Cerfing the Net

It’s going to be a while, probably well into 2015, before we see Stephen Colbert on CBS, shorn of his faux cable news persona. The truth is that I am rarely staying up late enough on weeknights anymore to watch Colbert, so I use the DVR catch up on the weekends.

Internet pioneer Vint Cerf was on The Colbert Report recently, and although he was interesting he took too much credit for himself and Bob Kahn. Why no mention of Bob Taylor, who originally envisioned the Arpanet and got it up and running before joining Xerox PARC? Cerf should also have given an up-front shout-out to Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web which is, let’s face it, what most people think the Internet is.

SCOTUS shocker

AereoShutdown

Shelley Fabares is sad, and I’m sad too, because Aereo, the online DVR service, has shut down. I wasn’t surprised by the Supreme Court’s ruling that brought Aereo to an end, but what shocks me is that I’m forced to agree with Justice Scalia! Broadcasters may have won this battle, but they have already lost the war, just as the music industry had when they shut down Napster.

AereoEnd

4-Panel Pastis Pastiche

Every day I receive a large selection of comic strips from GoComics in one of my e-mail bags, for which I pay a smidgen less than $12/year. One of those strips is “Pearls Before Swine,” by Stephan Pastis (yes it’s Stephan, not Stephen). Last week, on Wednesday, I saw this.

GoComics

The second panel of “Pearls” sure looked like it was either Pastis trying to draw like Bill Watterson, or perhaps it was by Watterson himself, but maybe just a bit out of practice. On Thursday I had no doubt that we were seeing the return of Bill Watterson to a syndicated comic strip for the first time since December, 1995, when he brought “Calvin & Hobbes” to a poignant, if early, end.

On Friday, Michael Cavna, The Washington Post’s comics blogger, made the official announcement. Pastis tells the back story at this link. I’ve stitched Watterson’s four panels together into a single strip.

Click to enlarge!

Click to enlarge

For myself, what makes Watterson’s return to (what those older than myself call) the Funny Pages truly special is its connection to cartoonist Richard Thompson, whose Parkinson’s Disease prevents him from continuing his own superb comic strip, “Cul de Sac.” The original art from last week’s “Pearls Before Swine” will be auctioned and the proceeds donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. I am, for personal reasons I have been asked to keep private, hooked into Michael’s disease and his foundation, and that was even before “Cul de Sac” first appeared in The Boston Globe.

The connection between Thompson, Pastis, Watterson, and M.J. Fox is Chris Sparks, the guy behind Team Cul de Sac. This is Chris enjoying holding onto the original art while he can. It will be on display at the Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC from June 20-22.

ChrisSparks

Watterson seems to be slowly entering the public eye again, through his art, if not in person. Besides drawing the poster for the documentary “Stripped” that I mentioned back in February, he drew this picture in recognition of the recent retirement of Lee Salem. Salem was the guy at Universal Press Syndicate who bought “Calvin & Hobbes” but who missed seeing the potential in “Dilbert.”

Lee Salem

Here’s another look at the “Pearls Before Swine” original art. I’d love to know what Watterson uses when lettering, because the ink on his originals never looks very black compared to the line art. If it’s a type of India Ink he must dilute it.

Pearls

Ken calls it

Julia Collins

Congratulations to Julia Collins, the new winning-est woman in Jeopardy! The greatest of all game shows has had its best start of the year ever, between Arthur Chu and Julia, with Brad Rutter’s impressive, and highly lucrative, win in the Battle of the Decades. But Ken Jennings was right when he said that he didn’t think we’d see another string of more than twenty consecutive wins.

Addendum: J! fan SamJay reports that Julia lost on the 10th anniversary of Ken Jennings’ first win.

Urbont Legend

Urbont

Jacques Urbont, aka Jack Urbont, is an old-school composer in the Tin Pan Alley tradition. With Bruce “Mission Impossible” Geller he wrote the Broadway musical “All In Love,” but most of Urbont’s credits are for television.

The music Urbont composed that is familiar to me was for the syndicated 1966 cartoon series, “The Marvel Super Heroes.” The introduction and closing for the show are found on a FlexiDisc called “Scream Along With MARVEL,” that came with the 1967 membership kit for the Merry Marvel Marching Society. I posted the record back in 2007.

The DVD of last year’s PBS documentary, “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle” includes a marvelous extra feature with Urbont, who explains and performs each of the intros and themes he wrote for the Marvel Super Heroes cartoons. (Note that “Superheroes” is today spelled as a single word.)

I assume Stan Lee’s assistant that Urbont mentions was Roy Thomas, but I don’t know that for certain. Urbont exudes an infectious enthusiasm that is quite similar to Stan’s own effusive personality. Urbont’s lyrics capture the spirit of the Marvel characters perfectly, and I love seeing how proud he is of this material. I just wish that Disney, which now owns Marvel, would release a complete DVD set of the cartoons. A few years ago they were supposed to be made available for streaming on Netflix, but that didn’t happen.

Happy Prue Day!

A very Happy Birthday for the wonderful Prudence Bury-Fuchs! This is a promotional photo with Prue and Terry, her first husband, after they were married and had moved to New York in 1965.

Prue and Terry Hooper,  New York, 1965

Prue and Terry Hooper, New York, 1965

They were promoting the Youthquake fashion campaign, about which I’ll have more later.

Prue Terry 1965 Notice

There is a new Blu-ray release coming from Criterion of A Hard Day’s Night. I’m very pleased to see that Criterion includes Prue in the cast list.