A New York Yankee in Queen Elizabeth’s Court

In anticipation of Trump’s visit to England, Green Day’s “American Idiot” is making a comeback on the British music charts, almost fourteen years after its release. “American Idiot” is a very favorite album of mine, and the timing of its release was perfect, immediately before Dubya’s re-election. Billie Joe Armstrong does a good “Weird Al” Yankovic impression at the start of this video.

Something I enjoy about Green Day is that its numerous influences, from the Ramones to Brian Wilson, are apparent but not blatant. To my ears the band also took some inspiration from England’s Oasis. The song “Some Might Say” predates “American Idiot” by ten years.

H I A B L M

Gary Lockwood as the ill-fated Frank Poole

I’m back on Watch TCM, except it’s only a computer screen this time, not the projector, and I’m in AZ, not MA. I never tire of seeing “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Even 50 years later, it’s a stunning achievement.

Keir Dullea as the ?-fated David Bowman

In a recently discovered interview with Stanley Kubrick, he revealed the original concept behind the “Star Child” evolution of Dave Bowman. Although Arthur C. Clarke’s name isn’t mentioned, he most certainly was involved with how the enigmatic conclusion of the movie is presented.

The closest that IBM has come so far in creating a real HAL computer is its Watson system, which performed so well on Jeopardy!, defeating both Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. The decision was made by IBM to devote Watson to medical intelligence, but that hasn’t worked out as hoped, and there have been a lot of layoffs.

Speaking of computers being used for medical records — which was how I made my living for 36 years — one of the earliest visionaries in the field, Dr. Warner Slack, died a couple of weeks ago.

Mr. A. Machine

Before and after working for Marvel Comics, Steve Ditko was an artist for Charlton in Derby, Connecticut. In its Atlas days, before returning to superhero comics, Marvel was a step down from National Periodical Publications, aka DC, with Charlton at the low end of the comic book publishing business.

Konga #1, 1960, based upon the movie and illustrated by Steve Ditko. Incredibly, there is a significant connection between this comic book and my friend Prue Bury — “Konga” director John Lemont.

When Atlas nearly collapsed in 1957, Stan Lee kept the company going by using a large stash of previously unpublished inventory stories. But Stan had to lay off his reliable stable of artists who had drawn those inventory stories, including my pal Joe Sinnott. Joe was desperate for work and he found it at Charlton by anonymously penciling thousands of Romance story pages for Vince Colletta.

Ten years later comic books were back in a big way, and Marvel was taking over the top spot from DC. Joe had returned to the Bullpen, but Steve Ditko left for reasons that will never be fully explained. Ditko returned to Charlton, where he drew mystery stories, undoubtedly for a fraction of the page rate that he was earning at Marvel plotting and drawing Spider-Man and Dr. Strange.

One of the ways that Charlton saved money was by not having staffers who were specialists in hand lettering. Instead, Charlton had A. Machine. One of the fixed links I have on this blog is for Charlton Comics: The Movie. The team behind the project have uncovered the secret identity of the formerly anonymous A. Machine, as explained here.