Friday, May 30, 2014

Pop Culture Roundup: Wonder Woman! Scooby Doo! Doctor Who!

Cool news: DC Comics has announced a new Wonder Woman series akin to its Adventures of Superman title. Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman will feature stand-alone stories outside of regular DC continuity, making it friendlier to younger and new readers.

Details:
SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN will kick off with an arc written by fan-favorite Gail Simone with art by Ethan van Sciver.

 Long-term plans include stories by Lauren Beukes, James Tynion IV, Cecil Castellucci, Cat Staggs, Chris Sprouse, Caitlin Kittredge, Amanda Diebert, Renae De Liz and Georges Jeanty.

“As diehard fans of Wonder Woman, we are incredibly honored to showcase the world's most iconic female Super Hero through our Digital First publishing program," said Hank Kanalz, senior vice president of Vertigo and Integrated Publishing.

“With this series creators can dream up unique takes on the Amazon Princess to give fans a new adventure every week. We’re very excited about the line-up, and readers won’t want to miss the sensational action-packed Wonder Woman stories we have planned for the coming weeks and beyond.”

The first chapter will be released in August 2014 and monthly printed issues will include three chapters each, also starting in August.

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Via Boing Boing: A look at the evocative background paintings used in the Scooby Doo cartoon series. Many more here!

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BBC America counts down the Top 5 Doctor Who-related pop singles!



Today's Best Picture Ever: Paul McCartney and George Harrison!

Doubling as our Fab Friday entry today.


More Beatles at our new Fabs-dedicated site: The Glass Onion!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Vintage Huffy bike ad!


Today's Best Picture Ever: Adam West and Leonard Nimoy!


Pop Review: Come Spy with Us!

A collection of 25 diverse tunes from the height of mid-60s spymania, this recent compilation from Ace Records is full of all the twangy, reverbed guitars, stabbing horns and over-the-top dramatic vocals you might expect. But the selection of material is far from obvious.

Yes, we get music from the Bond movies, "Danger Man," and "Man from U.N.C.L.E.," but, for the most part, all in less-familiar versions.

We also got lots of rarities and oddities, many not readily available except on vintage vinyl.

John Barry is here, but not doing a Bond theme. Instead, we get "A Man Alone," his theme for "The Ipcress File." The tune -- highlighted by the unique sound of cymbalon, a hammered, eastern European percussion instrument -- is instantly recognizable as Barry, but is more subtle and mysterious than one of his Bond tunes, .

When we do hear the "James Bond Theme," it's not the movie version, but a supercool surf rendition by Johnny and the Hurricanes. There's more guitar instro sounds, too, from the Ventures, performing the theme from "Arabesque," the Challengers doing "Man from U.N.C.L.E." and Al Cailoa picking out "Secret Agent Man."

That latter tune is one of three themes for the Patrick McGoohan TV series "Danger Man" (retitled "Secret Agent Man" in the states) present on the compilation -- all of them great.

Of course, there's some outright silliness on display, too. The theme for the "Silencers" -- starring Dean Martin as Matt Helm -- features singer/actress Vikki Carr sultrily comparing firearm calibers with the dimensions of a woman's curves. "The Last of the Secret Agents," the title song for a 1966 spy send-up, features Nancy Sinatra singing silly lyrics over a "Boots" beat, and the campy "We Should've," from 1966's "Modesty Blaise" spotlights Ray Ellington and Carmen McRae as a spying couple reminiscing about their cloak and dagger past.

In the way-over-the-top category, we get the Walker Brothers doing the theme for the 1966 Bulldog Drummond adaptation, "Deadlier Than the Male." It's all über dramatic vocals and ridiculous words, but you do get to hear how much Scott Walker influenced David Bowie. And then there's Shirley Bassey, but not singing "Goldfing-ah!" Instead, we get her equally bombastic theme for 1966's "The Liquidator," which she pronounces "Liguidate-ah!"

On the jazz front, there's Hammond-master Jimmy Smith swinging through "Where the Spies Are, " pianist Wynton Kelly on the "Burke's Law Theme," and Sarah Vaughn doing a cool/odd vocal version of Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn Theme," titled "Bye Bye."

Maybe the most "normal" tune in the set is Dusty Springfield's "The Look of Love," a Bacharach-David tune that escapes its spy trappings, but which first appeared on the soundtrack of the Bond farce "Casino Royale." More cool vocals are on hand, too, via bossa queen Astrud Gilberto singing "Who Needs Forever" from "The Deadly Affair."

Back to TV, "Hogan's Hero" star and swinging drummer Bob Crane leads a combo through the "Get Smart" theme, plus we hear the original 45 rpm single version of Lalo Shifrin's classic "Mission Impossible Theme."

Meanwhile, Motown collectors may want to pick up the collection just on the basis of two oddball rarities: The Supremes' theme for "Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine," a cult dance hit among the Northern Soul crowd, and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' "Come Spy With Me."

 As is usually the case with Ace, the sound, graphics and liners for this set are all uniformly excellent. It's the most fun comp I've heard in quite a while, and the team should be commended for diving deeply and coming up with so many treasures.