautiful Fraud in the World. So, in early 2012, after almost eight years "on the air," The Cinematheque went dark. Oh, it's still out there somewhere in cyberspace, but all it has going for it is a note reading how one must go elsewhere to find yours truly. So, as our story trudges on, this brings us to the Most Beautiful Fraud in the World days - and in case you were wondering just where I came up with that title, go ahead and google Jean-Luc Godard. Go ahead. I'll wait. Done? Got it now? Good. On with the show. So, as I was, saying, this brings us up to the Most Beautiful Fraud days. Fraud was one of those froo-froo film sites, where a blogger (yeah, that would be me) pontificates about all things cinema. It was a place where high brow film snobbery met low down movie buffdom, all tangled together in one big heaping spoonful of giddy cinephilia. It was also a place that first got me noticed, as it were, by others in the film criticism community - some of which I have even met in actual person, when attending the New York Film Festival. Yeah, that's right, some people on the internet are actually real people. Some of 'em.

Which reminds me of another thing that happened during this era of my online life's work. There is a place somewhere on the internet called the LAMB, or more understandable (but less concise), the Large Association of Movie Blogs. It is a place that pretty much explains itself in its name. So, being a movie blog, I went and joined up (so-called proud member #678) and got some fresh new faces checking out my writing. Not many oddly enough, but still a few. The thing is though, this is a very cliquey group, and outsiders are not all that welcome, other than to fill their ranks so they look big and fat and full of love. Each year the LAMB does an awards thing, where all LAMB members vote on other LAMB members in a bunch of different categories, ranging from Best Blog to Funniest Writer to Best Film Critic to whatever and whatever. So, for three years running (2011, 2012, 2013) I entered myself and The Most Beautiful Fraud into this contest, and each year I came up empty-handed. No awards AND no nominations. Of course each and every year, it is the same handful of blogs that are nominated, with a sprinkling of newcomers thrown in to look good. Apparently sprinkling me in was not in the cards. So there ya have that. 'nuff said. Let's move on to the (almost) present day.

Back in early Summer of 2013, upon returning home from the only vacation my wife and I were able to take in nearly five years of running our little local arthouse cinema, we were fired from said arthouse cinema. But allow me to backtrack and give a bit of backstory on this event. Ya see, for nearly five years, my lovely wife and I managed a place called Midtown Cinema. It was a choice gig for sure. Not only showing movies to the supposedly adoring public (we still very much miss many of our regulars) but just being around the movie biz, even just our small slice of it, was fun fun fun. Then, in late 2012, the cinema owners, a local urban development firm that seemed like a group of good people at first (boy were we wrong) put their receptionist in pseudo charge of us. This receptionist also happened to be the owner's wife's best friend. Yeah, that's right. Needless to say, this back-stabbing, conniving woman decided she wanted to run things, and did everything she could to get us to quit. Meanwhile, Amy (that would be the little missus btw) and I were denied pretty much everything we asked for, from days off to vacation time to much-needed remodeling to hiring more staff to everything else. So, after finally getting our vacation (and it was just four days mind you), we returned from our time in Las Vegas to find all our personal belongings bagged up (and some of it even in the dumpster) and our pink slips handed out. Yup.

So, we found ourselves out of work (as did most of the staff, save for one particular staff member who had went behind our backs to save her own ass - later losing her job as well) and living in our newly minted Summer of Leisure. So, with unemployment checks in tow, I went about trying to find something else to occupy my time. The first thing that came to mind was art and comic-making. I had always been interested in doing my own comics, and had doodled away most of my life, so decided to make it official. Bringing back the comics company I had first created back in 1989, Brain Tumor Comix, I began publishing some online doodles. Comic strips with names such as La-La & Lu-Lu, Famous People Attend A Cocktail Party, and Smiley-Face Land Adventures. After several months of this, the fun began to wane, as did my creative output. I do still do the occasional La-La & Lu-Lu's (a blend of Matt Groening's Life in Hell and David Lynch's The Angriest Dog in the World), and they appear now and again on this very blog (new ones coming in just a few weeks!!) but mostly Brain Tumor Comix is a stationary entity these days. So, with my comics going bust, my writing at The Most Beautiful Fraud at a surprising all-time low, and no job to speak of, I needed something else. Something fresh and new. And thus was born the blog you currently hold in your hands, or in your lap (or in your proverbial lap) or on your desk, or whatevs. Thus was born All Things Kevyn.

I'm not sure how or why, but at some point in mid November of 2013, I came up with the idea of writing, of blogging, on more than just cinema. I decided it was time to include such things as TV and music and comic books and pretty much everything else of a pop culture nature. And what better name than All Things Kevyn. This blog also works as a hub of sorts for everything that is encompassed within The All Things Kevyn Entertainment Network. Yeah, that's right. There's even a Facebook page for such a thing. But seriously, this is the hub for all I do online. Not just the oh so witty things I post here (and they are damn witty dammit), but also links to all the other places for which I write. My comic book reviews over at ComicSpectrum. My top tens over at Geek League of America. My everything, everywhere - all conveniently linked in the tabs section at the top of this blog. It's all here, baby! So yeah, that is the story of my first decade on the air. Hopefully the next ten years will bring such things as my book being published (or more than one) and/or my work as a regular over at The Nerdist (seriously Hardwick, give me a job already!) and/or pseudo celebrity status (i'm not totally power hungry). Yup, here's hopin' for the best. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Oh Captain, My Captain: The 10 Best Captains

The captain. The head honcho. Numero uno. The big kahuna. The Skipper, the Commander. The top dog, BMOC, the boss. That guy that is supposed to go down with the ship. The captain. Oh Captain, My Captain. In case you didn't catch it, this is a list about captains. More specifically, the best captains. Even more specifically, the best captains in all the world. And some that are outta this world as well. Basically, all the great captains in history. Some of these captains are fictional, some are downright real life captains, some may even be cereal mascots. Well, one of 'em at least. We have captains of the high seas and we have captains of the even higher spaceways. We have captains of music and we have captains of TV. Hell, we even might have a captain of the greatest sports franchise in the world. What I'm saying is...we have captains. Ten of 'em actually. Well, twelve, if you count the two special mentions before the list. Oh, and we have some who did not make the list, but who deserve a mention here anyway. You know, cause they're special...just not that special.

These (almost) list makers are wrestling's Captain Lou Albano (seriously, what was with the freakin' rubber bands!?); Captain Turanga Leela on Futurama (that is one sexy purple-haired cyclops); that early bastion of environmentalism, Captain Planet (rockin' the green mullet - and on top of blue skin even); Rock & Roll's very own Captain Beefheart (mostly forgotten by the masses, he and his Magic Band's influence on modern music is undeniable); Errol Flynn's classic Captain Blood (my all-time favourite pirate film); Captain Nemo of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea fame (and there's even an Alan Moore version to boot); Firefly's Captain Malcolm Reynolds (sorry fanboys and fangirls - Whedonverse devotees are probably cursing my name as we speak); Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow (and probably his dad, Keith Richards, too); the UK-born superhero Captain Britain (tally-ho, and all that - Bob's your uncle); that hitchhiking rogue, Captain Zaphod Beeblebrox (two heads are better than one); Gilligan's boss, Captain Jonas Grumby, aka The Skipper of the S.S. Minnow (the theme song calls him brave and sure?? Really?), Captain Merrill Stubing of the Pacific Princess, aka The Love Boat (he juuust missed out on making the list - maybe if he spent less time at the captain's table, and more time wooing the ladies of the ship - it is called the LOVE boat, after all); and all the Captain Marvels (from Shazam to Mar-vell to Monica Rambeau to Carol Danvers to anyone else that may have held the title).

A note on why Han Solo is not on this list: As anyone who knows me can attest to, I am a big Star Wars fan, and an even bigger Han Solo fan. Yes, I had the vest and blaster as a kid. But, in today's case, when it comes to the idea of captaining, I regret that Mr. Solo must stay at home. Yeah, yeah, technically he is the captain of the Millennium Falcon, but really he is more a smuggler than a captain - and anyway, he is a general by Return of the Jedi. But the biggest reason is that he never really goes by the title of captain, as those on the list do. It may be a silly reason, but it is a reason dammit! So, for this list, Han Solo the roguish smuggler, must just watch from the sidelines. Now when we get to the best sci-fi bad-asses or the best space rogues lists (and they are coming), Captain Solo will be front and center. But enough of this, we have a countdown to get on with. Oh, and I almost forgot one other worthy captain. Captain Obvious. Well, that should have See what I did there? Anyway, let's get on with things.

And awaaaaaaay we go...

Special Mention #1: Cap'n Smiley-Face

Back in the Fall of 1989, I created a comic book universe called Smiley-Face Land. These Smiley-Face Land Adventures (I have notebooks filled with sketches and storylines) consisted of a superhero world where everyone is a smiley-face. Granted, it was a blatant ripoff of pretty much everything from both DC and Marvel (like Tarantino, I too steal from everything I see) but there it is anyway. Over the years, I have created hundreds of characters, both heroic and villainous, and everything in between. The first of these characters I created was Cap'n Smiley-Face (a blatant ripoff of a certain Marvel Comics icon). Cap'n Smiley-Face was (and still is today) the leader of The Smiley-Face Guardians (only a semi-rip-off of The Avengers and/or Justice League) and has become the veritable face of Smiley-Face Land Adventures. Someday, these characters will find their way into some form of print (online or on actual printed material) through my Brain Tumor Comix publishing company, but for now, you will just have to settle for this brief sneak peek.

Special Mention #2: Derek Jeter

Sure, I could have gone with Don Mattingly or Thurman Munson, or better yet, the Iron Horse himself, Lou Gehrig, but since this is his final season before retirement and inevitable Hall of Fame induction, it is the current New York Yankee captain that gets a mention here. Derek Jeter, often just called the Captain, is the number one superstar on a team full of superstarstars, and even though he is not an actual captain in the usual sense of the term, being the de facto captain of the greatest sports franchise in the world (take that Red Sox Nation!!) counts for something.

10. Captain Daryl Dragon

Better known as the Captain from Captain and Tennille, Daryl Dragon was part of one of, if not the cheesiest musical duos of the 1970's - and this is an era that gave us Donny & Marie and The Carpenters. For those who don't know (and don't be too worried if you don't), The Captain and Tennille were a once married couple who gave the world such AM radio-friendly, soft rock hits as Muskrat Love, Do That to Me One More Time, and Love Will Keep Us Together. Okay, these may be pretty lame songs, but I grew up with them, and their accompanying TV variety show (sadly only lasting one season), so this captain is on the list. Heck, he even had the captain's hat. So there.

9. Captain Caveman

Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels was a Saturday morning cartoon that ran on ABC from 1977 to 1980. It was a show about three Charlie's Angels/Josie & the Pussycats wannabe detectives who solve crimes with the help of a caveman that the girls found in ice and thawed out (one of two captains on this list where such a thing happens). Generally, Cavey wasn't really all that much help in solving these crimes (other than by occasional accident) but he was really good at eating pretty much anything he came across. The blabbering, loud-mouthed wild man Captain Caveman was a staple of my tween TV watching.

8. Captain Kangaroo

Bob Keeshan starred as Captain Kangaroo on CBS television for nearly thirty years, from 1955 to 1984. For those three decades, Keeshan, who incidentally was the original Clarabell the Clown on The Howdy Doody Show, was the preeminent children's entertainer, and can be seen as a large influence on many a future children's show entertainer, from Mr. Rogers to Pee Wee Herman. The show ran so long that in the beginning Keeshan wore make-up to look older, and by the end of the show's run, he had to wear make-up to look younger.

7. Captain Morgan

I rarely drink any more, but when I did (and did I ever) my drink of choice was Captain and Coke. Captain Morgan and his spiced rum has been around for decades and decades now, and that iconic stance of his has been imitated by pretty much every drunken sailor on the planet - and by drunken sailor, I just mean plain old bar-hopping drunkards. Actually this alcoholic icon is based on real life 17th Century buccaneer, Captain Henry Morgan. Today though, he's that guy who gave us that yummy spiced rum.

6. Captain Hawkeye Pierce

My favourite sit-com growing up was a little show by the name of M*A*S*H, and my favourite character on said sit-com was a guy by the name of Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce, aka Hawkeye. M*A*S*H was a huge hit throughout it's eleven season run (let's just leave AfterMASH alone, shall we) and Alan Alda's portrayal of this troublemaking (but brilliant) Korean War medic, portraying both high comedy and satire, as well as disturbing drama, was the highlight of not just M*A*S*H, but of TV in general. Of course the there is also Donald Sutherland's great performance as Hawkeye in the original Robert Altman directed film.

5. Cap'n Crunch

Hands down, my favourite cereal, both as kid and as an adult, was is and always will be, Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries. Cap'n Crunch, who's real name btw is Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch, was born on Crunch Island in the Sea of Milk, a magical place with talking trees, crazy creatures and a whole mountain (Mt. Crunchmore) made out of Cap’n Crunch cereal. There have been nasty (and unfounded) rumours that Cap'n Crunch is an impostor (seriously, there have) but you will never get this old Crunch head to believe any of 'em.

4. Captain James Hook

Now here is a classic pirate captain. A hook for a hand, a fancy twirlable mustache, a big hat with an even bigger feather, and an unhealthy obsession for killing Peter Pan. Oh yeah, and there's the whole crocodile thing too. Created in 1904 by J.M. Barrie, Hook has been portrayed in many variations, but it is the iconic Disney version that is the most notable. There is even a version of Captain Hook to be found on the show Once Upon A Time, of which a fan base known as 'Hookers' has popped into existence. Howzabout that!?

3. Captain Ahab

One of my all-time favourite books is Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, and the obsessive captain of the novel's ship, the Pequod, is a tyrannical taskmaster by the name of Ahab. One of the greatest characters of fiction, Ahab is a man, and a captain, who knows what he wants, and he will literally stop at nothing to get that thing that he wants, no matter who he takes down with him. Unfortunately for poor old Ahab, the thing he wants so bad is one hell of a big whale. Oh yeah, and Gregory Peck does a kick-ass Ahab in the 1956 film version.

2. Captain James T. Kirk

This is the one I am probably going to get the most hate mail (or hate comments) about. For the past thirty years or so, there has been a war of sorts going on in the Star Trek fan world. Who is the better captain - Kirk or Picard? Well, yeah, Picard is great and all that jazz, but he ain't no James Tiberius Kirk, rapscallion of the galaxy. But hey, if you disagree with my assessment, you can actually do something about it. No, not by leaving scathing remarks in the comments section of this post (though you can do that too) but by voting in the All Things Kevyn Star Trek Captains Poll, which runs through April 30th, 2014 (the poll can be found near the top of the right-hand sidebar). Otherwise, you'll just have to take my word for it that Captain Kirk is the best Star Trek captain.

1. Captain America

Come on people, this had to be my number one choice. As a lifelong comic book nerd, could it have ever been anyone else? Poor hapless teenage Steve Rogers just wanted to join the army and help his country win the war against the Nazi's, but he just wasn't a big enough lad to do it. But not to worry true believers, for along came the Super Soldier Serum, and along came the greatest of superheroes, Captain America. A noble and brave, stars 'n' stripes wearing. shield wielding, flag-waving, born leader, and Mighty Avenger, Captain America is the oh so obvious choice for the top dog of all the top dogs. So take that Baron Zemo!

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Film Review: Muppets Most Wanted

Muppets Most Wanted, the sequel to 2011's reboot, The Muppets (though, as Dr. Bunsen Honeydew makes note of in the film's opening musical number, this is actually the seventh sequel to the original 1979 movie), is a fun enough movie, and most certainly has its moments, including a reference to Ingmar Bergman of all people, but just like the aforementioned 2011 reboot, it lacks the, for lack of a better term, magic of the Muppets of old. But even with this being the case (which should not come as much of a surprise coming from someone of the perfect age to have grown up with the 1976-81 series The Muppet Show) I still would recommend this new movie to any and all old school Muppets fans - just warning them that it may not quite measure up to their childhood memories.

The storyline of this latest Muppets film, involves intrigue and action galore. We find Dominic Badguy (pronounce badgee), played by Ricky Gervais, kanoodling his way into becoming the gang's new manager, in order to replace Kermit with Constantine, the World's Most Dangerous Frog, and recent gulag escapee. Meanwhile, poor hapless Kermit is wrongly accused of being the escaped Constantine, and sent to a Siberian gulag. It is at the gulag where we find the film's truest, bluest highlight - the always great Tina Fey as Nadya, gulag commandant. Fey, sexier than ever in her Russian accent and fuzzy hat, steals every once of screen time she is given here - and that is saying a lot, as the scenes in the gulag, even beyond Fey, are the best the film has to offer. There is an hilarious version of A Chorus Line done by the prisoners, which include Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo. We also get Ty Burrell, as an Inspector Clousseau-like French Interpol agent, teaming up with CIA agent Sam Eagle, and (as always) a slew of famous cameos that I won't go into here, instead allowing you to come across them on your own.

Yeah, the memories I have from my childhood watching The Muppet Show, as well as The Muppet Movie from 1979, may be stronger due to a sense of nostalgia, but it is still a fun thing to watch Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Beaker, Gonzo, Scooter, Animal, and the rest of the gang (including Walter, the newest Muppet, introduced in the 2011 reboot), back in action - even if it isn't quite up to those memories. But it is enough here. From the heeelarious gulag scenes and the wonderful Ms. Fey, to the opening number, satirizing modern Hollywood, to the Disco-esque "I'll Get You Want You Want," a song sung by Constantine to Piggy that is the definite musical highlight of the film, to the Muppets usual bag of inside joke tricks, Muppets Most Wanted is a fun movie, even with it's faults and foibles. And hey, a movie that includes a Swedish Chef starring version of The Seventh Seal, can't be all bad. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Great Albums: Automatic for the People by R.E.M.

So far in The Great Albums series, I have taken a look at three different albums, and the one thing these albums all have in common, other than the obvious one of being great albums (duh!), is that they all hail from across the pond in Merry Olde England. So, with that in mind, and with myself being a red-blooded American boy (I am, really), I think it's about time to toss a good old fashioned American album into the mix. Now I don't know exactly how old fashioned Automatic for the People is, but R.E.M. does hail from the Bible Belt deep south of Athens, Georgia, and even though they, and their hometown, are an atypical blue swatch of artistic liberalness amongst a red-belted, bible-thumpin' swath of good ole boy Southern inhospitality, these are still more than good enough credentials for me to count this as a great old fashioned American album from a great American band. So let's get on with it kids.

I spoke earlier of the band's culturally rich hometown being caught smack dab inside of an otherwise conservative Georgia (stuck inside of Georgia with the Athens blues again, perhaps?), but it is perhaps being stuck in this very situation that has given R.E.M. such an intriguing verve to their sound and overall attitude toward music and life.  Much like Austin Texas, Athens Georgia is an oasis of artistic freedom surrounded by a vast desert of the mundane and ordinary, and Stipe, Buck, Mills, and Berry seem to feed off of this isolationist lifestyle to blend together old school folksy rock and roll and powerful guitar rock with a nouveau esoteric understanding of modern life and the more sensitive side of things, and this mélange of stylistic influences, often put to partial use in past R.E.M. records, comes to a perfectly blended tee with Automatic for the People. I must admit that I was an R.E.M. fan from way back, back before fame and fortune, back before any radio airplay outside of college radio stations, back before anyone but a select few nerds like myself knew anything about this godfather of Nerd Rock quartet. Many today give the band, and especially lead man Michael Stipe, a hard time, thinking themselves another level of cool if they put down one of the finest American bands of not just the 1980's and 1990's, but of all damn time. So there. Take that you hipstery anti-hipsters!

In 1987, the band had a minor hit with their fifth studio album Document, featuring It's The End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) and the top ten hit, The One I Love. The following years they went even bigger with Green (just missed out on the top ten by peaking at number 12 on the Billboard charts), and the hit singles Orange Crush, and the top ten Stand. Finally, after years of nerdom obscurity (we faithful loved 'em from day one and Murmur), R.E.M. was in the big time, and this big time would become even bigger in 1991, with the release of Out of Time, which rocketed to number one (one of only two R.E.M. albums to reach the top spot - 1994's Monster being the other). It's smash hit single, Losing My Religion, went to number 4 on Billboard's Hot 100, and still stands as the closest the band has ever come to a number one single. But we aren't here to talk about the band's seven previous albums, but to talk about their eighth, and in my opinion their best. Also, not-so-incidentally, the last album where Michael Stipe had hair. The band started out to make a harder rocking album than Out of Time, but instead made one that was held up by the ballads, and deep resonating songwriting. Their more hard rocking album would come next with Monster, but with Automatic for the People, R.E.M. was at their lyrical and musical peak, all stemming from what Peter Buck described as the dread coming with that sense of turning thirty. The past was gone. Buck said "The world that we'd been involved in had disappeared. The world of Hüsker Dü and The Replacements. All that had gone."

The album opens with the David Essex inspired Drive, a political anthem to get out and vote, and it closes with the experimental Find the River, where vocal and musical tracks were laid down without listening to the other band members. Between these two unique and quite disparate tracks are harder songs such as The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight (the B-side of the single was the band's version of The Tokens classic, The Lion Sleeps Tonight) and Ignoreland (as is the case in many an R.E.M. song, this is a political song, blasting the Reagen/Bush era); the melancholy moodiness of Star Me Kitten (one of favourite R.E.M. songs); the album's biggest hit, Everybody Hurts (a song written primarily by drummer Bill Berry, and whose video was inspired by Fellini's 8 1/2 - and this track was covered by everyone from Patti Smith to Joe Cocker to Annie Lennox, Alicia Keys, Bonnie Tyler, and even the Meat Puppets); the haunting Nightswimming (just Stipe's voice, Mike Mills on piano, oboe by Deborah Workman, and a string arrangement by former Zeppelin bassist, John Paul Jones); and the toe-tapper, Man on the Moon, a song based on the life of the late Andy Kaufman (though I like to believe Andy's still alive somewhere out there). A great album indeed - and it's just not me that believes it the band's best album, as most music critics do as well, as do both Peter Buck and Mike Mills. So, to all those R.E.M. naysayers out there (and you know who you are...especially you Max), I say bah to you all.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Graphic (Novel) Horror Blogathon: The Tomb of Dracula

It's been quite a while since I have joined in a blogathon. I used to do it all the time when I was running my film site, The Most Beautiful Fraud in the World, but not since I moved over to my new blog, All Things Kevyn (the one you are looking at right now, btw). Well that all changes right here, right now! The fine folks over at Flights, Tights, & Movie Nights (which is to mean, Mr. Nathan Withrow, aka Bubbawheat - the webmaster behind the great superheroic movie site) are/is having a fresh new blogathon, and yours truly is joining in on the fun. The whole shebang is centered around horror movies and horror comics and horror novels and all that jazz. I've decided to go with a look at the classic 1970's horror comic series, The Tomb of Dracula. So, without further ado, I give to you, my humble participatory post in the Graphic (Novel) Horror Blogathon. Have at it.

The Tomb of Dracula ran for 70 issues, from 1972 to 1979, and is the most successful comic ever to feature a villain as it's title character. Well, that's pretty cool, ain't it? Actually, Marvel Comics was lucky to get the series going - and it was all in the timing. In 1971, the Comics Code Authority, those so-called bastions of equally so-called comic book morality, relaxed their rather stringent guidelines, and for the first time allowed references to vampires, ghouls, and werewolves. So the gates were opened, and Marvel ran headfirst through them. But even with these newly opened gates, the series was not an instant hit. The title went through five writers in just the first six issues. Stan Lee and Roy Thomas on #1, Gerry Conway on #2, Archie Goodwin for issues #3 & #4, and finally Gardner Fox on issues #5 & #6. It wouldn't be until issue #7, when Marv Wolfman took over as writer, that the series began to edge toward the great success it would eventually become. Wolfman would write the series until its finale, sixty-three issues later, and even though he's done many things since (The New Teen Titans, Infinite Crisis, etc), it is The Tomb of Dracula for which he is most remembered, and most revered.

Actually, to make a quick aside in our story, there is an interesting anecdote that involves Marv Wolfman and the aforementioned Comics Code Authority. A few years before he began writing The Tomb of Dracula, Wolfman had been working at DC Comics. DC was doing a horror anthology, and between each story, there were little interstitial pages being written by Gerry Conway. In one of these, Conway jokingly describes a story as being told by a WANDERING WOLFMAN. Since it was all in caps, the Comics Code could not see that this was just a play on words with the writer's name, and therefore, due to its then ban on werewolves (or wolfmen), refused to allow it to be published until the line was removed. DC confronted the Authority, explaining that Wolfman was the writer's name, and eventually they backed down, but only on the condition that DC give credit to Mr. Wolfman in the issue, thereby showing that there was no actual wolfman (or werewolf) involved. This would be the first time that either an artist or writer were given credit on a major comic, and after word got out to other fellow creative types, would start a trend at both DC and Marvel of giving credit where credit was due. But enough of this tale, let us get back to the business at hand, ie The Tomb of Dracula.

While The Tomb of Dracula went through writers galore before finally settling upon that wandering Wolfman, the title had its rightful artist from day one. Gene Colan, who was already a big name thanks to his many years on Daredevil, penciled all seventy issues of the comic, and just as he had become the signature artist on the aforementioned Man Without Fear title, he was most assuredly the signature artist on this classic horror title. Colan actually campaigned for the job to then editor Stan Lee. Already promised to artist Bill Everett, Colan drew up a bunch of sketches of Dracula, basing them on actor Jack Palance, and apparently it worked, because the following day Colan had the job - and what a job he did. Of course, I would be remiss to not also mention the great inking work of Tom Palmer (he inked all but six issues) who had already done such great work with Colan on many a Daredevil issue. On such other titles as Uncanny X-Men, the great early 1980's Star Wars series, and especially on Avengers, Palmer would make a real name for himself at Marvel, becoming one of the most prominent and well-respected inkers of all-time.  I should also mention Gil Kane's work on the early covers of the series (before having Colan take over as cover artist). Kane though is much more well known for his co-creation of such characters as Iron Fist and the modern version of Green Lantern, as well as being part of the seminal anti-comics code, drug-fueled issues of Amazing Spider-Man that helped to bring about the aforementioned revisions in the Comics Code.

But let me jump back a bit and talk about Colan's creation of the character's look. It would have been easy  (and probably a bit on-the-nose obvious) to base his update of the then-public domain Bram Stoker-created character, on someone such as Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee, but that ain't how Gene Colan rolls. No sirree. It was, at least in hindsight, quite genius to base Dracula's look on the great Jack Palance. Oddly enough, a few years later, Palance would actually play Dracula on the screen. Genius, man. Genius. But enough of that, and more on the comic itself. Wolfman and Colan made The Tomb of Dracula a huge success - and one of my own first loves in comics. After Avengers and Uncanny X-Men, my first loves as a budding eleven year old comic reader, Dracula was the third comic I really got into way back in 1978. And even today, the title is one of my favourites of which to collect back issues. Other titles co-existed with The Tomb of Dracula, including Dracula Lives! and Giant-Size Dracula, and after this title ended, a new black and white series, also title Tomb of Dracula, came into existence, but only for six issues. This series was also drawn by Colan. DRacula has also been seen around town in crossovers with both Werewolf at Night and Dr. Strange, the latter of which was also drawn by Colan. He would rather famously turn Storm into a vampire in a later story arc in Uncanny X-Men. Wolfman and Colan would come back together again in 1998, with the Dark Horse limited series The Curse of Dracula.

I could go on forever here about The Tomb of Dracula, and my love of the comic, including discussing how Wolfman had created the character of Blade, and how he filed (and lost) a lawsuit against Marvel when the Blade movies started coming out, but I should probably stop now before this post gets out of control long. I can ramble on ya know. So, with that said, I want to finish up here by thanking Bubbawheat from Flights, Tights, & Movie Nights, for allowing me to be part of his Graphic (Novel) Horror Blogathon. It's been fun reminiscing about one of my favourite childhood comic book memories. Now I want to go out and gather up some more back issues.  To toss out a line or two that actually leans more toward the true essence of the blogathon (I was supposed to talk about horror comics as horror movies after all), I would love to see a movie version of this comic. Yeah, there was an anime version back in 1980, but a live action version would be pretty swell, dontchya think? But I said I was signing off before I rambled on too long, so... That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Paddy's Day from Me and All My Green-Lovin' Pez

With a Pez collection that is quickly approaching 2500 dispensers, there is bound to be some St. Paddy's Day appropriate, ie green-themed ones, in there somewhere. When I wondered aloud whether I should do a photo op for the upcoming holiday, everyone seemed to get very excited, and the next thing I knew, all these guys were posing, and telling me that they were ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille. What could I do but snap a few pics. So, from Kermit, Yoda, Buttercup, Shrek & Fiona, Rat Fink, Kero Kero Keroppi, H.R. Pufnstuf, Lucky the Lucky Charms Leprechaun, Mr. Ugly (but he's so cute), Marvin the Martian, Louie, Sgt. Snorkle, The Incredible Hulk, the Geico Gekko, the Notre Dame Football, Green Lantern, and all their green buddies (and from All Things Kevyn too), Happy St. Paddy's Day to you and yours. Now kiss me, I'm (half) Irish. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Happy St. Paddy's Day!: The 10 Best Green Guys & Gals

Well gang, it's that time of year again. The Shamrock Shake is out, Mardis Gras is over, Lent has begun, March has come in like a lion and is getting ready to go out like a lamb, and that greenest of holidays is just around the corner. That's right kids, it's almost St. Patrick's Day, and that means not only the greenest of holidays, but also the greenest of top ten lists. So that is exactly what I have done. It's time to learn who I think the ten best green movie, TV, and comic book characters just happen to be. But first, there are a-plenty of green guys and gals out there that did not make the grade. No offense to them, but alas, a top ten list is just that, a top ten list - or in this case a few added on as special mentions - and someone had to be cut. It's a tough world sometimes.

Among those cut are, in no particular order, The Jolly Green Giant (and his little pal, Sprout), The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (as well as those second rate wannabes, The Battle Toads), Swamp Thing and Man-Thing both, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Yoshi, Cecil the Dragon, as well as Pete's Dragon, aka Elliott, Mr. Toad of Wind in the Willows fame, The Mask, Gumby (he juuust missed the cut), one-eyed Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc., and even that time that Charlie was dressed as The Green Man on It's Always Sunny Philadelphia. As for the comic book world, along with the aforementioned Swamp and Man Things, you have Martian Manhunter, Drax the Destroyer, Beast Boy, Gamora (aka, The Most Dangerous Woman in the Universe), Green Goblin, Savage Dragon, and last but certainly not least, The Sensational She-Hulk. Hell, I even thought of putting Jax (the big green rabbit from Marvel Comics' old Star Wars series) on the list, but alas, he did not make the final cut. The two most notable absences from the list (and yeah, probably the two that will warrant the most outrage - if anyone is actually even reading this that is) are Frankenstein's Monster and the big guy himself, Godzilla, so-called King of the Monsters. I guess they just weren't the right shade of green for me. So be it. Anyway, enough of this - we have a countdown to start counting down. 

And awaaaaaaay we go...

Special Mention: The Green Girls from Star Trek

Yup, those lovely green ladies seem to be everywhere in Star Trek, but actually there were but only a few. The Orion slave girls, first appearing in the pilot episode, and most notably in the third season TOS episode "Whom Gods Destroy," where Yvonne 'Batgirl' Craig played Marla (above center), one of Captain Kirk's oh so many space conquests. J.J. Abrams even put his own token green lady into his 2009 reboot. Why are these gals in the special mention category instead of the list proper? Basically it's just my way of adding an eleventh entry.

10. Lyle Lyle Crocodile

Sure, I could have gone with Wally Gator, or even the crocodile from Peter Pan, or maybe even King Croc from Batman's rogues gallery (maybe even the alligator logo on all those polo shirts?), but it is the classic Bernard Waber created character, the doubly special Lyle Lyle Crocodile, that makes this list. To be honest, I would have forgotten all about this old childhood friend of mine if it were not for my wife yelling out Lyle's name when I asked her just which green characters should be on my list. 

9. Slimer

Gooey, gross, and completely disgusting. That's Slimer from Ghostbusters. First appearing in the 1984 movie, where he is captured and locked away after sliming Bill Murray's Dr. Peter Venkman, this ugly little spud. By the second film, Slimer had become sort of a pet to the gang, and later he would appear in cartoons and video games as well. During none of this time though, does the chubby bastard ever lose his appetite. Who ya gonna call? Well, probably not this guy, but he may tag along anyway.

8. Broom-Hilda

This funny page stalwart first popped onto the scene in 1970. Created by Russell Myers, this 1,500 year old witch, and ex-wife of Attila the Hun, was one of my favourite comic strips growing up.  I am guessing the old girl isn't all that well known these days, as she is found in less newspapers these days. Hell, there are less newspapers for her to be found in anyway. My local newspaper long ago stopped running poor old Broom-Hilda, but she can still be found in some of the more major newspapers' funny pages around the nation.

7. Greedo

I don't care how much George Lucas begs, I will never, never, NEVER think that Greedo shot first. Never!! Han shot first and that is all there is to it. End of story. But this doesn't mean that we can't still like Greedo. Yeah, he's a slimy bounty hunter (and not near as good at his job as someone like Boba Fett) but it is his job, and we can't fault him for trying to take Han in for the reward money. Jabba does pay well after all. But still, you will never convince me that Greedo shot first. I don't care how much computer manipulation you do to your movie. Han shot first. End of fucking story. I know this is a tired old rant by now, but it still pisses me the fuck off!! Han shot first!!! There endeth my rant.

6. The Great Gazoo

When one thinks of the Flintstones, one probably thinks about dinosaurs and bronto-burgers, baby mammoth dish washers, and riding with the family down the street, through the courtesy of Fred's two feet. One usually does not think of space aliens, but that is just what happened on October 29, 1965, when The Great Gazoo made his debut on the prime time animated sit-com.  This tiny, mischievous green alien (voiced by Harvey Korman btw) was banished to Earth due to creating a doomsday device, and becomes a short-lived foil for Fred & Barney. We'll just skip over the Alan Cumming portrayed live action version from Viva Rock Vegas.

5. Oscar the Grouch

Yeah, I suppose the easy (and safe) call here would be to place Kermit the Frog in as our Muppet entry, but it's Oscar the Grouch who is the go to Muppet for me. No offense to the Muppet Show leader of the pack, but he just ain't no Oscar. Mean, green, and fuzzy - and he lives in a freakin' trash can. Okay, I wouldn't want to live in a trash can, nor would I necessarily recommend such a homestead for anybody else, but Oscar makes it work, in his own rough and tumble way.

4. The Grinch

I have always loved the stories of Dr. Seuss. From the Lorax to the Sneetches to the South-going and North-going Zaxes. But when it comes to the nastiest wastiest, baddest banana with the greasiest black peel, the one with termites in his smile, and garlic in his soul, the one you dare not touch, even with a thirty-nine and-a-half foot pole, then there is no other choice than the Grinchiest of Grinches,, um...the Grinch. Plus he's big, fuzzy, and most importantly for the purposes of this list, quite green indeed.

3. The Wicked Witch of the West

The Wizard of Oz is one of my all-time favourite films, but I will never for the life of me understand why a woman who can be destroyed by water (and you can tell she knows she can be destroyed by water, just by watching the expression on her face when the water is being thrown on her) would allow a random bucket of water to be just sitting around her castle. Really!? You're the fucking Wicked Witch of the West, I think you could have laid down the law a little bit and ban water from your castle. And did no one else know this little fact? No one ever thought to spray the bitch down before. Hell, Glinda made it snow in that poppy field. She couldn't have whipped up a little spring squall!? Okay, another rant over now. I'll try not to let it happen again.

2. Yoda

First making the scene back in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back (and not Star Wars: Episode V, like everyone likes to say now, but just plain old The Empire Strikes Back), Yoda was the rather snarky Sensei to Luke Skywalker's brash and still kinda stupid padawan. Back in the day, Yoda was a puppet (or maybe even a Muppet) controlled and voiced by Frank Oz. Later on, in those supposed prequels (a trilogy of films I still may not officially believe actually exist - but that's just the start of yet another rant), Yoda got a CGI make-over, and became a rather kick-ass mofo. Kick your ass will he.

1. The Incredible Hulk

Bruce Banner has been through many an incarnation in his 50+ year existence, but his bad-ass alter ego, other than in his debut 1962 appearance, and for a brief time as the morally ambiguous mob enforcer known as Joe Fix-It, in the late 1980's, has always been the greenest of greens. The Jade Giant, indeed. The Hulk (The Strongest There Is!!!), whether he was a rampaging monster or a giant genius scientist or the ruler of his own planet, has always been a favourite character of mine, which is why this Green Scar, this Eye of Anger, this Green Goliath is at the top of my greenest of green list. Well that, and the fact that I was scared to not put him there. After all, I wouldn't like him when he was angry.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.