Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Story of Halogen Part 4: Bizarre Love Triangle

Influenced by the "Super Friends" saturday morning cartoon, by 1985 I came to believe that all the really good super heroes (like Superman and Batman) had to be part of a super team, too. So before Halogen (pictured above, from 1985) had even had his first adventure, I had him join the "Guardians of America," whose headquarters was located, imaginatively if impractically, inside the Statue of Liberty. I still have a two paragraph summary of the organization, which reflects a school-age boy's priorities. "There are certain guidelines which they must all abide by. The first is that they get no real vacation." (With great power comes great responsibility, I suppose.)

But as it turned out those rules were the least of Halogen's concerns. He quickly became embroiled in a love triangle with the two other members pictured above: Saberclaw and Grizzly. Saberclaw, as some may recognize, was basically a female Wolverine (right down to his early 1980s blue and yellow costume), though her back story (a former Soviet agent who fell in love with Halogen) was more or less pulled directly from the character Black Widow in Frank Miller's "Daredevil" of the time. (When I did that drawing in 1985, I thought that Saberclaw looked sexy and voluptuous. Now she looks, maybe, peeved at the results of a gay marriage initiative.)

The "bizarre" part of the love triangle, though, was the Grizzly. In human form, Lee Weather was in love with Saberclaw. But when he turned into a bear, he became female. (I had read that female grizzlys were bigger and more ferocious than males.) And in that incarnation, Grizzly was hopelessly infatuated with Halogen.

I'm sure this was all totally unrelated to the fact that, at the time, I had a crush on a girl with exactly Saberclaw's haircut, who herself had eyes for a guy who I was pretty sure didn't like her (type)....

Next time: From the "Villains & Vigilantes" Game, Comes the Villain


South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford says he "crossed lines" with a handful of women other than his mistress — but never had sex with them, according to the Associated Press today. He apparently went on to say that his Argentinian mistress is his "soul mate" but that "he's trying to fall back in love with his wife."

Ah, the healing power of words. To quote Yoda, "Do or do not. There is no 'try.' "

I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough

The Minnesota Supreme Court has ordered today that Al Franken be certified the winner in that state's long-contested Senate race. The former Saturday Night Live star now becomes one of a number of former television actors turned (short term, low impact) members of the US Congress, including two term (4 years) Representative from Georgia Ben Jones, who played "Cooter" on The Dukes of Hazard, four term (8 years) Representative from Iowa Fred Grandy, who played "Gopher" on the Love Boat, and one and a third term (8 years) Senator from Tennessee Fred Thompson ("Law & Order").

The Story of Halogen Part 3: The Name

Where did the name "Halogen" come from? When I first "created" the character in 1983, he was more or less just a copy of Iron Man colored in blue and white, rather than red and yellow. My first attempt at naming him, as you can see in the picture above, was just as unimaginative and derivative: "Ice-Man," because he was blue.

But I did like another, more original idea on that notebook page above: that his armor would be cold to the touch. Because I had seen a demonstration on TV of how cold liquid nitrogen was and how the bottle it was in gave off whips of "cold smoke" (like the photo above), I decided that my super hero could turn himself into colorless nitrogen gas, but that in his more condensed physical state (looking like Iron Man) his armor would be like a container of liquid nitrogen: cold to the touch.
Now, back to the name. Simple really. When I had to change a burned-out lightbulb in the desk lamp in my bedroom I saw the word "halogen" on the replacement bulb. Halogen: a combination of "Halo" and "Nitrogen." That was it.
Next time, Halogen is embroiled in a "Bizarre Love Triangle"

Monday, June 29, 2009

The story of Halogen Part 2: "Fate"

Yesterday I posted a crudely drawn picture of a super hero I invented when I was 12, who I called "Halogen." It may not have looked like it to you, but that drawing was painstakingly modelled from an "Iron Man" comic book.

I wasn't really interested in comic books as a child. But when I went to junior high school, Fate stepped in and changed that. The woman in the photo above looks a lot like Fate as I met her back in 1983. At least once a week, my 7th grade bus driver would pull over into this convenience store along the route called "Highs." She always said it was to get gas. But very quickly we noticed that each time she also bought a pack of menthol cigarettes, and invariably lit up even before we hit the road again. To keep an eye on us while she stopped, she would have us all come into the store with her, and it was during those stops that I started getting intruiged by comic books, albeit slowly and tentatively at first.
Soon I was getting comic books every time we stopped. And that's how I first came to love comic books. I must have spent tens of thouands of hours consumed by comic books in my subsequent, awkward teenage years. All because of an affable, heavy-set woman reeking of smoke whose name I never even knew.
That adolescent anecdote may not sound like much to you. If not, just replace the words "comic books" with "sex" in two paragraphs above. That may make you smile. (Maybe with wistful recognition?)

Next time: the naming of "Halogen"....

Michael Jackson's Sexuality

From an article in London's Daily Mail newspaper today by former Jackson insider Ian Halperin, "It is clear to me that Michael was homosexual and that his taste was for young men, albeit not as young as Jordan Chandler or Gavin Arvizo. In the course of my investigations, I spoke to two of his gay lovers, one a Hollywood waiter, the other an aspiring actor. The waiter had remained friends, perhaps more, with the singer until his death last week. He had served Jackson at a restaurant, Jackson made his interest plain and the two slept together the following night....When Jackson lived in Las Vegas, one of his closest aides told how he would sneak off to a ‘grungy, rat-infested’ motel – often dressed as a woman to disguise his identity – to meet a male construction worker he had fallen in love with."

Michael Jackson Was Bald and Skeletal

Michael Jackson weighed only 112 lbs when he died. (And he was 5'10" tall.) He had nothing in his stomach except remnants of pills, and had needle marks all over his body. He apparently had no hair on his head, just "peach fuzz." All of this according to leaked results of his autopsy, Fox News is reporting.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Story of "Halogen" Part 1

Who (or what) is that pictured above? That's "Halogen." A super hero. You haven't heard of him because he never featured in any comic book or cartoon.

I created him as a 12 year old boy in 1983. That's my first, crude drawing of the character, copied from an issue of "Iron Man" into a spiral notebook. But it was far from the last.
The final time I drew him was in 1989. As I grew up during those six years and grew as an artist, the character evolved, too. Alot. I never even imagined when I did that first drawing, though, that years later "Halogen" would come close to starring in his own comic book, and his arch-nemesis, The Orchid, would see publication. Or that, near the end (but what I thought at the time was just the beginning for "Halogen"), I would meet an aging Jack Kirby and get his input on several pages I had drawn for what was to be the first issue of the "Halogen" comic book.

It's quite a story. About a boy and his super hero. And I'm going to tell it here, in episodes over time. Starting next time.

Infomercial Pitchman Billy Mays Died Today

Below is a 38 second clip of Billy Mays, who was found dead in his home today by his wife, recording dialogue for one of his infomercials. (The payoff is in the last 2 seconds.)

Rep. John Conyers Knew Nothing About Wife's Bribes

Powerful congressman John Conyers, 80, apparently knew nothing about the bribes paid to his 45 year-old wife, Monica, to which she pled guilty in federal court yesterday. (The bribes allegedly amounted to just a few thousand dollars, one of which was paid in front of a fast food restaurant in Detriot called "Mr. Fish.")

According to the Associated Press, Conyers, who was first elected to congress in 1964 (the same year that his wife was born), is rarely seen with his wife and their two teenage sons.

Before they married in 1990 (when he was 61), she was a 27 year-old aide in his congressional office.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Merkel sees "sea change" in America

According to the New York Times today, following passage by the House of Representatives last night of a climate change bill, "the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who was in Washington on Friday to meet with Mr. Obama, strongly endorsed the bill.....and said she had seen a 'sea change' in the United States on climate policy that she could not have imagined a year ago when President George W. Bush was in office."

Maybe she's happy that the United States has now moved closer toward adopting a "cap and trade" system somewhat similar to the one that failed abjectly in the European Union (because grossly excessive credits were ladelled out initially). But I bet those massages made our prior policy go down easier....

When Concrete Became Michael Jackson's Bodyguard

The death of Michael Jackson reminded me of a story from one of my favorite comic books, "Concrete" by Paul Chadwick. It's another one of the best comic books you've never heard of. You might have, if the rumored feature film to be directed by Steven Spielberg would have come off 15 years ago or so. But it never did. And the comic book, whose heyday was in the late 1980s and early 1990s, isn't even published anymore.

"Concrete" was the sory of a writer who, while on a camping trip, was kidnapped by aliens and had his brain implanted in the large, lumbering, seemingly indestructible alien body pictured above. After he escapes, the thrust of the series became much more down-to-earth: the story of how an average (if emotionally sensitive) man would deal with this predicament, which made him a detatched and sometimes bemused observer of the world and people around him. It was not a traditional comic book in that Concrete rarely used his "powers," except those of observation.

One issue saw him accept a role as a bodyguard (and food taster) for an emotionally unstable, manipulative rock super-star called "Duke," who was part Michael Jackson and part Prince. Both paranoid and egotistical, like Michael Jackson apparently (according to Lisa Marie Presley yesterday), Duke was also preoccupied by a fear of dying young.

Michael Jackson's Face Shows "Scarring"

Without make-up, Michal Jackson's face shows significant "scarring" apparently, which is reported to have "surprised" the investigators conducting the autopsy, according to Fox News.
Is that "surprised" as in, "Michael Jackson had plastic surgery!?! No way. Check this out!" surprised? Or "surprised" like a horror movie?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Transformers Movie Has Racist Stereotypes?

The new movie, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," is taking fire for a pair of supporting characters, illiterate Chevy hatchbacks named Skids and Mudflap (one of whom apparently has a gold tooth), who are being called "racist caricatures."

According to ABC News, Director Michael Bay has responded to this criticism by saying, "It's done in fun. I don't know if it's stereotypes — they are robots, by the way."

Jar Jar Binks is said by friends to be insulted and angered by the faux naivete of Mr. Bay's response.

Michael Jackson's Autopsy Could Take Weeks

The results of Michael Jackson's autopsy may not be available for weeks, acording to MTV.

But once those results are made public, it will finally be revealed to the world that he has actually been clinically dead since first uttering the phrase, "Who's Bad" in a Hollywood recording studio in 1987....

Detroit City Council President Pleads Guilty

Monica Conyers, the Detriot City Council President Pro Tem (and wife of powerful Democrat congressman Rep. John Conyers) pled guilty today to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery. Is Detriot becoming the new Chicago? First the mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, pleads guilty to obstruction of justice charges last September, and now the president of the city council goes down, too?

Mercy, mercy me.
And why is it suddenly the republicans (like Gov. Sanford) who need the sexual healing, while the democrats (like Gov. Blagojevich) just have their hands out...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson Dies at 50

Whou would have thought that Elizabeth Taylor would outlive him?

Michael Jackson Has Died

Almost everyone under the age of 40, I bet, will be surprised and momentarily affected upon hearing the "shocking" news that Michael Jackson has died of cardiac arrest today in Los Angeles.

And if you watch a Jackson 5 video now, after hearing news of his death, you can't help but wonder what happened to him (fortunate and not) to turn that little boy in the Jackson 5 with that sweet voice into the odd, broken recluse with a carved up face who was dogged in equal measures in recent years by photographers, creditors and allegations of child abuse that just wouldn't go away.

It's tempting to lionize him today. But I bet that some of the more prurient details of his life, which will cast him in a much less sympathetic light, will emerge in the next few days and weeks, now that he's dead and can no longer exert control (financial and otherwise) over those close to him.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gov. Sanford's Erotic E-Mails to "Maria" in Argentina

According to MSNBC late today, "The State newspaper in South Carolina released e-mail exhanges between the governor and the woman, identified only as Maria. Sanford's office Wednesday did not dispute the authenticity of the emails, The State reported. One exchange was dated July 10, 2008 when the governor is reported to have written to her:

"Two, mutual feelings .... You have a particular grace and calm that I adore. You have a level of sophistication that so fitting with your beauty. I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curve of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night's light - but hey, that would be going into sexual details ..."
That e-mail is all quintessentially Antonio Banderas dialogue, right up until the parenthetical about "two magnificant parts," where it then unexpectedly veers sharply off the tracks into the little town of Cringeworthy....
Just imagine if last November's presidential election had featured John Edwards and Gov. Sanford as the respective vice presidential nominees.....

Gov. Sanford Admits Affair

According to the Associated Press, "Gov. Mark Sanford admitted Wednesday he's been having an affair with a woman he visited on a secret trip to Argentina and said he'll resign as head of the Republican Governors Association...He said he's known the woman about eight years, but their relationship turned into something more a year ago while he was on an economic development trip to Argentina....Sanford, a rumored 2012 presidential candidate, refused to say whether he'll leave office." When asked if he is trying to reconcile with his wife, Jenny, Sanford nodded, "I am, yeah."

We can all learn lessons from this, I suppose. One is that, if you're disenchanted with your wife and so decide to go on an "economic development trip" to Argentina, it's probably best not to "hike the Appalachian Trail" with a woman you've "known" for about 8 years. (Especially if she's a "woman".....)

Another is that it's probably best not to respond with a resigned "yeah" in these situations, when asked if you're going to try to reconcile with your wife....

Remembering Ed McMahon's (And America's) Younger Days

In the immediate aftermath of anyone's death, it's customary to remember the best of them, and understandably so. In the case of Ed McMahon that's certainly his nearly 30 years with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show. (And maybe "Star Search" was the precursor to "American Idol.") But those were actually his later years.

Embedded below is a very old 1 minute Budweiser commercial starring a much younger Ed McMahon. It's from "a more civilized age" in America when tv ads would last a full minute, when a Budweiser brewery was apparently the "largest tourist attraction in Florida" and when a large corporation would crowd wild animals from "darkest Africa" into a theme park in an unfamiliar climate and pay a celebrity to brag about it on tv while holding a beer....

(Though you may notice that at the very end of this commerical, Ed keeps looking down hesitantly at the beer in his hand, as if it were a urine sample rather than a Budweiser.)

Disappearing Governor Wanted To Do Something "Exotic"

According to MSNBC this morning, "South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford told a local newspaper that he was in Argentina during his unexplained absence, not hiking along the Appalachian Trail as his office previously said...The governor said he had considered hiking on the Appalachian Trail but, 'I wanted to do something exotic'...He told The State [local newspaper] that he returned because the trip turned into more of a fuss than he ever expected...First lady Jenny Sanford told reporters she had no idea where the father of her four children went during Father's Day weekend."

Hmmmm. I don't know: Appalachia can be pretty "exotic" (see photo above)..... When asked what he was doing in Argentina, he apparently would only say that he, "drove along the coastline."

On a totally unrelated matter, I am given to undertand that, like the Minneapolis airport, the international airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina has public mens' rooms with bathroom stalls, too.....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jon & Kate: The Divorce

Says it all....

Federal Government Rescues Billionaires From Their Own Vanity

According to the Associated Press this morning, the Energy Department will announce today that Tesla Motors will receive a $450 million loan from a $25 billion fund to develop fuel effiecient vehicles. (Ford and Nissan are expected to receive loans as well.)

This is the same Tesla Motors whose Chairman and CEO (and largest shareholder) is also the South African billionaire co-founder of PayPal, Elon Musk. (The billionaire co-founders of Google are also investors.) This is also the same Tesla Motors whose only commerically available car currently is an electric sports car called the Roadster, pictured above, which starts at $109,000, and has sold to the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger (that's him in one above) and Leonardo DiCaprio. This is the same Tesla Motors that announced proudly yesterday it had recently brought down the costs of the raw materials (raw materials!) that go into each $109K car to $80,000, compared to $140,000 in 2007.

Should the government really be propping up a company whose only a product is a vanity car that is so pricey it only sells to celebrities and milllionaires? And despite the hefty sticker price, still loses big money on every car it sells? And which is owned and run by billionaires?

That is a beautifiul car pictured above, with its optional carbon fibre accents. And it's very impressive that it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, despite being an electric car. If you happen to see George Clooney or Bill Gates punch their Roadsters up to 125 mph along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, you can proudly say to yourself (while you pump that $3.50/gal. gas into your Camry) that might not have been possible without the foresight and compassion of your Federal government....

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sarkozy Says Burqas Are "Not Welcome" In France

According to the Associated Press this morning, " President Nicolas Sarkozy lashed out Monday at the practice of wearing the Muslim burqa, insisting the full-body religious gown is a sign of the 'debasement' of women and that it won't be welcome in France." He apparently went on to say, "In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity."

Whatever one thinks of the embattled French President (or, indeed, the burqa), I suppose you can't say that his wife, Carla Bruni (pictured above), is in any danger of being "debased" in that way....

"Hundreds" Protest in Iran

According to CNN this morning, "Tensions rippled in Tehran again as hundreds gathered in a public square today despite a stern warning by Iran's Revolutionary Guard against demonstrations by citizens protesting the recent election."

Wasn't it just a couple of days ago that "hundreds" was "hundreds of thousands"?

And yet the reporting of these protests, by CNN and others, continues to have that breathless, hopeful quality, suggesting that this may be similar to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. And I have yet to hear any cable news network make it explicitly clear when their reporters or commentators are themselves Iranians who fled the Islamic Revolution in 1979. (I'm looking at you Christiane Amanpore and CNN.)

Ryan O'Neal Plans To Wed Farah Fawcett

According to the Associated Press this morning, "The 68-year-old actor says in an interview with Barbara Walters for ABC's '20/20' that he asked his longtime companion to marry him and 'she's agreed.'''

Which Ryan O'Neal (see above) was doing the asking, I wonder....

One Man's Porn Is....

According to the BBC this morning, Google now says that it will take "all necessary steps" to remove pornography from its Chinese language portal. This was in response to criticism from China's internet watchdog that Google was disseminating "pornographic and vulgar information" in China.

Amen. It's sickening to see photos like the one above, where a man is "taking on" four (four!) tanks at one time. And it doesn't look like he's enjoying it at all.....

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Decline and Fall of Mego

The image above is of the only known sample backing card of what was to be a line of 3 3/4" action figures from Mego based on the saturday morning cartoon "Thundarr The Barbarian," which originally aired on ABC for two seasons between 1980-1982. Very regrettably, Mego went out of business in 1983 before these figures could be produced.

This card combines two of my great childhood loves: the cartoon "Thundarr the Barbarian" (which was basically "Conan The Barbarian" set on a post-apocalyptic Earth), and the Mego Corporation, which in the 1970s produced a line of well loved 8" super-hero action figures, like Batman and Spider-man (the "World's Greatest Superheroes"), as well as similar figures based on the "Planet of the Apes" movies and TV show, and many, many others.

The story of the decline and fall of Mego is really an amazing one, even if you've never heard of the company or their action figures. Among many other things, some of their most senior executives were ultimately convicted on a string of federal charges. But most famously, at the height of the company's success in the mid-1970s, several of their key people were in Japan negotiating for the US rights to a toy called "Microman" (which became "Micronauts" in America), while, back in the United States, George Lucas was shopping the rights to produce toys based on his yet-to-be-released film, "Star Wars." Mego passed. Kenner didn't. And as the legendary radio personality Paul Harvey used to say, "now you know the rest of the story..."

Thinking about it now though, who among us hasn't at one time or another, metaphorically speaking, found themselves in Japan negotiating for the rights to Microman while the rights to Star Wars were being eagerly snapped up back at home by someone else....

Sandra Bullock Careens to Number 1

According to Entertainement Weekly, Sandra Bullock's new romantic comedy, "The Proposal," was number 1 at the box office over the weekend. Good for her. She seems like a nice person.

But thinking about it, she hasn't been in a movie that I really liked since "Demolition Man," which was released more than 15 years ago. (15 years!) Maybe she doesn't make films for my demographic. But both Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes have each had several hits since then. You know that your career has hit a long dry patch if even Wesley Snipes ("Blade" films) has lapped you several times over.

It's as if her career since "Speed" has been a bus, which she fears has a hidden bomb that would explode if she starred in a hit. (Just picture her collapsing with relief on the steering wheel after the release of "Miss Congeniality 2"......)

My Dad Bought Me "Spacewreck" in 1979

A Fathers' Day recollection. I first saw this over-sized hardback book as a child in the late 1970s in the gift shop of the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and begged (begged!) my dad to buy it for me. To my great surprise, eventually he did, which was very unusual for him. (He had a real antipathy for museum gift shops in those days.) I'm still not sure why he broke down and bought this book for me that day. But I have always been glad that he did.
From the moment that I first pored over it in the back seat of the family car on the way home, this book was (and has remained) one of my most prized posessions. The interior consists largely of lavish full page and double-page paintings of various spaceships that long ago crashed on far off alien worlds and now lie derelict. Each of these paintings is accompanied by a half page or so of text describing what led up to the pictured wreck. This text contains brief allusions to prior events and personalities which place these paintings in a fictional universe that seems layered and complex, with a long history.
Thinking about it now, when first published in 1979, this volume must have been specifically targetted (like a lazer) at 9 year old boys like me who loved "Star Wars" and "Planet of the Apes."
Only today have I learned that this book was actually one of a series of four by the same author, Stewart Cowley, which collectively described an entire science fiction setting called the Terran Trade Authority. These original 1970s books are apparently quite rare and now sell for over $40 each on Amazon. My copy still has the original price sticker: $4.98. (You can buy Spacewreck on Amazon from a re-seller by clicking on that title in red.) Today there are even fan sites devoted to this "universe."
A series of new books based on this classic series ("updating and expanding" it) is now being published. Though these new books have received very lukewarm reviews on Amazon, in part because they are not direct reprints of the classic books, unfortunately.

Solstice at Stonehenge Today

According to the Times of London, record crowds of over 35, 000 gathered at Stonehenge overnight to watch the sun rise on the morning of the Summer Solstice.

Every year news stories about this event describe those in attendance as "Druids" and "Wiccan priestesses," and photos are inevitably published of the middle aged man pictured above, who calls himself "King Arthur Pendragon" without any hint of a conspiratorial smile (real name "John Rothwell"). He describes himself as the leader of the "Druid Order of Loyal Arthurian Warbands" and is a fixture at these annual gatherings.

But why don't there seem to be any "Druids" under 50? And why are they almost all middle-aged women (except, notably, the "leaders")?

Newsweek: Our Sinking Welfare State

From an article in Newsweek titled, "Our Sinking Welfare State (And We Won't Even Admit We Have One)" today, "Raised in an individualistic culture, Americans dislike the concept of the 'welfare state' and do not use the term. But make no mistake, the United States has a welfare state, and its future is precarious.

"What most Americans identify as government 'welfare' are payments to single mothers, food stamps and (perhaps) Medi-caid, the federal-state health-insurance program for the poor. But that's not the half of it. Since 1960, government has changed radically. Then, 52 percent of federal spending went for defense, 26 percent for "payments to individuals"—the welfare state. By 2008, 61 percent went for "payments to individuals," 21 percent for defense. Social Security and Medicare—programs for the elderly—represented the lion's share: $1 trillion in 2008.

"In theory, expanding public welfare could offset eroding private welfare. President Obama's health-care proposal reflects that logic. The trouble is that the public sector also faces enormous cost pressures, driven by an aging population and rising health costs. The Congressional Budget Office projects the federal debt to double as a share of the economy (gross domestic product) to about 80 percent of GDP by 2019."

"Any sober examination of figures like these suggests that the system has promised more than it can realistically deliver. We are borrowing not to finance investment in the future but to pay for today's welfare—present consumption."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Liver Transplant A Professional Re-charge?

According to CNBC, "Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple Inc., received a liver transplant about two months ago but is expected to return to work later this month."

I am happy for Mr. Jobs and his family that he feels well enough again to return to work. But I am also an investor who bought a small amount of Apple stock just weeks before Apple announced abruptly in January that he would be taking a leave of abscence. So, among other things, I have a small stake in the future success of Apple. I can think of a number of highly succesful, famous men who have had liver transplants and lived many years afterward. Mickey Mantle, Larry Hagman, and one of my childhood idols, Evel Knievel (pictured above, before and after), for example. But those names also make me worry for the future of Mr. Jobs and Apple.

Ryan Seacrest and Lindsay Lohan "Hang Out"

According to Access Holywood, Ryan Seacrest was spotted "hanging out" with Lindsay Lohan on Thursday night.

According to X17 Online, after hopping in the same SUV, the two went back to Linday Lohan's place, "where loud music was heard coming from her house, prompting a police presence," after which, at 3:30 AM, they apparently went on to Ryan Seacrest's house.

No photos were available of the two of them "hanging out" at Lindsay's house. But the above photo likely captures both the guileless spontaneity of the evening, as well as the crackling sexual energy between them. ("Turn it up, Mao, I love this one!")

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cuban Spies' Long History of Evil

From the New York Times this morning, that's a February 2009 photo of the recently arrested retired couple, Gwendolyn and Kendall Myers, who have been charged with spying for Cuba for almost 30 years starting in 1980. Very unusually for spies of their era, they were not apparently motivated by money (and were not paid). According to the article, they are alleged to have told an undercover FBI agent how much they admired Fidel Castro, and that they once travelled to Cuba (using false documents) for an evening with him.
The article goes on to say that, in the year before becoming spies, they apparently grew marijuana in their basement and promoted solar energy.

U.S. Boosts Hawaii Defenses To Counter North Korean Missile Strike

According to the Associated Press this morning, "The United States says it has deployed anti-missile defenses around Hawaii, following reports that North Korea is preparing to fire its most advanced ballistic missile in that direction to coincide with the U.S. Independence Day holiday next month."

Commensurate with this North Korean threat, all Hawaiians are now being urged to wear these protective leis....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Van Halen Sues Nike

According to Rolling Stone, "Eddie Van Halen’s red, white and black splatter-striped “Frankenstrat” guitar is one of the Van Halen leader’s true signatures. In fact, it’s so closely associated with the guitarist, Van Halen had the color scheme copyrighted in 2001. Now he’s suing Nike because he says the sportswear giant put a similar design on one of their Dunk Lows sneakers, Spinner reports."

In related news, James Hetfield is suing Eddie Van Halen for shamelessly copying the metal god cliche of becoming a drug addict and then, after cleaning up, getting a short haircut and fake tan.

N. Korea to fire missile "toward" Hawaii

The Associated Press is reporting this morning that, according to a Japanese newspaper, North Korea may fire a long range ballistic missile "toward" Hawaii in July.

If North Korea does so, that will be roughly 25 years to the day that I, as a 13 year old boy, also fired a rocket "toward" Hawaii.

Pilot Dies Midflight From Europe, Plane Lands Safely

According to CNN, "Continental Flight 61, whose pilot died midflight, has landed safely at Newark's airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The agency said the plane landed at 11:49 a.m. ET. Continental said the 61-year-old pilot died "apparently of natural causes" while flying from Brussels, Belgium, to Newark. The airline said a relief pilot onboard landed the plane."

Is it too soon to ask whether it's prudent to fly trans-continentally on an airline called "Continental"?

The Story of G.I. Joe

Did you know that the "G.I. Joe" action figure (initially released by Hasbro in 1964) was named after a 1945 war film? Because the toy's creator, Don Levine, happened to see the film on TV one night, as they were struggling to name it. (That's according to the 1998 book GI Joe: The Complete Story of America's Favorite Man of Action, which you can buy from Amazon.com re-sellers by clicking on the title in red.)

"The Story of G.I. Joe" was a movie about World War II as told through the eyes of then-famous, real life war correspondent Ernie Pyle. The film starred a young Burgess Meredith (as Ernie Pyle), as well as Robert Mitchum. The real Ernie Pyle was killed in action at the Battle of Okinawa just two months before the premiere of this film.
(The toy's creators were apparently first thinking of calling him "Rocky." Coincidentally, years later Burgess Meredith would go on to portray Sylvester Stallone's aging trainer, Mickey, in...)

That's a pretty big leap (in pictures above) from Ernie Pyle to Destro......