Friday, September 13, 2013

Pop culture roundup: Lunchbox museum; Stan Lee; John Lennon; Steranko!

The Daily Mail visits Georgia's Lunchbox Museum.


Via Marvel Comics: The Untold Story: Stan Lee (without mustache!) with the Tom Palmer's original cover art for 1978's Marvel Super Special #4, which featured the story of the Beatles.


A piece of wood featuring John Lennon's carved, original lyrics to the Beatles' "Sexy Sadie" is up for auction. No explanation here as to why Lennon chose to inscribe the lyrics on this surface, though. Odd.
The piece of wood with the original words carved by Lennon, topped with the inscription "the private mind of John Lennon", was kept by Ringo Starr’s ex-wife Maureen Starkey before being acquired by a collector.

Super groovy! Check out this Star Trek poster by the great Jim Steranko! (via Cap'n's Comics)


Tweets of the Week:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why don't I own this already: Doctor Who T.A.R.D.I.S. duvet set

Teaser video for Beatles Live at the BBC Vol. 2

They won't let this be embedded here, for some reason, but click here to see!

Now you CAN see it here:

Details on Beatles at the BBC Vol. 2, out Nov. 11 - Track listing! Order now

There have been rumors swirling around this release for several weeks now. Finally some specifics:

The double On Air - Live At The BBC Volume 2 will be issued in the UK on November 11 and comes 19 years after Live At The BBC topped the UK artist albums chart and reached No 3 on the Billboard 200 in the US.

The new album will comprise 63 tracks in total, mixing songs with 23 previously unreleased recordings of what are described as in-studio banter and conversation between the band's members and their BBC radio hosts. It will appear on CD as a 180-gram vinyl album with a 48-page booklet and be the first Beatles album issued by Universal (via Apple Corps) since it acquired EMI.

Ten of the album's songs were never recorded by the group for EMI and include a version of Chuck Berry's I'm Talking About You and the song Beautiful Dreamer, both of which make their commercial debuts. There are also alternative versions of six songs that featured in the 1994 BBC album: Little Richard's Lucille, Chuck Berry's Memphis, Tennessee, Chan Romero's The Hippy Hippy Shake, Ray Charles' I Got A Woman and the Carl Perkins songs Glad All Over and Sure To Fall.

An original Beatles song never previously released also appears, Happy Birthday, Dear Saturday Club, the group's tribute to the BBC Light Programme radio show Saturday Club on which they regularly appeared and were avid listeners.

Paul McCartney says of the performances the group did for the BBC and now part of this album: "There’s a lot of energy and spirit. We are going for it, not holding back at all, trying to put in the best performance of our lifetimes.”

The forthcoming album also includes BBC versions of a number of the group's most famous songs, including I Saw Her Standing There, Twist And Shout, Do You Want To Know A Secret and If I Fell.

All the tracks have been mastered by Guy Massey and Alex Wharton at Abbey Road Studios, while on the same day as this album comes out a remastered version of Live At The BBC will appear.
In all The Beatles recorded some 275 different musical performances for the BBC between March 1962 and June 1965.

The full tracklisting is:

1.              And Here We Are Again (Speech)
2.              WORDS OF LOVE
3.              How About It, Gorgeous? (Speech)
4.              DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET
5.              LUCILLE
6.              Hey, Paul… (Speech)
7.              ANNA (GO TO HIM)
8.              Hello! (Speech)
9.              PLEASE PLEASE ME
10.            MISERY
11.            I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU
12.            A Real Treat (Speech)
13.            BOYS
14.            Absolutely Fab (Speech)
15.            CHAINS
16.            ASK ME WHY
17.            TILL THERE WAS YOU
18.            LEND ME YOUR COMB
19.            Lower 5E (Speech)
20.            THE HIPPY HIPPY SHAKE
21.            ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN
22.            THERE’S A PLACE
23.            Bumper Bundle (Speech)
24.            P.S. I LOVE YOU
26.            BEAUTIFUL DREAMER
27.            DEVIL IN HER HEART
28.            The 49 Weeks (Speech)
29.            SURE TO FALL (IN LOVE WITH YOU)
30.            Never Mind, Eh? (Speech)
31.            TWIST AND SHOUT
32.            Bye, Bye (speech)
33.            John - Pop Profile (Speech)
34.            George - Pop Profile (Speech)

1.              I SAW HER STANDING THERE
2.              GLAD ALL OVER
3.              Lift Lid Again (Speech)
4.              I’LL GET YOU
5.              SHE LOVES YOU
6.              MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
8.              Now Hush, Hush (Speech)
9.              FROM ME TO YOU
10.            MONEY (THAT’S WHAT I WANT)
11.            I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND
12.            Brian Bathtubes (Speech)
13.            THIS BOY
14.            If I Wasn’t In America (Speech)
15.            I GOT A WOMAN
16.            LONG TALL SALLY
17.            IF I FELL
18.            A Hard Job Writing Them (Speech)
19.            AND I LOVE HER
20.            Oh, Can’t We? Yes We Can (Speech)
21.            YOU CAN’T DO THAT
22.            HONEY DON’T
23.            I’LL FOLLOW THE SUN
24.            Green With Black Shutters (Speech)
26.            That’s What We’re Here For (Speech)
28.            Paul - Pop Profile (Speech)
29.            Ringo - Pop Profile (Speech)
My comments: Not much on here that collectors of Beatles bootlegs haven't heard before. The Beeb recordings have been well-exploited on the black market. However, it'll be nice to have an "official" package of more Beeb recordings in, presumably, better sound.

The addition of the Pop Profile interviews is nice. Those are great, early interviews with the individual Fabs. In terms of music, there's a lot of repetition overall with BBC Vol. 1, but there's a lot of repetition, period, in the Beatles' BBC performances. They played the same songs  over and over many times during their live radio appearances.

The glaring omission, I think, is a version of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" performed by the band with that song's originator Rolf Harris. Harris is currently embroiled in a sex scandal, which may be a reason for excluding it. I was surprised it wasn't on the first BBC volume. Maybe Paul and/or Ringo just don't like the tune. I don't know.

At any rate, I'm sure it'll be yet another enjoyable, if flawed, collection of Fab rarities.

Review: Tarzan: The Sunday Comics 1931-33

The first thing that must be said of this collection of Foster's groundbreaking Tarzan  Sunday strips is that it's HUGE.

Paying closer attention to its dimensions while ordering it from Amazon would've spared me the shock of it's arrival on my doorstep. What did I order that was that big, and how much did it cost?!!

While skinny in depth  -- it contains around 100 strips in all -- the book stands 20 inches tall and 15 inches wide. Open it up and it may eclipse your coffee table. I have no idea where or how to shelve it...

All that said, however, the bigness of the book does allow you to immerse yourself in Tarzan's adventures, just as newspaper readers did back in the 1930s. And Foster certainly made use of, and gloried in, the enormous canvas those broadsheets provided.

As comics historian Mark Evanier notes in his introduction, the realization of what was possible on the comics page, and the freedom it provided, became more and more apparent to the artist as he continued working on "Tarzan."

A magazine and calendar illustrator, Foster wasn't crazy about doing comics work at first. He figured it was beneath him. But the money was good. Early on, he doled out some of the work to assistants, adding some of the finishing touches. Readers familiar with his later work on "Prince Valiant" may find the first few months of strips on display here primitive. And they are.

But, once Foster's imagination took hold, and he saw the potential of filling these huge pages with his art, he became more hands-on and more creative. By the end of the book, which features several weeks of strips set in Egypt, the art has become much more detailed, beautiful and grand.

Everywhere, there is Foster's love of the human form -- not just Tarzan in action fighting, swimming, swinging through the jungle, but beautiful women and a variety of supporting characters. There's also the animals and fauna of the jungle, in addition to the wide desert, detailed Egyptian temples and more. His detail, fine brushwork and colors (done himself) combine into gorgeous whole.

For a generation of readers without television and only occasional glimpses of the amazing via the movies, Foster opened up wide fields of the imagination to view.

Through the course of the book, we see the creation both of the comic adventure strip, which paved the way for comic book heroes and storytelling, and the creation of Foster the pioneering comic strip artist.

This was a master artist, the inspiration for Alex Raymond and Milt Caniff, who, in turn, went on to inspire nearly every comic strip and comic book artist since, whether they know it or not.

Comic strips and political cartoons had been around for a while by the time Tarzan landed on the comics page. But adventure strips and realistic art were new. Only Tarzan and the crudely drawn Buck Rogers strip, focused on providing suspense and action rather than laughs.

As Evanier notes, many syndicates and newspaper publishers didn't feel there was a market for a realistically drawn, "serious" strip in the comics section. If Foster hadn't proved them wrong, the comics might not have developed, or developed quite differently.

So, this is a collection of important work and nice to have in print once again, even though I'm not sure where I'll put it now that I've finished reading it.

It should be noted that some online reviewers are disappointed in this edition, published by Dark Horse Comics, saying that NBM did a better job in its 1990s reprints of Foster's "Tarzan" run. I can't make the comparison, having missed those books.

I do wish, however, that Dark Horse had used "flat" rather than glossy paper stock for the strips. I don't like art printed on reflective paper, and prefer something that's closer, but more durable, than the original newsprint.

I also agree with some reviewers that some of the line work and colors are on the murky side. The NBM editions reportedly look better. That said, the quality is still quite good for strips this old and they are very readable. The reproduction seems to improve as Foster's linework and art become more detailed later in the book.

If you're pickier than me, and have the patience and funds to hunt down the NBM versions, you may want to go that route. I'm mainly just happy to have another batch of classic comic strips back in print.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

BBC details Doctor Who 50th anniversary programming

Lots of "Who" on the Beeb coming up. Hopefully, we'll get to see some of this in the states.

From the press release:

With special programmes planned across the BBC, the celebrations will peak on 23 November with the anniversary episode, revealed as The Day Of The Doctor. Starring Matt Smith, David Tennant and Jenna Coleman with Billie Piper and John Hurt, the special for BBC One has been confirmed as feature-length, with 75 minutes of adventure.

Matt Smith, who plays the Doctor, says: “The Day Of The Doctor is nearly here! Hope you all enjoy. There’s lots more coming your way, as the countdown to the 50th begins now.”
Each channel will be home to unique content, celebrating the wealth of history and talent from the last 50 years.

BBC Two will broadcast a number of new commissions, focusing on telling the story behind the show. For one night only, Professor Brian Cox will take an audience of celebrity guests and members of the public on a journey into the wonderful universe of the Doctor, from the lecture hall of the Royal Institution of Great Britain (1x60 minutes). Drawing on the latest theories, as well as 200 years of scientific discoveries and the genius of Einstein, Brian tries to answer the classic questions raised by the Doctor: Can you really travel in time? Does extra-terrestrial life exist in our galaxy? And how do you build something as fantastical as the TARDIS?

In an hour-long special, BBC Two’s flagship arts programme The Culture Show presents Me, You And Doctor Who (1x60 minutes), with lifelong fan Matthew Sweet exploring the cultural significance of the BBC’s longest running TV drama, arguing that it’s one of the most important cultural artefacts of modern Britain. Put simply, Doctor Who matters. He’ll examine how the show has become a cultural force in its own right and tell the stories of some of the unsung cultural heroes, who pioneered its innovative music, design and storytelling.

BBC Two wraps up its coverage with the previously announced An Adventure In Space And Time (1x90 minutes), which will tell the story of the genesis of Doctor Who and the many personalities involved. Written by Mark Gatiss, the drama stars David Bradley (the Harry Potter films); Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Identity), Jessica Raine (Call The Midwife) and Sacha Dhawan (History Boys, Last Tango In Halifax).

Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer of Doctor Who, says: "Fifty years has turned Doctor Who from a television show into a cultural landmark. Personally I can't wait to see what it becomes after a hundred."

There will also be programmes across CBBC with 12 Again (1x30 minutes) bringing together CBBC’s super-fan Chris Johnson, impressionist Jon Culshaw, Tommy Knight (Luke Smith), Warwick Davis (Porridge), Neve McIntosh (Madame Vastra), Dan Starkey (Strax) Louise Jameson (Leela) and the seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, to share their memories of watching TV’s top Time Lord when they were young.

Blue Peter will launch an exciting new competition giving viewers aged between six and 14 the opportunity to design a new gadget that will become part of the iconic science fiction series. Two live Blue Peter specials will see presenters Barney, Lindsey and Radzi joined by aliens and monsters, with viewers challenging Matt Smith to answer their Doctor Who questions.

BBC Three will be home to several exciting entertainment commissions. Audiences will be encouraged to get involved and vote in Doctor Who: Monsters And Villains Weekend, as we countdown to the top Doctor Who monster. For those less familiar with the show, Doctor Who: The 
Ultimate Guide will introduce fans and viewers to a wealth of archive material and act as a guide to all things Who. A further exciting commission to be announced later this year will see the celebrations finish with a bang.

Danny Cohen, Director of BBC Television, says: “Doctor Who is a titan of British television and I’m incredibly proud to have it on the BBC. It's an astonishing achievement for a drama to reach its 50th anniversary. I'd like to thank every person - on both sides of the camera - who has been involved with its creative journey over so many years.”

It’s not just TV where audiences will be able join in the celebrations; programming across Radio 2, Radio 1 and Radio 4 Extra will also mark the 50th.

BBC Radio 2 will ask Who Is The Doctor? in a 90-minute documentary featuring newly recorded interviews and exclusive archive material. The programme will look at the lasting appeal of Doctor Who and ask how much of its continued success can be attributed to its basic formula.

In The Blagger’s Guide To Doctor Who, David Quantick will give the iconic Doctor the blagger’s treatment. He’ll be finding out the answers to questions such as, why do Americans think Tom Baker is still Doctor Who? How many Doctors have there really been? Were the Daleks really named after an encyclopaedia?

Finally, Graham Norton will be broadcasting his weekly Radio 2 show live (Saturday 23 November, 10am) from the Doctor Who Celebration in London. In a special three-hour show, Graham will take a ride in the TARDIS and will also be chatting with some of the series’ stars and fans.

Music is a key part of Doctor Who, from the famous theme tune to soaring melodies, but the show has also inspired a whole new phenomenon – Time Lord Rock (TROCK). Radio 1 will look at this genre of music inspired by the Doctor and his journeys through space and time with a 60-minute documentary.

Meanwhile, Radio 4 Extra travels back to 1963 with a three-hour special programme, Who Made Who?, to look at the world that inspired the television series. Doctor Who may have come from other times, but his roots were very much in the present of 1960s Britain. This distinctive programme combines audio from the archive, new interviews and extracts from audio versions of Doctor Who. Additionally, the station will broadcast readings and dramas featuring the great Doctor.

Tennant and Smith featured on poster for Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor

Here's a poster promoting the 50th anniversary special for "Doctor Who," airing this November. Details are scant, but as you can see, Billie Piper returns and John Hurt guest stars.

BBC radio this week: Alexis Korner; history of record labels; spy stories; William Gibson and more!

Click the links to hear the following shows.

Alexis Korner: Rhythm and Blues Champion. Chris Jagger showcases the work of broadcaster and bandleader Alexis Korner and the British blues scene he pioneered.

From Edison to iTunes: A History of the Modern Record Label. Critic, writer and former label boss Paul Morley charts the rise of the record label over the past 130 years, and looks ahead to a more uncertain future.

The Goon Show. Classic material from one of the all-time radio comedy greats.

The Iquanadon. Three-part comedy adventure by Paul Lucas, starring Paul Haigh, Dermot Crowley and Bernard Cribbins.

The Man in Black. A creepy raconteur, played by Mark Gatiss, introduces spooky tales.

R.L. Stevenson: The Bottle Imp.  Native Hawaiian Keawe buys a bottle promising love, fame and money, but there's a drawback. Stars David Rintoul and Tony Osoba.

The Spying Game. Series of classic spy tales, specially recorded for 4 Extra.

William Gibson: Burning Chrome. Adam Sims reads William Gibson's hugely influential short story of cyberspace hackers and ruthless computer cool.

Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone. Strange and unusual sounds in music both old and new.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Official press release/synopsis for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot Sept. 24

Press release:


Joss Whedon, the creative genius behind the feature film “Marvel’s The Avengers,” one of the highest grossing films of all time, and of the iconic television series “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” has co-created “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” a dynamic, action-packed one-hour drama that brings back Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) to lead a team of highly skilled agents to investigate extra-normal and super human people and events worldwide. The series premieres TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24 (8:00-9:01 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.

These agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have a mission: To investigate the new, the strange and the unknown around the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary.

In the premiere episode, “Pilot,” it’s just after the battle of New York, and now that the existence of super heroes and aliens has become public knowledge, the world is trying to come to grips with this new reality. Agent Phil Coulson is back in action and has his eye on a mysterious group called The Rising Tide. In order to track this unseen, unknown enemy, he has assembled a small, highly select group of Agents from the worldwide law-enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division). The group’s first assignment together as a team finds them trying to track down an ordinary man who has gained extraordinary powers. Powers that could have devastating consequences.

“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” stars Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May, Brett Dalton as Agent Grant Ward, Chloe Bennet as Skye, Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz and Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Jemma Simmons.

Guest starring are J. August Richards as Mike, Shannon Lucio as Debbie, Ron Glass as Dr. Streiten and Bob Stephenson as Gary, with special guest star Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill.

”Pilot” was written by Joss Whedon & Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen and directed by Joss Whedon.

Hear Elvis Costello's collaboration with the Roots, now

Been curious about this one:

Elvis Costello and the Roots "Wise Up, Ghost," now streaming on NPR.

Out Sept. 17, Wise Up Ghost is Costello's collaboration with , hip-hop's most admired live act and a recording venture as conceptually adventurous as Costello himself. Recorded in a year's worth of experimental sessions after the 59-year-old bard met the band as a guest in its television home, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, the album sounds like the best of Costello's stuff and like nothing he's done before. Working with musicians who've figured out how to apply hip-hop principles to a band dynamic, Costello locates himself within that framework to produce some of the most focused and visionary work of his later career.
Though it's not a concept album (that's Undun, the 2011 Roots album it sometimes brings to mind), Wise Up Ghost has a unifying theme: trouble, as it bubbles up inside bedrooms, snakes through the halls of power and festers on the streets. This is sexy music about scary topics like the abuse of power and the manipulation of desire. Is the woman in "(She Might Be a) Grenade" a lover or a spy? Does the spent prophet singing the title track warn of hardening hearts or of a creeping totalitarian threat? It's both, throughout these songs, each examining the individual betrayals and dashed ideals that contribute to a culture's demise. "Cinco Minutos Con Vos," a duet with the dazzling La Marisoul of the L.A. band , comes on like a Joan Didion novel, humid with the mist of terror. "Come the Meantimes" glances sidelong at apocalypse in ways Curtis Mayfield would have appreciated. Throughout the album, Costello also samples from his own earlier songs; that literary touch recalls the self-referential mirror games of writers like Jorge Luis Borges, even as it nods to the wordplay of rappers like the one absent Roots member, Black Thought.
The sound of Wise Up Ghost comes closer to the early-'70s cinematic funk of and than to anything else. Strings swell and horns punch, but everything stays true to the rhythm ?uestlove, percussionist Frank Knuckles and bassist Mark Kelley lay down. Co-producer Steven Mandel's mix opens up the songs' complex arrangements so that little details — bells tinkling, a murmured aside — widen every scene. Listening, it's hard to separate oneself from these dreamy nightmares.
What spiritually ties Wise Up Ghost to Muscle Shoals, in the end, isn't the sound so much as the spirit of musicians walking toward each other past categories of all kinds, and together renewing their own spirits as well as the musical forms they've explored. It's impressive for a project everybody involved made just for fun. But sometimes fun is the best route into some pretty powerful stuff.


Music new releases Sept. 10, 2013: Arctic Monkeys; Jimmy Webb; Janelle Monae; The Clash; Mike Oldfield, more!

Click the links to purchase discounted CDs, vinyl LPs and downloads from Amazon.

AM by the Arctic Monkeys

Still Within the Sound of My Voice by Jimmy Webb

The Electric Lady by Janelle Monae

Sound System by The Clash

Boardwalk Empire Volume 2: Music From The HBO Original Series

5 Album Studio Set by the Clash

Hits Back (2-CD Set) by The Clash

Crises by Mike Oldfield

Coming Apart by Body/Head

Wild Animals by Juliana Hatfield

Five Miles Out by Mike Oldfield