Category: Brainiac On Banjo

Brainiac On Banjo: New York, Naked

“It trails me and it tails me down to Central Park. Even after dark, New York is my home. New York is calling me, and now I find the city never sleeps… it’s my state of mind.” New York Is My Home, written by Dion Di Mucci, Scott Kempner, and Mike Acquilina, 2016

Like many pop culture enthusiasts – we used to be called “fans” before cosplay became a big deal — my “top ten favorite movies” list runs a bit heavy. I recently took to creating an actual written-down list and, as of this typing, this effort has engorged to 66 films. I’m sure it will lengthen.

Among those works on film to which I am most endeared is a 1948 flick called “The Naked City,” directed by Jules Dassin and starring Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, and Dorothy Hart. Despite its title, this brilliant and authentic action movie is not the least bit salacious. It most certainly is naked, in the sense that The Naked City is the most poignant portrait of New York City I have seen.

This is the New York City of legend, filmed on location. Well, 80% of it was filmed on location, and that certainly fits the definition of unique. No other movie had so much Manhattan footage, and the performers and crew were not limited to the types of cover shots we are used to seeing on shows like N.Y.P.D. Blue.

We are thrust into the real, heroic city of legend that is no longer with us, but unlike Camelot or Brigadoon this place was real and that is the stuff of this movie. It was the town many of our ancestors first saw when they came to America, the portal to a new world that offered the promise of fair play, opportunity, equality, and democracy. Those values may be fading rapidly as well, but that’s for another time.

As much as I love the work of Damon Runyon, the New York City seen in this movie is the real thing. There are no singing and dancing gangsters in this production. You can almost smell the sidewalk hot dogs, the sweat of the workers, and the stench of the tenements on a hot summer day — The Naked City was filmed in the very, very hot summer of 1947, and it shows.

Long gone are the Manhattan elevated trains and the Essex Street Market, the old Staten Island Ferry terminal and the real Penn Station, the ramshackle and often dangerous subdivided apartment buildings for those who dream, and the mom-n-pop stores that met their needs. Big-box chain stores and franchise fast food were almost unheard of. It was America’s portal to the rest of the world and, more important, it was the portal from the rest of the world.

The movie most certainly suffers from some of the constraints and attitudes of its time. There’s plenty of white ethnic diversity, and that’s about it. New York City is and always been a lot more than that, but in 1948 I suspect a lot of people wondered why they ever would be interested in seeing a movie about a bunch of Irish, Italians, and Ashkenazi… let alone about New Yorkers. The Naked City does not portray a lot of high falutin’ swells living in the vertical gated communities that line Central Park; this is the people of New York whose heads would explode at the thought of paying today’s $3,500 a month rent.

The original The Naked City movie, later remade as several television series and movies, is a breathtaking, highly detailed and emotionally appropriate record of the city that defined America. It is a 96-minute time machine that nails down the roots of our cultural heritage.

It’s also a damn good cop movie.

The Naked City is on HBO Max and, better still, the 23-minute Criterion documentary Uncovering The Naked City is there as well, although I do not know how long either will be streaming from that venue. Talk about Brigadoon… Of course, both are available from Criterion on home video and on the Criterion Channel. I say “better still” because The Naked City is shown on TCM with some regularity but the documentary is a mere seventeen months old and not quite as accessible. It’s a love letter to both the movie and to the city that made it… and, of course, to the people who made it as well.

As they said in this movie and its subsequent adaptations, “There are eight million stories in the naked city.” This has been the best of them.

The author dedicates this column to Howard V. Chaykin, the source of several of those eight million stories.

Brainiac On Banjo #110: With This Ring…

Brainiac On Banjo #110: With This Ring…

It’s gone away from me / The thrill is gone baby / The thrill is gone away from me / Although, I’ll still live on / But so lonely I’ll be / The thrill is gone – The Thrill Is Gone, Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell, 1951

Today, as we currently reckon time, is the day DC Comics launches a brand-new Green Lantern title. Have they done this previously? I mean, previously in 2021. I know it’s only early April, but every week they do not introduce a new Green Lantern title, or at least a new Green Lantern, seems to me to be a rare week indeed.

I’m not complaining about this new series. I haven’t read it. I haven’t even decided not to read it, but, as the song goes, the thrill is gone.

I clearly remember buying the first silver age Green Lantern in late July of 1959. I was a week shy of nine years old, and new superhero launches were very few and quite far between. I took to it as though it were a barbecue beef sammich. A rocket crashes (I’m telling you the short version) and inside the rocket is a dying alien. His ring — his ring! — sought out the nearest fearless person worthy of herohood and found a test pilot named Hal Jordon. Go figger; a handsome white American dude. He said “OK, fine, you’re worthy. Put on this ring and go figure it out. I’m dying here.”

It was really cool. The artwork, storytelling, and design work were stellar, and the new guy could do anything as long as he wasn’t using that ring on anything yellow. Yellow? Do you know how much stuff out there is yellow? For crying out loud, yellow and green are next to each other on the color wheel! Yet the stories were so compelling I accepted that, just the way I accepted his tedious, time-consuming oath. I eagerly followed the three Showcase issues, I was pleased to see he was in the original Justice League of America six months later, and then I was thrilled that he got his own series — all within 10 months!

In no more than a few years, Green Lantern’s bosses thought there should be a standby GL just in case Hal meets the same fate as his predecessor. Guy Gardiner wasn’t around all that much, but he was there when he was needed.

Several years after that, the little blue men with the Dr. Zorba haircuts decided the neighborhood needed still another backup Green Lantern. It was nice to see, John Stewart, a Black man get the gig, a very rare thing for 1971. But I got to thinking…

The little blue men, who took to calling themselves the Guardians of the Universe (the other Guardians have a tree), had divided all of the universe into 3600 sectors (that number later doubled; after all, the universe is ever-expanding). Each sector had its own Green Lantern. OK, initially that was really cool because most of the other GLs did not appear to be humanoid, and such diversity was not so fully embraced in the comics of the time. Hal, and Guy, and John all worked in Sector 2814 and by now all three were full-timers.

Why does Earth get three while every place else only gets one? There’s something really unfair about that.

Kyle Rayner became still another Earthman Green Lantern. That’s four from the same sector. In the ensuing years Simon Baz, Jessica Cruz and now Keli Quintela became part of this overwhelmingly Earthish group of heroes. Even the original-original Green Lantern, Alan Scott from the 1940s, got retconned into this horde, and others in history have popped up from time to time. Sojourner “Jo” Mullein is or was or will be a greenie as well.

Is Anya Savenlovich still a Lantern? Probably; in comics, nobody ever disappears forever. Does anybody remember Charlie Vicker? I think he grew up to be Ryan Reynolds. And then there’s Donna Parker, and I think Jennifer-Lynn Hayden, a.k.a. Jade — Alan Scott’s kid — is back on the scene along with her father’s increased exposure in the DC universe du jour.

I won’t go into the Green Lantern who appeared in last month’s Zack Marathon. That wasn’t a comic book, and if it was supposed to be it never would have been published.

To be fair, I don’t mind the GLs from those thrilling days of yesteryear. History goes back a bit, and it makes sense that the ones from the 20th century were not the first. But I’m not as certain about all those many Green Lanterns from the “future” that lurk around every corner.

The whole Green Lantern concept is no longer special, but, then again, I’m no longer nine years old, my behavior notwithstanding. Soon there will be as many Green Lanterns as there were Elvis impersonators — and Green Lanterns have a much longer shelf-life. Of course, now somebody is going to come up with an Elvis Presley Green Lantern, but I doubt AT&T will pony up the licensing fees.

You may very well be a Green Lantern. If so, please don’t take this personally — I’d take the gig too, if offered. But my power ring wouldn’t work on anything gray.

Brainiac On Banjo #109: What Jessica Walter Means To Me

Brainiac On Banjo #109: What Jessica Walter Means To Me

Don’t you ever miss your house in the country, and your hot little mamma too? Don’t you better get a shot from the doctor, for what the Road Ladies do to you? – Frank Zappa, Road Ladies, 1970

I was just 21¼ years old. Old enough to know better. And, well, I did know better.

I had started on the radio about two years earlier, doing freeform “underground” shows overnights on Chicago FM stations. Back in those days, FM wasn’t on most car radios and station owners bought them just so that their competitors could not. At that time, nobody made money on overnight FM except for those slots that were purchased — brokered — by churches, far-right-wing political howlers, and foreign-language shows. That is, nobody made money until we came along.

In short order, my peers warned the 19-year-old me that, from time to time, women would call the studio in the middle of the night and make it clear that a personal appearance need not involve guitars and amplifiers. Remember, this was during that hallowed time between the invention of the birth control pill and the onset of HIV, and it was a wonderful period to be a 19 year old with Y chromosomes that screamed louder than a pack of shock-jocks.

My peers pointed out that these ladies had never seen me, and that I had never seen them. All they knew was I was on radio which, admittedly, can be an intimate experience at 3 in the morning. According to my instructors, other than an hour’s pleasure nothing good could come out of such parlances… and quite often there’s a world of hurt around the corner.

Yeah. Right. I was pushing 20 and I was full of three things… one of which being myself.

I had just started at a station in Evanston, Chicago’s northern neighbor and their studio was along the Chicago River about two miles from the fabled “L” trains. As is wont to happen, one night my car broke down in their parking lot and I had to choose between a long walk or an even longer wait for repair. I was three hours into my five-hour shift and I knew that walk would be annoying. I mentioned my situation on the air. At three in the morning. Sadly, my “Uh-Oh Sense” declined to stop me. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #109: What Jessica Walter Means To Me”

Brainiac On Banjo #108: The Purple Zombie! – Women’s History Month

Brainiac On Banjo #108: The Purple Zombie! – Women’s History Month

Thanks to several decades of following Trina Robbins’ research, I’ve been a Tarpé Mills fan since… well, probably since dinosaurs started making oil.

Mills is best known as the creator/writer/artist of the costumed newspaper comic strip hero Miss Fury (1941 – 1949), which, for the record, debuted six months before Wonder Woman. But prior to that, she worked for a variety of neophyte comic book publishers, creating such features as Diana Deane / White Goddess (1936), Devil’s Dust, The Cat Man, Daredevil Barry Finn (1939), and The Purple Zombie (1940). It is this latter creation that now brings my fingers to the keyboard.

In addition to my affection for Mills’ work, I have a serious thing for stories that are insanely weird and bizarre. The Purple Zombie was so weird it makes Herbie The Fat Fury look like Mark Trail.

Here’s the short version: a pair of scientists come up with a way to create zombies, but one is an evil scientist and the other wants it to be used for the betterment of humanity. Zombies For Peace! Right on! The bad guy does not kill the good guy, although he does try. He gets killed in the process and P.Z. divines the good guy as his master. So, the good guy drafts P.Z. into joining the 1940 anti-fascist movement which, at the time, was pretty much limited to fighting Nazis and the Spanish civil war. By the way, in Spain the American antifa was called “The Abraham Lincoln Brigade.” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #108: The Purple Zombie! – Women’s History Month”

Brainiac On Banjo #107: This Is It! The Knight of Knights!

Brainiac On Banjo #107: This Is It! The Knight of Knights!

“Overture, curtains, lights / This is it, the night of nights / No more rehearsing and nursing a part / We know every part by heart / Overture, curtains, lights / This is it, you’ll hit the heights / And oh what heights we’ll hit / On with the show this is it / Tonight what heights we’ll hit / On with the show this is it.” This Is It, Theme from The Bugs Bunny Show, 1960, by Jerry Livingston and Mack David

Oh, boy! Those of you who have been waiting with bated breath to see Zack Snyder’s “version” of the “original” Justice League movie can thank your lucky stars for the Covid quarantine. Otherwise, it might be difficult to find 242 consecutive minutes to watch the thing uninterrupted… although your bladder might have other ideas.

In the spirit of that observation, the question is “Is Zack Snyder’s “version” of the “original” Justice League movie worth the additional bladder control?

Snyder: No, really! Look! Up in the sky!

You might have seen this production by now. Seeing that I’m writing this yesterday and I was Covided out of any screening, I have not. I probably will – for several nonsensical reasons. First is that I like Darkseid and even the mandatory guest appearance of the Joker doesn’t countermand that. Second, someday I’ll see humans once again and I like offering an informed opinion. Third, I remind myself that even in the worst possible case I do slow down at Gaper’s Blocks to see the accident that has reduced my life to still another challenge of bladder control.

I have read several reviews from those who were so committed to their jobs they risked life and limb to see a screening. I figure that’s the least I can do. I know it’s the least I’m going to do. Many note that this movie follows nicely in Snyder’s DC chain of duels, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Well, that’s nice but in my book, it’s hardly a compliment. There are things I like about Man of Steel, but neither are good movies according to my personal taste. I came to the opinion after watching Watchmen – also directed by Zack Snyder – that superhero movies are best directed by people who seem to enjoy the superhero milieu.

This is the man who, after making Watchmen, said “if Superman really existed, he’d grab all the world leaders together in a room and say, ‘Behave or I’ll kill you.’” Yup, Zack misses the point of the whole thing.

I have read even more reviews that state, quite early on, this is a movie superior to the version that escaped to the theaters a few years ago. Again, to me, this is not praise. Offhand, I can only think of two movies I’ve seen that are worse than Justice League – The Release Cut, and those are Skidoo and Myra Breckenridge.

Please note I did not say Plan Nine From Outer Space. That was a more enjoyable experience than Justice League – The Release Cut. Not only did I want my money back, but I also wanted them to pay me for my time, my gasoline, and my popcorn. To be fair, the popcorn was far better than this insult to my DNA.

By and large, those reviewers who did not compare Snyder’s marathon to its disgusting predecessor thought the movie to be… okay. Not great, not horrible. “Okay” is a word commonly used in summing up many of the DCU films of the past decade or so.

I am concerned that Leonard Cohen’s Halleluiah was deployed as a theme song within the film. Yeah, that’s gotta be the feel-good tune of the 20th century. Perhaps suicide hotlines should be alerted for a potential upsurge in business.

OK. Now that I’ve got all that out of my system, I’m ready to see Zack Snyder’s “version” of the “original” Justice League movie with a propped-open mind. If it’s at least as good as the 1997 movie, I’ll be… vaguely content. As Mel Brooks sang, “Hope for the best…”

Brainiac On Banjo #106: “Be Original?”

Brainiac On Banjo #106: “Be Original?”

Having spent the better part of my life in the comic book field – define “better” as you wish – one might think that I wouldn’t be so hung up on originality. After all, when it comes to those companies big enough to hoist a catalog, for 60 years now the orders of the day have been “reboot, relaunch, revise, and retread.”

Those are my words and not those of any marketing whiz. I am reminded of one of the medium’s great intellectual property redevelopers, editor Julius Schwartz. His nickname was “B.O. Schwartz.” The “B.O.” part stood for “Be Original.”

But, for the purpose of this treatise, let’s put aside four-color history and, instead, let’s talk about television. Or streaming. Or whatever we’ll wind up calling what’s been flickering between those programming arms on either side of the big glass teat.

Take a good look at some of the new fodder that’s been appearing on the boob tube the past decade and what’s in the pipeline for the immediate future, and you’ll see the orders of the day are now “reboot, relaunch, revise, and retread.” Why? Because it’s worked so well for comics?

Nudging aside my sarcasm (no easy feat), look at some of the recent programming options we have been given in the fantasy drama field. We find the reassembled return of Walker, Hawaii 5-0, MacGyver, Star Trek The Red Shirt Years, Doctor Who, Battlestar: Galactica, Superman, and many others that walk in the shoes of others. If it was once extremely popular and it wasn’t a western set in the old west, chances are it’s been or about to be rebooted, relaunched, revised, and retreaded. A new coat of paint and you’ve got yourself a franchise.

So, what do we have in that ever-widening pipeline right now? Law and Order SUV Mach II. The return of Criminal Minds. Yellowstone The Prequel. CSI (OG). Even Frasier. One might quibble that the upcoming return of Sex and the City is not drama per se. I don’t have a fully informed opinion about that, but to the extent that I am aware that program has been dramatic and certainly quite fantasy-oriented.

I could offer the argument, one that was standard in the comics field until maybe the early 1970s, that there’s an audience turnover and thus, for today’s viewers, these revivals are something new. Except they are not. Television has been swimming in reruns since Ampex invented videotape recording in the 1950s. Just about everything broadcast on network television since their videotape recorder was first installed has been broadcast and rebroadcast ad infinitum ever since. DVDs gave all that another platform, digital television, and the decimal television stations have expanded that, and now streaming has turned such accessibility into an ocean of nostalgia.

(A digression: the history of Ampex, which heavily involves Bing Crosby, Les Paul, and Ray Dolby, is quite interesting to those so inclined, as well as to those who have worked for ABC-TV during the past 60 years.)

Ampex-AVR-2-Quad-TVR

I’m not suggesting that all these reboots suck, or even most of them. But there’s no catharsis in “been there, done that.” It used to be each market had between three and five television outlets; today the only restraints are bandwidth and speed (both are increasing) and the consumer’s willingness to subscribe. That creates a lot of opportunity for all sorts of stuff, and there is more good stuff on “television” than one could have been imagined back when FCC commissioner Newton Minow called the medium a “vast wasteland” in 1961.

Nonetheless, Julie Schwartz’s admonition to “be original” is just as valid today as it was back in the day. If watching images float rapidly as viewed between our toes continues to be a thing, it is impossible to offer enough originality.

Sorry, Stabler. I’d rather see a bit more innovation.

Brainiac On Banjo #105: The Fat Lady No Longer Sings [UPDATED]

Brainiac On Banjo #105: The Fat Lady No Longer Sings [UPDATED]

This past Monday, Dallas Mavericks maverick owner Mark Cuban decided to enact a policy he committed do a year ago: he stopped playing the American national anthem before home games. Evidently, since that moment nobody’s dick has fallen off.

Of course, Cuban’s obvious communist affiliations came to light a few years ago when he supported athletes who took a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner. Funny how that works: had he implemented the decision to shit-can Francis Scott Key at that time, the loony-right might have promoted him as a proto-Proud Boogaloo Boy.

There’s a phrase in common usage: “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings.” If you are unfamiliar with its roots, well, it’s not about body shaming. It refers to Brünnhilde’s aria that ends Richard Wagner’s 15-hour long opera Der Ring des Nibelungen. Generally speaking, a woman of rather large dimensions is cast as the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, although the true culturally elite more likely recognize the part as played by Bugs Bunny in Warner Bros’ 1957 masterpiece “What’s Opera Doc?” Bugs is neither a female soprano nor of rather large proportions.

A bit closer to the point, in some circles the phrase can refer to the singer who came out at the end of various British entertainments to close out the show with “God Save The Queen.” More recently, Monty Python replaced this with a slide that urges those who attended their live performance to “piss off.”

Which is what Mark Cuban did. What the hell does the playing of the national anthem have to do with the playing of professional sports? Why is that considered patriotic? It’s a gathering of temporarily gifted athletes who have signed indentured servant agreements with insanely rich people who conflate team ownership with the size of their respective penises.

Hmmm. Wait. Maybe that is the American Way after all.

After Cuban performed his act of sacrilege, NBA spokesman Tim Frank told the Associated Press “Under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.” I would not want to play against Mr. Frank in a game of Dodgeball.

Nonetheless, some said Cuban’s move “disrespected the nation.” I beg to differ. I believe the opposite is true. Do we play The Star-Spangled Banner when firefighters show up to battle a four-alarmer? Not usually. Podcaster Ben Shapiro asked if they would play the Chinese national anthem instead, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is as dumb as shit. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #105: The Fat Lady No Longer Sings [UPDATED]”

Brainiac On Banjo #104: The Great Buck Rogers War!

Brainiac On Banjo #104: The Great Buck Rogers War!

For more than three decades now, “people” have been trying to figure out what to do with Buck Rogers, America’s first major science-fiction hero. Buck, then named Anthony, first appeared in Philip Francis Nowlan’s novella “Armageddon 2419 A.D., as published in the August 1928 issue of Amazing Stories magazine. The story was noticed by National Newspaper Service syndicate president John F. Dille, who hired Nowlan to turn it into the first major science-fiction newspaper comic strip. The strip debuted on January 7th of the following year, some six months after the initial pulp magazine appearance.

Buck Rogers was a hit. An enormous number of merchandising and licensing deals ensued and Buck was seen in toy stores, a movie serial (starring Buster Crabbe), a radio serial, several television shows, and comic books. The other newspaper syndicates jumped on the Buckwagon, offering us Brick Bradford, Don Dixon, Drift Marlo, Space Cadet, and the spaceman whose fortunes eclipsed them all, Flash Gordon. Buster Crabbe starred in the three Flash Gordon serials as well.

As the realities of the real space program captured the world’s attention, spaceman stories began to look naïve; their sense of wonder was co-opted by reality. Buck’s adventures were drawn by some truly top-notch artists, including Frank Frazetta, Howard Chaykin, George Tuska, Gray Morrow, and Murphy Anderson, following in the footsteps of the originating artists, Dick Calkins, Russell Keaton and Rick Yager, but by the time we tossed beer cans on the moon Buck was but a cultural memory. A vaguely successful television series started up in 1979 and lasted two years.

This has not kept people from trying to bring Buck back. Not at all. But such efforts were hampered by recent lawsuits claiming Buck Rogers had lapsed into the public domain. The Dille Family Trust had gone blooie, and a judge ruled they were not eligible for bankruptcy relief.

After three years of listening to the crickets chirp, Legendary Entertainment said they were doing a movie, and Flint Dille, an accomplished television writer and grandson of John Dille, got on board. Brian K. Vaughan is writing the script. And, lo and behold, George Clooney is an executive producer — prompting rumors that George would play the lead. As much as I like Clooney, this is nearly laughable. Dr. Huer, the not-mad scientist of the series, would be more acceptable but I doubt George is likely to shave his head for the part. Bill Murray might, but he rarely returns phone calls. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #104: The Great Buck Rogers War!”

Brainiac On Banjo #103: So You Want To Be An Editor!

Brainiac On Banjo #103: So You Want To Be An Editor!

Stan Lee and Roy Thomas

So… do you really want to be an editor? A comics editor? Really?

Why?

Seeing as how I’ve been editing lots of different stuff (newspapers, magazines, books, broadcast stuff, and a whole lot of comics) since President Johnson thought he was a shoo-in for a second term, I guess I’ve learned a thing or two about the job. I’ve come to that point in my life where I’m ready to share. I figure I’m no longer grooming any competition.

Here’s just a few of the skills you need for the job:

Marvel Editors 2017

1) A deep, ongoing desire to be eternally satisfied with struggling to make ends meet. Publishing is an iffy racket on its best day, and that was before anybody with an internet connection and a self-serving sense of ethics could download whatever they want without paying for it. Maybe someday that will change, maybe Russia will want to better monetize bootlegging, but right now the only gold in them thar hills is writing this piece.

2) You are a control freak. Honestly, it’s the gist of the job. I have tried to avoid being a control freak when I’m not on the clock, but, hey, white-collar workers work home from time to time. There’s a fine line between being a control freak and being an asshole, but as an editor, your superiors are going to put you into the position of being one lest you lose your job. After a while — but before I got into comics — I discovered that finding out exactly where that line in the sand is can be enormous fun, but my sense of entertainment is very anti-corporate.

3) You enjoy being in the middle of a lot of shit storms. If you’re the type of person who watches those camera people on The Weather Channel chase tornados and wonders who in their right mind would want to do that, editing is not the best career move you can make. Taking comics as my example — after all, that’s what I said in my lede paragraph — let me explain why a comics editor titled one of his creations “The Human Target.”

Will Eisner

Your job is to represent the interests of the company and all its contradictory and ever-shifting needs and practices to the talent. Because there is nothing more fun than owning a condo in the crossfire, if you have any sense of ethics your job also is to represent the needs and skills of the talent to the publisher, which includes the master of editorial, the master of marketing, the masters of art direction, the master of production, the grand-master publisher, the owners, their board of directors and the Grand Invisible Cop-Out, the stockholders. Oh, and the lawyers. Everybody’s lawyers.

(Fun fact: even lawyers dislike lawyers.)

Let’s make this even more interesting. Your job is to represent the needs and the skills of the talent to the needs of the other talented people working on the project. Let me remind you, I used the phrase “shit storms” in the plural. When it comes to creative vision, not everybody’s always on the same page. I’ve had to referee a great many such disputes, and, no, I am not going to rat out the perps. Talent is driven by ego, so what do you expect? It’s Chinatown, Mr. Gittes. But I’m just childish enough to note that the better the creative team is and the longer they’ve worked together, the more likely such conflicts will pop up like zits before a teenage orgy.

Chances are, you, as an editor, will be involved in several different projects at the same time. Let’s say you are handling five different projects, which might even be reasonable. Multiply everything I just said by five.

Now, let’s say you are a full editor and you’ve got an assistant and/or an associate editor or maybe several of them. Perhaps you’ve been around for a while and instead of offering you more money, which they probably don’t have, they make you a group editor or a senior editor or a master-of-Kung-editor and you’ve got several editors working under you… and they’ve got their own assistances and associates. Maybe you share a proofreader and other support staff. We used to have photocopy kids which, in many cases, was the only way to observe and learn the craft. Now that we have all these computers and scanners and wi-fi, these folks pretty much have gone the way of the buggy whip. Yeah, you might have to Google that. Anyway, managing all those folks is also a part of the job. What, you wanted to make friends?

So. Does all that sound like a barrel of monkeys? Well, life always is better with a monkey. There’s got to be a reason I’ve been doing this for decades, but at least it helps explain how I developed my warped worldview.

If you’re still with me, you’ve made it past your first hurdle. Congratulations. Continue following this series, the second part of which just might appear in this space next week.

But maybe not next week. The biggest hurdle you’re going to have to leap, every day of your career is what Marvel Comics long ago called the “dreaded deadline doom.” It is inescapable, and if it didn’t exist “they” wouldn’t need to hire you. I’ve got a way to train yourself to handle that, but I’ll hold that as bait.

Which is another stupid editor trick.

© 2020 Mike Gold – ArrogantMGMS. Watch your ass!

Brainiac On Banjo #102: Will Wonder Woman Destroy Life As We Know It?

Brainiac On Banjo #102: Will Wonder Woman Destroy Life As We Know It?

The answer to my headlined query is “yes, but don’t blame it on her.”

In eight days or so, I suspect the majority of Pop Culture Squadsters will be plopping our quarantined asses on our couches and watching Wonder Woman 1984. We might be eating microwaved popcorn and chomping the heads off of gummy bears. Some will be bitching about how they miss the magnificence of the shoebox movie theaters out by the Applebee’s, and to these folks I mutter the immortal words of William Shatner: Get a life!

Movie theaters were puking up blood long before The Joker weaponized Covid-19. The whole idea behind the contemporary movie theater was to motivate people into driving 10 miles, parking in a lot and walking 3500 icy feet to a gaudy poster-laden building, wrestling with an obstinate ticket machine and a debit card to ransom the tickets for which you’ve already paid, standing in a ridiculously long line to procure a 55-gallon drum of soda pop and a vat of popcorn upon which somebody hosed glow-in-the-dark oil, maneuver all that into the one theater out of maybe two dozen that is showing your movie in the format you paid for and juggle your way into your assigned seat, which, of course, is right behind the one occupied by The Incredible Hulk.

(Fun Fact: Those ever-rotating hot dogs at the candy counter? Yup, you’re absolutely right. They have been twirling in vain since Jimmy Carter announced his presidential run. I wouldn’t bite into that shit if it was sprayed with the Covid vaccine.)

Portal to portal, including gas, you’ve blown your kids’ college fund on a night out which, in December 2020, might kill you. Remember the good old days when all you had to worry about was getting an STD?

Yeah, I’m not a fan of the multiplex movie theater. I love seeing movies with a bunch of my friends. If some asshole is talking in my home theater, most likely that asshole is me. But with 65-inch 5K televisions now available in boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, I can invite those same folks to my home to watch a streamer and charge less than half the theater rate for well-greased popcorn.

There’s lots of stuff from my youth that I miss. Restaurants that aren’t themed. Bars with less than a half dozen television sets all tuned to El Ocho. Cars with fins. Parking meters. Lime Lifesavers. Glittering movie palaces that inspire awe and put you in the mood for magic. The only thing these shoebox theaters give me, aside from a maxed-out credit card, is the thrill of listening to two movies at once to the light of dumb people’s smartphones.

So, now, the theater chains are screaming about streaming. I get it: their future is on the line, and that sucks. Pardon me if I’m just a bit more concerned about the neighborhood bars and other family-owned businesses that do not force me to go to a nearly-abandoned shopping mall where three of the four anchors went blooie because Macy’s doesn’t understand that buying up the local department store chains undermines the shopping experience.

Like I said, times change. Geriatrics bitch about how great the good old days used to be, and we’re often right about that. Childhood experiences are habit-forming. But tomorrow’s good old days will look a lot like a big parking lot that houses a Best Buy, a Denny’s, a Costco, a Pizza Hut, and maybe a Bed, Bath and Beyond. You know, the folks who are keeping the postal service alive.

Before you know it, the streamers will have gone the way of Blockbuster. They will have been replaced by something else. I’m hoping for that phone company brain implant chip predicted in 1967 in that truly wonderful movie, The President’s Analyst.

You probably can catch The President’s Analyst on one of the streamers.