Two Music Legends Lost This Weekend: RIP Dick Dale & Andre Williams

Two Music Legends Lost This Weekend: RIP Dick Dale & Andre Williams

This past weekend turned out to be a double whammy of grief for roots music lovers. We lost the Godfather of Surf Guitar Dick Dale on Saturday March 16th and R&B Legend Andre Williams on the 17th.

Dick Dale was born in Boston in 1937, his family moved to California when he was 17. He began playing musical instruments as a child; moving from piano to trumpet to ukulele and tarabaki before the guitar. His father was Lebonese & he cited the tarabaki and Arabic music as strong influences on his playing style. That style was a mixture of rhythm and lead played left-handed on a guitar strung for a right-handed musician. He tested equipment for Leo Fender. After blowing up several amps by playing too loud, a custom 15-inch loudspeaker was made. That amp is now the JBL-D130F model, more commonly known as the Fender Single Showman Amp.

Dale’s health and the British Invasion lead him into early retirement from music. He became an environmental activist after a pollution related infection nearly too his leg in the late 70s. He began recording and touring again in the 1980s, was nominated for a grammy in 1986. He appeared in 1987’s Back to the Beach playing Pipeline with Stevie Ray Vaughan.  And in 1994 was discovered by a new generation of fans thanks to his song Misrilou being featured in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

Dale continued to have health issues which lead to his having to keep touring in order to stay on top of his medical bills. He had tour dates scheduled through November of this year at the time of his death. He was 81.

 

Andre Williams was born in Bessemer Alabama in 1936. He moved to Detroit at 16 where he befriended the owners of Fortune Records. He found success with singles like Bacon Fat and Jail Bait; with Bacon Fat hitting #9 on the R&B Chart in 1957.

He co-wrote Thank You For Loving Me for Stevie Wonder in 1963 as well as penning Shake a Tail Feather, a hit for The Five Duo-Tones. Shake a Tail Feather was also recorded by Ike & Tina Turner as well as James & Bobby Purify who went to #25 on the Hot 100 with it in 1967.

In 1968 he signed to Chicago’s Chess Records and hit #46 on the R&B chart with Cadillac Jack. The 1970s saw Williams write songs for Parliament and produce Ike Turner. The 1980s were particularly bleak for Williams, as his drug addiction took its toll, he eventually found himself homeless.

By 1995 Williams had returned to recording and touring, releasing an album of new renditions of his earliest releases, Mr. Rhythm in 1996. He continued to tour, a lot in Europe, and record through the 1990s and 2000s.

Andre Williams was diagnosed with colon cancer and passed away after 2 weeks in hospice care in Chicago. He was 82.

On a personal note, I was able to see both Dick Dale and Andre Williams perform live on multiple occasions, they never failed to rock my face off.

Preview Review for the week of 3/20/2019: Viking Queen #1

Preview Review for the week of 3/20/2019: Viking Queen #1

Welcome to the latest installment of Preview Reviews.  This is where we give advanced glimpses at some of the comics that will be coming out this Wednesday.

A reminder for you. Here at PopCultureSquad, we are decidedly Anti-Spoiler.  We feel that ruining someone’s experience with something for the sake of getting a scoop or clicks is the wrong thing to do. Therefore, we have decided to publish this column, as necessary, with mostly spoiler-free reviews of upcoming issues.  Hopefully, the information that we share with you will increase your excitement for these books.

This week’s preview comic is The Viking Queen from Paul Storrie and Kevin Caron, published by Source Point Press.  The book was originally a Kickstarter campaign in 2018 and was so successful that they have gone forward with a retail release.

Continue reading “Preview Review for the week of 3/20/2019: Viking Queen #1”

Brainiac On Banjo #030: Ahoy There, Mr. Christ!

Brainiac On Banjo #030: Ahoy There, Mr. Christ!

If you’ve been to a comic book shop lately or you’ve thumbed through a recent Diamond Distributors catalog, no doubt you’ve noticed there are a hell of a lot of viable-looking, professionally-operated new publishers around who are doing some very interesting projects. You’ve also noticed there are far too many new projects for you to check out. Or, perhaps, you’re tired of hearing your credit card scream every time you go to the comics shop.

Lucky for Ahoy Comics, one of the better new imprints to come down the pike in the past couple years, our friends at DC Comics just gave them one hell of a promotional boost.

DC had this six-issue project called The Second Coming, by Mark Russell and Richard Pace – which, alone, should be enough to get you to check it out. It’s about Jesus Christ, his superhero roommate Sunstar, and his reactions towards contemporary society. As Russell told the New York Times he was telling a story about how we have “fetishized physical violence and force as being the solution to every problem.” OK, that’s a valid pitch for this satirical series which, clearly, was not intended to be the gospel truth, or a replacement or a revision of same.

DC solicited the first couple issues before word got out to the various hate groups such as the Christian Broadcasting Network, Citizen Go, Christian Headlines, and Fox News. Just because you throw around the word “Christian” does not mean you aren’t a hater, and these groups and their fellow travelers quickly organized petitions urging its cancellation and threatening a boycott of DC. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #030: Ahoy There, Mr. Christ!”

Everything We Read This Week – 03/13/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 03/13/2019

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week.  This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This was a great week for comic books. There were so many great books out there for all types of readers. There are a few great new series that started this week.  We try to read as much as we can to bring you recommendations on what good stuff is being produced. Unfortunately, we can’t read all the comics. So, remember to find what you like, GO OUT AND FIND SOME COMICS TO READ!! They are good for you.

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Image, Black Crown, Dark Horse, and AfterShock this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. You will see books that we were looking forward to with the designation Hot #1 by them. There are a few of them out this week and they are really good.

DISCLAIMER: 

There is a 4 star rating system. It is simple and not to be taken too seriously as everyone gets their own impressions of art. These ratings are just to give our readers an idea of what we thought of the book, and they will be on the generous side normally. So don’t expect to see a lot of 1 Stars. After all, it’s not often that you have a bad book on your pull-list.

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

Also look for the book we deemed Favorite Book of the Week. It is the comic that we like the most this week. The criteria are difficult to pin down, but suffice to say it is a book that moved us.

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 03/13/2019”

ITHACON 44 celebrates Rod Serling & The Twilight Zone

ITHACON 44 celebrates Rod Serling & The Twilight Zone

Ithaca, N.Y. (March 14, 2019): The Comic Book Club of Ithaca is preparing for the 44th annual ITHACON, to be held Saturday, March 23rd and Sunday, March 24th at Ithaca College’s Emerson Suites.   To prepare for the 60th Anniversary of The Twilight Zone, and to celebrate the life of Finger Lakes native, Rod Serling, ITHACON is developing several special events for this year’s comic convention, including:

  • Twilight Zone Crossover & Mini-Marathon: Ithaca College’s Park School students honor the legacy of The Twilight Zone by creating their own short films based on minor characters in episodes from the original series. The four original Twilight Zone episodes used for inspiration will also be screened: “A Stop at Willoughby”, “The Silence”, “I Shot an Arrow into the Air” and “Penny for Your Thoughts”.
  • Serling Archives Display – Several rare items from the Serling Archives will be on loan and on display for attendees to view, celebrating the incredible creativity and fascinating life of Rod Serling.
  • Twilight Zone Mockulogues Contest – In honor of Rod Serling’s genius and the 60th anniversary of the Twilight Zone, attendees are invited to create their own Rod Serling inspired monologues. Contestants will be given time to prep and present their creation. Monologues will be judged based on various categories, including creativity. Prizes will be awarded. This event will be held at IC Square at Campus Center starting at 6:00 pm.
  • Nick Parisi, author of Rod Serling: His Life, Work and Imagination will be a featured guest. He will also be interviewed during an ITHACON Author’s Panel on Sunday at 1:00pm in the Taughannouck Falls room near the Emerson Suites Exhibition Hall.

As is tradition, ITHACON also provides a strong line-up of comic industry professionals, guests, including Walter Simonson, Louise Simonson, Tom Peyer, Jamal Igle, Bill Schanes, Craig Yoe and Sid Friedfertig. ITHACON is proud to host award-winning authors including Tamora Pierce and David Gerrold.

More information on ITHACON can be found on the official site (ithacon.org) and the facebook page Admission and parking are free for this event.

 

Pop Culture Squad member & columnist Ed Catto

Steve Ditko: Inside His Studio Sanctum Sanctorum

I wrote my first letter to Steve Ditko in early 1973, while I was still in high school. It was the typical letter, the type a budding fan-artist back then might send to a seasoned professional comics artist — full of effusive praise, capped with a request for some secret kernel of artistic knowledge that would magically transform overnight a fan’s crude artistic efforts into professional-level artwork. Ditko did his best to answer, giving what was, in retrospect, a solid list of advice.

Two years later, I wrote Ditko again, and this time, I asked if I could stop by his studio for a visit when I was in New York City later that year. He politely declined, and I pushed that idea into the dustbin of history – not realizing that 28 years later my request would become a reality.

More than two decades passed before I wrote Ditko again in 1997. In the interim, I joined the Air Force, learned to be an aircraft avionics technician, got married, had kids, opted to be a career Airman, traveled and lived abroad for nearly a decade, earned a bachelor’s degree, retrained into public affairs during the early 1990s military drawdown, kept drawing, and kept publishing my fanzine, “Maelstrom.” In fact, my third letter to Ditko was a request for what I knew was an extreme long shot: An interview for an upcoming issue of my ‘zine. Again, he politely declined.

I wrote a few more letters during the next two years about nothing in particular – including a couple while I was stationed in the Republic of Korea in 1998. In one of them, I included some terrifically supple Korean-made brushes that were ridiculously cheap, but feathered ink like a Winsor & Newton brush costing 30 times as much.

I retired from the Air Force in 1999 and published “Maelstrom” #7, and dutifully sent Ditko a copy. Our correspondence continued off-and-on until 2002, when I started preparing a Steve Ditko article for “Maelstrom” #8 – along with a cover I drew featuring many of Ditko’s more notable characters. When the issue was published, I sent him a copy, and something about it obviously struck a chord as he sent me several letters of comment. Suddenly, the correspondence was a regular back-and-forth, and as my letters got longer, so did his. Some of Steve’s letters were 10, 12, or even 16 pages long.  Continue reading “Steve Ditko: Inside His Studio Sanctum Sanctorum”

James Gunn Reinstated For ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ 3 By Disney [Deadline]

James Gunn Reinstated For ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ 3 By Disney [Deadline]

Director James Gunn Reinstated For ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy 3’ By Disney

Source: James Gunn Reinstated For ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ 3 By Disney | Deadline

 

Deadline is reporting that Gunn is back at the helm of GotG3! We here at PCS are stoked! Looks like Gunn will direct Suicide Squad 2 then get to work on the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

Gunn was fired by Disney after old tweets that he’d already apologized for were dug up by alt-right “journalists” looking to weaponized Gunn’s words against him. Gunn quickly issued a renewed apology. The cast wrote an open letter of support and David Bautista went as far as to say he wouldn’t do the movie without Gunn.

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #029: Divide And Conquer, by Mike Gold

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #029: Divide And Conquer, by Mike Gold

Before I begin this week’s tirade, I need to make one thing perfectly clear: when it comes to the never-ending middle east conflict, I have no horse in the race.

This is because I believe in freedom of religion. I’m not in favor of a Jewish state, and I’m not in favor of a Muslim state. I’m also not in favor of a Christian state, although the presence of a large Christian population in the middle east seems to have escaped notice.

Now that I’ve pissed everybody off, let’s talk about Benjamin Netanyahu and Ilhan Omar.

Last week, Israel’s famed fascist leader Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens… According to the basic nationality law we passed (last summer), Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it.” This is not to suggest that Benji is about to build ovens, but our Muslim-Israeli friends are justified in their belief that they are second-class citizens… at best.

Also last week, U.S. Congressperson Ilhan Omar implied that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee pays politicians to support Israel. This is likely to be true, but the global Jewish conspiracy has nothing to do with it. Lobbyists of all persuasions use all sorts of means every hour of every day to influence, rent or buy America’s lawmakers. Republicans who have been on the take from (for example) the National Rifle Association, FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity have been porking up at that trough for decades. The difference is, questioning AIPAC’s influence is often perceived as anti-Semitic. Of course, this puts Omar in bed with many Jews, including Israeli Jews (such as actor and Israeli soldier Gal Gadot) who are opposed to Netanyahu’s totalitarianism. These Jews are decidedly not of the self-loathing variety, which is the common response from the Israeli far-right. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #029: Divide And Conquer, by Mike Gold”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #031: The Best of the Worst!

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #031: The Best of the Worst!

What’s good about writing these listicles is that I’m able to cover a ton of ground in a short(ish) amount of time. As such, I’ve covered the worst of the worst when it comes to comic book movie villainy. It stands then, that I should swing the pendulum the other way to detail my favorite ne’er-do-wells of cinematic comic bookery, right? Well, once again, you don’t have a say.

The Rules: Much like last time, when I formed this ranking, I took into account a few criteria. I’m covering only the main antagonist of comic book films starting from 1978’s Superman. I look to the actual performance/portrayal. Did I believe I was watching a character or just a good actor chewing the scenery?  I also like to compare the on-screen portrayal against the origins of the on-paper version of the character — where I like to see a positive convergence of the tentpoles of a given wrongdoer from their pulpy origins emboldened by the advantages offered by the silver screen. Beyond those basics, I always look towards the actual fights/schemes/plans that pair the main villain against his or her nemesis (those stupid super heroes everyone loves so much). I really like to see both the savagery and the sorcery, if you will, of the baddie being bad.

Here then, are my picks. Damn the innocent.

  1. Michael Keaton / The Vulture — Spider-Man: Homecoming

Straight out of the gate, I’ll admit I wanted to put Mr. Keaton higher on the list. Spider-Man: Homecoming was really mostly a vehicle for Tom Holland’s pitch-perfect friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. But it was because of this, Keaton’s Adrian Toomes is such a delight. Choosing to lean into his lower register (but not freaky Birdman range, thankfully) and sinister sneers, Vulture in Homecoming is an understated nemesis. What earns him a spot on my list, more than anything, is the intelligent plotting and drive of Toomes. Unburdened with the whole anti-aging pseudo-science of the original source material, we get a villain who truly had proper motivation. In the wake of The Avengers here was a man screwed out of his livelihood by super-situations beyond his control. Michael Keaton delivers an intelligent and calculating villain who (versus many on this list) see his nemesis as a nuisance — meant to be dealt with, not obsessed over — with the sound mind to take what he sees as rightfully his. Even if he’s in the wrong. And simply put? The driving-to-prom scene alone was worth putting Michael Keaton on this list.

  1. Tom Hiddleston / Loki — The Avengers

I can hear several fangirls already sharpening blades over the low placing of Tom Hiddleston on my list. But I’ll say my peace and accept my fate. Specifically in The Avengers, Loki is at his most evil (saving Thor, which while good, pales in comparison to him here) — setting the Avengers up to fail at every turn. What sells Loki most to me, and what earns his spot here on my list, are his scenes opposite any Avenger, save his brother. Hiddleston’s portrayal of an Asgardian is as it should be: noble, godly, and aloof. In the face of Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Iron Man… he sees himself a god. And while yes, he gets punched, repulsor-blasted, arrow-detonated, and Hulk-smashed… he never loses his edge. As means to the ends of Thanos, Loki more than holds his weight as the singular villain (plus an army of disposable CGI) in a film choked to the edges of the screen with heroic talent. Whereas Justice League gave us disposably-generic… Avengers gave us coldly-unforgettable.

  1. Jason Lee / Syndrome — The Incredibles

I dare anyone reading this to tell me I’m not allowed to include a non-comic-canon character who is animated to boot on this list. Because they’d lose their argument when considering Jason Lee’s Incrediboy-turned-Big-Bad. From his calculated efforts to capture Mr. Incredible, to his sadistic decree to destroy a plane that had just announced it had children aboard it… Syndrome is the arcitype of villainy personified. Lee’s vocal talents perfectly paint the picture of a broken-hearted would-be sidekick who chooses a dark-path due to disappointment. And as the grown-up nemesis to the Parr family, his invention-driven path-of-destruction comes both as no surprise, and nearly flawless in execution. If he’d only chosen not to don a cape…

  1. Josh Brolin / Thanos — Avengers: Infinity War

While many will continue to meme the purple rock-collector until Endgame… few could argue that the portrayal of the Mad Titan built up over ten-plus films could have been handled much better. Brolin’s calm, weighty performance— perfectly rotoscoped into his hulking CGI frame — quickly establishes his villain we should all fear from the cold open. Without aid of even a single Infinity Stone, Thanos dispatches the Incredible Hulk with the meticulous devastation of a seasoned MMA fighter. We watch in awe and agony as Banner’s never-over-powered angry-half is pummeled into submission. And this is all before Thanos marches slowly across the cosmos to collect his shiny rocks, and snaps away half the beings of the universe. That he joins nearly no other villains in the “actually succeeded in my evil plan” club, and retires to his weird space farm to live in peace afterwards is the dusty icing on a bitter cake. As close to the source as we were ever going to get… all completed with a performance I couldn’t recast to save Peter Parker’s desperate life.

  1. Alfred Molina / Doctor Octopus — Spider-Man 2

“The power of the sun, in the palm of my hand.” So sayeth Otto Octavious. On page, Doc Oc is often a morty lame duck of a villain — save perhaps his superior run as the Spider-Man himself. But in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, he is as he should be: mild-mannered, with an undercurrent of resentment and determination. Alfred Molina disappears into the role; becoming a would-be father figure to Peter Parker, a loving husband to his wife Rosalie, and a frustrated scientist under the knuckle of a rich brat. That his over-zealous excitement to complete his project eventually causes him to abandon reason to see his work be finalized cements him as a villain whose motivations we can accept (if not agree with, obviously). The only misstep to the portrayal (and not Molina’s fault by any means) we get a bit of a worthless subplot revolving around his additional appendages perhaps being sentient. Beyond that though, Spider-Man 2 remains one of the best superhero movies of all time… because in this case our villain cements the journey our hero must make by the end of the film. And that’s far more powerful than a CGI super-nova being cradled by Larry, Harry, Flo, and Moe.

With Further Ado #033: Where Are All The Toys?

With Further Ado #033: Where Are All The Toys?

Captain Marvel saved the universe this [past] weekend.  She did it onscreen but her economic dominance has hushed the hatred (even if it’s just a brief respite). As you may know, this movie suffered a backlash by a bunch of Neanderthals, who took to the internet to kneecap the movie’s success.  These hateful fans didn’t like what Captain Marvel stood for…or maybe they just felt aggrieved by the currents and eddies swirling about in the never-ending flood of today’s geek culture.

Captain Marvel crushed it at the box office this weekend, posting $153 million from 4,310 theaters. Overseas, this movie raked in an incredible $302 million (including $89 million in China), which is the fifth-highest international opening weekend ever.

Does that mean it’s a great movie? Not necessarily, but everyone agrees that succeeding financially is better than the alternative. I thought it was a lot of fun.

But once we get beyond all that nonsense, I have another issue to bring up: Where are all the toys?

Why isn’t every young girl wearing a Captain Marvel shirt? Or maybe a better question is: Why aren’t all kids playing with Captain Marvel action figures and dolls?

I haven’t seen a crush of Captain Marvel merchandise on store shelves. That’s what outrages me.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #033: Where Are All The Toys?”