Friday, December 16, 2005

The Way The Future Wasn't

Back in the early days of the space age – the late 1950s – it seemed that the US had decided on a practical plan to conquer the frontier beyond the earth’s atmosphere.

First: build a vessel that would launch on the top of a rocket but would return to the earth like a plane, gliding to a landing with its wings. Second: use the space plane to transport the materials needed to assemble a station orbiting the earth. Then, use the station to build ships that would take man to his nearest neighbor, the moon.

That’s the plan laid out in the book, Space Flight: The Coming Exploration of the Universe, by Lester Del Rey (1958). Aimed at young readers, this book features illustrations by John Polgreen that originally looked futuristic, but nowadays look retro. There’s something about a “spaceman” in his protective suit, floating above the earth with mechanical claws attached to his gloves and boots, that says 1950s movie sci fi.

I wonder why the plan laid out in the book was abandoned. After all, the space station and the shuttle came after man landed on the moon. Was the plan impractical, too costly? Or was it because that President John F. Kennedy kicked off the space race to get the stars and stripe unfurled on the moon before the hammer & sickle? I suspect the latter. Word came down from the top: Cut to the chase; drop the shuttle and the station.

With such a non-fiction book, Lester Del Rey most likely consulted with government experts. Thus the plan presented was probably the official one as of 1958.

As part of the official plan, the moon ships would have been built in earth orbit using construction globes, maneuverable spheres with robot arms – and, of course, the standard claws – all operated by a man sitting comfortably in the globe.

Since a moon ship didn’t have to be streamlined for the earth’s atmosphere – it would leave and return from the space station - the vessel would have a simple design, a rough frame holding together a set of fuel tanks and metal globes. Each ship would be topped by a spherical living quarters for the crew. This globe would have a couple of external antennas, radio and radar, sticking out into space, giving it that weird insect look.

Three ships would go to the moon, two of them manned and the third one serving as the supply ship. As Del Rey explains about the first lunar expedition: “About fifty men will go with the ships, since it takes many different branches of science and types of skill to explore a whole world.” He adds that since no one was sure how many trips could be made – the project would be so expensive – the astronauts had to learn as much as possible in one trip.

All three ships would land on the lunar surface. Compare this proposal to the Apollo program. One ship with only three men went each time. The ship had to separate into two parts, the orbiter and the lunar excursion module. One spaceman – I mean astronaut - had to stay behind in orbit while the other two explored the surface. On the return home, the LEM had to link up with the orbiter. In Space Flight that step was eliminated: the ships took off from the moon; the only link-up to be made was with the space station.

At the same time the plan in Space Flight seems to have its own potential for disaster. What would happen if the supply ship crashed? Would most of the food and water be destroyed with it?

But that point is moot. The official 1958 plan is gone, down the memory hole for most people. NASA is getting ready to phase out the space shuttle for a crew exploration vehicle (CEV). Apparently NASA is going retro. The CEV will be an updated version of the space capsule atop the rocket. It won’t land like a rocket plane.

And, more importantly, the CEV doesn’t even have the cool look of a metal sphere with weird insect antennae sticking out.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Al Parker, LibertyNetter: A Sketch

Every Saturday night at 10 PM Eastern Time, a group of concerned Americans take to the airwaves in the 75 meter band, usually in the vicinity of 3.950 MHz, in single sideband mode. Heard primarily on the US East Coast, these amateur radio operators – hams – are politically to the right of Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News TV channel.

After listening to the Liberty Net over the years, allowing their voices into my home, I’ve noted the differences in personalities, even though they repeat the same mantras about the threat of the New World Order. One of the regulars is Al Parker, hailing from Long Island. Parker has talked about the good old days of TV, the 1950s, when respectable programming was the norm. From his reminiscences, one gets the impression that he grew up during those golden years of such programs as “Have Gun, Will Travel” and “The Donna Reed Show.” He pines for those wholesome diversions, the oldtime Westerns and light-hearted family comedies. After all, black and white TV shows had black and white values, no shades of gray.

Oddly enough, Parker is a science fiction fan. (Odd in the sense that most people associate SF with liberated thinking – liberalism.) Sometimes he’ll mention an old episode of “Star Trek” or “The Twilght Zone” to illustrate a point regarding the shadowy takeover of the USA by the Great Conspiracy.

And then there’s his speculations. Only an SF writer sitting alone at a bar, belting down the hard stuff and letting his imagination run wild, could match Parker’s epiphanies. For example, conspiracy theorists suspect that contrails left behind by certain aircraft are laced with chemicals, so-called chemtrails. It’s part of a plan or experiment to control the masses. Parker stated that he wouldn’t be surprised if chemtrails would be used by the NWO to project holograms in the sky to frighten and control the masses through religious symbols. He was implying something on the order of a giant talking Jesus in the sky.

Sometimes he’ll get on a kick about a certain aspect of the conspiracy, the Illuminati and organized crime, going on about the Illumina-Mafia. Lately he’s been anti-Albionic, blaming Britain and its Royal Family for the evil schemes unfolding throughout the world. Sometimes Parker has interesting leaps of logic. Take red symbolism, for instance. Red China loves that color and so does Britain. Look at the redcoats who fought against the colonists during the Revolutionary War. Red = royal power and communism.

Parker discusses and speculates on stuff way beyond anything Donna Reed could have ever imagined. For him the world will never return to black and white TV.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Don’t Hesitate – Ugate!

Looking for the perfect gift for someone you don’t really like? Are you fed up with the materialistic greed of the holiday season? Do you think Xmas is a load of dung?

Then think ugation (yoo-gae-shun). It’s a word I’ve coined for a particular type of subversive art. Just hand someone one of these items as a gift and tell them it’s an ugation, an uber-genre creation (sometimes called by its less pretentious label, art wrecko).

An ugation is easy to make. In fact, if you spend too much time and money on one, you’re working too hard. Just collect some items and with some glue and tape slap them together into abstract kitsch. The trick is to make it appear artsy. Think of something that could be an acceptable work, but push it too far, beyond the limits of good taste. Act like a six-year old tripping on LSD while recovering from a severe head injury.

Find an empty jelly jar, fill it with marbles, and then shove a plastic flower into place. Then affix some large safety pins to the artificial petals, throw some glitter all over the mess and – viola! – you’ve ugated!

Prowl through the trash can. Hey, there’s an old white lampshade. Well, grab some magic markers of various uncomplimentary colors and unleash chaos all over that shade. Then glue on some plastic bugs; you can get a bagful at your local dollar store. Now stand back – is that art or what?

Now if you’re someone who feels easily guilted by giving someone a dubious gift, there’s the option of keeping the ugation and prominently displaying it in your abode. The item can sit there like an intellectual Venus flytrap, waiting for an unsuspecting bugbrain.

The trickiest ugation is a simple two-item construct that supposedly says much more than the sum of its parts. For example, take a toy action figure, bobblehead, or a small plastic statue and add one thing that looks artsy. For example, I have a toy Frankenstein statue with a poseable head. By turning the head halfway around, Frank is looking up, his face at a steep angle. I found a bundle of narrow-width gift-wrap ribbon lying around and jammed it over him.

This work of alleged art looks like an ET octopus is attacking Frankenstein. If anyone asks, I’ll tell him that the piece is entitled “The Monster Bound.” I’ll throw in pseudo-intellectual art critic crap about minimalism, dadaism, the existentialistic angst movement, whatever. I’ll claim that the fancy ribbon entangling Frank represents the beauty of the world trying to destroy him. Hey, is that any less BS than what you see at some galleries?

In fact, ugation makes the perfect gift for someone who puts on the airs of a connoisseur. Of course, don’t tell the lucky recipient the word is really pronounced ug-a-tion – as in ugly creation. Just stick to the uber-genre story and stress the artsy u-ga-tion pronunciation. If you’re cool, the sucker – I mean recipient – won’t catch on.

Like I say, art should be made by the masses – for the asses.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hey – My Omicron Bread Is Soggy!

If you track fads – especially the ones in book publishing – a great way to see if something is passé is by noting what ends up being tossed away, especially if it’s many items from the same category.

No, I don’t engage in bin-diving. But I do check out the FREE BOOKS box at the local used bookstore. Recently I came across a bunch of titles from the CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE series published by Bantam Books. Apparently that craze is over; you can only give them away.

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE was aimed at what is classified as RL 4 readers, age 10 and up. You were the hero, making choices that end up in victory or defeat. You could be a cyberspace warrior or an international ski racer. Each book would introduce you to yourself as a particular protagonist, quickly filling in the backstory before plunging you into an adventure.

At some point a crisis would occur and you had to make the right decision. Let’s say you’re a jungle explorer who is confronted by a menacing gorilla. You could try to shoot the beast or use a Tarzan yell to scare it away. If you decide to plug some lead into the primate, you’re told to turn to page 101. If you go for the yelling, then you would turn to page 16.

Let’s say you want to be an animal lover and try to deal with the gorilla in a non-violent manner. So you choose the Tarzan yell and then flip to page 16 to find out the gorilla thinks Tarzan is a punk and doesn’t give a crap about PETA. So the enraged ape rips off your arms, legs, and then cracks open your skull to dine on your fresh brains. THE END.

Next time, go for the headshot, sucker.

Of course, such a scenario as the preceding is an exaggerated take-off on what could happen to an adventure chooser. But still you can end up in unpleasant circumstances, such as being ripped apart by fanged and clawed ETs.

That unfortunate ending shows up in YOU ARE A GENIUS by Edward Packard (CHOOSE YOR OWN ADVENTURE #95). One day you’re an average high school student, but overnight you’ve become a genius. Soon you’re building robots that appear to be nothing more than R2-D2 rip-offs. Or you find a way to travel in space faster than the speed of light, building a spaceship that takes you to the planet Omicron.

When you land on Omicron, your ship is badly damaged and needs repairs. The locals, monsters possessing super-strength, are ready to rip your vessel apart. If you weren’t so stressed out, you would notice that while you build robots that are knock-offs of STAR WARS bots, these monsters resemble the critters from the ALIEN movie series, complete with elongated heads and fang-filled, drooling mouths.

Your choices are to fire at the monsters, move the ship to another spot on the planet, or take a moment to think.

OK, I’m an older reader and I could anticipate my fate with either fight or flight. So I chose to think it over. That decision let me study the monsters, learn their language, and approach them in peace.

Of course, you can’t reject a friendly offering or the “natives” will get restless again. What bothers me is the illustration by artist Frank Bolle of the aliens bringing food baskets to the ship while thick drool is pouring from their gaping mouths, sticky saliva all over the fish and the bread. Hey, I don’t want strange body fluids all over my lunch.

Then again, if I decided fight or flight, the aliens would have torn me apart. To be fair, there should’ve been a fourth choice: waiting for the bus. In classic Michael O’Donoghue fashion, a bus runs over the aliens, killing them, THE END.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Latest Illuminati Ploy: Goofy Comic Books?

What would Bill Cooper think if he was still alive?

Cooper used to rant and rave on his radio program, Hour of the Time, about all the Illuminati symbols semi-hidden in everyday objects, from that mystical pyramid topped with an all-seeing eye on the dollar bill to any architecture featuring pyramidal shapes. It was all a pyramid scheme to him.

The Illuminati, as defined by Cooper, was an interlocking network of organizations focused upon enslaving all of mankind under a new world order. Such organizations as the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Freemasons, Green Stamps Redemption Centers, whatever.

One time I called Bill Cooper when he was a guest on another radio program. I talked about all the mystic symbols I spotted during the introduction to David Letterman’s late night show when he was on NBC-TV – you know, back in the days when Dave was funny. While the intro credits rolled, the viewer was treated to a fly-over of New York City at night, all sorts of illuminated skyscrapers. I mentioned that one building was topped by a pyramid, obviously a cryptic symbol hidden in plain sight by the Illuminati.

Bill Cooper agreed with me. David Letterman was an Illuminatus, a key player in the machinations of the mega-conspiracy.

Programs such as Cooper’s on shortwave radio were very entertaining, much more so than one of my other pastimes, comic books. The trouble with comics was I matured, the medium didn’t.

In fact all the entertainment I get from comics lately is reading various web sites about the industry, keeping up with the latest schemes and feuds. The business, not the product, provides more fun.

So the other day I’m scanning one comic book site,, and what do I see? An article entitled ILLUMINATING THE ILLUMINATI WITH BRIAN BENDIS. Without any mention of Adam Weishaupt and the Great Conspiracy, the piece talked about how funnybook writer Bendis has formed within the world of Marvel Comics a nexus of leading superheroes – Mister Fantastic, Doctor Strange, Forbush-Man, et al. – who meet in secret to handle a major crisis when it arises. Guess what name is used for this cabal of costumed clowns?

As Bendis explains: “The inspirations for the Illuminati came from things like the UN Security Council, as well as the closed-door meetings in the White House and other organizations and countries that are off the books…”

Art imitating life?

Bill Cooper used to maintain that the Illuminati laughed at the unsuspecting masses, the sheeple too stupid to see the clues right in front of them.

One wonders how many ultra-right-wingers have contacted Marvel Comics to expose this apparent subterfuge by the real-life Illuminati. To atone, Marvel should publish a “Classics Illustrated” version of the Cooper conspiracy masterpiece, “Behold A Pale Horse.” In that book Cooper maintained – before the X-Files TV series – that the government was covering up the truth about UFOs and, more importantly, it was conspiring with evil space aliens who were cruelly experimenting on human abductees.

Hey, it would be better than that crap they’re doing with Spider-Man lately.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Are you a flying saucer fiend looking for a ripping good read? Well, you can’t go wrong with the booklet, UFOMANIA (1998), by the late Allan J. Manak.

The subtitle sums up the basis of this fascinating tome: THE LORE AND LEGEND OF UFOLOGY. The subtitle sums up the basis of this fascinating tome: THE LORE AND LEGEND OF UFOLOGY. Manak collected all sorts of bizarre UFO tales and while he doesn’t try to promote every incident as objective reality, neither does he completely discount every one.

In the preface he states “...a true study of the UFO enigma must include a study of all encounters and incidents, not just the cases that support a specific theory. One must not overlook the ‘nut factor’ or ‘way out factor’ just because one cannot include it in his own way of thinking.”

UFOMANIA presents an array of the weird, from jelly creatures dancing around their saucer to six inch tin can beings eying a stranded driver before scooting away on their tripod legs and taking off in a rocket. Of course, some tales, like the Aurora crash, have been proven to be hoaxes, but they still remain entertaining, especially when illustrated by an artist named Benita Carrol Owens.

My favorite is the saucerfolk food incident in which the experiencer claimed that the visitors gave him some pancakes before they departed. In an editor’s note Manak says he saw a piece of a space pancake in a display case at the U.S. Air Force Museum. Now can Aunt Jemima make a similar claim to fame? Nope. No mention of any of her pancakes being put on display by the government at .

UFOMANIA can be ordered for four bucks, postpaid, from Rick Hilberg, 377 Race Street, Berea, Ohio 44017 .

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Curse of FREE BOOKS.

There’s a used bookstore in my town that is stuffed to the rafters with material. The overflow ends up in cardboard boxes outside the store. I can’t walk by without checking through the latest free offerings. It’s a curse.

I know I shouldn’t be complaining about getting something for free. I would be upset if the FREE BOOKS box disappeared. But like the proverbial lunch, free books can have conditions attached.

My apartment is stuffed to the rafters with tomes. I don’t need any more. I have too many now. So many that it’s easy to lose one title among the printed matter maelstrom that dominates my small dwelling. The other day I wanted to consult a HTML book for a bit of code I needed. Couldn’t find it. After I gave up and didn’t need the book, it decided to suddenly appear.

And here’s another damning aspect of the curse: a plethora of books but no surfeit of time to read even a fraction of them.

Usually a book by a marginal author –- one who succeeded in getting published and attracting some readers –- ends up in the castoffs, making room for the popular stuff like King or Koontz that remains safe inside the bookstore, out of the elements. Even if the planet blows up, there are so many copies of King and Koontz titles floating around, omnipresent like cockroaches, that their work will survive, all thanks to the law of averages, not the law of intrinsic worth.

But what really bugs me is that after all these years I’ve never had a story or book published, never made it even to the margin.

Those damn, depressing FREE BOOKS.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Modern Age Meets Middle Earth.

Here’s the latest simplistically stylish illustration by Ginger Snap. She didn’t provide any explanation, leaving it up to the viewer to make an interpretation. To me this is how gray aliens abduct hobbits. Morph the flying saucer into a tree with a magical entrance and the trap is set. (I wonder if Gandalf could kick ET butt? Now there’s a question to provoke an argument among some nerds...)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Love God –- Fear Him!

That was the theme the other afternoon when I tuned in WWCR on the SW band and heard another radio preacher going on about death and destruction. You could hear papers rustling around on his desk as he sorted through the latest batch of bad news. Earthquakes! Floods! Fires! Hurricanes! If something terrible was going on in the world, this end-times preacher had to mention it.

I didn’t listen to the entire program but caught the last segment. The preacher was ranting on about God’s judgment, kept raking through his clippings, but after a while he was running out of new material to frighten his audience.

Too bad he didn’t include an article about the help that people provide when Earthquakes! Floods! Fires! and Hurricanes! strike. Not one story about a Good Samaritan digging someone out from the rubble or bringing a victim stranded on a roof to safety in a boat.

But that preacher ain’t talking about that kind of God.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A Christian Mom & Those God-Distracting UFOs.

While doing some research on the Web I came across a letter column, Mom Time, from the magazine, Today’s Christian Woman, dealing with a mother who was concerned her son was too fascinated by aliens and UFOs. In her letter entitled “Lost in Space,” the mother expressed great concern, wondering if her son’s interest with UFOs was healthy, even though it was a “boy thing.”

The columnist, Lisa Welchel, indicated that such an interest could be harmful, citing a quote from a Christian book that stated science fiction could be a substitute religion, as evinced by attending a Star Trek convention. Then Welchel wrote:

“The Bible says, "For by him [Jesus] all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him" (Colossians 1:16). Satan is aware of the fact that "the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Psalm 19:1). The Devil realizes man will be drawn to explore the skies, even if only in his imagination. But he also knows the Creator behind the creation, so he had to come up with a plan to divert and distract. Enter UFOs, space aliens, extraterrestrials, and anything else that draws our attention away from worshiping God, the logical response to gazing upon his infinite wonders.”

The columnist advised buying the boy a telescope to explore the heavens with God as his guide, stressing the science over the fiction.

I wonder how this columnist would react if aliens land some day and declare that they’re atheists. Or, even worse, that Jesus was one of them, an ET prankster.

Of course, that’s a SF concept. But that’s the value of SF: it can prepare you to think about the unthinkable.

[Source: -- Today's Christian Woman, September/October 2005]
© 2005 Ginger Snap

Tapping into that youthful sense of wonder.

That’s the source of inspiration for artist Ginger Snap. Sometimes she likes to imagine UFOs, aliens, and similar unusual concepts with a young mind’s-eye. She graduated with a Master of Fine Art and found herself burnt out with art, especially with creating it. "I felt overeducated, overcritical," she explains. "I found I had lost the love for art that I had in my younger years." For now she is putting aside her MFA experience, concentrating on reconnecting to her childhood creativity. "Art can be fun," she says. "There is more to it than Technique."

Friday, October 14, 2005

Brother Stair –- he’s everywhere.

At least on shortwave radio. Just surf your way through the SW frequencies and you’re bound to hear this radio preacher, 24/7. I listened to a bit of his program the other night. I used to listen religiously but grew tired of the same old end-time ranting.

Ensconced in his commune in Walterboro, South Carolina, Ol’ BS finds it hard to keep the outside world at bay while preaching as the Last Day Prophet. Legal problems have dogged him. Back in May 2002 his name was in the news: the local authorities accused him of improper relations with underage ewes in his flock. He was able to reach a deal through plea-bargaining, after spending a couple of months in jail. Since then he has plead guilty in another case for improperly touching a couple of his ewe and more recently he faced a civil suit by stray sheep claiming they were sheared and wanted their money back.

In regards to the fondling incident, BS defended himself in The Post and Courier newspaper (Charleston, SC) by saying that the whole case was overblown because outsiders didn’t understand his religious community. [Religious commune leader pleads guilty in fondling case (December 1, 2004) By Andy Paras]

When I listened to his broadcast recently, Ol’ BS explained that he plead guilty because they were going to find him guilty anyway.

If you’re unfamiliar with Brother R.G. Stair, he’s one of the voices on domestic shortwave radio who fall into the category of Christian conspiracy alarmists. BS will tell you that it’s all a great mega-conspiracy —- the Freemasons, the Vatican, the Illuminati –- they are pulling the strings in the background, enslaving the world. Even to the point, apparently from his POV, that they can rig any jury they want.

[Sources: ; .]

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Put your UFO encounter on the map.

Seen a flying saucer lately? You can file a report online at . And afterwards it will pop up on a map at . The location of the sighting will be indicated by a domed flying saucer with a smiley face. Click on a saucer and a pop-up word balloon will appear with brief details. Click again and you can read the full report as filed at NUFORC (National UFO Reporting Center). Of course, there are a few bugs with the UFO map, especially when you have too many saucers hovering over the same general area on the map. But the wizards behind this service say there are working on this problem and others. My spot check revealed reports that ranged from Shaftsbury, Vermont to Venice, Florida to Gilbert, Arizona to Tacoma, Washington.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Aliens are among us –- so states Jim Marrs. So what are they up to?

If you’re looking for a solid answer, you’ll be disappointed after reading Alien Agenda: Investigating the Extraterrestrial Presence Among Us (1997). Marrs is described as an “award-winning journalist” on the back cover. I don’t know if he won a Pulitzer, but I’ll say one thing for him: he can write a ripping good anecdote.

His book is loaded with evidence –- of the anecdotal kind. He covers major incidents in UFO history, contending that The Powers That Be In The Shadows are hiding the truth from us. At times –- probably because of his journalistic background – Marrs will present some wild explanation and then back off a bit with a qualifying statement something like “No one can really say if this theory is correct, but it could provide an answer.”

Or a bit of far out speculation is followed by a qualifying statement intended to lead the reader to draw a specific conclusion. For example, at one point Marrs is talking about strange sightings of what some purport to be intelligently constructed buildings on the lunar surface. On pages 23-24 he states (emphasis added): “If these structures are pyramids and if they do match the layout of the Egyptian pyramids, they might connect to the pyramid-shaped structures photographed by a Viking probe of Mars in 1976.”

With that last statement, an uncritical or inattentive reader would think Marrs made this statement: “There are Egyptian pyramids on the moon, just like the ones on Mars, made by aliens.” But he didn’t say that –- thanks to the use of key qualifiers “if” and “might.”

On the topic of ancient astronauts, i.e. aliens who visited mankind in the past, Marrs asks this question (page 61): “Does any tangible proof exist today to support the idea of high technology in the distant past?”

His conclusion (emphasis added): “The answer would seem to be a clear ‘yes’ after considering some of the world’s known mysteries.” A clear “yes” precludes any qualifying phrases such as “would seem to be.” If the answer is clearly true, it’s apparent, no conditions attached.

With his use of qualifiers, Marrs suffers from “seemyness” at certain points in his book. Obviously, as a writer, he’s over-qualified.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Maurice Del Bourgo.

I’ve read a lot of comic books over the years –- approximately 1.2 googol’s worth –- so it takes a lot to catch my attention, especially with artwork from the golden age of comics, the 1930s-1940s. Nowadays I don’t read that many comics, mostly because the majority feature super-people running around in tight underwear with the same plots being recycled ad nauseam.

Also, prices have jumped on the “floppies,” as today’s kids call them. A 10 cent comic now has less pages and can set you back for around four bucks or more.

While poking around a secondhand shop that was going out of business, I came across some older comics for half-a-buck each, including one that reprinted a “classic” comic from the 1940s: More Fun No. 101, the Millennium Edition from DC Comics. The lead story, “Formula for Doom,” features a Robin Hood knock-off of Batman, the Green Arrow. GA has a kid partner named Speedy –-- a knock-off of Bats’ buddy, Robin –- and he gets around town in his Batmobile – oops, I mean his Arrowcar.

While the story is typical of the time, I found the art to be –- wild. At first glance Del Bourgo’s work on this story looks unprofessional; but after a second glance, you realize he’s pulling off some clever stuff appropriate for a superhero fantasy story.
Ever catch reruns of the campy Batman TV series from the 1960s? Remember how some of the scenes were shot with a pronounced tilt, the floor slanting at such a degree that you expected the people to slide away? The director was obviously inspired by comic book artists like Del Bourgo.

In one panel GA and Speedy are racing through the city in the Arrowcar, following up on a lead. The perspective is flat and cock-eyed. The elements in the scene –- the Arrowcar, buildings in the background, fire hydrant in the foreground –- look like cut-outs slammed down at random. The skyline runs straight across the top of the panel but the Arrowcar at mid-point is slanted down at a steep angle, the street ignoring the skyline. The hydrant in the foreground is also tilted but perpendicular to the Arrowcar as if ready to fly up and punch its way through GA’s yellow vehicle. A shadowy streak runs along the car, a glint over the front wheel forming an eye. The Arrowcar is outlined with splashes of gray and black.

Other panels also feature “acute perspective.” In one scene Green Arrow fires over the heads of the bad guys, his arrow trailing a cord as it embeds itself in the top of a bookcase in the background. The bad guys laugh, not realizing that GA didn’t miss. With the cord in hand, GA pulls on his “arrowline” and the bookcase topples, hardcover tomes hitting GA’s enemies with purple bursts.

This last action is summed up in one panel, GA’s gloved hand in the foreground, pulling the arrowline. The cord is severely foreshortened, compressed, running at a steep angle to the arrow stuck in the top of the bookcase. Even with the flattened perspective, Del Bourgo manages to fit in a couple of the bad guys between GA’s hand and the falling bookcase, complete with books bashing in their heads. To add to the crazy tilting, the bookcase falls crookedly, parallel with GA’s arm instead of straight forward.

I can’t draw an acceptable stick man, but I am a decent photographer. I look at that panel and wonder, “How the hell would I set up a shot like that? Wide angle lens? Telephoto?” Of course, a comic book artist has greater license than a photographer. At the same time to pull off something like that takes real talent.

And it becomes more impressive when you consider artists like Del Bourgo were working for peanuts, banging out work as quickly as possible.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A lightweight ET.

Here’s a photo of an alien hanging around a porch one afternoon in Plattsburgh. I wonder if he was drinking the beer or the soda.


Scattering seeds in another place hoping that something will germinate.

I've been zining for over ten years, staring with a snail mail version, then an email one, and finally a webzine. It's always been a money loser. Obviously I'm not writing for profit; what I do appreciate is feedback on my efforts.

My zine, the Ray X X-Rayer, takes a look at the Uncommon and the Unusual. Of course, there's the common unusual -- UFOs, paranormal events, conspiracy theories -- topiX I've been covering in X-R. But there are other offbeat topiX that intrigue me so I'm not always focused on flying saucers or the Illuminati.

My goal with this blog is to cover uncommon subjects with short articles that may be included in my zine, revised and expanded if needed. I do struggle with writer's block so don't expect me to blog here on a regular basis. I write when I can -- and when I really have something to say.

For more info on my zine, please check out .