“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #048: “Saturday Night Lived”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #048: “Saturday Night Lived”

It’s the show mom and dad told me I couldn’t stay up to see until I was old enough; so of course I snuck downstairs to see it before it was allowed. It’s one of the few shows that remained appointment television when I got my first DVR. It’s a show that has remained firmly entrenched in the zeitgeist since its inception. Even when it was bad? It gave us Eddie Murphy. It’s spurned movie and TV careers for literally dozens of its long cast list.  Live from New York… It’s Saturday Night Live.

For many, whatever season(s) they caught first tend to set the bar of future expectations of quality and hilarity. For me personally, I became a fan somewhere towards the end of the ’95 season. This meant I missed Dana Carvey by a year, but got to see the end of Mike Myers, Adam Sandler and Chris Farley’s tenure. The very next season we got a fresh-faced set funny people: Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, Cheri Oteri, and Molly Shannon (to name a few).

While most will agree that SNL itself ebbs and flows in quality — as casts learn to play off one another, writers get into a groove, and current events offer unique opportunities to capture the zeitgeist — the show by and large has become an institution unto itself. Not unlike the brainchild of Vince McMahon (the WWE), Lorne Michael’s not ready for primetime players has grown in stature and expectation such that it may live long after it’s impossibly driven creator should ever choose to retire. And make no bones about it. I personally believe Lorne and Vince will die while still maintaining duties in their respective kingdoms. But I digress. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #048: “Saturday Night Lived””

Don’t Let’s Start #004: Overdue Introductions

Don’t Let’s Start #004: Overdue Introductions

Hi there! Welcome to Pop Culture Squad!

It has occurred to me that I might not leave enough of a personal footprint here on PCS. It also occurred to me that I’ve never sat down with you, Dear Reader, and told you what I and this site are all about.

So in a bit,  I’m going to rattle off a bunch of hashtags, slogans and sayings that summarize the core operating beliefs here at PCS. Continue reading “Don’t Let’s Start #004: Overdue Introductions”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #057: Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #057: Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be

“These are the times that try men’s souls / In the course of our nation’s history the people of Boston have rallied bravely whenever the rights of men have been threatened / Today, a new crisis has arisen” – M.T.A., written by Bess Hawes and Jacqueline Steine.

Spats. Ethyl gas. Municipal steam baths. Mom’s Eats. Necco Wafers. Interurban trains. Screaming Yellow Zonkers. Montgomery Wards. Buggy whips. Magazines and newspapers. Yeah, I’m yelling at the clouds again.

Wait a minute. Magazines and newspapers? They’re still around. Sorta. Kinda. Almost. They’re coughing up blood, but they’re still around… if you know where to look. And while you’re doing that, say hello to Dr. Livingstone for me, will you? Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #057: Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be”

With Further Ado #60: On Target with Green Arrow

With Further Ado #60: On Target with Green Arrow

I was excited to read the announcement that DC is creating another oversize book to challenge the stamina of bookcases everywhere. The Green Arrow by Mike Grell Omnibus Volume #1 will be published next year. This collects a series that was a real favorite of mine.

It was the late ’80s, which somehow quickly turned into the early ’90s, and this series was such a breath of fresh air. The ever-brilliant Mike Gold (You are most certainly reading his columns here on Pop Culture Squad) was the editor who famously teased writer/artist Mike Grell with a pitch consisting of two words: “Urban Hunter”.  Gold knew that a more modern approach to the character would appeal to Grell.  For many years, the Green Arrow had been strange sort of a hero that mixed the best parts of Batman with Robin Hood. But those silly days were long gone.  Grell signed onboard, intrigued by Mike Gold’s vision, and the rest is history.

This series started with Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, a mini-series with story and art by Grell.   Fans barely had time to catch their collective breath when Oliver (Green Arrow) Queen’s story continued in the regular comic. Mike Grell was still the writer, and supplied many memorable covers, but the art chores were initially handled by Ed HanniganDick Giordano and Frank McLaughlin impressively inked it. Continue reading “With Further Ado #60: On Target with Green Arrow”

Brainiac On Banjo #052: Sidekick Bastards

Brainiac On Banjo #052: Sidekick Bastards

Shortly after Hitler invaded Poland, the powers that were decided Batman needed a sidekick. Not to prop up sales – by all indications, those early issues of Detective Comics were doing fine. No, the good folks at National Comics decided the grim and gritty pointy-eared crusader with the cape needed a young sidekick, someone with whom their young readers could relate.

Maybe. Batman had been a soloist for only one year, so we really don’t know. But we do know that Batman and Robin together were exceptionally popular. Therefore, Robin begat Speedy, Bucky, Toro, Sun Girl (who clearly was a young adult), Ebony White, Captain Marvel Jr., Kid Flash, Kid Terror, Aqualad, Supergirl, Mary Marvel, Dusty, Tiger, Wing, Sandy, Speedboy … I could go on and on, but I won’t because I like you. Well, most of you. Sidekicks became a real thing, an inseparable part of the American superhero myth for at least a half-century. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #052: Sidekick Bastards”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #047: “The Three Bears of Selling”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #047: “The Three Bears of Selling”

Once upon a time, in a magical land called The Comic Con, there lived three bears. The first bear, Cool Carl, was a cool cat. Which was funny, because he wasn’t a cat at all. He was a bear! The second bear was named Pushy Peter. Ole’ Pete was a grouse of a beast! And that left Social Sam, the third bear. He was kind, and loved to talk-talk-talk.

And in their home of The Comic Con, Carl, Peter, and Sam all had one job to do: to sell their funny books in the magical forest to the other animals who lived in the land. Some animals liked scary stories. Others liked action and adventure! And still others were hipsters and they only liked books about books — old musty vintage books from yesteryear.

Well, on a day not unlike any other, Carl, Peter, and Sam all set up their tables to sell their wares. Cool Carl’s table was cool. He covered his table in a cool blue tablecloth, and decorated it with pictures he drew. Carl was a very good illustrator! Pushy Peter arrived at the space where his table was, and pushed it flat against a tree. Peter took box after box of his funny books, and stacked them high on his table against that tree. It wasn’t as neat and organized as Cool Carl’s table. Social Sam’s table looked a bit like both Carl and Peter’s — but with neatly stacked piles of books on top of a bright and festive table cover. Sam kept his table where it belonged. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #047: “The Three Bears of Selling””

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #056: Oh, Yeah. It’s For The Children. Sure.

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #056: Oh, Yeah. It’s For The Children. Sure.

Damn near every time the self-appointed, self-righteous so-called morality mavens are opposed to some significant change in our social structure, they proclaim they’re stopping it “for the children.” If you oppose their efforts, therefore, you must hate children and unless you’re W.C. Fields that means you are evil.

To this, I loudly and profoundly call bullshit. Little kids who can barely read have been marching around carrying placards saying, “I’m sure glad my mother didn’t abort me!” for so long they’re putting those signs in the hands of their own little kids. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #056: Oh, Yeah. It’s For The Children. Sure.”

With Further Ado #059: Isaac Bidwell of Pickled Punks

With Further Ado #059: Isaac Bidwell of Pickled Punks

One of the coolest Finger Lakes entrepreneurs I’ve gotten to know is Isaac Bidwell.  Sometimes he refers to himself as an artist, but he’s really so much more. He’s created a company, Pickled Punks, that evokes a bygone era of Halloween and spookiness, all with a charm and panache that forces you to exclaim, “More, please!”

The official listing for Pickled Punks talks about how this innovative company creates artwork, plush toys, coloring books and apparel based on Cryptozoology, Sideshow, Spook Show and Halloween. They sell online, but also travel around the county doing various events from craft shows to horror festivals, committed to educating people (young and old alike) to the wonders, mysteries and folklore of the past. 

I caught up with this busy guy and had a lot of questions for him!  Continue reading “With Further Ado #059: Isaac Bidwell of Pickled Punks”

Brainiac On Banjo #051: The Challenge of Ideas

Brainiac On Banjo #051: The Challenge of Ideas

I just checked and I’ve decided I’ve got too many friends. Let’s see who I can offend today. But, first, a couple of disclaimers.

One: For decades I have been uttering I am a first amendment absolutist. There should be no roadblocks in the world of free expression. Yes, people need to stand behind what they say and I’m not at all opposed to laws that hold people responsible for malicious defamation. But there should be no roadblocks between the thought and its delivery. That’s free expression.

Two: I am a fan of Walter Mosley’s. I would have read every novel he’s ever written but for a couple decades he’s been in a Smith-Corona destruction derby with Stephen King. Had I been editing Fantastic Four, I would have found a way to get Mosley to write it. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #051: The Challenge of Ideas”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #055: Mass Murders? It’s the Damn Monkeys!

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #055: Mass Murders? It’s the Damn Monkeys!

God, am I dumb. And when I say “god,” I mean that literally. It turns out there’s a viable, meaningful, and always successful way to end our onslaught of mass murders.

Our old pal Tony Perkins – the one who runs the ultra-right-wing Family Research Council, and possibly not the one who wore his mother’s skin in the movies – told Fox News (of course) “It’s time we talk about the result of the left’s systematic march through our institutions, driving religious expression from the public square… It’s tragic and at some point we have to realize we have a problem as a nation, and the problem is not the absence of laws, it’s an absence of morality – really, the result of a decades-long march through the institutions of America, driving religion and God from the public square.”

So, evidently Tony Perkins’ god is a mean bastard who is so pissed that society is not obsessed with his every fart that he enlightens his true believers to shoot up a bunch of heathens and those who happen to be near them. No more pillars of salt, no more floods – well, maybe floods – nope, Tony’s god has gone high-tech. How many people can you slay in 30 seconds, when god is on your side? Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #055: Mass Murders? It’s the Damn Monkeys!”