< 7° of Separation

Click the picture below to see the entire cover to the January, 1965 issue of a humor magazine called HELP! The Beatles’ movie HELP! wasn’t released until August, 1965, leading one to speculate what possible influence Terry Gilliam’s bit of airbrushed artistic whimsy may have had on the title. Yes, that’s Terry Gilliam the animator, director and Monty Python troupe member who is listed as contributing editor.

HELP! was the brainchild of Harvey Kurtzman. In an earlier posting I have a link to a gallery with one of Kurtzman’s early comic-book stories. Kurtzman is still remembered today as the man who started MAD Magazine. One evening, Gilliam, who had replaced HELP! staffer Gloria Steinem, went to an off-Broadway show that featured a performer named John Cleese. They met and Cleese was talked into performing a photo comic strip for the magazine. Look for that in a future posting. After HELP! folded, Gilliam later caught up with Cleese in London, and then there was something completely different.

Chapter V. The Rescue of the Tin Woodman.

Audio Adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of OZ, Crown Publishers, Inc., 1961

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Stephen Colbert’s Alpha Squad 7

Somehow, I totally missed the introduction of Stephen Colbert’s Alpha Squad 7, the New Tek Jansen Adventure back in August.  Colbert is obviously a comics and cartoon fan, and he was a writer for Robert Smigel’s TV Funhouse, so I’m not surprised he’s doing this.  Here is part 2.  Part 1 is undoubtedly available on YouTube.Player problem?  Click here.

EDIT: Let’s have a little fun with this.  Somebody has posted this video on YouTube, although without the teaser that I included.  I’m going to scale my embedded video up to 425 pixels across to match YouTube’s, and embed that one here.  You can compare and judge who did the better job of capturing the video.  Don’t use an old Windows Media Player, like version 7, because it’ll look awfully jaggy, compared to YouTube’s Flash player.

EDIT P.S.  The YouTube video has been replaced with my own upload.  This is as good as it gets after YouTube has processed something.  The preview still frame is nice, and if there’s a way to do that with Media Player I’ll find it.

Trim Strips

These days it’s easy to change the height-to-width ratio of a comic strip to fit whatever space is available in a newspaper, which personally I find extremely annoying.  In an earlier post about widescreen movies I said some comic strips were once cropped to fit.

Above is an example: Dick Tracy, from 1943.  Click the picture to see the full strip.  I’ve added a line to highlight how the bottom quarter of the panels is filler. Photostats were sent to newspapers in two versions — one full-height, and one trimmed.

When Peanuts was introduced in 1950, Charles Schulz was told to keep his panels square, so the strip could be sold as a flexible “space-saver.”  Instead of trimming the panels, they could be arranged in several different ways; straight across, vertically, or two on two, as seen in the reprint books.

News Leak

From today’s online Boston Globe:

Former Governor King is dead at 81

By Mark Feeney, Globe Staff

Edward J. King, whose victory over incumbent Governor Michael S. Dukakis in the 1978 state Democratic primary was one of the great upsets in Massachusetts political history and set up a storied rematch, when Mr. King lost to Dukakis four years later, died today from injuries he suffered during a fall earlier this month. He was 81.

In 1978 I was a young reporter and announcer for a small radio station in Western Massachusetts. I interviewed gubernatorial candidate King, and I couldn’t believe he was a Democrat, because every position he took was pure Republican. Having met Governor Michael Dukakis — the master of detail — several times previously, I was not impressed by King, who was short on specifics.

Before leaving, King used the station’s little half-bathroom. After he was gone, the secretary, a woman named Dana, was very upset. “Do you know what he did?” she asked in an outraged tone. “He didn’t lift the seat and he left it wet! Can you believe that?” For me that clinched it. King was no Democrat. 😉

Flash in the Pants

Thirty years ago — OK, let’s make it 40 — Flash for me referred to a comic book character I liked. Now Flash is all about memory sticks. I started with a modest SanDisk 128-MB model:

But then I need a bigger fix, so I graduated to 1-GB:

That 1-gigger saw a lot of use and abuse, mostly at work. Eventually, all three of its caps broke, but not before it survived a ride in the washing machine and the dryer, while forgotten in the little “fifth pocket” of my Eddie Bauer chinos. Previously, I’d worn it around my neck, along with my employee badge, but the little piece of plastic for the lanyard broke, so into the pocket it went.

Now I have a 2-GB Flash drive, which even at USB-2 speeds takes some time to back up:

But now it seems that in the rush to meet demand, some USB flash drives are failing:


Fortunately, these things are ridiculously cheap. The research firm IDG is quoted in that article. They’re literally next door to the building where I work, but other than some of their people parking in our garage and eating in our cafeteria, we have no contact with them.