Sunday, December 13, 2015

See Ya in the Funny Pages: My 10 Favourite Comic Strips

As you may or may not know, I took a Summer (and then some) long sabbatical from this here blog. Ever since coming back, I have been rather lackadaisical in my blogging output. So, to fill in the gaps, until I return more regularly in the new year, I have decided to re-post some of my older top ten lists. This is the first of these re-posts.

Everyone who knows me, knows full well of my love for comic books. But what of comic strips? Yeah, I like those too. Hell, I remember reading the likes of Charlie Brown and Hagar the Horrible long before Spider-Man or Batman made their debuts into my world. There have been more than a mere slew of comic strips lo these past 120 years or so since their invention with the Yellow Kid (shown to the right), but I somehow managed to whittle this myriad of funny page panels down to my ten favourites. I would like to toss out the names of a few that, alas, did not make the list, but are still quite fun comic strips. These are, in no particular order, Beetle Bailey, Red-Eye, Broom Hilda, Hagar the Horrible, The Wizard of Id, Mutts, Bringing Up Father, Andy Capp, Lil' Abner, Pearls Before Swine, Gasoline Alley, Little Orphan Annie, Popeye, Blondie, Flash Gordon, Alley Oop, Terry and the Pirates, and Funky Winkerbean. I could have tried to look all sophisticated and political, and included Doonesbury, but hey, they just did not make the final cut, so I guess I'm not all that sophisticated after all. There are also several fun web comics out there. Granted, they are well hidden inside the 99.9999% of crappy web comics, but they are in there. Two that come to mind are R. Stevens' Diesel Sweeties and Kate Beaton's Hark, A Vagrant. Then there are also the web based meta comics, This Charming Charlie, wherein Lauren LoPrete takes Peanuts panels and introduces Smiths lyrics into them, and Garfield Minus Garfield, which is exactly what it sounds like. Notice there is no mention (except this one) of Mary Worth or Mark Trail. Yeah, that's on purpose. There is also Charles Addams' iconic New Yorker cartoons of The Addams Family, which allllllmost made the list. One final shout out to the WWII era Batman strips. I have a giant hardback complete collection of these on my shelf at home, and they are a nostalgic blast. But anyhoo, let's get on with the countdown. Oh, and to all the creators of the forthcoming strips, I hope you don't mind my using images of your comic strips for my little countdown here. No disrespect or exploitation meant. I just admire your work, and wanted to share it in this top ten list. But enough of that.

And awaaaaaaay we go...

Special Mention: La-La & Lu-Lu

Ya know, since this pop culture heavy black and white strip is written and drawn by yours truly, it would probably be wrong to include it on the list proper. But then again, I couldn't give up the chance to promote my strip, so here it is as a special mention. Created in July of 2013, this strip, a sort of blend of such influences as Matt Groening's Life in Hell and David Lynch's The Angriest Dog in the World, is a pun-fueled, Mary Worth-hating, satirical take on all things pop culture-y. The images of the 4-panel strip may be the same each time, but the words are where it's at, baby! So far, I have only created forty some strips over the past two and a half years, but ya never know, perhaps more are coming soon. To catch 'em all, head on over to My Official La-La & Lu-Lu Tumblr. Page, and peruse to your freakin' heart's deeelight.

10. The Angriest Dog in the World

The dog who is so angry, he cannot move. He cannot eat. He cannot sleep. He can just barely growl. Bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis. A big influence, at least visual repetitiveness, on my own comic (as was mentioned above) this strange little comic strip is from the strange little man who also gave the world such strange little films as Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Dr.. Actually I quite love David Lynch, and I quite love the strange little man's films, and obviously (it is on this list, after all) I quite love his comic strip as well. Conceived in 1973, when Lynch was apparently quite angry, the strip would eventually run in the L.A. Reader, from 1983 to 1992. Great, stupid, existential stuff, indeed.

9. Spider-Man

There have been several superhero comic strips. I gave a shout out to the Batman ones in my introduction, and Superman had a daily strip for a while, but it's Spidey that was the best. Began in 1977, the strip was originally written by Stan Lee himself, with art by John Romita, Sr., eventually being taken over by Stan's brother, Larry Lieber. Over the years, the strip has given many great out-of-comics-continuity moments, including one where after a year or so of Peter Parker suddenly being an unmarried college student, he wakes up one day, a la Dallas' famous Bobby's alive shower scene, to find it was all a dream, and Mary Jane is still his hot ginger wife. In fact, it is only in this daily strip, that one can still find a happily married Peter Parker. 

8. Peanuts

It's hard to make a list like this and not include this great Charles Schulz classic. I mean, you have Charlie Brown, Linus and Lucy van Pelt, Peppermint Patty, Pig-Pen, and Snoopy and Woodstock. What's not to love!? Begun in 1950, Peanuts was a highly influential strip that helped make the four panel gag strip the next big thing in comics. I've always considered myself a Linus kinda guy - sensitive and artsy, but also kind of nerdy, so I do have some sort of affinity with Peanuts. From the obsessive desire of Charlie Brown for that oh so elusive red-haired little girl to Lucy's equally obsessive desire to thwart Charlie Brown on the football field, to Marcie's even more obsessive desire for Peppermint Patty, Peanuts was a grand old time of obsessive comedy. And we got a World War I flying ace as well.

7. Pogo

We have met the enemy and he is us. Created in 1941, by former Walt Disney cartoonist Walt Kelly, Pogo the Possum made his first appearance in the Dell comic book Animal Comics #1. Eventually Pogo, along with his cigar chewing swamp pal Albert Alligator, moved into the newspaper comic strip world in 1948, and would stay there until 1975, two years after Kelly's death (Kelly's widow, Selby, would draw the comic for it's final two years). One of three predominately political satires on this list, and with his Faulkner-esque dialect language, Pogo was a a huge influence on everyone from Bill Watterson to Jim Henson to Robert Crumb to Jeff Smith, who pretty much admits to his Bone character being mainly influenced by Pogo. Even Alan Moore wrote a Pogo homage while doing The Saga of the Swamp Thing run for DC Comics.

6. The Far Side

Easily the most nonsensical, ridiculous, and wackiest strip on this list. Consisting mostly of one panel gags, often quite absurd and/or surreal in nature, these anthropomorphic gag panels were the brainchild of Gary Larson, first appearing in 1980. Involving many jokes about strange social behaviour and puns on classic parables, often involving talking chickens and snakes  and cows and fat, stupid children. Larson eventually stopped doing the cartoon in 1995, claiming he wanted more time to take up the trombone. The Far Side is probably one of the most successful comic strips of modern times, being reprinted in tons of collected editions, and a perennial favourite in the calendar biz. Too bad the guy had to quit doing the strip. Wonder how good he is at the trombone these days?

5. Zippy the Pinhead

One of the gaggle of underground comix creators of the late 1960's and early 1970's, cartoonist Bill Griffith created Zippy in 1971, and would turn him into a daily strip in 1976. I first came across the surreal pinhead back in 1988 when I was first working at a place called Encore Books. Eclectic and often absurd beyond belief, Griffith's famed pinhead is the kind of character that is either gotten or isn't, with no inbetween. Last year, I did a La-La & Lu-Lu strip (see the special mention above) that was an homage to the Zipster. I sent the strip to Bill Griffith, and he actually said he liked it. That was more than enough for this lapsed cartoonist, and I immediately added an "endorsed by Griffy" banner on the strip. What more could a boy ask for?

4. Bloom County

Created by Berkeley Breathed, this socio-politically slanted strip ran from 1980 to 1989. A real child of the eighties, satirizing everything about the Reagan era America, Milo, Opus, Cutter John, Steve, Bill the Cat (who, incidentally, ran against Reagan in 1984), and the rest of the Bloom County family, were much preferred by this guy, to that droll, snooty Doonesbury crowd over on the editorial page. Breathed even won a Pulitzer in 1987. Yeah, I know, Trudeau won a Pulitzer in '75 (and was even nominated for an Oscar once), but I still prefer the denizens of Bloom County to Trudeau's bunch of rabble rousers. Breathed had some great, and often controversial storylines throughout the decade. I remember picking up the first few collected editions back in high school, just as my own leftist leanings began to sprout up.Breathed would eventually get back into things with his sequel strips, Outland and Opus, but it was Bloom County that started it all.

3. Nancy

In 1922, Larry Whittington created a daily comic strip called Fritzi Ritz. It was a bout a ditzy, man-hungry flapper. In 1925, 20 year old Ernie Bushmiller took over duties on the strip. In 1933, Bushmiller added the character of Nancy, Fritzi's precocious niece, and she took off like gang busters. So much so, that in 1938, the strip was renamed Nacy, and poor Aunt Fritzi was turned into a sensible bore, and relegated to a supporting character/ Fritzi did still exist as the star of her own Sunday comic until 1968, mostly drawn by various ghost artists, but in the pages of the daily strip, it was Nancy and her BFF Sluggo, who ran the show. Over the years, Nancy has been not only a bastion for funny gags, but also often a home for surprisingly absurdest comedy and fourth wall breaking meta humour. Mark Newgarden and Paul Karask wrote in their essay, "How to Read Nancy," that Bushmiller's gags "have the abstract feel of math, and Nancy was, in fact, a mini algebra equation, masquerading as a comic strip." That's pretty cool. And why not check out the American Heritage Dictionary's entry for comic strip. Guess what strip they choose to show as an example? Yup.

2. Krazy Kat

The oldest strip on this list, first appearing in 1913, Krazy Kat is also one of the most influential comic strips ever made. Created by George Herriman, Krazy Kat was a nonsensical, absurdest comic, that was done in a myriad of different styles over the years, often in strange and unusual manners. For a while it even ran vertically down the side of the newspaper. Backgrounds would change from panel to panel, there would be panoramic shots, and one never knew what was coming next. The strip was so popular (ee. cummings was a fan even!) that there was a series of animated film shorts, and even a TV show years later. In 1944 Krazy Kat ended, and the world of comic strips was a lesser place because of it. After decades of so-called standard panel construction in the comic strip world, Bill Watterson (probably Krazy Kat's number one fan) would bring back Herriman's Krazy panel deconstruction with his Calvin and Hobbes, but more on those wacky kids in a bit. Oh, wait...

1. Calvin and Hobbes

Seriously, who could make a list like this, and not have Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes at the top of said list? No one in their right mind, that's who! As I said above, Watterson was highly influenced by George Herriman's Krazy Kat, and would do quite amazing things with his panel construction and storytelling. Watterson's strip, which began in 1985, was a groundbreaking work. His esoteric take on the comic strip form, and his ability to deconstruct the genre, make his strip the most creative, most intriguing, and the best damn comic strip ever. At the height of his fame, he was powerful enough to take on the comic strip syndicators, and demand that his strips be printed without any editing, which until then, was a common practice among the newspaper syndicates. He actually changed the way things were done, and gained more rights for him and his fellow cartoonists. Watterson would call it quits in 1995, after just a mere decade of Calvin and Hobbes. Last year, Watterson guest starred on the strip, Pearls Before Swine (which just missed out on making this list) and may very well get back into the daily strip game very soon. We can only hope.

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

Monday, December 7, 2015

TV Review: A Very Murray Christmas

The very moment I heard Netflix was making a Bill Murray Christmas Special, and that it would be directed by Sofia Coppola, and guest star the likes of everyone from George Clooney and Chris Rock to Maya Rudolph and Miley Freakin' Cyrus? Yeah, I was definitely on board. I even went and immediately penciled it in (in pen!) on my Best of the Year list. And even though my expectations were through the roof, when it finally premiered this past Saturday, the damn thing managed to pass far above even those impossible expectations. That's right kiddies, A Very Murray Christmas is a very great thing indeed. And yes, "a thing" is the best and most accurate descriptive one can give to this oddly mesmerizing holiday peculiarity. A great and wonderful...thing.

Somehow managing to be simultaneously disjointed and perfectly in sync with itself, Coppola has weaved together the most perfectly absurdest trash-to-treasure junkpile of a Christmas special imaginable. And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. The setting is the Carlyle Hotel in New York, where Bill Murray and Pal Paul Shaffer may or may not be living at the moment. Murray is set to do a live Christmas Eve special, but due to a blizzard raging outside, all of his big name guests have canceled. But thanks to a pair of producers, played by Amy Poehler and Julie White, Murray is forced by contractual obligations to go on with the show anyway, even without his star guest list. Eventually, Murray makes his way to the hotel bar, and this is where the action mostly takes place. This is after one of the highlights of the special, for which there are many, where Murray shanghai's Chris Rock, and forces him to sing a quite hilarious duet of Do You Hear What I Hear?. But it is the hotel bar, and Murray with all his friends, some playing themselves, others playing characters, and still others playing something else completely, where the fun kicks in.

From here on in, the special plays at riffing as an exclusive Christmas party for Coppola and Murray and their gang of misfits and rejects - a party we were not invited to, but still managed to sneak in and check out. We get Rashida Jones and Jason Schwartzman (wonder how he got the gig, my lovely wife quipped when he showed up) as a quarreling wouldbe bride and groom whose wedding was canceled due to the aforementioned blizzard. They actually do a lovely little version of Todd Rundgren's I Saw the Light, which is the lone non-holiday song in the show, but one which works well for their characters. Jones, of course, being the daughter of the legendary Quincy Jones, has a sweet yet strong voice, and Schwartzman, cousin of the director and Rushmore co-star of Murray's (that's how he got the gig), though not trained, has a surprisingly melodic voice of his own. Yeah, his talent got him here too, but it's still good to know people. But this is only scratching the surface of this strange strange brew. But what else would, could, and/or should one expect from the minds of Bill Murray and Sofia Coppola? Exactly!

We also get David Johansen, former New York Doll and co-star with Murray in Scrooged, as a raspy-voiced bartender, singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis as a tender-voiced waitress, and the French alt-band Phoenix, as the hotel's kitchen crew. Then there is Maya Rudolph. We always knew the girl had chops, but when she belts out Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home), she steals the show. Seriously, she not only belts out this already emotional Christmas tune, she knocks it into the stratosphere. Maya goes all Aretha on the song. Just purely amazing. Another highlight of this portion is the entire barroom gang coming drunkenly together to do an appropriately soused cover of Fairytale of New York. This number leads into the obligatory dream sequence, and the inclusion of George Clooney and Miley Cyrus, the latter of whom proves she can actually get past the attention-grabbing antics of her current career arc, and sing the hell out of Silent Night. And then there is Clooney.

I won't get into what Clooney pulls off in his brief appearance with his buddy Bill, as I do not want to spoil the stew, as it were, but let me just say you will not be disappointed. Anyhoo, that's about all I have to say about this most bizarre and most joyous of holiday specials. Now it is your turn to log into Netflix and watch this piece of weirdly magical yuletide fare. Seriously, right now. Go and watch the damn thing! I'll be here when you get done. But for now, that's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

People Who Need To Be Punched in the Face, Part X

Hey there true believers and faithful readers! Look who's back! That's right, after a Summer long drought, aka my semi-sabbatical, the blog with the balls is back. And also back? People who need to be punched in the face! My most popular regular feature, by far. I guess folks like bashing on others, but using me as a buffer. Anyhoo, for those who do not know, or for those who have forgotten after the aforementioned Summer long sabbatical, here's how this goes. I make a random list of people who I think should be punched in the face, and you read the list. Easy Peazy, lemon squeezy. And please remember, I am not advocating actually punching anyone in the face. This list is all in jest. Well, mostly. So yeah, don't go out and punch any of these people. Well, maybe if ya'll find yourself next to Donald Trump...anyhoo...on with the show. And if anyone has any suggestions for a future list, please feel to add them to the comments section. Maybe I'll agree, and use 'em in a future list. Now, awaaaay we go...

Donald Trump (of course)
Mike Fuckabee Huckabee
The Ghost of Barry Goldwater
That cocky Tarzan guy
Porch Dick Pete
Most Klingons
Lena Dunham
Correy the Junkey
Reverse Flash
Mary Worth
The Dutch
Chase Utley
Guys named Chad
Fans of the Chunky Bar
Kevin Costner
The Mayor
Marco Rubio
"Dr." Ben Carson
Chris Martin
Chris Martin again
Chris Martin one more time
Lena Dunham
Kevin Alexander
Mean drunks
Punk Ass Bitches
The Houston Astros
F. Murray Abraham
Larry Tate
Frank Castle
Reggie Mantle
Fans of Adam Sandler's last ten movies
Just kidding about F. Murray Abraham
Dirty no-good rats!
Meg Griffin
Lady Gaga Haters
Sore Losers!
Just Losers in general
Katherine Heigl
Fans of anything starring Katherine Heigl
Isaac Schatz (just seeing if Isaac is paying attention)
People who do not like the Butthole Surfers
Steve Guttenburg
Kirk Cameron
Jackson Kelly
The Boogie Man (and his minions)
Citizens of Landfall, no wait...Citizens of Wreath, no wait...
White Zinfandel drinkers
Have I mention Lena Dunham yet?
Howzabout Chris Martin?
People who repeat themselves
Iron Man
Iron Maiden
Iron Curtain Supporters!
People who don't know what Irony is
Ironic t-shirt wearin' Hipsters!
"King" Joffrey Baratheon
Pill Poppers
Ted Cruz
General Urko
General Zod
Anyone who doesn't like Bjork
People from Ohio
Aiden Quinn
Breeders (not the band)
People who don't love Archer!
Everyone's exes
Dick Cheney
Charlie Sheen
Prince Namor
Conspiracy Theorists
Matt Flynn
PJ Morton
Jesse Carmichael
Mickey Madden
James Valentine
Adam Levine
Anyone who would willingly listen to the previous six
Yeah, that's Maroon 5
People who don't like Star Wars
The douchebag in that red car
Basil Rathbone
Reed Richards
Rufus Dangerman
People who call apes, monkeys
People who dislike Halloween
People who request Maroon 5
People who watch Babylon 5
People who do not like Doctor Who
Lena Dunham
Harrisburg Hipsters
People with Private Instagram Accounts
Anyone who votes for Donald Trump (of course)
Jackass Bloggers
(Myself soooo much included)

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

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Hello, My Name is Kevyn Knox, and I am an Instagram Hero

So, as a self-appointed Master Social Media Butterfly (my own term), and as the renowned Captain Awesome (the hat says so, so it must be true), my presence on Facebook has always been rather omnipresent. Well, at least for the past seven years of so. I have also Tweeted my share of Twitter moments. But these days, such social media blatherings are mere secondary fodder for my true online calling. Mixing my artistic sensibilities with my natural talent for spinning a good yarn, I have taken to Instagram...and with a motherfucking vengeance.

As I am sure ya'll know, Instagram is a place full of ugly selfies, drunken poses, and an array of random pics, all with little to no artistic flair whatsoever. But then there are those who have taken to the Gram to do something a bit more creative. I myself have taken to that aforementioned Gram, with a specific goal in mind. To build a Cult of Personality. My Gram is not your ordinary Gram. This ain't yo grandpappy's Gram!! Wait...what? Anyhoo, the Gram I am trying to build, this Cult of Personality, all of which is at 200 pics strong, and growing, is an amalgam of self-awareness, artistic experimentation, and lots of kitschy fun. This Gram has a few major categories. The first is, of course, the selfie. But these are not your typical duck-faced, side-tilted selfies. My selfies involve a bit more creativity, and sometimes an added silliness from one of the three thousand apps I have on my phone.

Sure, there are a bunch of selfies, but they involve animal heads, strange statuary, celebrity meet and greets, or possibly myself as the undead, via AMC's Walking Dead "Dead Yourself App." I also am building up a slew of photos revolving around my circle of friends. With not much family to speak of, my friends are my family, and so shall be a major part of this supposed Cult of Personality-in-the-making. Whether it be Zuky Two Shoes, a local gadfly and Midtown Harrisburg icon, or my wife and my's go-to-couple, Jen & Gary, or our rainbow-haired hippy roommate, Sarah, or any of the slew of other oddball friends around town, our friends are a major part of the ole Gram. Of course, another major part of the Gram are the Little Missus (who has her own hashtag at #thelittlemissus) and our adorbz little doggie, Marcy Proust (again, with her own hashtag #marcyproust).

Other fun aspects of the Gram are our trips to oddball places. Places such as Mr. Ed's Elephant Museum & Candy Emporium, or the giant pickle Man in Dillsburg, Pa. Then there are the regular features. Some of these features are recurring series' such as my Stormtrooper Selfies, wherein I take selfies with stormtroopers (some real live cosplayers, others cardboard standees), and my series of Giant Utensil pictures. Yeah, I pose with giant utensils, as simple as that. There are also the fake mustache photos and the pics of D-Train (an orange beanbag bear souvenir from the NYC MTA line) in various picturesque places. There is also the series where I have various peeps hold a sign that reads "Follow @kevynknox on Instagram." That's always fun. So yeah, these are the things I am doing with Instagram these days. Using it as an unending artistic installation piece, a super-meta, po-mo photog beast, if you will, and a way to build my Cult of Personality.

I will still be posting here at the ole blog at least twice a week, sometimes thrice (top tens still coming), and obnoxiously Facebooking, as well as working on that book I hope to have up and ready by the Spring thaw, but now I can add Instagram Hero to that ever-growing list of self-centered accolades. With me closing in on 500 followers (and I had barely 100 as recently as July, when I decided to begin building my empire), the success of my Gram is growing and growing and growing. Friends and acquaintances are vying to become Gram-Worthy. Right now it is, of course, The Little Missus who has been the most Gram-Worthy, with 32 appearances. She is followed by little Marcy Proust, with 16 appearances. Then come friends like Gary (6 apps), Jen and Zuky Two Shoes (5 each), Ziza & Monica (4 each), Rainbow Sarah & Crazy Patty (3 apps each), and a slew more at 1 and 2 appearances a piece. Maybe you too can become Gram-Worthy, and find yourself making an appearance on my Gram. It is only up up and away from here on in. Next stop...Instagram Stardom...and maybe an appearance on @Midnight with Chris Hardwick, or a shout-out from Daniel Tosh.

So head on over to the Gram, and check me out. The name you are looking for is @kevynknox. This is also my Twitter tag if you are so inclined. So, to all my faithful readers and all those true believers, go ahead and follow follow follow me. Ya know ya wanna. Meanwhile, enjoy some of these fun Gram images from days past. The two above, plus below are a few more samples of what ya'll can get at the Gram. And tel everyone you know...friends and strangers alike. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Seriously, check me at --- @kevynknox!!
That's (really) it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Keeping Up with the Joneses: The 10 Absolutely, Positively Coolest People with the Last Name of Jones

Hey kids!! Welcome back to the All-New, All-Improved All Things Kevyn. I've been away for a while (self-imposed sabbatical and all that jazz) but now I am back, baby! And since I am back, that means top ten lists galore. And since that means top ten lists galore, here is another one! Ya know ya'll are excited. This time we are keeping up with the Joneses. In other words, we are taking a look at the coolest cats who just so happen to have the name of Jones. And, as per usual in the top ten lists 'round these parts, it is done in countdown style, from #10, down to (of course) #1. So why don't we go ahead and count these bitches down!? Oh, but first, with the name Jones being rather common, and with this being a list of just 10, there are bound to be a few deserving Joneses who did not make the list. Let's take a quick look at these guys and gals, and maybe at a few who do not, under any circumstances, make the list.

Here be the runners-up and/or honourable mentions, in no particular order: Curmudgeon-of-the-year Tommy Lee Jones; The former Mrs. Don Draper, January Jones; Mother Partridge Shirley Jones; Monty Pythoner Terry Jones; Carolyn Jones, aka Morticia Addams; old time comedy songster Spike Jones; Singers Rickie Lee, Norah, and George Jones; Original Rolling Stone guitarist (and the guy who named the band) Brian Jones; Sex Pistols' guitarist Steve Jones; Welsh knock-out Catherine Zeta-Jones; Hollywood great Jennifer Jones; Monkee Davy Jones; Dallas Cowboy Ed "Too Tall" Jones; the lovely Miss Rashida Jones (though, spoiler alert, her musical poppa did make the list); track & field all-star Lolo Jones (but not Marion); General Hospital's Frisco & Felicia Jones; Filmmaker, and scion of David Bowie, Duncan Jones (see the first special mention below for his daddy's due); Samantha Jones, the best thing Sex and the City ever had goin' for it; Bart's bully buddy, Jimbo Jones; the ever Ob La Di Ob La Da couple, Desmond & Molly Jones; John Paul Jones (both the US Naval Commander and the Led Zeppelin bassist); Rick "The guy who caused Bruce Banner to become The Hulk" Jones; Jessica "The only woman who can settle down Luke Cage" Jones; Casey Jones, the mask-wearing vigilante friend of those pizza-hungry Ninja Turtles (the legendary folk hero/cocaine-snorting engineer is more than mere runner-up status); and finally, Jones Soda. But never ever ever, the Dow Jones! As for Jesus Jones? Sorry, 'bout that. Their dozens of fans must be pissed right now. So there. Now here are a few others who did not quite make the list.

Special Mention Goes To David Bowie

Yeah, yeah, but his real last name is actually Jones. That's right, David Jones. But alas, when the future Ziggy Stardust was first coming up, there was already a Davy Jones smacking around his tambourine with The Monkees, so...Bowie was born. And let's face it kiddies, any list worth its merit, has to include Bowie.

A Special Mention Also Goes To 
Spike Jonze & J'onn J'onzz

Technically, through a slight spelling difference, the great indie filmmaker of such films as Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, and the heroic Justice League founding member, Martian Manhunter, do not get to be on the list proper, but dammit if they ain't a couple of cool cats, indeed. So, here they are, for your entertainment pleasure..

And Three Who Just Missed Out
Martha Jones * Coraline Jones * Grace Jones

These three ladies missed making the list by the smallest of margins. One is The Doctor's one-time kick-ass companion, another is a cute as a button precocious comic book character, created by the great Neil Gaiman, and the other is the former Jamaican Queen of shock punk-disco (or whatever she does). But alas, as cool as these three Jones ladies may very well be, they had to (sadly and reluctantly) be left on the so-called cutting room floor. Sorry ladies.

Oh, and This Guy Too: The Reverend Jim Jones

When I was first compiling this list, the founder of The People's Temple, was kind of a no-brainer for inclusion. But then when I thought more about it, the idea of placing a man who convinced 909 of his followers to knowingly drink cyanide-laced grape Flavor-Aid, was probably not the way to go. Sure, the guy was obviously charming as fuck, but was he cool? And this is a list of the coolest of the cool. And to prove such an assertion, here we go...

And the Actual List

10. Casey Jones

Come all you rounders that want to hear the story of a brave engineer. Driving that train, high on cocaine. Whether it be the 19th Century heroic engineer, who died trying to save a train load of passengers, or the coke-fueled Grateful Dead hero of song, Casey Jones is a pretty darn cool guy with the last name of Jones. Well, at least the tenth coolest. Now let's move on to number nine. Number nine. Number nine.

9. Mick Jones

There are actually two Mick Jones in rock & roll. One was the guitarist for The Clash. The other was the guitarist for Foreigner. I hope it is obvious which one is cool enough to make this list. Yeah. And then, after leaving The Clash, or rather, after being told to leave by founding member Joe Strummer, Jones went on to form Big Audio Dynamite. So yeah, it's not the Foreigner guy. Rock & roll, baby!

8. Annie Jones

So, while I was going about compiling this list, my lovely wife found this gem online. As soon as I saw who she was, I had to, just HAD TO include her, and right away. I mean, come on, she was the original bearded lady of circus and freak show renown, made famous by the likes of P.T. Barnum's shilling, and Matthew Brady's photography. Not just any bearded lady, but the original bearded lady. An OG bearded lady. Cool enough for ya? Yup. Sadly, Annie passed away in 1902, at the tender age of 37.

7. James Earl Jones

He is the voice of Darth Vader. I really need say no more, do I? Yeah, Darth Fucking Vader. And Mufasa, and CNN. This is a definite cool cat. I really do not need say more, but since we're all here anyway. The voice among all voices. Forget Morgan Freeman, I want James Earl Jones narrating everything. Oh, and did I mention he was the voice of Motherfucking Darth Vader!? Yeah, move on!

6. Mother Jones

In 1902, Mary Harris Jones, was called the Most Dangerous Woman in America. If that don't get ya'll on a list like this, I don't know what would. Mary Harris Jones had a hard life. In 1867, her husband and four children all died of yellow fever, then four years later, she lost her dress shop in the Great Chicago Fire. But even after all this, Mary Jones became a stalwart advocate for labour laws in the States. Even after all this, Mary Jones became that aforementioned "Most Dangerous Woman in America." And hey, they even named a magazine after the lady.

5. Chuck Jones

Let's see. Chuck Jones is responsible for Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Marvin the Martian, Wile E. Coyote, The Roadrunner, Tom & Jerry, and the TV version of The Grinch. And that's just to name a few. A three-time Oscar winner, and the creator of three of the greatest cartoons of all-time, What's Opera, Doc?, One Froggy Evening, and Duck Amuck, the latter of which is probably the greatest animated short ever made. Yeah, Chuck Jones deserves his spot on our list. T-t-t-t-t-that's all, folks!

4. Quincy Jones

Not only did Quincy Delight Jones, Jr. compose the Soul Bossa Nova (if ya'll don't know the song, you are wrong. You know it. Just ask Austin Powers, if ya don't believe me), he is also responsible for producing more hits than pretty much any other producer this side of George Martin, including the likes of Michael Jackson's Thriller, and We Are the Freakin' World. He has also received more Grammy nominations than any one in history, and is one of the most influential Jazz musicians of all-time. Oh, and he managed to land both Peggy Lipton (Rashida's momma) and Nastassja Kinski. Yeah, he is definitely cool enough. Oh, and his midle name is Delight! Freakin' Delight!!

3. Jughead Jones

All my life, I have been searching for an appropriate role model. The best one I have ever come up with is Forsythe Pendleton Jones, III. That's right, Jughead Jones is my role model. In fact, I would say (and have said on several occasions) that Jughead Jones may very well be my spirit animal.. Sarcastic and sardonic, the food-loving secret genius of Jughead Jones overshadows the fickle whininess of Archie Andrews any day. And then there's that crown. Huzzah!

2. Tom Jones

The runner-up to the top prize (the Jones who will have to jump in if, for some reason, the reigning champ cannot fulfill their duties) is the one and only, Sir Thomas Jones Woodward of the great semi-nation of Wales. Yeah, that's right, Tom Jones is a freakin' knight. But the real reason for Tom Jones being in the number two spot, the thing that makes him almost the coolest of all the cool, is his music. And that sure ain't unusual. Oh, and according to legend he took the virginity of Cassandra Peterson, later to be known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. That's right, bitches. Now on to number one...

1. Indiana Jones

Come on! Could it have been anyone else? Of course not. When compiling a list of the absolutely, positively coolest people with the last name of Jones, you have to place Professor Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr., in the top spot. Yeah, they may have originally named the dog Indiana, but this nickname-swipin', fedora-wearin', bullwhip snappin', archaeologist extraordinaire, is the coolest of the cool. Even possibly as cool as Han Solo. Possibly. Oh, and when you are thinking of how cool Indy is, please remember to not think of that fourth Indiana Jones film. See, that's how cool he is! Even with that fourth film, he still gets the top spot here. Huzzah!

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Heavenly Body of the Month: Mars! Mars! Mars!

Hello, and welcome to the first edition of our Heavenly Body of the Month series. Granted, even though this is the first of that series, it is actually the 78th in the series, which up until now, was called Heavenly Body of the Week. The weekly aspect of our little outer space game had already been getting rather loosey goosey even before my recent 3-month sabbatical, so we went and changed things up a bit. But enough of all this, let's get on with why we are here right now.

More oft than not, my choice for heavenly body has been some so-called fictional planet or moon or what have you. Whether it be Tatooine or Gallifrey or even Magneto's Asteroid M, the majority have been fictional places. Well, at least I am saying these places are fictional. That's just for the Muggles in the audience. We know better though, don't we? Anyhoo, I digress.

Today, our heavenly body is the real life planet of Mars. I figure, the red planet has been in the news lately, so why not give it some lovin' here too. But do beware oh true believers, for Mars is a dangerous place. Not to sound too xenophobic, or whatever the word would be in this case, but Martians cannot be trusted. I repeat, never trust a Martian. Never. Just ask Ray Bradbury. They do not come in peace. Even if they say they come in peace, as in Mars Attacks!, do not believe them, because they do not. These are the real aliens we need to deport. Fuckin' Martian scum! Yeah, NASA now says there may be water on Mars. Well, any self-respecting Whovian knows that is not a good thing. If they start bottling Martian water, do not drink it. Or maybe some should drink it. Weed out all those aforementioned Muggles. But again, I digress.

Mars is a mighty planet. It has been the setting for more film and literature than any other planet save Earth. There is even a film out right now, about poor, not-so-hapless Matt Damon, stuck on the red planet. There have been a slew of great films set on Mars. From the silent Russian film, Aelita: Queen of Mars to Brian De Palma's oft-maligned (and wrongly so) Mission to Mars. The planet is named after the Roman God (better known as Ares to all you Greek-minded folk) and there is even a candy bar named after it. Granted, the Mars bar ain't no Milky Way, but it ain't half bad either. We also have Marvin the Martian, but that just brings us back to the no-good, untrustworthy Martian stereotype, and I wanted to veer away from that for the rest of this post. Oh hell, who I am kidding. The Martian is a bastard, and needs to be eradicated. Fuckin' Martians! Coming here and taking all ou jobs! Go back where you belong ya green-skinned bastards! Or whatever fucking colour you happen to be in whichever movie or book or TV show you are from. The truth is out there, and it says that Martians suck!

Anyhoo, that it enough of that. Matt Damon ain't so bad. What? But he's the title character in The Martian. So he's not an actual Martian? Oh. Well then, never mind. All Martians suck. Again, just ask Ray Bradbury. Well, there ya go kiddies. The first Heavenly Body of the Month (formerly known as Heavenly Body of the Week). Hope ya'll survived the experience. If an actual Martian were involved, you may not have. Next time around, we may be going boldly where...well, you know the rest.

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

Monday, October 5, 2015

Aaaaaand, We're Back!: The Mighty Mighty Return of the Blog!

Wow! It seems to have been forever since last time we talked here at All Things Kevyn. Sure, I've seen a lot of you on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat and whatever other forms of social media are hanging around these days, but here at the ole blog (the old school of the social medias), it has most certainly been quite a while. But here we are, after three months of a semi-sabbatical, in order to work more thoroughly on my book (more on that a bit later), I hath returned to my beloved pop cultury (timy-wimey) blog, and the fun shall now resumeth. But what exactly does this returneth mean for you, my faithful readers and true believers? Well, lemme tell ya!

For beginners, I will not be posting quite as often as I had been back in my blogging hey day. For a while, I was averaging 20 or 21 posts per month. Then, as my aforementioned sabbatical hit, that average went down to exactly 2 posts per three months. Yeah, anyhoo, now that we are back in the ole saddle again, that average will probably be around 13 per month. Mostly, I will be posting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, or at least somewhere near that schedule (maybe a Tuesday or Saturday might sneak in there instead), but then I never have done all that great with a schedule, so who knows. And, with this slight downgrading in posting proliferation, there are some regular series' that will be seen a bit less. Formerly monthly series' like The Alphabet Game and fan fave, People Who Need to Be Punched in the Face, will most likely turn to a bi-monthly appearance schedule. And that is the every other month version of bi-weekly, as opposed to the twice a month version, which is more accurately described as semi-weekly. But that's just the beginning. Let's keep talking.

With this re-scheduling thingamabob going on, the gaps will be filled in with more film and TV reviews, both of which have been lacking over the past year. Definite reviews coming will include Crimson Peak (in just two weeks time) and, of course, a bit further down the line, both the new Star Wars and Tarantino's The Hateful Eight. There will also be new TV reviews coming soon, but more on those later (can you say Mr. Robot!?). There will also be new posts on comic books (another lacking feature this past year) and other pop culture fun times. Another regular series, formerly known as Heavenly Body of the Week, will hither to be known as Heavenly Body of the Month. Yeah, but don't worry, ya'll will still get your outer space freak on. And The 11 Question Interview will also be returning sometime in late October (can you say Tabitha Soren!?). But I've rambled on enough about what things are changing 'round these parts. What about some new things?

So what the hell is coming!? Well, other than a new slew of top ten lists and what have you, my upcoming Oscar Predictions, my annual best of the year lists (cinema, television, & comic books), brand new polls, possible new La-La & Lu-Lu comic strips, and all the stuff mentioned earlier, there is a bunch of fresh new features coming to the All-New, All-Improved All Things Kevyn. Some of these fresh new features are...waitaminute...I can't let that information out right now. I've gotta keep some things for future announcements. But hey, what about my Instagramming!? Glad ya asked. Actually, there are some fun things going on over at Instagram (@kevynknox), and those who already follow my every move (and shouldn't you all??) know all about that. But, more on that in a future post. Meanwhile go on over and check things out. Anyhoo, that's it for my welcome back post. Sure, blogging may seem a bit antiquated in this world of instant gratification media, but I like it, so I'm going to keep on keepin' on at it. Glad to be back, and glad to have ya'll around...both my old guard fans, and all the newcomers jumping on my cult or personality amusement park ride.

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Friends Zone: The 10 Best Boyfriends/Girlfriends on Friends

As simple as it sounds. I am going to countdown the ten best (or my ten faves - however you wish to look at it) significant others from the NBC situation comedy, Friends. Those guys and gals who dated Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and/or Ross. Now remember, this is just a list of those boyfriends/girlfriends of the Friends, not when the Friends dated each other. So no, Ross and Rachel, nor Monica and Chandler, count. Nor do Joey and Rachel when they dated for like two episodes. That's all a bit too incestuous for our little list here. This is a list of all the Fun Bobby's and Richard's and such. But enough of all this introductory stuff, let's get on with the show.

And awaaaaay we go...

Special Mentions: Carol & Barry

Technically, Ross's ex-wife-turned-lesbian, and Rachel's left-at-the-altar groom never dated during the run of the show. Sure, there was that one episode where Rachel and Barry hooked up in his dentist chair, and there was that one flashback episode that traveled back to before the divorce, but otherwise both of these significant others (or maybe insignificant in the case of Barry and Rachel) are past participles, and therefore are mere special mentions, at best. Anyhoo, on with the list proper...well, almost.

First, A Runner-Up: Fun Bobby

Fun Bobby is always so much fun. Well, until Monica got him to stop drinking. Then he became incredibly boring Bobby. Not so much fun then. And actually, now that I think about it, when he was first introduced, he was depressed over a death in the family. So I guess Fun Bobby wasn't really all that fun after all. But then again, Fun Bobby did only appear in two episodes (and mentioned in one other) so his dating of Monica never was all that developed. But hey, he was still better than Paul the Wine Guy and that high school kid who lied about his age.

And now, really, on with the list...

10. Bonnie

Ya gotta love bald women, right? Ross was fixed up with Bonnie by Phoebe. Rachel, who had recently broken up with Ross over an infidelity trifle (they WERE on a break!), only agreed to let Phoebe do the match-making, because of Bonnie's baldness. Of course, Bonnie is no longer bald, instead being a knock-out (as played by Christine Taylor, aka Mrs. Ben Stiller), as well as a bit of a sexual whirlwind. But not to worry, Rachel convinces her to go bald again. Still kinda hot though.

9. Charlie

Charlie was a beautiful scientist who first dated Joey, and then Ross. Charlie was played by writer, producer, actor, comic, and director Aisha Tyler. She was first introduced to Ross, who felt he didn't stand a chance, since ever serious boyfriend she had up until then, had been a Nobel Laureate. But then she starts dating Joey, who is no Nobel Laureate. Eventually Charlie comes to her senses, and breaks up with Joey, with whom she has nothing in common, and goes off with Ross. Lucky for Joey, he had recently fallen in love with Rachel, who had also, even more recently, fallen in love with him. Of course, that never worked out and Ross and Rachel...well, you know the rest.

8. Tommy

So, we already had Ben Stiller's wife on the list, so why not Ben Stiller himself, or if you prefer, Mr. Christine Taylor. Ben's performance as Tommy was a one-and-done thing. He dated Rachel for one episode, wherein Ross is bothered by his anger issues, which only seem to come out when no one else is around. Well, that is, until he goes off on Chandler & Joey's chicken and duck, and everyone finally sees his true nature. Step away from the duck.

7. Erika

Another one-and-done date, Erika, as played by Brooke Shields, at her comedic best, was an obsessed fan of Joey's, who could not distinguish Joey the actor, with Dr. Drake Romore on Days of Our Lives. This is one of my favourite episodes, as Joey is attracted to Erika (duh, she's Brooke Freakin' Shields!) but also scared of her ever-growing insanity. Eventually he convinces her that he is actually Hans Remore, Drake's evil twin.

6. Paul

So, after Ross begins dating one of his students (technically ex-student), her father shows up to put his foot down. This father is none other than Bruce Willis, Shortly after this, Willis as Paul, begins dating Rachel. Oh what a tangled web we weave, and all that jazz. But hey, he's Bruce Willis. What able bodied woman is not going to want to date him. Willis, who is pretty much always cool, is extra cool as Paul. Heck, he even got an Emmy nomination for his guest role.

5. Pete

Pete was played by Jon Favreau. You know, that guy from Swingers, oh and also the director of Iron Man, and a producer on many of the Marvel movies, oh and the guy who wrote, directed, and starred in the wonderful little indie film, Chef. Anyhoo, Favreau played Pete, a billionaire who dates Monica for a bit. Then he ruins it by deciding he wants to be the Ultimate Fighting Champion, a thing he is so terrible at, that Monica can no longer stick around and watch him get beaten night after night., Seriously, he sucks at Ultimate Fighting. I mean, really sucks.

4. Richard

Well yeah, he's Tom Freakin' Selleck. How could he not be on this list? Richard, as played by the aforementioned Mr. Freakin' Selleck, was actually Monica's dad's best friend, and the family eye doctor, but when Monica took a catering job for the good doctor, things...happened. They kept it a secret from the Gellers for a bit, but eventually, the news got out. Monica and Richard also eventually went splitsville, although there was some intrigue after Monica and Chandler got together.

3. Parker

Just like Tommy and Erika above, Parker was a one episode date, but what a wonderful episode. Alec Baldwin, as is almost always the case when he is on TV (as opposed to his lackluster movie career), steals the veritable show, right out from under everyone, even his date Phoebe. Parker is the world's happiest, perkiest human being. At first this appeals to Phoebe, but after one night, she just wants to kill the guy. Poor Parker, but hey, I'm sure if anyone can, he can put a positive spin on Phoebe dumping him.

2. Janice

Oh. My. God. Sure, Janice may also have been the most annoying of all the Friends' exes, but she just kept showing up, again and again and again, even after Chandler and Monica were married. That's gotta count for something. Actually, Maggie Wheeler's Janice appeared in each of the ten seasons of the show, a feat matched only by Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles, as Monica and Ross' parents, and of course, James Michael Tyler's Gunther. All this, and the chick was batshitcraycray! Oh. My. God.

1. Mike

Perhaps Mike is number one because he was the only one who actually stuck around til the end. Maybe he's number one because he's played by Paul Rudd. Both great reasons to place Phoebe's main squeeze, and eventually (spoiler alert!) hubby, in the top spot of the Friends Zone. Oh yeah, Mike's also funny, and quippy, and a great ping pong player (though not as good as Chandler), and can play a mean air piano, so there's always that stuff too. Did I mention he is played by Paul Rudd? Yup.

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