A IS FOR ANTHRAX: #4 in a series of pop culture primers

The latest Abecedarium comes from writer/heavy-metal fan Rebecca Rogers Maher

She notes: "This is by no means a representative sample of heavy metal bands. It's just an alphabetical list of bands I like, or hate, or could make a rhyme with." 

A is for ANTHRAX. They bring the noise. 

B's for BON JOVI: Rich Jersey Boys

C's for CHEVELLE, who send pain below

D is for DANZIG: Short guy on a throne


My wife is funnier than me

My wife and I vandalized this chalk-written sign for a "SCOOTER WASH"

More proof she is funnier than me.

(She had the idea, but I erased the "S" with a splash of water)

related links:

Two killer jokes


A is for AUTOMAN: #3 in a series of pop culture primers

A is for AUTOMAN, A.I. super-cop

B is BEYOND WESTWORLD, T.V. spin-off flop

C's CAPTAIN CAVEMAN, who somehow got laid

D's for DARK SHADOWS, doomed to be re-made


3 PEANUTS parodies that I like more than the JAWS one

Because I'm a JAWS scholar and shark geek, a number of people have shared Charles Forsman's mash-up (of JAWS re-told with the Peanuts gang) with me.

You might think I didn't like it because I'm some kind of a JAWS nut.  

But honestly, I thought it missed the mark when it came to the Peanuts characters.  I have to give credit to Forsman for drawing spot-on character designs in the style of Schulz.  But the strip didn't connect the dots between Charlie Brown, Chief Brody, Hooper, Linus, Quint, Mayor Vaughn, etc. 

So it's not that I'm a JAWS nut, so much as a big PEANUTS fan. I find the early strips groundbreaking and influential and as important to American literature as The Great Gatsby or Of Mice and Men. Seriously. 

However, I come not to bury Peanuts parodies, but to praise them.  

So here are three faux-Peanuts strips that I adore. 

First off, buy R. Sikoryak's MASTERPIECE COMICS.  You can get it here cheap. Sikoryak commits to a concept without going to easy jokes.  This collection is brilliant and beautifully illustrated. One of the stand-outs is his "Good Ol' Gregor Brown" where Kafka's Metamorphosis is re-told with the Peanuts cast.  This was presented as a slideshow at Kevin Geeks Out (during a "Holiday Grab Bag" show) -- and it killed.  Buy this book for yourself and get another one for your favorite English teacher. 

(this is just an excerpt, buy the book to read the rest)
Sikoryak's strip is so cool that one fan even went and got it as a tattoo.  The only thing sexier than a Charlie Brown tattoo is Kafka-Peanuts body-art!

Second, MAD Magazine did a 1968 strip titled "Will Success Spoil Charlie Brown?" where Shermy returns to the old neighborhood and sees how the commercial success of PEANUTS has changed everyone.  

As a kid, I didn't realize it was a parody of "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" but I still got the jokes and loved seeing Charlie Brown in a toupee. 

I could not find this online. Sorry. 

But you can find plenty of other great MAD parodies.  Here's a list of the dozens and dozens that ran over the years. 

Third, Ted Rall's "Supply Side Lucy"
This 1996 one-panel gag is, sadly, still true today.  Check out more Ted Rall. He's a daring writer and he always challenges himself to do something different with each book -- whether it's a comics collection, narrative graphic novel or even his fantastic post-modern take on George Orwell's 1984. 

Do you have a favorite PEANUTS parody/homage?  Tell me about it in the comments. 


JAWS vs. SHARK NIGHT the two types of shark-movie posters

Horror movie characters: A-Z

Kevin and Matt Geek Out about Shark Cinema

Deleted Scene from Kevin and Matt Geek Out about Shark Cinema


THE FUTURE IS THE INTERNET: a true subway story

You know how certain kinds of films, television shows and stage plays will present a pandering, romanticized view of a homeless person, showing a rattily-dressed but wise old man whose simple words put middle-class problems into perspective.

As much as I love the The Clash’s lyirc about how “the truth is only known by guttersnipes” I’d never had one of these magical encounters.

Until today.

I transferred onto the E-train at Canal Street and I was immediately bowled over by the stench of cheap whiskey at 9:55 in the morning.  I looked up and saw a shabbily-dressed middle-aged man with dreadlocks, drinking brown liquor from a Poland Spring bottle.

Guy: What you reading?


Guy: What’s that about?

Me: How our culture is obsessed with its own past.

Guy: Like China and Kung-Fu movies.

Me: I haven’t gotten to that part yet.

Guy: (smiling) Maybe it won’t be in the book.  But China makes a lot of Kung-Fu movies.  Kung-Fu is very important to China’s history.  It was the Kung-Fu masters that freed China. 

He went on about Kung Fu for a few minutes.  I was standing about 6 inches away from him, but everyone else kept their distance. Still, I got the impression they were watching/listening to this conversation.  It’s the closest I’ve come to having a true Socratic Dialogue.  I wish the train ride would last longer, because this was really getting good.

Guy: (more about how Kung-Fu saved China)

ME: I didn’t know that.

GUY: Kung Fu is very important.

Me: Mmm.

The train pulled into the next stop and the doors opened at Spring Street, where I exited.

Me: (to my new friend) Take it easy.

Just before I left the guy looked at me, pointed and shouted one last thing.  He was dead serious, but also joking.  


I exited the train, and then came up with a good response after it was too late.

“That’s the one thing Kug-Fu can’t save us from.”


Freelancer's Company Picnic


After the success of the FREELANCER'S CHRISTMAS PARTY, I'm having a follow-up...




Driving back from visiting my parents (who retired to Maryland), I passed a beach shop called The Electric Banana.

I wondered aloud if it were a reference to Spinal Tap** (Fans will remember "The Electric Banana" is the club where director Marti Di Bergi first saw the band.)  Neither my wife, my 6-year old son or my 3-year old son could say. 

Just today I was telling a nerdy friend about this place, and again I wondered if the name was a nod to Tap. 

So I called the store and asked. The clerk said "It's just a funny name, that an electric banana is funny, they wanted a funny name and electric banana is funny." 

Of course he's right, it IS funny.  But was there more to the story? 

I pressed him and discovered that he is not the owner. 

So I asked to speak with the owner.  I added "I'm a journalist" (which is kind of true, I suppose.) 

He put me on hold and said to call back in ten minutes. 

* * *   10 minutes later   * * * 



APES movie during SHARK WEEK

It just occurred to me that the new PLANET OF THE APES movie opens during SHARK WEEK.

Those are two of my favorite sub-genres.  

To honor the occasion, I want to tell you about A*P*E (1976)

This American-Korean co-production was rushed-out to cash-in on KONG FEVER that was brewing around Dino De Laurentiis's big-budget remake of KING KONG.

A*P*E (which isn't an actual acronym, maybe they were additionally trying to capitalize on M*A*S*H*-fever) was produced by Jack H. Harris (whose credits include some cult favorites including The Blob and Dark Star).

Harris managed to con FAMOUS MONSTER OF FILM-LAND into getting his movie on the cover of their magazine**, with this over-the-top illustration of his giant monkey pummeling a JAWS-like shark. (Remember in the mid-70's JAWS was the ultimate blockbuster.)  The film includes a brief sequence in which the APE encounters a great white shark (a one-two punch of ripping of KONG and JAWS, while suggesting that their film is superior to Spielberg's.)

This epic battle between a 36-foot-tall monkey and a really big shark comes off more like a guy in a torn gorilla costume thrashing around an already-dead shark. At the end of the scene he actually splits apart the shark's mouth, ruining it for good and ensuring that there won't be anymore filming of this scene. (There's a reason this film was made outside the U.S.)

Oh, did I mention this all takes places in the first 5 minutes of the movie.

In 3-D.


Kevin Geeks Out About: Rise of/Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

"There is something undeniably appealing about watching gorillas dressed like Fonzie aiming shotguns at Moses dressed like Tarzan."
- Dana Gould
In case you don't know, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is something of a re-make of the third sequel in the original APES series.  (That's CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES)

I haven't seen RISE yet, but I imagine it won't include the time-traveling chimps backstory or the controversial race-riot subtext.  (But, the optimists point out, it does have Andy Serkis!)

Listen, I'm a sucker for the APES films (I have a Czech poster of "Conquest" in my living room and my wedding cake was topped with figurines of  Zira and Cornelius), so of course I HAVE TO to see the new one.

In the meantime, you can get ready for the remake by studying this handy cheat sheet and by watching my old AMC video taped at the Bronx Zoo's Congo Gorilla Forest (below.) 

Note: the Zoo's PR team wanted to end the video with a line about how we need to save "this" planet, or some such line -- and I had to explain the most basic premise of the franchise: it's the same planet.  We finally really did it! Etc.


JAWS vs. SHARK NIGHT: two kinds of shark movie posters

Since it's SHARK WEEK, I'll look at the two kinds of shark movie posters.

Let's compare a classic with a new one:

The gold-standard is the above artwork for the 1975 film JAWS. We all know this iconic image: Lady swims naked, blissfully unaware that she is about the be chomped by the giant shark.  

But in SHARK NIGHT's image, the woman realizes the life-and-death situation, her face expresses panic and terror as the leviathan lunges towards her.

So which works better for you?

The blissfully unaware victim OR fully-aware damsel in distress?


Happy Shark Week!

To celebrate SHARK WEEK, I'm sharing this link to the very special JAWS 2 graphic novelization (with an emphasis on graphic!) It's presented in full "MARVEL-COLOR"; the magazine boasts that each page was an oil-painting.  It's a real labor of love.  

Marvel's book is certainly more impressive (and more violent) than this children's JAWS 2 COLORING BOOK, which I mentioned in a previous post

For a lengthy exploration of all 20th century shark-media, you can check out this extensive recap of the obsessive theme-night KEVIN AND MATT GEEK OUT ABOUT SHARKS. 

Related video:  


A IS FOR ALIEN: #1 in a series of pop culture primers

A is for Alien, chest-bursting bitch

B is for Belial, makes baskets twitch

C's for Chatterer, cenobite #2

D is for Damien, this hanging's for you