Friday, October 13, 2017

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Hey, wait a minute. I didn't take a vacation!

But you did.

Well, a lot of you did, anyway. (And this past summer, it seems that a lot of the bloggers whom I follow took vacations, or were otherwise really, really busy with other concerns -- like writing novels and/or short stories, or spending time with spouses and/or kids, etc. -- that were naturally more important to them than blogging. Some of them were/are dealing with serious issues or illnesses befalling friends and/or family members. And when faced with things like that, who has time for blogging?)

But I've been here, plugging away. And for The Silver Fox, well-known for going for weeks or even months at a time without a post, I've been pretty regular.

(No, not that kind of regular!)

So maybe today's post should be called "What YOU Did on My Summer Vacation."

So, what have I been writing about? (Obviously, this is directed at those who haven't been stopping by here very often.) A lot of tributes to deceased celebrities, as always, but here's a general rundown, from just before summer began, until just after:

May 17: "Idol Eyes," a rather strange poem which only makes sense when you read it, and not when you hear it!

May 22: My tribute to the late actor Powers Boothe.

May 24: My tribute to actor Roger Moore.

May 30: Gregg Allman tribute.

June 5: "Kind of a Hang-Up," an article about how telemarketers and debt collectors are "making" us listen to their messages.

June 7: A very brief post about the phrase "It's all good."

June 8: "Three New Tributes" to Roger Smith, Elena Verdugo, and Peter Sallis.

June 12: Adam West tribute.

June 19: Tribute to Stephen Furst.

June 21: Bill Dana tribute.

June 26: A rare political post about the USA's healthcare situation.

June 28: "A Fluff Piece" about cute widdle kitties. Heh.

June 30: Another celebrity death, this time Michael Parks.

July 12: A reprinted post about the prediction that someday cash will be a thing of the past.

July 17: When Martin Landau passed away.

July 19: A post about Martin Landau's brief career as a comic strip artist.

July 22: Happy Birthday to Albert Brooks.

July 24: John Heard tribute.

July 27: "Short Shorts" about John Heard, Barbara Sinatra's death, and a movie I'm looking for...

July 28: The unfortunate death of voice-over artist June Foray.

August 1: An anecdote about my misadventures with the word "Ms."

August 9: My reminiscences about the late Glen Campbell.

August 14: Another "Short Shorts" entry about Joe Bologna's death, and some YouTube videos featuring Glen Campbell.

August 16: The fortieth anniversary of the death of You-Know-Who.

August 18: This one's about whether or not Maid Marian ever cheated on Robin Hood. (Well, in a way, it is...)

August 21: A dual tribute to comedians Jerry Lewis and Dick Gregory.

August 23: A "Comical Wednesday" post celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of comic artist Jack Kirby (whose birth date is actually August 28th).

August 26: Yet another "Short Shorts" entry about Jay Thomas (R.I.P.), Clayton "Lone Ranger" Moore, Larry Storch, Pat Hatt's post about me, grammar goofs, a Jerry Lewis impression, "smoking a doob," Twitter, and finally, signing your pet's name to greeting cards!

August 30: Part One of a lonnng "Comical Wednesday" post about TerrifiCon 2017, held in Uncasville, Connecticut.

September 2: My revival of "The Silver Fox's THRUST HOME Award! -- Given to the Author of a Single Outstanding Blog Post," won by Bish Denham for a post entitled "The Real America."

September 6: Part Two of my post about TerrifiCon 2017.

September 8: More Short Shorts! This time subjects include Mel Gibson, Twitter, Donald Trump, Confederate flags and shirts, and the misuse of the word "intact."

September 13: A tribute to the late Len Wein, prolific comic writer and editor, co-creator of Swamp Thing and Wolverine!

September 16: "Spread Your Wings," a story about a young man's conversation with an angel and a devil.

September 20: What happened when Superboy met Bonnie & Clyde?

September 23: Actors Herbie Faye and Ned Glass, separated at birth?

September 26: My advice on how to write realistic-sounding dialog!

September 30: The death of Hugh Hefner.

October 3: Twinkle, a character from my childhood.

October 7: My tribute to Tom Petty.

October 11: A very brief "Comical Wednesday" post!

Whew! How's that? Not bad for a guy who used to go for months at a time without posting at all, huh?

Thanks for your time.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Why I Blog, Sorta... ~~ A Very Brief "Comical Wednesday" Post (for a Change)

I just haven't gotten the "getting paid" part figured out yet.

Thanks for your time.

P.S. ~~ Okay, okay, today's post was a cheat. I told you not long ago that I had several posts ready to go, but unfortunately, only this one was a "Comical Wednesday" post.

Calvin and Hobbes © by Bill Watterson

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Tom Petty, 1950-2017, R.I.P.

Today's post will probably be fairly light, text-wise. (I say that now, as I begin writing it, but I have been known to get carried away, right?)

I'm not sure when I first became aware of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which was then comprised of Petty, Mike Campbell, Ron Blair, Stan Lynch (no relation to Yours Truly), and Benmont Tench. It was fairly early, perhaps as early as the release of their very first LP. I can tell you that I sang "Breakdown" from that debut album in my own late 1970s, early 1980s band, Viper, along with "Refugee" from their third LP, "Damn the Torpedoes."

Usually, whenever I sang a cover tune, I tried to sing it as closely as possible to the original singer's performance. (Whenever I couldn't copy someone's style -- for example, I couldn't imitate Mick Jagger's voice when I sang a Rolling Stones tune -- I'd just sing it like "me.") This was the case when I sang "Breakdown" and "Refugee." I even managed Petty's odd, pseudo Desi Arnaz sound when singing the first verse of the former! After seeing my band play both Tom Petty songs, people from the audience would walk up to me and tell me I sounded exactly like Petty during those two numbers... and then went on to request that I not do that.

Okay, so maybe he didn't have the best voice in the business, but he had a style all his own, and I loved it. And I sure wasn't alone in that department.

Interesting. This is Tom Petty's yearbook photo, from the 1968 Gainesville,
Florida, Hurricane. Wikipedia says Petty dropped out of high school at the
age of seventeen. Hm. I suppose it was a last-minute thing...

Tom with a very young Stevie Nicks!

An early shot of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Petty as a member of The Traveling Wilburys, flanked by Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy
Orbison, and George Harrison. With all that vocal talent surrounding him, I always found it
odd that Tom ended up sounding more like Dylan than anyone else on their first LP.

Later in life. Not that my opinion matters, but I never warmed up to his bearded look.

And now, two Tom Petty songs, one that I performed, and one that I wish I'd performed!

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

How I Wonder(ed) Where You Are ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post

Well, here I am, fellow babies, posting every few days, with a list of celebrity tribute posts piling up in my blog's "drafts" list. I have columns dealing with other subjects, too, which are already written, but they're also staying in with the drafts for now. That's because I know most of my readers can't or don't visit every single freakin' day, so I don't like to post too many articles which would only serve to "bury" the older posts. Having said that, here's my "Comical Wednesday" post... and soon I'll print my tribute to Tom Petty, among others, I promise.

*  *  *  *  *

See that weirdly-drawn guy above with a star for a head? Well, I have vague memories of reading and enjoying his adventures back in the early 1960s, when I was somewhere between four and six years old. He wore a symmetrically divided costume with alternating colors, kind of like some court jesters did, as well as the original comic book Daredevil from the 1940s (see below). And by the way, fellow babies, do any of you know what that kind of clothing pattern is called? It's not "jester costume," it's not "harlequin," it isn't "motley," and since I've looked all over for the term, I'm appealing to you.

The ORIGINAL comic book Daredevil, from the 1940s!


Those "vague memories" also told me that the little dude's name was "Twinkle Loon" -- I presume the "Loon" part was derived from "lunar," seeing how the character came from outer space -- and I could always find him in Humpty Dumpty's Magazine for Little Children (pictured below).

This is a copy of Humpty Dumpty's Magazine for Little
Children... which you can no doubt read for yourself!

Not long after I became addicted to browsing the internet, I decided to look for anything I could find about the little sucker, so I typed "Twinkle Loon" and "Humpty Dumpty" and found... nothing.

Nothing at all!

I knew I wasn't hallucinating it! I was 100% certain that he'd appeared in Humpty Dumpty's Magazine for Little Children -- I'll just call it Humpty Dumpty's Magazine from now on, okay? -- and sure that he'd been named Twinkle Loon...

Well... pretty sure about that last one.

You see, I have vivid memories of my friend Scott shouting in a sing-songy kinda way, "Twinkle Loon, the man from the moon!"

It wasn't until I did some research on Humpty Dumpty's Magazine alone that I saw the list of its features, which told me that the little chap I remembered so well as "Twinkle Loon" was actually... "Twinkle." Just "Twinkle." Well, technically, his feature was called "Twinkle, the Star Who Came Down from Heaven." (Not from the moon, Scott! I figured that Scott must have made up the rhyme himself, simply because it sounded good.) The Twinkle feature was (only occasionally) credited on the mag's contents page to children's book illustrator Jay Williams, but the strip itself was signed "Mazin." Were Mazin and Jay Williams the same guy? I haven't been able to find that out... yet.

I was satisfied with that knowledge for a few years, actually. Then, one day not too long ago, I decided to do a little more research, and I found out that Twinkle had been published even earlier, with a completely different (and less quirky) art style, in a comic book title known as Calling All Kids. He debuted in its second issue in 1946. (The cover of Calling All Kids #2 is shown immediately after this paragraph, followed by the first two pages of Twinkle's premiere story.)

No creators were ever credited for writing or drawing this feature!

And it gets better.

Right after learning of Twinkle's 1940s incarnation, I said to myself, "Hey, I've got a copy of Calling All Kids in my own comic collection!"

Which, of course, I did. I had only kept it because it was a Golden Age comic and it was very roughed up, so I'd gotten it really cheap! But because it was a title that was obviously aimed at little tykes, I'd never even bothered to read the damned thing!

So I dug it out of its box, and... Yup! There he was, right on the cover!

My copy of Calling All Kids #24. Note the chunk missing from
the cover. When I said "very roughed up," I wasn't kidding!

Just for the record, I should add that has a review of a book written by an author named Annie Parker with this extra-long title: Twinkle and The Lost Starfish (Twinkle, The Star That Came Down From Heaven).

Hm. Maybe the book pre-dated both comic book series? Worth doing another search, I thought.

But for some reason, trying to find the book itself on by clicking on its title on the review page leads you to a page that says "SORRY, we couldn't find that page!" But the review -- just the freakin' review -- is still there! Frustrating as all hell!

So, for now, at least, I'm done trying to find out more about Twinkle's origins.

But now -- and I promise, I'm almost done -- here's where it gets even weirder:

The same day I discovered that the Twinkle character had started in the Golden Age, I decided to do a search for "Twinkle Loon." Not along with "Humpty Dumpty" this time, just "Twinkle Loon."





A book. Not a comic book, I hasten to add, but an honest-to-God children's book. And the website on which I found it reprinted the entire thing from cover to cover. Here's the beginning:

But what really freaked me out was that this tiny spaceman looked familiar. I was thinking that maybe I was imagining its familiarity, when this illustration showed up:

A cold chill came over me as I thought, "I recognize this page! And... and... I even made that puppet!"

Okay, okay, I didn't literally think "And... and..." I'm just being colorful. But, as I said above, I was totally freaked out.

So that's what Scott had been singing about.

Why the hell did I remember Twinkle relatively clearly, and totally blank out on Twinkle Loon?

Memory's a funny thing, innit?

Thanks for your ti-- Oh, before I forget, in the pursuit of total truth, I should admit that I probably made that freakin' puppet with considerable help from my mother... But I'll be damned if I remember that, either!

Thanks for your time.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hugh Hefner, 1926-2017, R.I.P.

Hugh Hefner, known to millions as "Hef," has died at the age of ninety-one from natural causes.

Hefner and his magazine -- that would be Playboy, for those of you who've been living in a freakin' cave all your life -- was formerly a $60-per-week Esquire copywriter who quit when the magazine failed to give him a $5 raise.

Hefner decided to publish his own magazine geared toward a male readership. Its original title was to be Stag Party, with a stag for a mascot of sorts (see next illustration), but the already-established Stag magazine threatened to sue. Hefner renamed his new magazine Playboy.

The first issue of Playboy is now a mouth-watering collector's item. It features
Marilyn Monroe on the cover and in the issue's pre-foldout centerfold.

Playboy, which debuted in December of 1953, was the first mainstream magazine to publish photos of nude women (That's not counting National Geographic's showing of so-called "tribal nudity," which began in 1896!) As you may expect, most of the nudity was incredibly tame by today's standards. (More on that later.)

There's been a long-running joke that people "only read Playboy for the articles." Why, you may wonder? Well...

Hefner, in his earlier days, was a wannabe cartoonist. When he began Playboy, he paid high rates to the artists whose work he published. Over the years, his magazine included comic strips and single-page drawings by such industry luminaries as Jack Cole, Milton Caniff, LeRoy Neiman, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Jules Feiffer, Gahan Wilson, Alberto Vargas, Shel Silverstein... the list goes on!

With the one and only Stan Lee!

My all-time favorite Playboy cartoon, from the February 1972 issue.
In case you can't read the caption, it simply says "It's today?"

Hefner, of course, also paid the highest rates to writers, authors like Jack Kerouac, Alex Haley, Margaret Atwood, Ian Fleming, Ray Bradbury, Vladimir Nabokov, Joseph Heller, Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Denham (probably the only author who actually posed nude for the magazine), Roald Dahl, and many more.

Playboy featured interviews with celebrities, politicians, and other personalities, everyone from Malcom X to George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party.

"Wait a minute," you may ask, "are you writing a tribute to Hugh Hefner, or a history of Playboy magazine?" Uhh, would you believe both? The stories of Hefner and his publication are solidly intertwined.

Hefner was a controversial figure. You can't have any involvement with sex, it seems, without being controversial. And Hef was complex, as well. Scorned by many for objectifying and exploiting women, and for publishing "smut," Hefner was also involved in issues of free speech, liberation of sexual attitudes and mores, and gave generously to various causes during his lifetime. It is rather sad that he seemed to become a parody of himself as he aged, surrounding himself with multiple blonde girlfriends and participating in Viagra-fueled orgies -- although Hefner was married (for the third time) when he died -- but one can never discount that during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, Playboy and Hefner were influential and emulated by many men.

When asked by Anderson Cooper what his definition of obscenity was, Hefner replied "Racism, war, bigotry... but sex itself, no."

"Hef" appeared in dozens of films and television shows.
Here he is with Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop II.

Hef with his arm around long-time (1969-1976) girlfriend Barbi Benton. When
42-year-old Hef asked 18-year-old Barbi for a date, she answered "I don't know,
I've never dated anyone over 24 before." Hef's reply? "That's all right, neither have I."

And now, the "more" I promised for "later":

I mentioned that by today's standards, the photos that Playboy published in its earliest days were pretty tame. Well, as proof, here are eight centerfolds from the first ten years of the magazine's existence, photos which I feel perfectly safe in posting in what is generally an "all ages" blog!

Janet Pilgrim (a three-time centerfold!), December 1955

Alice Denham, July 1956

June Blair, January 1957

Cheryl Kubert, February 1958

Myrna Weber, August 1958

Mara Corday, October 1958

Joni Mattis, November 1960

Connie Mason, June 1963

Farewell, Hugh Hefner. (At last he sleeps alone!)

Thanks for your time.


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