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.