Friday, April 29, 2011

Bird, Incognito (A "Twitter for Gentlefolk" Post)



(Note for readers of my next post: Now this kind of "p.c.," I like!)

Continuing the relatively new "Twitter for Gentlefolk" tradition recently announced by that troublemaker fine fellow Alan Burnett of News from Nowhere fame, my friend Betsy (author of the My Five Men blog) and myself decided to do a "postcard swap." And rather than choosing an appropriate card for me, Betsy decided to create one. The outstanding result is shown above, and the "text side" follows:


In case you can't read that, it says:

Hi, Silver!

Since you love all things masks, capes, and superheros, I thought I'd sketch you a superhero-looking bird! This is a Cedar Waxwing. They love to eat my crabapples! Their name comes from the red waxy drips that form on the tips of their wing feathers. [Looks more like blood to The Silver Fox's eyes, but that's just me, I'm a different kinda cat!] Pretty cool, huh? Although to Orson, I'm sure he just looks like dinner! [For those of you who don't really pay attention when you read my blog, Orson is my cat!]

Betsy

Once a week, Betsy treats her readers to a new sketch or other creative work on her blog. More commenters than I can count have suggested to her that she utilize her underrated (by Betsy herself, that is) talents to illustrate greeting cards, children's books, or something similar.

Well, Betsy, The Silver Fox hereby issues a very public challenge: I'll write a children's book, if you'll illustrate it. It should be a lot less intimidating than your trying to write that proposed autobiography people keep nagging urging you to do, right?

After all, it's not like Skip Simpson has me signed to an exclusive collaborative writing contract, ya know?

(Can't wait for the private email about the above!)

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

David'Z RantZ ~~ Two Reasons I Don't Sleep Well at Night (and No, This Is NOT the One You've Been Waiting For!)



Two Reasons I Don't Sleep Well at Night (and don't piss me off, or I'll make this a freakin' series):

1. People keep writing "lightening" when they mean to write "lightning." You can lighten your hair. After sunrise, the sky gradually "lightens." Lightning is that flash you see in the sky before you hear the thunder. (Or "lightning" could also apply to at least two great blues musicians. But I digress.)

2. "Peak" and "peek" are not interchangeable. (And don't even get me started on "pique.") No, really. Your computer's spell-checker is not a blasted mind-reader, so please learn the difference before you use either. 

By the way, the illustration above is of lightning striking a mountain peak. Maybe you don't care, but I impressed the hell out of myself finding that one. Just sayin'.


Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

And You Think I'M Extreme?



Today's post is a prequel of sorts to a much longer, uncharacteristically political post I'll be posting sometime in the (probably) near future. You've been warned, fellow babies!

"In this state... in this state, dig it, you get... uhhh... you get twenty years for sale of dope to a minor. Uhhh... You only get five to ten for manslaughter. [laughs] So, like, the thing is, if you're sellin' to a kid, right, and the cops come, shoot the kid real quick!" ~~ Abbie Hoffman, from the "Wake Up, America" LP, 1970

It only gets weirder from here.

Thanks for your time.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"And All Before Breakfast" (Special Guest Post!)



Hey, there, cats'n'kitties! This is the great and powerful Orson, the cat! The Silver Fox is busy workin' on scriptin' a second Poe-inspired story for his partner, Skip Simpson, to draw... so he decided to let me have a hand... errr, a paw... at writin' one of his blog posts!

(And lest a certain rhymin' cat think I'm stealin' his act, I gotta point out -- well, in the sense that a cat can "point" -- that I've been featured prominently on this blog and the David'Z RantZ blog a few times before... most notably here and here!)

This time, I'm gonna showcase my own writin' skills, such as they are. If you like my little story, feel free to send canned cat food, or at the very least, discount coupons for some. Better yet, I prefer people food. I love chicken, and since the Selfish Silver Fox almost never shares pork, ham, sausage, etc. with me, any "flesh of the pig" will do nicely!

*  *  *  *  *

AND ALL BEFORE BREAKFAST

The town was so small, its S.W.A.T. team consisted of only two men, named Marky and Mikey. The uniformed duo had been on the trail of a killer since before dawn. It was still early morning.

They'd chased their quarry, a man with a rifle, to the local zoo. They knew they were on the right path when they saw the corpse of a large white rabbit only a few feet from the zoo's entrance. The rabbit had been slain by a single shot from the killer's rifle.

At first, the killer had gotten a pretty good lead on them, but he kept slowing down to shoot at the caged animals. He'd already killed a neotropical bird, a cuckoo, and a docile bear that the zoo's patrons had always described as "sweet."

Now the killer had been backed up against a large cage that enclosed a man-made cave. He scaled its bars nimbly, and prepared to jump in, hoping to hide from the policemen in the cave. As he perched atop the sturdy fence, however, an ominous growl came from the cave. The growl heralded the appearance of a ferocious tiger. Thoughts of escape were discarded as the killer smiled grimly, and aimed his rifle at the snarling beast.

"Don't move!" yelled Mikey. The killer turned back toward the voice, noticing that the other man, Marky, was perched in a nearby tree. Both officers held rifles similar to the killer's own. Frantic and trapped, he wondered which policeman was more of a danger to him.

Making his decision, the killer whirled and pointed his rifle at Marky. Before he could fire, Mikey coldly squeezed the trigger of his own weapon. One shot was sufficient. The killer fell, lifeless, into the cage... where the hungry tiger seemed to smile as he welcomed his latest meal.

As Marky dropped from the tree and joined his partner outside of the tiger's cage, a zoo-keeper rushed up to them. "Thank God you stopped him! What a lunatic! Running through our zoo, scaring customers, randomly killing our exhibits..."

Marky smiled grimly. "Randomly? Hardly. His victims all had one thing in common, as did the two murdered humans which set us on his trail to begin with!"

"Two humans?" echoed the zoo-keeper.

"Uh-huh," said Mikey. "A little old Irish guy, and a retired sea captain."

"But they weren't just any arbitrary targets," explained Marky. "The captain was none other than Cap'n Crunch, and the Irish guy was named Lucky! He'd led a charmed life, until today. And the animals? The Trix Rabbit was lying dead outside the gate, and this maniac dispatched Toucan Sam, Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, and the Sugar Bear before we caught up to him. Luckily, we managed to save old Tony, here," Marky finished, gesturing fondly toward the feasting tiger.

"Good Lord!" gasped the zoo-keeper. "You mean, this wacko was...?"

"That's right," said Marky. "He was a cereal killer!"

Marky, years before joining the force!

The zoo-keeper stared at Mikey. "No wonder you were able to take him out so dispassionately!"

"No surprise there," Marky said teasingly. "Mikey hates everything!"

Mikey shook his head. He joked, "Maybe, maybe not... But as for my result this time?" He smiled, and looked at what was now left of the killer. "I like it!"

Marky grinned at the zoo-keeper. "He likes it! Hey, Mikey!"

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks for your food, fellow kitties!

The Silver Fox: It's "time," not "food," you fat fur-ball! "Thanks for your time!"

Orson: Ahhh, shuddup! And just be glad I didn't have the nut-job in my story shoot a fox, awright?!?

Friday, April 8, 2011

"An American Dream? Or An American Nightmare?"


It's been quite a while since I've presented an actual work of original fiction here in the Fox's lair, and that was the original purpose of this blog. So here you go. It's really long -- even for me -- for a single entry rather than a multi-parter, but I sincerely hope you'll think it's worth it. It's about comic books, as many of my posts are, but even if you know and/or care nothing about them, you still should enjoy it.

Thanks for your time.

*  *  *  *  *


CAPTAIN AMERICA would have been so ashamed...

While growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Stephen Rodgers had little interest in reading, and even less interest in reading comic books. One day, however, a friend of nine-year-old Stephen pointed out that Marvel Comics' superhero, Captain America, had the same name, albeit spelled differently as "Steve[n] Rogers."

To make a relatively long story short, once Stephen -- who soon insisted that everyone call him "Steve" -- started checking out comics, he rode the burgeoning wave of comics fandom into the late 1980s and beyond. As an adult, he collected many titles, some for pure reading pleasure, others for the hope of future profit. He wasn't disappointed in either respect.

Steve was truly a part of the entire comic book "movement," as it were, He "subscribed" to his favorite titles at a nearby comics shop (which he worked at during his teens and early twenties), and bought related items such as action figures, pin-back buttons, posters, t-shirts and the like, as well. He attended comic book and fantasy conventions. He purchased multiple copies of specific issues -- some of titles he didn't even read -- for investment purposes. He progressed from swapping certain comics with childhood friends to selling his little treasures at local flea markets. He amassed a huge amount of friends -- his "brother collectors," he actually called them! -- who shared his hobby, first by mail and later by email. He met many comic book writers and artists, mostly at conventions and comic shop appearances, and collected their autographs, original art, and personalized sketches. He became an expert on the history of both comic books and newspaper comic strips; his interests went back to the late 1800s.

But Steve's favorite superhero, far above all others, had always remained Captain America. Early on, he'd even had his blonde hair combed and cut so he'd resemble his hero's Steve Rogers identity, a habit he kept as an adult, although his hair thinned a bit as he entered his forties.

In late 1992, roughly ten years into his comic collecting hobby, Steve purchased a beat-up copy of 1941's Captain America Comics #1 for several hundred dollars.



By 2011, Steve was District Manager for a chain of department stores. One of his casual friends was a store manager for a rival chain named Tim. One sunny Thursday afternoon, Steve got a call from Tim.

"Hey, Steve, are you still into funnybooks?"

"Comic books. Yes, why?"

"You like that Captain America guy, right?"

Steve laughed. "Sure, he's my favorite!"

"Ever seen the very first issue from the forties?"

"Of course. Several." Steve paused. "I even own one."

"Really! How much is that one worth?"

"My copy? About six or seven grand, maybe more. If it were in mint condition, of course, it'd be worth a couple hundred thou."

"Imagine that." Steve heard Tim laugh softly. "Okay, you remember where I live, right?"

"I think so... Look, Tim, what is this about?"

"Can you stop by my place after you get out of work today?"

"Got the day off. I could stop by any time, really. What is this about?"

"You'll see!" exclaimed Tim, with almost a giggle. "How soon can you get here?"

"About half an hour, probably. What's this about, damn it?"

"Sorry, you've got to wait!" said Tim cheerfully, before disconnecting.

*  *  *  *  *




Forty-seven minutes later, Steve eased his BMW into Tim's driveway. Tim, a chubby, jovial, bespectacled man of forty-one, was waiting with a huge grin on his face. 

"Okay," said Steve as he exited the car, "Tell me."

"Follow me," said Tim, walking toward a small shed several feet away from his two-car garage. An exasperated Steve followed.

As Steve entered the shed, he saw that it was half filled with cardboard boxes. "What's all this?" he asked Tim.

"Most of it's stuff my grand-dad, Eddie, owned. Stuff that passed to my mom when he died back in '98."

"Looks like the old gent was quite the pack-rat." Steve thought for a moment. "Oh, by the way, I heard about your mom a few months back, Tim. Sorry for your loss."

"Thanks," replied Tim absently. "And as for grand-dad being a pack-rat... Well, yes and no." Tim walked toward a small box which sat upon a high wooden table and placed his hand on it thoughtfully. "He was pretty well-off, and he loved art. All kinds of art. He owned some nice paintings. In fact, when he died he left me an original Warhol and an original Norman Rockwell piece. I sold them to buy my house." Steve nodded appreciatively. "He was a big fan of comic strips, too. The sweet old guy used to laugh out loud reading stuff like Peanuts and Garfield. He knew tons about the older comics, too, of course. Like Dick Tracy, Gasoline Alley... and a bunch of others I never even heard of. You and he probably could have talked for hours about all that stuff."

Steve nodded again. "Yeah, probably. Sorry I never met him."

Tim reached into the box and brought out an old comic book. Its cover and pages were brown and flaky, and even as Steve's eyes focused on what book it was, he noticed a large worm-hole that seemed to go through the entire book from front to back.

"You recognize this, of course," said Tim, needlessly, handing the ancient comic to Steve.

"Of course. Captain America #1. Captain America Comics #1, to be precise," he added, although Tim didn't understand the distinction. Steve took the comic reverently in his hands. "This is quite a find. Even in this crummy shape, it's probably worth several hundred dollars, maybe even four figures."

Still smiling, Tim took another book from the stack. This one was in slightly better shape. Less brown, less brittle, still with some wrinkles and cover creases, true...

And it was also a copy of Captain America Comics #1.

Tim handed the second book to Steve, whose eyes were wide. "This one's better than my copy!" he exclaimed. "It's easily worth over ten grand! Holy-- ! What else is in that box?"

Tim placed a few more comics on the table. Steve couldn't help noticing that the top book of the small stack was a third copy of Captain America Comics #1. Tim handed Steve yet another issue of Captain America Comics #1 from the box.

Steve was incredulous. "Tim... I don't even want to guess what this one's worth! It's... gorgeous!" He didn't take the comic from Tim. He didn't dare. By now, his palms were sweating. "What else is in that box?" he repeated.

"They're all the same book."

"What?!?"

"My grand-dad loved comic strips and comic books. He was ahead of his time, I guess you could say. He saw this book as a future collectible, probably before the term was even coined, and spent about ten dollars out of his pocket snapping up this bunch of books, when he was about twenty-five or so."

"Actually, they've been using the term 'collectible' since the late 1800s at least, and probably years earlier," Steve said, in a rather off-hand manner.

"Yeah? Who cares, professor?" Tim laughed, then continued. "I want to move these things. My daughter Ashley's pregnant -- again -- and my medical insurance sucks, frankly. Can you help? I mean, sure, I'll cut you in for--"

"You said 'ten dollars,' spent on comics that cost ten cents back in the day! Do you... do you mean...?"

"Uh-huh. There are about a hundred of them in here. Except for the ones near the top of the box and the ones near the bottom, they're mostly in the same shape as the one you call gorgeous."

"Jesus," Steve whispered, but in a way that made it sound less like a swear and more like a prayer. Finally, he spoke, with a very serious tone of voice, flavored with a bit of... awe? "I think, at one time or another, every comic book fan has had a fantasy about owning a freaking time machine and going back to buy up all the copies of Action Comics #1..." He interrupted his little speech to explain to Tim "That's the first appearance of Superman..."

"I know, I know. Geez, you think I don't read the papers, Steve? Thing's worth about a million bucks, right?"

"Yes," Steve said, and continued. "Anyway, after buying all those mint condition Actions, they'd come back to our time and sell them, and..."

Suddenly, something unsettling occurred to Steve.

"Tim. How many people know about this?"

"Just a handful... so far."

"What do you mean by 'just,' and by 'so far,' for that matter?"

"Well, my wife knows, of course, and my son Andy, and my neighbor Phil..." Tim hesitated.

"Who else?"

"Well, Phil called the local TV station, and they came down and interviewed me this morning," Tim said, somewhat uneasily. "So by the end of tonight's six o'clock news, a lot of people will know."

Steve was silent for several long seconds, breathing somewhat erratically. Then he looked at his Rolex. "Damn. I have to go, Tim. Look... I'll make some calls tomorrow and hook you up with someone, okay?"

"Uhhh... Okay, sure."

As he backed out of Tim's driveway, Steve realized that his hands were trembling, and that he had broken into a cold sweat.

*  *  *  *  *

The next day, while he was at work, Tim got an afternoon call from his friend and neighbor, Phil... the same Phil who'd called the TV station about Tim's extraordinary find the day before.

"Tim!" screamed Phil into the telephone. "You have to get home, now!"

"Is it... is it Jan?" asked Tim, referring to his wife.

"No, no, she left sometime this morning, and hasn't been back yet. Tim... Your house is on fire!"

In a panic, Tim made his excuses at work and rushed home. Firefighters and neighbors had mobbed Tim's property, and plunged the ordinarily sedate neighborhood into pandemonium.

But Phil had been wrong.

It wasn't Tim's house that was burning.

It was his shed.

*  *  *  *  *


When Steve finally arrived home that evening, Tim was sitting on his front steps. Steve approached the door, as an uncharacteristically serious-looking Tim stood and blocked his way.

"You son of a bitch," Tim muttered, in almost a growl.

"Tim..."

"And don't you dare deny it!"

"Deny what?"

Tim's face turned red. "You torched my shed, you son of a bitch!" he screamed. "I know it was you! What the hell were you thinking?!? Afraid someone else would have copies of that stupid book that were better than yours, or what? Tell me!"

Steve couldn't look Tim in the eye, but he managed to speak, in a voice that was eerily calm. "No. No. You don't understand."

Tim visibly restrained himself from striking out at the man he had trusted just one day earlier. "Oh. Then please," he said sarcastically, "do enlighten me."

"Books like that are valuable because of their rarity. A large amount of them, mostly in fine condition or better..."

"Save the collector talk, damn it!"

Steve nodded. "Okay... but I did it for the collectors! Throwing a large amount of them into the market, especially high-grade copies, would affect the value of all of them."

"Including yours."

"That wasn't my concern!"

"Wasn't it?"

"Well..." Steve shrugged. "It would have been different if there hadn't been any publicity. We could have leaked them onto the market, one at a time. You would have made a fortune."

"We would have made a fortune. I'd already told you I was going to cut you in for your help."

"That wasn't even the point."

"Right. Right. There was a point to all of this." 

"It would have thrown the market into turmoil. Anyone who owns that comic would watch his investment plummet."

"You're exaggerating. And it's one lousy title, out of how many? You talk like the bottom would drop out of the whole damned field, and that's ridiculous. And even once word had spread to all the fans, there's no saying I would have had to sell them all at once, right? So the demand still would have been there, for the most part, you jackass!" Steve blinked; he hadn't thought of that. "But instead of discussing your concerns with me, like a friend, what did you do? You burned my shed down!" Tim's hands were clenched into fists, but they remained at his side. "What if the wind had blown that fire toward my house, you idiot? Or... my God... what if I'd been keeping those books in my living room? Would you have burned my house down?"

"I guess... I guess I wasn't thinking clearly."

"To say the very least!" Tim exclaimed.

"What... What are you going to do? Call the police?"

"I sure as hell should." Tim shook his head. "When I think of what you just cost me...! Man, you are so damned lucky there wasn't anything of sentimental value in there. I'd freaking choke you to death right here and now if I'd lost any family heirlooms, or photographs..."

"I'm... sorry."

"Ha! I should choke you just for having the nerve to say that." Tim was literally trembling with rage, while he struggled to keep his voice under control. "Even if we did mess with your precious market value, or whatever the hell you'd call it, there are only a hundred. There were a hundred, I mean! And how many collectors would still want a copy? There are thousands of comic book nuts out there, right? Even if their value dropped by half, or even more, that's still a ton of money we both could have had! You stupid, selfish bastard!"

"I did it for the collectors..." Steve repeated lamely. "I didn't sleep at all last night," he added pitifully.

In a voice that was deceptively calm, Tim said "Thanks for reminding me that the word 'fan' comes from 'fanatic,' Steve."

"So, if you're not going to call the police, or... umm... choke me... what will you do?"

"I'm going to share some... information... with you."

"You're... what?"

"I told you how my grand-dad was an art collector. And that he saw comic books as a potential goldmine."

"Yes..."

"You stupid jerk, do you think that your precious Captain America Comics was the only title he bought in quantity?"

For the first time in this confrontation, Steve looked directly at Tim. Tim's usual smile had returned, however slight... and with a sneering quality.

"Almost all the boxes in that shed contained first edition comics, and other neat crap like character introductions! Comics no one else knew about, because the TV interview only dealt with that one box with the Captain America books! The rest could have been slipped into your wonderful 'marketplace' a handful at a time! All your favorite little funnybook icons, I'm sure! Superman, Batman, the Human Torch, Sub-Mariner, Captain Marvel, Plastic Man, Wonder Woman... not to mention later stuff from the 1950s, like Tarzan, some Western titles, and all these cool old horror comics..."

"EC Comics..." whispered Steve, mainly to himself.

Tim's spiteful smile widened as he saw Steve's eyes literally begin to water. "Heh. I never knew that Pogo was a comic book before he got his strip in the newspapers, by the way. And MAD used to be a comic book, too?" He paused. Steve was predictably devastated. "I sure learned a lot."

"Yeah," Tim continued, with a perverse pleasure, "my grand-dad Eddie kept buying them until the early 1960s, when the price jumped from ten cents to twelve. I saw some other stuff in there, newer heroes like Spider-Man, the Flash, Green Lantern...! Oh, hell, I'm sure you could rattle them off better than I could, right, Stevie?"

Steve had dropped to his knees on his front lawn, and was sobbing openly like a little child. Under other circumstances, even kind-hearted Tim would have laughed at how pathetic Steve looked. 

"There were some bigger boxes in that shed, too, Steve," said Tim, his voice raising with each sentence. "In the forties and fifties, my grand-dad also managed to score quite a bit of... I believe they call it 'original art?' Artists whose names mean nothing to me, of course, but to someone like you? I'll bet you would have known all of them! You know, hand-drawn comic pages, and quite a few penciled drawings..." Tim's usual smile had returned, full force, although with a bitterly cruel edge. "And naturally, I would have given you a lot of those things for your own collection -- and probably one of every single book in the bunch -- because you were such a good friend!"

Tim turned away from the sight of the broken man kneeling at his feet. As he began walking toward his car, which was parked on the street two houses away from Steve's property, he said "Hey, if you feel like you want to throw up, go for it. It's your lawn, after all."

Then Tim stopped and turned to face Steve once more, deciding to twist the knife, so to speak. "And you want to know something else, Steve? You obviously never learned anything from good old Captain America! Hell, I'll bet he'd be so, so ashamed of you right now."

And Tim was right, of course.

Captain America would have been so ashamed...

*  *  *  *  *

The character of Captain America®, created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, is the property of Marvel Comics. All illustrations are copyright© Marvel Comics as well. All other characters and/or titles mentioned are owned by their respective companies and/or creators, and absolutely no infringement of any kind is intended. No comic books were actually harmed during the writing of this story.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

David'Z RantZ ~~ PART TWO of Meme THIS. (or, "The Meme to End All Memes")

Last time, subversive & silvery s.o.b. that I am, I made you sit through what amounted to an introduction for today's post. (I've done it before. I'll do it again. Such is life.)

I talked about some of the problems with internet memes. And now, here's my solution:

Okay, okay, wait a second! Getting right to the point? That wouldn't be me, now would it?

I have to include at least one marginally-related digression, or you'd think you were reading somebody else's freakin' Twitter tweet!

A while back, I had a "problem" with the "chain letter" aspect of certain internet awards, and I announced the creation of "The Silver Fox's THRUST HOME Award!"

"The Silver Fox's THRUST HOME Award!" is an award that will be given only by me, and generally to only one recipient at a time. I'll only give the award to those whose posts have truly "thrust home" with me. There will be no set frequency for the giving of the award. (Since January 8th of last year, I've only given out three.) This is an award for individual blog posts, not for blogs! Recipients are asked, not told, to mention their receipt of said award on their own sites -- and two of 'em did -- along with a corresponding link to my own. And most importantly, winners are not allowed to give this award to others!

I thought, and still think, that all these facts make this award kinda special.

Here's "The Silver Fox's THRUST HOME Award," fellow babies.
I'm putting this coveted award here so you can see it, and because
 I thought today's post needed two red, black, & white illustrations!

So. What's my "solution" to the whole "meme thing?" Something so absurdly easy to do, it's something that everyone -- EVERY BLOGGER on the flippin' internet!!! -- will want to do!

It's like Theme Thursday or Sepia Saturday, or any of those other memes which take place on a specific day. And to make it even easier, I'm not going to tell you which day! Hell, fellow babies, I'm not even going to tell you its official title!!!

This, then, is "the meme to end all memes." Well, not "end" the others. of course. That's too much to ask, even for The Silver Fox! (I'm not all-powerful, and I'll oh-so-humbly admit that! I'm not a god. I just play one on my blog!) But this will be the best and easiest meme, one which everyone can -- and will -- play along with!

"But what do I have to do, oh Silver Fox?" you ask!

HA!

Nothing.

That's right! Nothing.

What could be easier, eh? (I threw in that "eh" so my Canadian friends would understand this post.)

So, if and when I -- or one of The Silver Fox's agents, minions, followers, worshippers, etc. -- drop by your blog on the assigned day of the week (a day which you won't even know about, as I said), and you're not mentioning it... I'll know you're participating. I won't tell you I know, of course, either publicly or privately. It'll be our little secret.

And if you show up here or anywhere else and state emphatically that you do not intend to join myself and the others? I know that that's only a disclaimer to fool people, but it isn't necessary. I know you're really one of us.

In no time at all, I guarantee that everyone on the internet will be playing along!

Of course, some of you may write a post saying that you are, indeed, playing along, or may leave a comment here or elsewhere, saying that you will. And you may, understandably, think that disqualifies you, so that you alone end up not playing after all! But fear not, oh tortured soul. I am nothing if not magnanimous in my forgiveness, so I will just assume that you simply screwed up the rules, and will keep you in the game nonetheless... forever.

Forever.

My meme, my rules. In other words, you are playing... whether you like it or not. [insert evil, triumphant, maniacal laughter here]

Thanks for your cooperation. Or, to put it another way, "boogity boogity boogity shoo!"

Hit it, maestro!


And thanks for your time.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

David'Z RantZ ~~ Meme THIS. (or, "The Meme to End All Memes")



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "The term Internet meme (pronounced /ˈmiːm/, rhyming with "cream") is used to describe a concept that spreads via the Internet." (Trust me, cuz I'm not gonna link to the bastard!)

Hey, if I may digress for a bit first -- as if you could stop me, huh? -- I have two questions for ya, fellow babies:

1. Why the hell does Wikipedia write "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia" at the beginning of all their topics? If you're too freakin' stupid to know you're on the Wikipedia site, even with that logo of theirs that looks like a three-dimensional, golf-ball-shaped puzzle staring you in the fizz, you probably won't be literate enough to read their "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia" statement anyway... not to mention the rest of the flippin' article! And as I once said in one of my old David'Z RantZ posts, "Now, it's one thing if a radio or TV announcer tells you who he or she is... For example, "This is Don Wilson saying..." But going to Wikipedia and being told by Wikipedia that you're reading something from Wiki-freakin'-pedia is like visiting me at my home, and listening to me beginning every single sentence with "This is David, saying..." as I look you in the eye!" (The full, funny as all get-out diatribe is here, if you're so inclined!)

If, as some have suggested, they do it so nobody will take the easy way out and just steal sections from their articles (which people do anyway, as a thorough search on virtually any topic will show ya), do they really think that a dedicated, crafty, unscrupulous user of copy-and-paste won't try to avoid being nabbed simply by not highlighting the "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia" part?

2. Can anybody really figure out how to pronounce a word by using Wikipedia's effed-up pronunciation key?

Okay. Back to my real topic.

Memes.

This is a word which has multiple applications. (So does the word "application" nowadays, but don't get me started on that...!)

Some bloggers use "meme" to describe those persistent internet variations-on-a-chain-letter that go something like this: "First, list seven times in your life when you've been forced to scratch an embarrassing itch in public. Then, link to seven other bloggers whom you've never actually met in the real world but are your dearest friends anyway (or were up until today, that is) and make them do the same damned thing. (If they refuse, you have our permission to T.P. their house.) In approximately three weeks, every blog on the internet will have done this, at which point 1. a magic elf who looks depressingly like Charlie Sheen will show up on your computer monitor, 2. that nameless eight-year-old orphan in Utah will be perpetually kept on life support, and 3. Bill Gates will send you a f***ing dollar. Or something."

Other bloggers use "meme" to describe those things some of us do on certain days, like Theme Thursday or Sepia Saturday. (And yes, I know I do Sepia Saturday posts also, but it's mainly because I have such a great & colorful effin' family that I wanna cram them all down your throats!)

There's a drawback to that -- a couple, actually -- and so I'll use a made-up scenario to showcase it. Or them. Or some damned thing.

Our fictional blogger -- we'll call him, oh, The Silver Fox -- sits down on Saturday to plan his blog posts for the week...

"Hm. Tomorrow, I'll do a SUNday SUNshine post, where I have to draw a picture illustrating one terrific thing that happened to me this past week. Let's see. My wife left me. I got a pay cut at work. My girlfriend left me. My lab results were HIV-positive. My dog left me. My girlfriend moved in with my wife, and they adopted my dog. WTF?!?

"Monday means my Maniac Monday post is due. I have to list seven times I've had restraining orders issued against me. And -- crap! -- I can only think of six...!

"Tuesday is Teutonic Tuesday, of course. I have to write about a fugitive Nazi war criminal whom I knew personally. Wonder if my son's guidance counselor is old enough?

"Wimp Wednesday is next, of course. This week, I have to write a story about someone I beat up when I was in third grade. Unfortunately, I was such a candy-ass... Does my younger sister count?

"Thursday's Thor's Day follows that. Wish my kid brother hadn't stolen all my old comic books! Guess I'm off to Wikipedia to copy and paste research that one!

"Oh, my favorite! Phlegm Phriday! I'll write about the time I coughed up a phlegm-ball that looked like J. Edgar Hoover! Now that I think of it, all phlegm-balls look like J. Edgar Hoover...

"Hm. What's this week's theme for Saturday Sucks? Ahh, the hell with it. Who gives a crap? I'll just recycle my SUNday SUNshine post! Who's gonna notice after six days of this drek?"

Ah, poor Silver Fox! For at the end of the week, he wonders, "Hey! When do I get a chance to write about a subject that I wanna write about?"

And that's not even the worst of it! Oh, no! One of the "rules" for this kind of meme is that you, as a participant, have to quit your job (or at least call in sick for the day) and read the posts from the other 47 players, and leave comments on 'em! Even on the posts of those who are way smarter than you are -- you sheep, you! -- and never return the favor.

So, anyway, my solution is to the whole "meme" thing is...

Oh, my, look at the time!

And look at the length of this post.

Hm.

Oh, well... I guess I'll have to finish this in Part Two.

I'll post that one tomorrow!

(Maybe.)

Thanks for your time.

Monday, April 4, 2011

One of Those Guys Named Leslie



Leslie Nielsen had a long and varied career as, well, Leslie Nielsen.

Leslie Townes Hope thought "Leslie" sounded girlish, so he thought of shortening it to "Les," as in "Lester." (In fact, some early records of his show him as having the name Lester!) Somewhere around the time he became an entertainer, he quickly saw that "Les Hope" could be twisted to "hopeless." He went with "Bob Hope" instead.

But Leslie Howard used his own name -- well, kinda (and more on that soon) -- with pretty good results, I'd say.

I think it's safe to say that he (and admittedly, a few other actors of his ilk) defined the genteel British gentleman in the eyes of America during the 1930s and beyond. He was far more than just an "actor," having produced and directed films as well. I've enjoyed many of his works.

Admittedly, I found 1934's Of Human Bondage -- the star-making vehicle for Bette Davis, whom I must admit has never been a huge favorite of mine -- to be a bit over-bearing, but that's just a personal taste (and this is, after all, my personal blog, right, fellow babies?).

I loved The Petrified Forest, the 1936 film which co-starred him with (again) Bette Davis, and provided a great springboard for a motion picture newbie named Humphrey Bogart. (Legend has it that after having appeared with Bogart on Broadway, Howard insisted on Bogie's casting in the film, against the wishes of the studio which desired a bigger "name" actor in the role of Duke Mantee.) Howard's character (and his noble sacrifice) might have been a great role model for me... if only I'd first seen the film at a more impressionable age.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I saw Howard's take on The Scarlet Pimpernel, another of his movies from 1934. I was drawn to it by the "secret identity" aspect later utilized by such childhood heroes of mine like Zorro, Batman, and so many others. So when I encountered a listing in Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide a few years ago for Pimpernel Smith, a 1941 updating of the original Pimpernel tale with Howard again in the title role, I determined to search for it on video... a search which took me until a few months ago.

My locating Pimpernel Smith coincided with my finding a copy of Howard in 1938's Pygmalion (the film precursor of My Fair Lady), which was highly recommended to me by fellow Blogger-blogger Willow. This acquisition was also made a few months ago.

Typically, for me, I didn't actually make time to watch either film until a very short time ago. And, as the anniversary of Howard's 1893 birth was on April 3rd, I decided to watch the two back-to-back, and possibly craft an April 3rd post from this double viewing. (The fact that I'm posting this on April 4th says that I have a life outside this little blog.)

Pygmalion, as Willow promised, was a delight. Although I'm very familiar with the plot of -- and songs from -- My Fair Lady, I've never seen that whole movie! (You may pick yourselves up, now!) Therefore, there were a lot of surprises for me. (Actually, I'd read Pygmalion in a high school English class, but it didn't make that much of an impression on me then.)

I must admit, I was very amused by the fact that the British allowed the liberal use of the word "damn" in that 1938 film, while we in America -- thanks to the Hays Code -- would be scandalized by its single use in 1939's Gone with the Wind only a year later... a film which also featured Mr. Howard! (And I'll bet you thought I was going to leave his appearance in GWTW unmentioned, eh?)

Of course, I've read that the word "bloody" -- a word which is totally inoffensive to most Americans, who don't know its slang etymology to the British -- was used in Pygmalion to no little controversy!

Pimpernel Smith is also a fun flick, albeit more seriously handled, for the most part, as befitting its anti-Nazi subject matter. Once you get past the Nazi soldiers speaking in heavy British accents, the movie draws you in admirably.

The real-life Howard was quite involved in fighting against Nazism, both prior to and during World War II. In fact, said involvement may -- or may not -- have lead to his untimely death in June of 1943... a fascinating controversy, discussed at great length here. Howard's anti-Nazi feelings may have been exacerbated by the fact that he was born Leslie Howard Steiner, son of a Hungarian Jew and his British wife (herself the granddaughter of a Jewish immigrant from East Prussia).

In fact, the only thing I didn't like about Pimpernel Smith was that my copy of the movie ended right before the emotional final speech given by Howard's character, as promised by the notes on the back of the VHS tape's box! I've never seen the freakin' ending! And at this late date, I really doubt I could finagle a free replacement copy of Pimpernel Smith from the video company.

Well, at least I now know that it's available on DVD...

What's this? Why, it's nothing more
or less than a DVD rewinder! Heh.

Thanks for your time.

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