Saturday, September 10, 2005


Anyone who knows me knows that there was a story in this week's news that I just have to comment on in my blog.
Bob Denver was not a great actor. I'm not even sure you could call him a good one.
But he was lucky.
Lucky to have found a role that was perfect for him and for which he was perfect.
(Can you believe Sherwood Schwartz actually offered the role to Jerry Van Dyke first?)
His Gilligan struck a sympathetic chord with me and millions of other children and I still, at age forty, find something to identify with in a little boy trapped in the body of an adult.
Y'know what's kind of weird? On Friday the 2nd, the day Denver died, I spent most of the day watching Gilligan's Island (I have the DVD set of the 1st season).

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Fall TV Preview

In this column I seek to remind our readers that the approaching autumnal season holds many things to look forward to, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, the kids going back to school, and the new network TV shows. OK, so there might not be a whole to look forward to in that last category, but based on the on-air promos and descriptions from the networks' web sites, I've managed to come up with a short list of highlights; or at the very least a list of upcoming shows that probably won't make me regret my decision to cancel my cable TV subscription for at least the half hour to an hour that they're on.
The two dominant templates in hour long dramas this season appear to be CSI and The X-Files. Crack teams of elite investigators and supernatural conspiracies abound. ABC is even offering up a remake of TV's seminal supernatural drama, The Night Stalker. In sitcoms, the emerging trend is autobiography, as stars of stage, screen and kitchen craft sitcoms based on their lives before they became famous.
The one oasis of originality is NBC's my Name Is Earl, which stars Jason Lee of The Incredibles and Chasing Amy fame as a lowlife loser attempting to make up for all the bad things he's done in his life. He does this by making a list of all the people he's wronged and attempting, one at a time, to make it up to them by helping them get their own lives together. If the promos are any indication, I think this could not only be the best new sitcom of this season, but the best one we've seen in quite a few years. Another interesting development on the peacock network concerns a casting change in one of its long running crime dramas as Chris Noth returns to the role that launched his career, Detective Mike Logan, on Law and Order: Criminal Intent.
Fox's Reunion could perhaps be described as a reverse 24. Instead of stretching one day out across the entire season, Reunion compresses two decades into twenty episodes as it follows a group of high school friends from their mid-80's graduation to the present day. The first episode begins in 2005 at a funeral for one of the friends, but just whose funeral won't be revealed until the end of the season.
Also on Fox, Kitchen Confidential is based on the memoirs of Chef Anthony Bourdain, currently the star of the Travel Channel series No Reservations. In the series, Jack Bourdain is a down on his luck chef given one last chance when he is hired as head chef at a top New York restaurant. I can see this series appealing to fans of Bourdain's cable show, as well as those who enjoyed the "reality" series The Restaurant and/or the Britcom Chef.
Not coincidentally, CBS, the network of CSI, is the one relying most on CSI clones. The most promising of the new crop would seem to be Criminal Minds, if only because it stars Mandy Patinkin, late of Chicago Hope. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Patinkin's going to have much chance to sing on his new show, which is a shame because he is a great singer with a truly beautiful voice. Meanwhile, the newest addition to the eye network's venerable Monday night comedy block is How I Met Your Mother, a romantic comedy featuring Doogie Howser and the lesbian witch from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (also known as Neil Patrick Harris and Allison Hannigan).
Finding something to recommend on ABC's schedule this year is an almost futile task, but the best bet looks to be Freddy, starring Freddie Prinze, Jr. and reportedly based on his life.
For the first time since it went on the air a dozen years ago, UPN begins the new season without a Star Trek series in its lineup. The mini-network's other signature franchise, WWE: Smackdown, however, is still going strong and will no doubt continue to do so even after it moves to Friday nights this season. The contender among their new shows is Everybody Hates Chris, featuring Saturday Night Live alumnus Chris Rock's account of his formative years. Whether this show will become as popular as the one its title parodies, Everybody Loves Raymond, remains to be seen, but with Rock behind it the chances are good that it will be a darn sight funnier.
On the WB, the thing I am most looking forward to is Luke's response to Lorelei's out-of-the-blue proposal of marriage that closed out the fifth season finale of Gilmore Girls. (For my thoughts on that episode, and how I feel Luke should answer, check out my entry “Finale Fever”) The frog network's most promising new series is Twins, a sitcom from the creators of Will and Grace, which begins its final season over on NBC this month. Their latest effort features Roseanne's Sara Gilbert and Molly Stanton as fraternal twin sisters, one of whom is a genius and the other a ditzy super-model. Melanie Griffith and "Cousin Larry", a.k.a Mark Linn Baker, formerly of ABC's Perfect Strangers, round out the cast.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

BB6 Update: Come back to us, Kaysar

Well, I just went to the CBS site and voted to bring Kaysar back into the house. You know from my previous entry how I feel about Eric, and I think Michael is likely to be more focused on avenging his previous eviction than playing the game to win.
Also, remember how Howie yelled Kaysar's name when he won HOH. It seems that he and his allies are in danger of making the same kind of martyred leader out of Kaysar that Eric has become to the rest of the house. Obviously, the way to keep Kaysar from being a martyr is to bring him back to life, so to speak.
Now, it's obvious to me that Howie has to nominate Maggie and that's she got to be the one to go this Thursdsay, due to the, hopefully slim, chance that Eric could come back. They broke that couple up once and now thaey've got to make sure they stay broken up. I think he should also nominate Ivette just to make her sweat for a couple of days and let her know that she is a target and is going to have to fight to stay in the house.
If Howie nominates Maggie and either Ivette or April or Jennifer, I think the vote on Thursday will be 5-2 to dump Maggie, with Rachel, Janelle, James, and Sarah voting to lose her, as well as the partner of the other nominee, who won't want to vote themself out of a potential half million dollars if they and their partner survive to the end.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

BB 6 Update: Eric's Got Ta Go!

The 2nd live eviction on this summer's edition of Big Brother was held on Thursday, and, in what was pretty much a foregone conclusion, Michael got the old heave-ho with only one person, most likely Kayser, his "secret partner", voting to boot Janelle.
The good news is that after the vote, Kayser won the Head of Household competition. I was praying that either he or Janelle would get the power, and I hope he can see that he has to nominate Eric. And once he does, he needs to make the other houseguests see why the "midget", as Michael called him, has to GO, and go now. The air of tension in the house that nearly erupted into violence, as seen on Tuesday's show, was entirely the byproduct of Eric's overzealous campaign to insure Michael's eviction by turning the entire house against him, and the near fight was a result of Eric's temper and violent nature. Kayser has to put Eric on the block and make his housemates see that the "midget" is a threat; not in the game sense, but in a very real, physical sense. If the houseguests don't send Eric home next Thursday, then the producers are going to have to step in and do it before too long. Heck, on BB 4, Scott got sent home before the first eviction by the producers for behavior less menacing than Eric's during what the houseguests now refer to as "the Incident".
Perhaps Kayser should put Jennifer up against him. Everyone seems to like her and not consider her any kind of threat, so nominating her would probably insure that Eric goes home.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

An Ode to the Brave; An Elegy for the Bold

You'll have to bear with me here, readers, as this is going to be a tough column for me to write. I've always had difficulty in publicly, or even privately, expressing emotion. Except for anger. Oh, yeah, tick me off and you'll know about it, brother. But the emotions I'm struggling with today, a mix of sadness and gratitude upon learning of the death of comic artist Jim Aparo, who passed away on July 19, are a bit more complex and harder to put into words. The sadness, of course, comes from the fact that this immensely talented artist is no longer with us, while the gratitude is for the world that he, along with writer Bob Haney, who himself passed on last November, helped to introduce me to in the pages of The Brave and The Bold, a comic that teamed the Batman with a different super-hero in each issue. That world is what was back then only beginning to be referred to as the DC Universe, the land of fantasy and adventure where Batman, Superman and the like live out their many adventures, and B&B was my first portal into it.
I remember the first time I saw Aparo's art. It was B&B #128, which teamed Batman with super escape artist Mister Miracle. This was also the first time I'd seen Mister Miracle, and, in truth, the first time I'd seen Batman. The real Batman, I should say. Sure, I'd seen the Adam West sitcom Batman of the mid 60's, as well as the old Filmation cartoons and Superfriends, but the Batman I met in the pages of B&B was different and I knew just by looking at him that this is the way the Caped Crusader was meant to be. This Batman would never say, as the Superfriends imposter once did, something as ridiculous as "Let us hie ourselves to the lab, post-haste!" No, this Batman was a grim, determined, tough talking and tough acting urban crime fighter. What impressed me most was the look of the character as rendered by Aparo. This guy was freaking HUGE, totally unlike the slightly flabby West, with a long, flowing cape and improbably long and pointy bat-ears springing from his cowl, all drawn in Aparo's stunningly life-like style that made this Batman seem more real to me than even the live action series.
In subsequent issues of B&B, Batman, through the auspices of Haney and Aparo, introduced me to a pantheon of heroes that included the Metal Men, elemental robots with all too human personalities; size changing physicist Ray Palmer, more widely known as the Atom; the mysterious Creeper, the sexy, fishnet stocking clad heroine Black Canary, and a character who would eventually take Batman's place as my favorite super-hero, Green Arrow; and many others. Eventually, I would follow these characters into other comics, such as Justice League of America, World's Finest Comics, Adventure Comics and others, and a life-long love affair with super-heroes was begun.
In B&B #98, the first issue of the magazine that he illustrated, Jim provided readers with a brief autobiography, stating that he began drawing by copying from comic books when he was eight and sick in bed. He grew up studying art and desiring to be a cartoonist, but was at first unable to find work in comics and spent a decade working in advertising, until Dick Giordano hired him to draw for Charlton Comics. When Giordano left Charlton for industry leader DC Comics, Aparo was one of the many Charlton talents who followed. Over the next three decades he would draw just about every DC character, both in B&B and as illustrator of such features as Aquaman, the Spectre, the Phantom Stranger and Deadman. However, it is Batman with which he is most closely associated, both because of his long association with the character and his distinctive depiction of the Dark Knight. Besides B&B, Aparo chronicled Batman's adventures in the Caped Crusader’s self-titled comic, as well as Detective Comics and Batman Family. After B&B ended its lengthy run with its 200th issue, Aparo and writer Mike W. Barr created Batman and the Outsiders, which found Batman as leader, mentor and teacher to a team of heroes made-up of Barr/Aparo creations such as Geo-Force, Katana and Halo and older, but relatively obscure, characters Black Lightning and Metamorpho. Aparo ended his career in the mid 90's with a run on a character that he and Haney had first introduced me to two decades earlier: Green Arrow.
Though not a writer, Aparo was nonetheless one of the most gifted visual storytellers in comics. He excelled at communicating, without the aid of captions or dialogue, exactly what the story was with clarity all but unmatched by any artist before or since. A perfect example of this is a totally wordless story that appeared in the first issue of a late 70's revival of the science-fiction anthology comic Mystery In Space, which remains the finest story of that type I have ever seen. Additionally, he who did everything; penciling, inking and even lettering his own pages, which served to give any book he worked a truly distinctive look.
I said at the outset that this would be a hard column to write and so it has proven. Even harder than expressing my emotions at Jim Aparo's passing has been trying to summarize his long and distinguished career in a couple of paragraphs. After all, I haven't even mentioned his and Haney's greatest and oddest B&B story, "Small War of the Super-Rifles" in #124, which teamed Batman with World War II hero Sgt. Rock to battle terrorists threatening Gotham City and featured in prominent roles the B&B creative team themselves; Haney, Aparo and editor Murray Boltinoff. Heck, even if I had enough space to describe this delightful but bizarre story, I could never do it justice. That's one you'll just have to read for yourself.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tuesday Night On The Boob Tube

Y'know, it's been a joke for as long there've been VCRs that they are hard to program. A standard joke is that a person can't even figure out how to make the clock stop blinking 12:oo. And taping one show while watching another is supposed to be nearly impossible. Maybe this was true in the 1980's when the devices were new and all the bugs had yet to be worked out of the technology, but now if an anachronism such as myself can do it, then anyone should be able to.
And tonight, I shall, in fact, be taping one show whilst watching another, as the 2005 World Series of Poker is on opposite Big Brother 6. I'll watch BB and tape WSOP, so that I can study the tape and learn how to become a better poker player. And maybe I'll be able to spot the total unknown who's going to come out of left field to win the Main Event, in the tradition of last year's winner Greg Raymer and 2003's Chris Moneymaker, who walked into a casino for the first time in his life and walked out with 2.5 million dollars.
One note on BB: BB3's Marsalis remains, three years after leaving the BB house, one of the most popular houseguests ever to contend for the half million dollar prize. I am wondering if the producers, in casting this year's houseguests, made a conscious decision to try and duplicate Marsalis' popularity by casting Beau: another bald, black gay man.
Anyway, I'll have further things to say about both contests later in the week.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


I know I promised Big Brother 6 updates, and the show's been on for one week already....
I'll start next Friday after the next eviction.
Unfortunately, I missed last night's show. So I've got to post this quick and get over to the CBS site and see who Eric (the 2nd HOH) nominated

Does Anyone Else Find This Appalling?

Apparently the quaint old fashioned idea of "respect for the dead" has absolutely no meaning to the producer of Survivor and other so-called "reality" shows.
I'm speaking, of course, of Mark Burnett's latest spectacle, Rock Star:INXS.
I can understand the members of 80's sensation INXS wanting to find a new lead singer and make a comeback, but doing it in a televised talent show complete with audience voting via internet seems less about finding a new singer for INXS than about finding big ratings for CBS, and it strikes me as incredibly tacky not to mention disprectful of the memory of original INXS singer Michael Hutchence.
Having said that, however, I hope Deanna wins. She has an incredibly sexy voice (matching everything else about her) and her rendition of the Clash song "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" ablsolutely rocked! I would buy an INXS album (or any group's album) with her singing.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Answer

A couple of weeks ago (June 10 to be precise) I wrote that I couldn't remember the name of the college from the movie Animal House and that it was driving me nuts. Well, this week one of my readers (most probably my only reader) e-mailed and said she believed it was Faber College. So I went and did what I probably should have done in the first place: I looked it up on The Internet Movie Data Base, and it turns out that she was correct.
Thanks, Maria. Now I can sleep at night (or could if I didn't drink so much blasted coffee.)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

What I Won't Be Doing This Weekend

Just outside the 'brary where I do my bloggin', is a sign advertising a Garage Sale on Saturday and promising "No Junk" Well, if that's the case, then I won't be going to that sale. Hell, the whole reason to go to garage sales is to buy junk.....I've picked up lots of cool junk at garage sales, including a K-Tel Record Selector that was one of my most prized possessions. I'd always wanted one of those things. Of course, I'd always wanted a Ronco Pocket Fisherman, too, and I don't even fish.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Name's Pennyworth; Alfred Pennyworth

So, Batman Begins opened this week....I have not seen it yet. Some firiends were going yesterday afternoon, but I had a niece's birthday party to attend.
Anyway, I hear it's good, and that Michael Caine does a fine job as Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne's loyal butler...But you know who I think would be perfect for the role of Alfred: Sean Connery. A few years ago, I picked up Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk, written by Len Wein and drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (one of my all time favorite comic artists, by the way. I might pick up The Return of Donna Troy just to see the art, which features Garcia-Lopez pencils inked by George Preez. I bet it'll be gorgeous) , and there a couple of panels of Alfred in close-up that look exactly like Connery. I wonder if Garcia-Lopez used him as a model. Anyway, since seeing that I've always felt Sean Connery should take a crack at Alfred. (Or maybe if they did a Dark Knight type of film some day soon, he could play the aging Batman himself)

So What's the Problem, exactly?

An article in Monday's Columbus Dispatch Life section chronicles the rise of "product placement" in so-called "reality" shows such as The Apprentice and American Idol. It is a trend that some "media experts" view with alarm. Here's a quote:
Media experts and consumer advocates, however, have a less-flattering name for the idea — ‘‘stealth advertising," which they even call a possible health hazard....
‘‘Programs like The Apprentice and American Idol deal in dishonest or stealth advertising that sneaks by our critical faculties and plants its message when we’re not paying attention," said Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert. ‘‘What is American Idol but an infomercial for Coca-Cola? And studies have shown that kids who drink too much cola are at risk of becoming obese."
This left me thininking: "What's the big freakin' deal?" After all, this "trend" is nothing new....Most "reality" shows are based on contests--they're really little more than amped up game shows, and game shows have been doing this type of thing since the inception of the form. Sponsors donate products to be given away as prizes in return for "promotional consideration"....aka advertisements for the products. The most blatant "offender" is The Price Is Right, which is, and has been for more than three decades now, little more than an hour long commercial in which a parade of products are trotted out on stage, then described in loving detail by whomever has taken over for the late Rod Roddy, and finally "bid" on by little old ladies who think Bob Barker is the sexiest man alive.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Nothin' To Do?

I have this friend who is constantly whining to me that "There's nothing to do in this town." Usually, I just roll my eyes. It seems to me like a text book case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. Having been born and raised here in Columbus, my friend is missing what's been right of his face all along. I, on the other hand, come from a small Western Pennsylvania town where the population is barely in double digits and half of them are well over retirement age. In another small Pennsylvania town where I resided for the longest year of my life, the most popular activity in town was loitering. Walk through the town on any given night and the sidewalks would be clogged with dozens of small clusters of people young and old just standing around as if waiting for something--anything--interesting to happen. So, I know from "nothing to do."
In America's fifteenth largest city, which Columbus happens to be, there's plenty to do, especially in the summer months. There are festivals, concerts and a lot more, most of them suitable for the entire family and many of them free. What follows is by no means a comprehensive list; with the limited space I have there's no way it could be, but it'll give me something to whack my friend in the back of the head with the next time he moans that there's nothing to do in this town.
Let's start with the festivals. By the time this sees print, we'll have already seen, in May and early June, the Columbus Arts Festival, the Columbus Culture Festival, the Asian Festival, and the Columbus Rose Festival, as well as both a Summerfest and a Springfest (in that order, interestingly). But there's plenty more to look forward to throughout the remainder of the summer, right up to Labor Day weekend. All of these events feature great food, free music, and a wide range of activities, and most are free to get into.
Festival Latino, billed as the Midwest's largest Latino festival outside of Chicago, celebrates it tenth annual show Friday June 17th and Saturday the18th, running from noon to midnight each day. Juneteenth, a celebration commemorating the end of slavery in 1865, rounds out the weekend on Sunday the 19th at Franklin Park.
The final weekend in June, Friday the 24th through Sunday the 26th, once again sees Goodale Park and surrounding streets taken over by the Granddaddy of Columbus Festivals, The Community Festival, more popularly known as Comfest.
The first weekend in July is, as every American knows, Independence Day weekend and features a wide range of parades, fireworks and celebrations. A list of some local Independence Day celebrations follow this article. The big one is Red, White & Boom, the "largest fireworks display in the Midwest"--with no qualifier exempting Chicago. In addition to fireworks, there'll be a parade and a whole day of live entertainment and activities. Red, White & Boom takes place on the Riverfront Downtown on Friday, July 1st. The city of Dublin's Independence Day celebration takes place on Monday the 4th at Dublin Coffman High School and features a parade, fireworks, and a concert by Huey Lewis and The News at 8:15.
For something different--very different--check out the always irreverent Doo-Dah Parade, winding its way through the Short North at around 1:00 on Monday afternoon.
But Independence Day is just the beginning, as the festivals and celebrations continue throughout the month of July. The following weekend, Saturday and Sunday July 9th and 10th, the Westerville Music & Arts Festival takes place at Heritage Park and Everal Barn. Saturday the 23rd brings the Lazy Daze of Summer Festival on the lawn and streets surrounding the Grandview Heights Public Library. That same weekend, Friday, July 22nd through Sunday the 24th, the Jazz and Rib Fest features just what its name says, and plenty of both.
August looks pretty quiet on the festival front, with the exception of the Dublin Irish Festival, which takes place the 5th trough the 7th at Coffman Park. This gives you a couple of weeks to rest up for the Greek Festival on Labor Day Weekend, Friday September 2 through Monday September 4th, on the grounds of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Downtown Columbus. The festival features Greek food and music and tours of the cathedral. There is a $4.00 admission fee which gets you a ticket good for all four days.
For music lovers, in addition to these festivals there is a variety of summer concert series featuring all types of music. The Short North Sunday Jazz Series kicks off July 10th at noon at the Gazebo in Goodale Park. Music In The Air sponsors these free concerts as well as a series of concerts at the Topiary Garden in Old Deaf School Park on Tuesday afternoons through out July and August, and Rhythm On the River at the River Amphitheatre Downtown on July 29.
The gazebo at the Whetstone Park of Roses is home to the North Columbus Civitan Club Summer Concert Series Sunday nights at 7 pm throughout the summer.
The Grandview Heights Public Library presents Music On The Lawn Tuesday afternoons.
Free concerts, food, games, and a kickball league on the Statehouse lawn are the highlights of Party On State, Thursdays from 5:30 until 8:30 pm at 65 East Sate Street.
The Columbus Symphony Orchestra brings back its popular Picnic With The Pops series on the lawn of Chemical Abstract Services, kicking off on Saturday, June 25 with Wynonna (nee Judd). Gates open at 6:00 and the concerts begin at 8:15. Picnic With The Pops will do its part to celebrate Independence Day with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra and Patriotic Pops on Saturday, July 2nd.
Okay, so maybe you're sick of music and want to see a play. Actor's Theatre continues its summer tradition of free performance at German Village's Schiller Park Thursdays through Sundays throughout the summer. They present Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen Of Verona until June 19. Much Ado About Love begins on June 23 and continues through July 10. On July 14, Romeo and Juliet begins a run that lasts through August 7, and She Stoops To Conquer rounds out the season from August 11 to September 4.
So far, everything I've listed takes place outdoors under the hot summer sun. If you feel like sitting in air conditioned comfort watching a classic film in a beautiful old theatre while listening to organ music before the show and during intermission, then the CAPA Summer Movie Series is for you. Movies are shown at the Ohio Theatre Downtown with tickets costing $3.50 each or $21.50 for a strip of ten. The series kicked off on June 10th with Billy Wilder's comedy classic Some Like It Hot. Some other highlights of the series include the Beatles in A Hard Day's Night; Animal Crackers with the Marx Brothers; It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the 1963 slapstick comedy featuring a boatload of comic stars in a chase for a quarter million dollars hidden under a "Big W"; Mel Brooks' classic satire on Western movies and racism, Blazing Saddles; and Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady. The series wraps up on July 23 with James Cameron's Oscar winning epic, Titanic.
This past winter was a rough time for sports fans here in Columbus, with the National Hockey League lock-out forcing the cancellation of the Blue Jackets' entire season. But summer is here now and the seasons of soccer's Columbus Crew and minor league baseball team The Clippers are in full swing, and should be enough to tide sports fans over until the real show, Buckeyes Football, starts up again in the fall.
Of course, I can't end this piece without mentioning The Ohio State Fair, taking place at the Ohio State Fairgrounds, naturally, from August 3rd through the 14th. As always, there'll be rides, games and food that that you would never ordinarily consider deep frying mounted on sticks for your overeating convenience. There will also be several concerts, including some that are free with fair admission.
That's quite a list of activities to chose from in the coming weeks, and, as I predicted, I've only scratched the surface of all there is to do in town this summer. There certainly is not "nothing to do in this town."

For more information on the events covered in this article, check out these web-sites:

Dublin Irish Festival:
Grandview Heights Public (Lazy Daze of Summer Fest and Music on the Lawn):
Festival Latino:
Westerville Music and Arts Festival:
Party On State:
CAPA Summer Movie Series:
Picnic With The Pops:
Actor's Theatre:
Music In The Air (Short North Sunday Jazz Series; Concerts at Topiary Park; Rhythm On The River)
Greek Festival:
Red, White & Boom:
Columbus Crew:
Columbus Clippers:
Ohio State Fair:

Fourth of July Celebrations:
Fireworks-- 10 pm, July 4th; Wolfe Park
Fireworks-- 10 pm, July 4th; Yoctangee Park
Fireworks-- 10 pm, July 4th; Whetstone Park
Fireworks-- 10 pm, July 4th; Coshocton County Fairgrounds
Upper Arlington:
Fireworks-- Dark, July 4th; Northam Park
Fireworks-- 10 pm, July 4th; Northam Park
Worthington Hills:
Fireworks-- Dusk, July 4th; behind the Hills Market
Fireworks-- 10 pm, July 3rd; Thomas Worthington High School Football Stadium
New Albany:
Fireworks--9:45 pm, July 3rd; New Albany High School Stadium
Parade--11 am, July 4th
Fireworks-- 10 pm, July 4th; Victory Park
Parade-- 2 pm, July 4th
Fireworks-- Dusk, July 4th; Civic Park
Fireworks-- 10 pm, July 4th; Prospect Park
West Jefferson:
Parade-- 2 pm, July 2nd
Fireworks-- 10 pm, July 4th; Garrett Park
Fireworks-- 10 pm, July 4th; Gahanna Municipal Golf Course

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I Can't Ignore This Story, So here's my Michael Jackson piece

The Michael Jackson Death Watch has officially begun.
With the trial over, and a comeback highly unlikely, the next time the media (other than the Weekly World News, that is) will pay any attention to Jacko is when he dies. There's really nothing for him to do now but become like Charles Foster Kane, withdrawing into his palatial monument to his own hubris and dieing alone with no one around to hear his last utterance, which still somehow leaks to the media. (Seriously, have you ever noticed that in the beginning of Citizen Kane, there's no one else in the room to hear him say "Rosebud"? So how does that reporter get ahold of it? Actually, it's a minor flaw and doesn't keep Kane from being the 2nd best film ever----behind Casablanca, of course.)
Well, when I get majorly off topic like that, it's time to go.
Talk at you later.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Driving Me Crazy

What is the name of the college in Animal House? This came up during a conversation with my sister last night and now it's driving me crazy because even though I've seen the film something like two dozen times I cannot remember the name of the school. I've asked just about everyone I've seen today and, while just about everybody has seen the movie, nobody can remember where it takes place.
So--I ask my readers (if I actually have any): For the love of God, can you please tell me the name of the college in Animal House and let me get some sleep?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Internet Age of Instant Misinformation.

With a blog, you can get a piece of info and slap it up on the web in minutes, and sometimes it turns out not to be true. A week after I posted about about hearing on Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me! that the true "number of the beast" is 616--which also happened to be the area code of Ann Arbor, Michighan, a fact I used to make a crack about Buckeyes fans thinking the people up there were devils all along, Wait! Wait! corrected itself. The basic fact of the piece--that it's 616 instead of 666--is correct, but that's actually the area code of Grand Rapids, Michigan rather than Ann Arbor.
I'd apologize for any inconvenience, but I'm sure even fewer people actually read this blog than listen to public radio, so this correction is mainly to ease my own conscience.

Deep Who?

So, after all these years the identity of "Woodstein's" anonymous source, the infamous "Deep Throat", is finally revealed. And it turns out to be someone that almost no one has ever heard of. I suppose it had to be or else we probably would have known long before now. It's kind of disappointing, though, that it turned out to be an obscure bureaucrat at the FBI rather than someone well known inside the Nixon White House like Al Haig or John Dean.
One thing that did strike me while watching former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee on myriad news and interview programs discussing the revelation is what a great job the producers of the movie version of Woodward and Bernstein's book All The President's Men did in casting Jason Robards as Bradlee. Robards looked and sounded uncannily like the Post editor--almost as if he had been born to play that role.
And the slight, but noticeable, resemblance of Hal Holbrook ("Deep Throat" in the film) to W. Mark Felt (the real life "Deep Throat") is remarkable given that the movie's producers supposedly had no idea what "Deep Throat" looked like.
On the other hand, Bob Woodward is no Robert Redford--or vice versa, though Dustin Hoffman was a good physical match for Carl Bernstein.
Y'know--as someone just barely old enough to know where the name came from (though I've never seen the film) there's a certain naughty glee I'm taking in typing "Deep Throat" repeatedly.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Finale Fever

Ah, May--the time for the season finales of all out favorite shows. I happened to check out a couple this past week...
On Gilmore Girls, Lorelei asked Luke to marry her just as they faded to black until September. I think Luke should say "no"---or rather, "Ask me later." Sure, Luke obviously wants to marry her, as evidenced by his attempt to buy that house, but when she asked, Lorelei was feeling hurt and vulnerable---she felt she'd been betrayed by her parents and, even worse, by Rory. They both need to step back before they do something they'll regret later.
The next night was the Law & Order season ender. I haven't kept up with the new episodes of L&O---for the past couple of years I've just been waiting until the following autumn when they go into rotation on TNT--so when I watched Wednesday night's episode, I barely recognized anyone. In the space of one season, they've replaced half the cast. That's a little extreme, even in a show known for its ever-changing ensemble.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Speaking of Final Episodes...

.....I totally forgot about the finale of Enterprise Friday night. I wanted to see that. I hear from someone who did see it that the rumors I'd heard were true and the whole series was revealed to be a holodeck simulation on the 24th century Enterprise. Geez....
Paramount was basically admitting that the series had been a bad idea from the start and they truly were out of ideas for the Trek franchise (except to do a high-tech rip-off of the St. Elsewhere final episode--which I loved, but you can only get away with that gimmick so many times)
By the way, I hear Data was there when the "surprise" was revealed. Does this mean that in addition to saying Enterprise was not "real", they are also negating Data's "death" at the end of Nemesis?
Thankfully, Paramount is putting the Trek franchise on hold for awhile--perhaps permanently.
If it does return, I hope the people responsible for Enterprise (and Voyager, as well) have been moved to the sitcom division where they obviously belong.

Everybody Really Only Barely Tolerates Raymond

Yes, tonight is the big finale of Everybody Loves Raymond after a shortened season stretched into May Sweeps with numerous repeats of "favorite" episodes. Raymond is touted on the network promos as "America's Favorite Comedy" or something to that effect; an honor it's earned pretty much by default. There really aren't any decent sitcoms out there any more since Friends and Frazier--the best sitcom ever, by the way--bit the dust last year. (I'm wondering how Kelsey Grammar is coping with not being Frazier Crane after playing the character for over 2 decades...he's probably in some heavy therapy) The form has once again been declared dead; just as it was two decades ago before The Cosby Show came along.
Now, what I'd really like to see in tonight's finale is Deborah kill Raymond with one of his putters after he tries for the thousandth time to sneak out to play golf rather than spend time with the wife and kids. She then picks up a knife, goes across the street and hacks Frank and Marie into little pieces. The police arrive and Robert accidentally shoots himself to death attempting to draw his weapon. Then Deborah is killed in a shoot out with the SWAT team.
But it probably won't go down that way.
I've read that the producers really aren't planning anything special for the last outing--just another episode, they say. Which means it'll be bland, unfunny and based on sitcoms stereotypes that I thought TV left behind with the 1960's.
I can hardly wait.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

I Can Hold My Head Up HighAt Last!

I no longer have to be ashamed to admit that I have never seen This is Spinal Tap, as I purchased the DVD yesterday and watched the movie last night. Actually, I had seen clips of the most well-known parts of the movie, such as the amplifier that goes up to 11 or the band getting lost on the way to the stage or the Stonehenge debacle, and could bluff my way through when the film was discussed, but until last night I had never actually watched the entire film. While the film is great, some of the extras on the DVD are really amazing.
There's the "Music Videos" section which includes Gimme Some Money and (Listen to the) Flower People, excerpts of which are in the movie. These are dead on recreations of the look and sound of the 60's. If I didn't know that these were parodies shot in 1984, I would swear that these were the 60's TV variety shows they purport to be. Even the songs, while ostensibly parodies, could have been actual hits if they'd been around back then. That's how dead-on the parody is. (Which reminds me of the Turtles song Elinore, which was intended as a parody of the pop songs of the day, but was such a dead-on parody that no realized the song was meant as a joke and it became a huge hit.)
The film makers were just as adept at spoofing their own era with the Hell Hole video, which is a dead-on representation of the way videos were in the mid-80's (and sadly still are--the form doesn't seem to have evolved at all in 2 decades)
The deleted scenes are the biggest revelation on the disc. At over an hour of unused footage, it's practically a whole other movie. In fact,there's an entire subplot here concerning Derek's wife divorcing him that didn't make the film. This is a by-product of the way this film, and the later "mockumentary" films directed by Christopher Guest (picking up the mantle from Spinal Tap's Rob Reiner), are made. They shoot hours and hours of film and whittle it down to less than an hour and a half.
On the DVD of Waiting For Guffman, Guest reveals that he shot 58 hours of film for what became an 84 minute movie. (The Guffman DVD has a feature I've never seen on any other disc, but one that I just love. In addition to the commentary by Guest and co-writer Eugene Levy on the film itself, the deleted scenes come with a commentary track, allowing an extra glimpse into the mind of the film maker and the process of film making as they explain why each scene didn't make it into the final cut) Well, I've rambled on enough---catch you later.

That Explains A Lot!

So, I was listening to Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me! on NPR this morning, and heard an item about how archeologists studying the Dead Sea Scrolls have discovered that, contrary to popular myth, the so-called "Number Of The Beast" is not 666, but actually 616. They also noted that this is the area code for Ann Arbor, Michigan.
This development, of course, only confirms what many fans of Ohio State football have believed all along.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Countdown This!!!

Haven't posted for a while. Have I been busy? Not so much. Maybe I've just been wasting too much time sitting around watching TV...
As if TV weren't a gigantic time waster all by itself, along comes VH-1 to both waste our time and make us hate ourselves for watching it.
OK, so I was watching something called the 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock last night, and I wonder who determines these rankings? VH-1 never tells you who actually picks these lists and on the basis of what I saw last night its probably because those people would be afraid to show their faces in public if their identities became public knowledge. I mean, on this so called countdown, the Rolling Stones--that's the ROLLING FREAKIN' STONES, people--ranked no. 67. No. 67? The Rolling Stones? And to add insult to injury, Cheap Trick---that's right, I said CHEAP FREAKIN' TRICK, for the luvva Mike--ranked in the top 30. That is total BS.
Another TimeWaster-1 countdown that bothers me was called The 40 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever, but that was really kind of a misnomer since, because this was a TV show they need video clips to intersperse between the clips of Z-list "celebrities" cracking wise, the list was slanted heavily, almost exclusively to songs released since the ascendence of the music video. It really should haver been called The 40 Most Awesomely Bad Videos Since About 1979 or So.
Then there's ESPN's countdown of the Best Sports Films of the Last 25 Years. Now I realize this was part of the celebration last year of ESPN's 25th anniversary, but by limiting the scope of the countdown to films made since 1979, they left out some really great films. Like, for instance, Pride of the Yankees. What about the Oscar winning original Rocky? Then there's my all time favorite sports related film ever: The Bad News Bears.
And do we really need TWO countdowns of "Greatest Reality TV Moments"--one on E! and another on KillMeNow-1? I think not.
The rant's over, please go on with your lives. (I wonder--is there a "colossal waste of time setting on those V-chip thingees that'll block out all these stupid countdown shows and VH-1 altogether?)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Looking To Be Let Down

Haven't had a lot of time to post recently, and not much time now, as I am preparing for this weekend's SPACE comics convention...for more info on that, go to
Anyway, I just heard that there is a movie of one of my favorite books coming at the end of the month. Yes, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is hitting theaters on April 29. I'll have more when I see it, but for now I want to say that I just know that no matter how good this flick may turn out to be, and I hope it is good, that I will end up being disappointed. I have, after all, read the book something close to two dozen times, and have an annoying habit of quoting from it at inappropriate times. I will probably end up sitting in the theater counting the ways the producers "screwed up" one of the greatest stories ever.
Then again, that's half the fun, y'know.

Monday, March 28, 2005

I Predict Failure...

Okay, so the main reason that NBC's Americanized version of the British sitcom Coupling fell on its face was that, from all accounts, it stank. I say "from all accounts" because after watching two or three episodes of the lame original, I never even bothered to check out the American remake. However, there may be another reason for Coupling's failure which may also doom NBC's newest Brit-com remake, The Office: it's redundant.
Now, there is, of course, a long tradition in American TV of adapting British sitcoms for consumption acrross the pond. All In The Family, Sanford and Son, and Three's Company are all taken from British hits. However, I believe that era has come to an end thanks to BBC America. Back in the "Golden Age" of Brit-com remakes, the 1970s, few, if any, Americans had seen Til Death Do Us Part (All In The Family), Steptoe and Son (Sanford and Son), or Man About The House (Three's Company). These days, however, thanks to cable channel BBC America, not to mention PBS and DVD sets, quite a few Americans have gotten to see Coupling and The Office, so we don't really need a remake.
By the way, a recent Columbus Dispatch feature on Brit-com adaptations omitted Too Close For Comfort, adapted from Keep It In The Family, which was a mild success, lasting three years, yet did mention the two failed attempts at an American version of Fawlty Towers, which, I believe, lasted less than one season between the two of them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Where's Johnny?

The Silver Age of Comic Book Art written and designed by Arlen Schumer is a beautiful over-sized coffee table book featuring heavily illustrated profiles of eight prominent comics artists of the 1960's, the era known to comics fans and historians as the Silver Age. (The Golden Age, by the way, was the era that began with the publication of Action Comics #1, featuring the debut of Superman, in 1939 and lasted until approximately the end of the Second World War. The Silver Age begins in 1956 with the first appearance of Julius Schwarz's updating of DC's Golden Age Flash character in Showcase #4 and most historians have it ending somewhere around 1970--which seems to be the cut-off date that Schumer uses in this volume.) The artists include are: Carmine Infantino, Steve Ditko, jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Joe Kubert, Gene Colan, Jim Steranko, and Neal Adams. All had distinctive styles that made them fan favorites. Ditko, Kirby, Steranko and Adams were also groundbreaking visionaries whose innovations changed the ways that comic books told stories. All eight are worthy of inclusion in a book that purports to present an overview of one of the comic book industry's most creative periods.
Now, some might make a case that Don Heck should have been included. I have never been a fan of Heck's work, but he was perhaps the 2nd hardest working artist of the early Marvel Age, surpassed only by the "King" himself, Jack Kirby. Heck followed Kirby on such features as The Avengers, Giant-Man, and The X-Men,and was the first artist on Iron Man--though the character was designed by Kirby.
A more significant omission, in my opinion (nothin' humble about it, baby!), is "Jazzy" John Romita. Romita began at Marvel on Daredevil, and soon took over as artist on The Amazing Spider-Man with #39 (thus paving the way, by the way, for Gene Colan's lengthy run drawing Daredevil) when Ditko left the "House of Ideas"for reasons that have never been fully explained but that most assume to be "creative differences" with Stan "The Man" Lee. Romita came to the world of supeer-heroes from a background in romance comics and the style he developed working in that genre perfectly suited the slick, sub-plot intensive "soap-opera" style of stories that Lee was turning out. Romita's depictions of Peter Parker and his friends and enemies would define the look of the feature well into the 1980's.
A man who contributed so much to the success of Marvel Comics is certainly worthy of recognition as one of the greats of the Silver Age.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Wonder Of It All

Being a reaction to an item in the Friday, March 18, 2005 edition of USA Today:
I like the character, but she's never been a favorite of mine, so under most circumstances news of an impending Wonder Woman film would not have me chuckling gleefully in anticipation. However, the Amazon Princess' big screen debut is set to be written and directed by Buffy, The Vampire Slayer guiding light Joss Whedon, a proven master of butt-kicking female super-heroes.
This film, if it's as good as the mere mention of Whedon's name in conjunction with the project suggests that it will be, could be just the kick in the pants the sagging Wonder Woman franchise needs to elevate the heroine to truly deserving the status she enjoys as one of DC Comics' "Big Three" heroes, up there with Superman and Batman.
In fact, Whedon has written some comics himself, including a new X-Men book for Marvel and Buffy and Fray for Dark Horse. Perhaps he can be persuaded to aid DC in cashing in on the inevitable succes of the upcoming film by scripting some of Diana's comic book adventures. That would be sure to produce the best Wonder Woman comics since George Perez stopped writing the book.
So----who's stepping into Linda Carter's rather to assume the role of Wonder Woman? Well, no word on casting yet, though Whedon's involvement has me looking to another Buffy alum as a possible candidate. Eliza Dushku, who portrayed the Chosen One's rival Faith, would be nearly perfect for the part. She has the right look, and as Faith, proved that she can play a strong action heroine. Plus, I bet she'd look just ultra-hot in that skimpy Wonder Woman suit.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Nat Gertler Interview

I would like to thank Nat Gertler for agreeing to answer the following questions via e-mail last month.
* What exactly is a 24 hour comic?
In its purest form, a 24 hour comic is a complete 24 pagecomics story created by one person in single 24 hour period.To anyone who doesn't know comics, that may not sound likemuch, but the typical comic book series needs a team ofpeople working on it just to put out an issue a month.The idea was invented by Scott McCloud, the most respectedliving comics theoretician, who had a friend who normallyproduced finished comics very slowly but could sketch veryquickly. Scott challenged him to try creating a comics storyin 24 hours, and to meet the challenge, Scott did it himselffirst.There are a couple variations that are considered "noblefailure 24 hour comics". One is if you work on it for 24 hoursstraight, no sleep, and turn out a complete story that's lessthan 24 pages. That's called the Gaiman Variation, afterbest-selling author Neil Gaiman who only managed to completea great 13 page story during 24 hours. The other is theEastman Variation, named for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtlesco-creator Kevin Eastman, who didn't finish 24 pages in 24hours, but he just stayed awake until the tale was complete.So a 24 hour comic isn't just a creative thing and it isn'tjust an endurance thing. In order to get that much work donethat quickly, you basically have to let yourself go withthe flow and not plan or rethink a lot of things. It endsup becoming the comics equivalent of free-form jazz, an improvisation that could take you some place horrible or someplace wonderful, and you just have to ride with it.
* Why did About Comics decide to sponsor a national 24 hour comics day?
Let me clear something up: it's not national, it's -international-.Last year, we had official event sites in three countries, andindividual participants celebrating on their own in a number ofother places. This year, we already have event sites lined up onthree different continents, with people from at least ten differentcountries planning to participate.When I decided to found 24 Hour Comics Day, it wasn't supposedto be nearly that big. We were about to publish a book entitled24 Hour Comics, which collected Scott McCloud's choice of nineinteresting 24 hour comics. I thought I'd round up 3 or 4 storesto host 24 hour events, and use that to get a little publicityfor the concept and the book.When word of this idea got out to the retailers, they jumpedaboard quickly, and it grew all out of control. The day wentoff with more than 50 event sites--mostly comic shops, butalso schools, comics clubs, and a museum.
* Why did you pick this particular date (April 23)?
When I went to pick the date for last year's event, I knewit had to be in late April, so that it would occur when thebook was freshly out. And it had to be a Saturday, so thatmost folks would have time to recover before they had to beat work. When I looked at the calendar, it was like a LightShining Down From Above -- April 24th. 4-24-2004. I couldn'thave designed a better date for something called "24 Hour ComicsDay." At least, not before the year 2424.This year's date seemed less miraculous. I wanted to do iton a Saturday about a year from last year's date. I sawthat if the 24 hours started on Saturday, April 23rd, it wouldend on April 24th.
* How closely do you work with comics retailers, like Columbus' Laughing Ogre, who hold 24 Hour Comic Day events?
I provide them with the guidelines, answer their questions,and do what I can to help them drum up publicity. Mostof the real work of running the event on the day itself has tobe done locally, and the folks at the Ogre and other placesare generally quite good at handling that.I tried to provide them with as much support as I can remotely.I run the website, generate some publicity,provide them with forms and information for press releases,access to promotional t-shirts and buttons. I'm trying to roundup sponsors -- not people to give money, but food companies,soda makers, art supply manufacturers to donate product that willhelp the cartoonists reach their goals.
* After last year's event, how many people submitted their finished works to About Comics?
One of the little rules of 24 hour comics is that you haveto give a copy of the finished work to Scott McCloud, whocreated the concept. Since we wanted to put together 24 HourComics Day Highlights 2004, a book of just comics made on 24Hour Comics Day, we had the stores send copies to us, so thatwe could consider them for the book, and then we passed them all to Scott when we were done. While over 500 cartoonistsparticipated at event locations (and untold more celebratedthe day on their own), only 300-and-some actually sent the work in.
* What criteria did you use in choosing from among those comics the ones you put in the book?
I wanted a book that was not only an interesting read, but thatreally made a picture of what went on that day. So I was lookingfor not only quality stories, but also diversity in the stories,in the creators, in the circumstances of their creation. Thereare stories by men and women, a 12 year old and a fifty year old,foreign and domestic, folks who have never even considered drawinga comics story before and folks who are well-respected professionals.We were lucky enough to get one photo-comic that actually showedwhat was going on at an event site during the day, which served allkinds of needs.Some of the stories were easy to weed out. They weren't finished,the text was illegible, they just weren't that interesting. Therewere some beautiful full-color ones, but printing in color wouldhave blown the budget utterly, so they had to go. There were somethat used other people's copyrighted or trademarked characters,which is great fun to create but I didn't want to get sued. Afterweeding those out, though, we still had eighty-some which wereworthy of serious consideration, and saying "no" to any of themwas painful.All in all, 24 Hour Comics Day Highlights 2004 has 24 stories,which makes for one thick book. Plus it has individual panels fromabout 20 more, and some text pieces talking about what 24 hourcomics are and what happened on the day.
* Tell me a bit about About Comics: When was it founded? By whom?
About Comics is really just a one-man operation. I founded itin 1998 to publish some comics I wanted to write. As a writer,I'd written for literally dozens of other publishers, but I wantedto write some things that were hard to find a publisher for, sothe easiest path was to become a publisher myself. It was actually a few years before I expanded into doing things which weren't my writing.
* What are some of your past and upcoming projects?
We just released It's Only A Game, which is a long-forgotten,never-before-collected comics feature created by Charles Schulz,the same guy who created Peanuts. We also have Panel One andPanel Two, a pair of anthologies of comic book scripts by variouswriters, so that people can see how comics writing is done.We're actually slowing down a bit on new projects, because Ihave a new baby in the house and that's taking up a lot oftime and energy. The next thing up is 24 Hour Comics All-Stars,which is being released to celebrate the second 24 Hour Comics Day.All of the stories in this book are done by folks who have donework for the commercial comics field, including the very first24 hour comic by Scott McCloud. After that comes the secondissue of Licensable BearTM, the adventures of a little fellowwho just wants to be licensed to appear on t-shirts and toys.You can learn more about him at
* What do you see as your primary mission as a comics publisher?
The About Comics motto is "publishing things that oughta bepublished", and I take that seriously. I want to make money,of course, but I also see that there is a lot of good materialcreated over the years that is now unseen and forgotten, someof it very influential, and it's a shame. Charles Schulz dida series 45 years ago and no one's ever collected it in abook? That's sad on so many levels. It's the same thing withthe whole 24 Hour Comics situation. Over the years, plenty offolks in the business had gone up to Scott and said "y'know,someone ought to publish a book of these". After more than a decade of that, I was the first person to say to him "I want to publish a book of these". Although if I knew what a wild ride I was getting into... I still would have done it. No reason life has to be boring!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Bob Corby interview

What inspired the decision last year to move SPACE to its current location?
There were a number of reasons we decided to move last year. At the old venue we had parking problem, food vendors who disappeared and there was nobody available if problems occurred.
How has the new location helped (or hurt--if at all) the show?
The new venue at the Holiday Inn East I70 greatly improved accessibility to the show. There is free parking and also a shuttle bus from the airport. There’s a restaurant on site. Ehibitors and guests can stay at the hotel and don’t need to wander around town. Also financially it worked out to be a better deal. The only down side is that we had to sacrifice space. The previous venue held over 140 eight-foot exhibitor tables. The new one holds only about 120 six-foot tables
You said in a recent e-mail that SPACE is "financially solvent"-- would you care to elaborate: are you breaking even? Turning a profit?
2 out of the 5 years of its existence SPACE has made a minor profit. The other 3 year it lost a few hundred dollars each year. Essentially it pays for itself, which is my version of “financially solvent”. This is unlike my other comic projects, which are always in the red.
How many people attended the con last year? Do you feel the new location helped?
There were about 500 people there last year. We never seem to get a good head count at the door. I think the new location did improve attendance.
Are expecting more this year? What are you doing to increase turnout and/or public awareness of the show?
I think we will have more regular attendees but there may be less over all because we had a lot of people show up to see Dave Sim and Gerhard because Cerebus ended the month before SPACE last year.
How many exhibitors do you have lined up for this year?
We have sold about 80 exhibitor tables so far. I expect we will sell out at about 120 tables. There are 125 exhibitor names on the website right now.
Approximately what percentage of exhibitors is returning from past shows and what percentage of them are first timers?
So far this year 75 percent of the exhibitors are returning exhibitors. Our exhibitors have always been very loyal to the show and I really appreciate it.
Okay, so I understand this year you have some events planned for Sunday, is that right? What are they? Why did you decide to have a 2nd day?
The events planned for Sunday morning are workshops for small press publishers. This was the idea of brought up to me by Dale Martin. Dale and APA-5 were going to come up with some programs for self-publishers. We might also do the Cartoon Carnival on Sunday so some of the other exhibitors can attend and not be tied up at their tables.
OK, I know we covered this the last time I wrote an article about SPACE, but why did you decide to put on your own small press comics convention?
The inspiration for SPACE was the Spirits of Independents shows back in 1995. They were great. I found more comic titles I loved and actually sold more of my own comics at those shows than any other conventions.
How did Dave Sim get involved?
When I decided to do SPACE which was to be a successor to the long departed Columbus Spirits show I contacted Dave about being a part of it. He declined the first year stating that he wasn’t doing any more conventions and just wanted to concentrate on completing Cerebus. He was about 4 years from completing his 26-year task. The second year I contacted him again just to keep him informed. He called me and said he was interested in coming because he wanted to start the Day Prize there.
How has Sim's involvement helped the show?
Dave involvement did help SPACE a good deal. The first year attendance was dismal. I only started arrangements for the second year because most of the exhibitors were willing to try it again. I was going though the motions but was pretty sure that the result would be the same and I’d call it quits after the second flop. Then I got the call from Dave and we drew a lot more people and I think the show became credible. Last year with Cerebus ending the month before SPACE we drew even more people.
Sim has been quite a controversial figure in the comics community, especially his views on feminism. So, has his involvement with SPACE hurt the show at all?
There are some people who will not attend because of Dave’s presence at the show. That’s their decision to make. I’m sure Dave would be willing to debate with anyone that shows up.
Personally, I think he's nuts: What do you think of Dave's more controversial opinions?(you really don't have to answer this one if you don't want to?)
I don’t agree with a lot of Dave’s opinions. Dave is very conservative. I have a slight liberal streak. What I admire about Dave is his honesty. He’s not trying to be popular. He just says what he thinks even if that makes a lot of people hate him. He lost a good chunk of his readership when he started the anti-feminism thing. The first year he was down for SPACE I asked him straight out if it was just “showmanship” and if he was trying to be controversial just to get the attention. He said no. He has always been very gratuitous to everybody I’ve seen him in contact with so whatever his thoughts he treats everyone well.
What is the Day Prize? (Yeah, I know I know--but I want your words)
The Day Prize or more precisely The Howard Eugene Day Memorial Award is Dave Sim’s tribute to his comics mentor, Gene Day, best know for his work on Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu and his own Dark Fantasy. The prize consists of a $500.00 cash prize and a plaque. It’s awarded to one of the entries Dave collects at SPACE each year. Past winners include “Faith: A Fable” by Bill Knapp, “Misa” by Tom Williams and “Askari Hodari” by Glenn Brewer.
SPACE has grown and changed quite a bit in just six years: Has it turned it into what you envisioned it as? Or is it not quite there yet? Or has it become something you hadn't really foreseen?
SPACE has grown a little larger than I first envisioned it. It also has become something I hadn’t envisioned. The work that shows up at SPACE and other small press shows is not part of the general public’s perception of comics. I think it’s a great opportunity to start changing that perception and show people the possibilities of the medium. That idea has given me a sense of a mission that wasn’t there at the beginning. Hell, I was just trying to sell some of my comics.
What do you see in the future for SPACE?
I would like to see it grow and bring more people in. I’d also like it to stay rooted in the small press. I’d like to continue to see things there you can’t buy at your neighborhood corporate chain store.
I want to ask a few questions about Oh! Comics.
Why have you decided to put the book "on hiatus"?
The reasons are mostly financial. Last year was a pretty bad year for me and Oh,Comics! Is getting more expensive to produce and doesn’t sell well.
Is this a permanent condition?
I hope not. My financial situation should be improving in the next few years.
Tell us about the history of Oh! Comics:What is it? How long had you been doing it? How many issues?
Oh,Comics! started as a charity book at the Mid-Ohio Con back in 1988. The name comes from Ohio Comics because it was originally intended to only have work by people from Ohio. In the second year I couldn’t find a charity that was interested in working with us so it became an ad financed give away book for a few years. That never really paid the printing bills and in the mid-90’s the bottom fell out of the comic shop business where most of my ads were generated so it became a regular comic with free ads for the contributors. There are 17 issues in print 1 though 15 and also issues 8-1/2 and 10-1/2.
Did you consider going back to the digest format at all?
I really don’t want to move backwards with it. Besides you can’t fold a 150 page digest.

Friday, March 11, 2005

An' Da Winnah iz....

Ok, before I go on to the main topic of my rant, I want to follow up on my last post concerning Dapper Danny Rather's final bow as anchor of the CBS Evening news. If you've kept up with Dan at all over the past quarter century you probably had a gut feeling about how he would end the broadacast, and he didn't disapoint: "Courage." Courage, indeed.
Anyway, on to what's on my mind this fine Friday afternoon. It may be a little late to be writing about the Oscars, but then I didn't even start this stinking blog until last week. So write about the Oscars I shall. Not about Chris Rock's performance; I'm sure that's been analyzed to bits and pieces many other places--though I did notice a couple of spots during his monologue where Oprah was clearly not amused, and you know how offending Oprah doomed David Letterman's chances of ever hosting again. (Truthfully, what killed him is that he wasn't funny that night, and the "Uma. Oprah." bit, lame as it was, was actually a high point)
No, I wanna talk about Spider-Man 2, which won for Visual Effects, or was it Special Effects. Apparently, those two aren't the same thing, at least according to the commentary on the DVD by the visual effects team.
So, when is a movie based on a comic going to win a real Oscar--that is, not one for Visual, or Special, Effects. I think the only one ever even nominated in any other category was Ghost World for best adapted screenplay.
What happened to all the Oscar buzz around Road To Perdition a couple of years back? In the summer, when itwas released, people were saying it had a shot at Best Picture and Tom Hanks was looking at his third Best Actor statue. By the time Awards Season rolled around, however---NOTHIN'; ZIPPO; ZILCH;NADA!! So, honestly, what happened? I can't even remember the flick that did win that year. (Truthfully, I'm not quite sure even what year it is I'm talking memory is going as I creep toward my 40th birthday....or should that be my 41st birthday---if I count the actual Day of My Birth as a "birthday"?)
I have also crept slowly off topic, so I'll cut this entry short.
See you next week

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Say G'night, Danny

The big news in Pop Culture this week is news
Tonight, Dan Rather slinks off into the sunset, ending his quarter century at what was once the most prestigious job in American journalism not with a bang but an "eh."
The question one is left to ponder is: What next for "Captain Courage"? He had announced plans to continue as a reporter on 60 Minutes 2, but it looks like that lame duck is about to be strangled any moment now. Is there nothing left for Dan now but to retreat to a cave in New Mexico to ponder the question that has plagued him, and all America, for nearly two decades now: "Kenneth, what is the frequency?"
Maybe not, for as I pondered this on Sunday, I saw a clip of Dan's most recent Late Show with David Letterman appearance on CNN's Reliable Sources and thought of all the memorable appearances Rather has made on Dave's show, including singing What's The Frequency, Kenneth with REM, and it hit me. Maybe Dave needs a new sidekick. Sure, he has Paul, but his idol, Johnny Carson, had not only Ed but Doc, as well. Yes, there just might be a future for Dan in laughing at all of Dave's jokes and agreeing with everything he says.
But, then again, Dan's never been the type to play 2nd fiddle to anyone, and if he were going to throw his hat into the late night ring, he'd want nothing less than his own show. And it just so happens that over at NBC, there's going to be a vancancy at 12:30 next year. Jay Leno has announced that he will be stepping down and handing the Tonight Show over to Conan O'Brien and God Help Us All.
I had actually thought of suggesting myself for the Late Night gig. After all, I have as much (heck, maybe more) on air television experience as O'Brien did when he got the gig.
One final thought on Conan's "promotion": In The Late Shift, Bill Carter's book on the drama surrounding Carson's retirement, Leno's ascension to his job, and Letterman's defection to CBS, Carter says that one of the reasons that NBC did not offer Letterman the Tonight gig is that they weren't sure if he was suited to doing an 11:30 show, which attracts an older audience than was tuning in for his 12:30 gig. Apparently, they have no such worries about Conan, and that surprises me, because his show is, in many ways, far more off-kilter than Dave's ever was.