Sunday, May 03, 2020

A Plague For A Dark Age


(This is an article from the latest edition of my ezine Ray X X-Rayer #149. You can find it at . Back issues are listed at . Or you can join my free and private subscription list by contacting me at raypalmx[at]gmail[dot]com, subject line: Subscription.)

Deathstar ]

The election of Donald Trump to the US presidency marked the onset of the present dark age.

All the ugliness -- greed, racism -- that had been boiling in the background erupted. Anti-science and insane conspiracy theories rule. For some emotion based on a black-and-white worldview pushed by an authoritarian leader is the answer.

And like the Middle Ages this modern dark age has become dominated by a plague, the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far I've dodged the bullet -- actually, the artillery shell. My age and underlying health problems make me a prime target for the coronavirus. Living alone for decades in one way has made it easier; in another way harder.

I can't remain confined to my apartment. I still need some outside contact. Maybe I should get a pet for company, a cat or a dog or a rhinoceros.

TV makes a lousy companion when leaving it on in the background. The same annoying ads every five minutes, every channel, 24/7. Does anyone else want to stomp the fuck out of the Geico gecko?

With a novel virus there are a lot of unknowns about it. Sometimes the story changes on how to protect yourself. I'm waiting for the announcement that you have to wash your hands for 22, not 20, seconds.

Of course my body picked a good time to have a hernia. Despite my doctor's PA pronouncing the bulge around my bellybutton was “just some fluid” I conducted a Google search and figured out that I did have a hernia. For example lying on my back caused the swelling to go down.

In this age of COVID-19 I had a telemedicine interview on my laptop with a surgeon. Apparently my hernia isn't that bad – I've heard some people live their whole life with one like mine – so when the world returns to semi-normal I can go under the knife to get it fixed, no rush.

The surgeon explained most likely my surgery would involve small holes, a lap-something, lapsodaisical, lapdancechoreography, whatever.

One image from this time that will remain with me is walking through a supermarket wearing a mask while a maskless woman smiled at me as if my caution was a joke, I was a jerk. Ironically the mask was more for her protection if I was asymptomatic. While some show altruism others evince selfishness.

All I can do is ride it out. After all I did live through the Cold War dark age, especially the Cuban missile crisis. Well, at least I did in this parallel universe.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

RX XR #148 Published

The latest issue is available at .

Previous issues can be found here:

Below is a sample article from XR #148.

Potty-Mouth Reviews Stars Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

A review evinces high standards by the use of coarse language.

Nothing gets the point across than saying a movie studio is sending a big F.U. to fans with a new release.

Someone with the dubious appellation of That Star Wars Girl ranted on YouTube how she thought the latest Star Wars movie was a fragment of fecal matter. (Or in words to that effect.)

I enjoy a good rant but there's more to one than a string of obscenities that an immature middle grade school student would use. You don't impress me with a plethora of potty pronouncements. Such words don't bother me, they bore me. Try reading Roger Ebert reviews if you want to intelligently make points about a movie.

Thursday, November 14, 2019 Dropped

It was no longer worth the money.  The original Blogspot URL works just as well.  Activity at this blog was been crickets and tumbleweeds.  Every year the renewal price has been going up while hits have been dropping.  I haven't received any comments in a long time. 

My ezine Ray X X-Rayer does receive a LOC or two so I know a few people are out there with that outlet.  I've grown tired with the duplicative effort of publishing the same material on my blog and in my zine.  I'm considering using this blog only to announce the latest issue of RX XR with a link to .

If you want to read my stuff as a zine go to .

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Blockheads In Ice Blocks Movie Night

By coincidence the two movies I watched the other evening each featured the title character trapped in ice.

The Thing From Another World (1951.) A remote arctic research station detects the crash of an unusual object. Upon investigation they discover an alien being encased in ice. Somehow the men are able to carve out a coffin-sized ice block to bring the creature back to their base.

Uh-oh. Quibble time. How did they dig underneath the alien Popsicle to create the block, especially with a bad storm on the way limiting their time? How did they raise the block to fly it back home? Did someone crawl under, carving away without the ice falling and crushing him?

At the base the frozen ET is stored in a cold room. OK, the monster has to get free or watching an ice-encased alien just sitting there gets boring really quick. How a delayed reaction by a damaged heating device on the alien, melting him free?

No, they have to use the "I didn't know the electric blanket was still on when I threw it on the ice block" gag. And what adds to the nonsense is a soldier sitting around eight feet away from the melting block, his back turned towards it so it can't see what is happening. But he should hear the dripping water and ice hitting the floor. That had to be an damn interesting magazine he was reading (or in the case of Playboy was staring at.)

Now the alien supposedly has superior intelligence but acts like the Frankenstein Monster on a bad day, limited smarts and poor self-control. He does show some cunning but it's more like an animal, not a high IQ being.

Contrast this plot with another movie, Queen of Blood (1966), in which unsuspecting Earthmen rescue an alien who has crashed on Mars. She looks generally human but is unable to understand our language like the rampaging alien in The Thing. She just plays along until she needs an oral hemoglobin fix.

So the thing in The Thing could've acted rational, waiting for the chance to kill off the humans at an opportune time. But nooooo, he has to stomp around and rage like Donald Trump with a bee in his ass.

This movie features the stereotypical scientist who wants to communicate with the supposedly superior intelligence. Yup, you can reason with monsters in the middle of a destructive spree. This reminds me of my short story, Gandhi Meets Godzilla, in which Gandhi stages a sit in front of Godzilla, passive resistance and thoughts of peace all ground into a bloody group pulp.

Next up was Captain America (1990), a direct to video wonder. It's easy to pick on this cinematic train wreck but I have to say a few parts showed potential and the actors did a decent job with what they had. Once again a cheap budget and rewrites ruin an endeavor.

Like the Marvel comics Captain America returns decades later after being on ice, seeing his girlfriend now a married middle-aged woman. The man out of time angle was used in the later MCU movies but this movie handled it almost as well.

But what kills it is the stupid nonsense that you wouldn't accept in a comic book. For some reason the producers decided that Cap should be put out of commission on his very first mission during World War II so when he returns the public is unaware of his existence.

Cap parachutes into action, breaking into the stronghold of the Red Skull. In this version the Red Skull's appearance is over the top, too bloody awful. According to the director he decided to drop that look for the rest of the movie because the audience would get sick of looking at the Skull's horrible visage. This results in another change from the comic books that will add to the movie's faults.

The Red Skull defeats Cap and ties him to a rocket aimed at the White House. He sends Cap off on a one way trip. Meanwhile a young boy sneaks out at night in Washington, DC to take some shots of the Skull's target.

The young boy spots the rocket heading towards the WH and despite it being so dark, his lens being too short, and the rocket being too fast he gets a shot of Cap on the rocket. The rocket misses the White House thanks to Cap banging and twisting one of its fins with his foot.

Later the boy shows his friend an enlarged photo of Cap on the rocket as it flew over. OK, I'm familiar with photography, especially film photography, and I want to know what kind of super-fine grain film he was using that was so sensitive he could used a fast shutter to freeze the image in the dark. I mean did he shoot with Kodak Tri-XXXXXXX with an ASA of 400,000?

As in the comics the rocket crashes into the arctic. Cap falls into suspended animation until his body is freed decades later and he lives again.

He learns the Red Skull is still alive but with a new look. In fact his name should've been Reddish Scarface. No explanation is given to the absence of the gory head casing. Maybe it dried out, scabbed up, and then fell apart.

The Red Skull now operates like a Mafia godfather. I forgot to mention he's now Italian with the typical gun-toting thugs at this command. (Any tie in with the Red Brigades?)

The actor portraying the Red Skull, Scott Paulin, doesn't ham it up like Joseph Culp as Dr. Doom in the unreleased Fantastic Four (1994) movie. And I have to give credit to Matt Salinger as Captain America for some good acting even though the character is made to look stupid a couple of times in the film. For example after Cap takes out an opponent he smashes the third wall, giving the viewer a goofy smug smile.

This production obviously suffered from its cheap budget. In an interview Salinger said the production kept running out of money. His Cap uniform was made of rubber and while filming during the hot weather he almost passed out. After a scene was done he would removed the oversized red boots and pour out the accumulated sweat water.

Oddly enough the producers spent some money on the audio with Dolby Stereo Spectral Recording. I experienced the film with my tablet and ear buds but the sound was pretty good. There's nothing like hearing a car racing inside your head from left to right.

You can watch both The Thing From Another World and Captain America for free online. The first film is available at commercial free and the latter can be found on YouTube with annoying ads to be skipped.

And don't forget: Watch the skies.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Click Here To Learn The Scandalous Truth About Clickbait!!

Archetypal Clickbait Comic Cover

No, Superman didn't die unlike the more recent event. By the time I read this comic in the 1960s I was getting tired of Kal-El. He was too powerful. 

For example he's on a date with Lois Lane one night and the moon starts falling towards the earth. So Superman just flies up and fixes the problem.

Even as Superboy Kal-El was one step below God. Challenged to perform impossible tasks Superboy stands on his head. People say, "So what?" He tells them to check with the local observatory. Astronomers are shocked that the earth has moved out of its orbit. With his impossible task completed Superboy just puts the world back into proper orbit. Of course with the moon's gravitational pull still in effect one would think his moving trick wouldn't be that easy. No earthquakes or tidal waves.

It got the the point that I wished Superman would die. That's why I started reading Spider-Man. He didn't web the moon back into correct orbit while on a date. In the early issues he would get bruised in a fistfight. He was strong but not that strong. But over the years like Superman Peter Parker's strength has increased to the point that he could sneeze and rip off Mary Jane's clothes. Instead of hauling out the kryptonite the writers will have to weaken Spidey with DDT.

Marvel Clickbait Cover -- How Could You, House of Ideas?

In the early days Marvel drew more fans than DC/National Periodicals because it didn't recycle the same old crap. But here's an example of old crap, a Marvel cover using the same blurbs as DC to claim that a key character was indeed taking a dirt nap. Some third rate character called the Changeling was impersonating Prof X so that the real Xavier could pursue a secret mission, a fact hidden from the X-Men. So it was a hoax, it wasn't real. Too bad no one filed a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission about deceptive business practices.

CBR: Clickbait Bamboozles Readers

Yup, I'm on anti-clickbait kick.

Comic Book Resources has stooped into the deceptive luring of readers. The above image is accompanied by the shocking headline: 15 MCU Scandals Marvel Tried To Bury. Scandal -- as in sex? As in Spider-Man portrayer Tom Holland committed a shocking transgression to this innocent girl (see the red arrow!) while she was taking a shower.

Forget it. If you watch the YouTube video [ ] you won't see the distressed naked babe. Instead you'll learn about a series of controversies like a director didn't like a producer, typical Hollywood gossip.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Flying Saucers In The Air, On The Air

George Apple and his family get away from the rat race by moving to a small town in Iowa. Everything is normal until one day George sees a UFO and reports it to the local newspaper. Soon he and his family became the target of ridicule.

But George is determined to prove he's not another flying saucer nut. He digs deep and discovers the strange object is part of a secret government project.

He learns the time and location of the next test of the futuristic vehicle. George invites along a skeptic who soon learns what George saw was no hallucination. George turns to the skeptic and says: "You're a down-to-earth man..."

(Insert gagging sound.)

Thus wrapped up the episode "The Witness" from the "Apple's Way" TV series (1974-1975.) Another example of how a mainstream series would introduce the flying saucer topic but then cop out with an earthly explanation. Fiction: OK. Science fiction: Nyet!

(Note: George Apple (portrayed by Ronnie Cox) earned a living as an architect. No evidence exists if he ever shared his UFO encounter with David Vincent.)

Back in the 1940s-1950s when radio was the popular medium three series -- mainstream ones, not SF anthologies -- would each dip for one show into the flying saucer controversy. The topic was leading news in the press and so it provided a different story background.

When the topic is introduced during each story it's scoffed at, embarrassing even to mention. Two separate action/adventure series had a tough guy hero who scorned investigating such nonsense.

"Dangerous Assignment" (1949-1953) followed the adventures of Steve Mitchell (portrayed by Brian Donlevy), a US special agent who travels around the world under the direction of his boss, "The Commissioner."

In the episode "Investigate Flying Saucers" [1] Steve Mitchell has to cut short a drive in the country with a hot redhead when The Commissioner calls him in. Steve is annoyed to hear the assignment involves flying saucers.

Steve: "Now don't tell me you're going to give me a Buck Rogers ray gun to shoot them down."

But Steve goes to South America to find out why private cargo planes are missing, the last report from each pilot mentioning a flying saucer before radio silence.

He takes a night ride in one of the cargo planes when a flying saucer appears. Suddenly the pilot is knocked out but Steve is able to land the plane. He suspects the saucers are coming from the ground, not outer space.

Following clues Steve learns the saucers are actually rockets with fireworks attached to the bottom of the cargo planes. Sorry, no gray aliens. As for the passed out pilot he was in on the scheme, faking his unconsciousness.

Apparently a revolutionary group is trying to scare off planes flying over its secret airstrip. And what better way to avoid attracting any attention than phony flying saucers and missing cargo planes?

And then there's another two-fisted American agent, David Harding, Counterspy, whose radio adventures included a flying saucer caper.

Counterspy was sponsored by the "energy drink" Pepsi-Cola, the announcer spelling out the product's name P-E-P-S-I-C-O-L-A. Not to be confused with another popular soft drink with a dubious original formula.

The program mentions Counterspy special reports to the American people. The announcer details another special report to the American people by United States Testing Company Incorporated, a glowing tribute to the benefits of Pepsi-Cola. No mention of the crash after the sugar high or cavities.

In the "The Case of the Soaring Saucer" [2] David Harding is conducting an operation against narcotics smugglers based in Mexico. One action stops two million dollars worth of the original Coca-Cola -- oops, I mean plain old snow-- and results in the deaths of two smugglers.

But the head of the smuggling operation isn't too upset about his bust. He has found a modern/futuristic way of getting the drugs across the border. Do I need to mention the method of transport?

Harding is contacted by an Army Air Corps officer who shows him what a pilot shot down: a man-made radio-controlled saucer with a concealed narcotics compartment filled with white stuff. Harding observes that the smugglers were using psychology, using the most publicized thing to cover up their illegal operation. Of course flying saucers, even phony ones, wouldn't attract any attention, especially to the Army Air Corps, right?

Besides the aforementioned action/adventure series the flying disc topic dropped during an episode of the comedy series "Fibber McGee and Molly" about a working class couple. The series starred real life couple Jim and Marian Jordan who also created the sit com. It was annoyingly sponsored by Johnson's Wax Company and its astounding "Glo-Coat" product for floors.

"A Flying Saucer Lands In McGee's Yard" [3] opens with the narrator talking about the discussion over flying saucers, the pro people swear they have seen them, the con thinking it's some sort of mass hypnosis. Then he introduces one of the con men, Fiber McGee, and his wife Molly.

Fibber and Molly are debating whether or not saucers are real. Molly says the objects have been seen by pilots who are trained observers. Malapropistic Fibber scoffs, says all sighting are a mere "pygmy" of imagination.

When Fibber and Molly are leaving their house with a friend a strange whirring sound is heard with accompanying metallic crash noises. All three are astounded to see a flying saucer in the front yard.

A crowd gathers. One visitor turns out to be a Johnson Floor Wax salesman who says the saucer proves their is interplanetary life. He dreams about expanding his territory to other planets like Mars. He goes into a pitch about Glo-Gloat. How's that for annoying product placement? At this point I was hoping the saucer would open up and a Martian heat ray struck down the salesman. So how protective is your Glo-Coat now, Mr. Carbon Stain On The Sidewalk?

A little girl shows up and once again an earthly but abysmally dubious explanation even for a comedy show is given for the saucer. She and her friends made the saucer with skyrocket fireworks and her mother's old roasting pan.

After the incident the mother might have punished her troublesome daughter by washing out the little girl's mouth with Glo-Coat. (Then again among all the other amazing claims Glo-Coat might prevent cavities.)