So here in the Northern Hemisphere we’re looking at the summer solstice tomorrow, or today if you’re reading this at the right time, or sometime in the past if you’re reading it after that. Anyway. Please remember that while this is the longest day of the year, it is not the day when sunset comes the latest in the year. This phenomenon may seem confusing if you don’t know this piece of information: Astronomers have always hated drive-in movie operators, and vice-versa. I hope this clears matters up for you.
I don’t know how much is the appropriate amount to think about famous knock-off movie Ratatoing, but I don’t think I’m far outside the norm. Plus, Nathan Rabin blogged about it a couple days ago, and reading that made me realize: oh, that name is surely not meant to rhyme with “boing”, right? You’re supposed to think rat-at-oo-ing, so it’s even closer to Ratatouille. Rat-a-toing is just wrong. And then I tried watching the movie and it turns out? No, it’s “boing”, just like I thought when I didn’t know anything. So the week’s not even half over and I keep having to re-evaluate everything. Or I can stop thinking about stuff and, it turns out, be okay, just less tired of it all.
- The Hustler
- The Apartment
- The Discrete Charm of The Bourgeoisie
- The Casablanca
- The Dog Day Afternoon
- The E.T.
- The Fall of The House of the Usher
- Who Framed The Roger Rabbit
- The A Hard Day’s The Night
- The Man Who Shot Liberty The Valance
- The Mon Oncle
- The Night of The Hunter
Reference: The Big Rich: The Rise And Fall of The Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes, Bryan Burrough.
The current Gasoline Alley story is built on some Hollywood types coming in make a movie about the town. While the town’s residents are interesting to the comic strip readers, one might ask why anyone in-universe would care about this town? Longtime readers enjoy the more-or-less plausible lives of interesting characters. But why pick this place, other than that Walt Wallet is a generation older than Betty White?
While searching for something else, I ran across this timeline of events in Gasoline Alley. It’s a list of some of the big story events including when Skeezix turned up on the doorstep. and seems to be pretty solid for events up to about 1950, that is, the era when the comic strip made its reputation. It may not convince you — I mean, breach of promise stories? Everyone did them back then and that’s such an alien idea today, like suing somebody for not wearing a hat — but it gives some idea what all happened.
Over on my mathematics blog, I just looked at the comic strips which observed Pi Day. How many of them were about mathematics? The answer may surprise you!
This essay should catch you up to mid-March 2022 in Jim Scancarelli’s Gasoline Alley. If you’re reading this after about June 2022, there’s likely a more up-to-date plot recap at this link. And now, action!
1 January – 19 March 2022.
The current story had just been called when I last checked in. Some Hollywood types are descending on Gasoline Alley to make a movie. Rufus and Joel try to clean City Hall up to the point that it shines. The movie makers slip and fall on the wet floor. The comic relief pair suppose that the movie makers want to sue them for damages. After their attempts at disguising themselves fail completely, they run off to hide in a cave.
The movie folks turn their attention to Walt Wallet. They turn over some kind of prospectus for a movie based on his life. It’s a big, bold work, not bound tightly to the facts. He calls Skeezix over to describe some of them. And to recount a story that … actually, he’s told before, back in January and February of 2014. But he claims that when exploring in Egypt ages ago he and his party, desperately short on water, fell into the tomb of the Pharaoh Do-Ra-Mi. They found an urn on the shelf, with ancient, stale water that they drank happily. And then found the hieroglyphics proclaimed it the “Energy Shot – For Youth”. Which, well, he is a pretty spry fellow for being six years older than the SOS distress signal. But back in 2014 when he told this story he was making up that it was the Fountain of Youth. He was spinning yarns back then, which, fine. But when why his shock in 2022 when someone believed him?
After sharing this and some other, lesser tall tales with Skeezix, the movie folks call to say never mind. They’re not doing Walt Wallet’s life, which is a shame, since this was an excuse for Scancarelli to draw a young-looking Walt Wallet doing a lot of fun action. (One of the stories shows him hopping a train, which seems mundane enough to have happened.) But the movie folks have decided to do a science fiction piece, Teenage Thing Meets The Creature From Gasoline Alley. Scancarelli’s heart is in doing a 1950s radio sitcom and I like him for that.
The movie producers still want to get hold of Rufus and Joel. The pair emerge from hiding, when the bear they were hiding with kicks them out. And that’s where we stand. Will it turn out they’ve made a bad assumption about what the movie folks wanted them for, so that their winter hiding in a cave was foolish? There’s no way of knowing except reading, or remembering the rules of the 1950s radio sitcoms that the comic strip wants to be. We’ll check back by June, anyway.
The only question worth asking right now is when is Mark Trail going to punch an NFT? And the answer is, always, not soon or often enough. But if we’re lucky by next week I’ll be able to tell you just when Mark Trail does. That’s Jules Rivera’s Mark Trail next Tuesday, if things go to plan.
The Case For: Are the best vertical surface available to 1990s college students to hang their posters of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Blues Brothers, or a Mandelbrot set.
The Case Against: Somehow increase the noise of the people in the hotel room next to you by 12 to 18 decibels.
The Case For: Has the superhuman power to take good action pictures on a timer.
The Case Against: In one of his adventures on The Electric Company, Spider-Man was beaten by a Wall at Shea Stadium.
I mean, if you told me, I’d have no way of arguing you were wrong. Here I’m talking about movies where these characters are the stars, you know, the protagonists. I’m sure every one of them had a cameo in Ready Player One, Space Jam II: Space Jammier, Scoob!, and I’m guessing that one where space aliens jam a giant Pac-Man into a city or something? I don’t know, I just saw the commercials and figured that was enough. Anyway if you want to put one over on me, and start talking about a movie starring any of these, I would never suspect you were fibbing. Also I don’t know why you’d want to put that over on me, but that’s your business, isn’t it?
- Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har-Har
- Grape Ape
- The Silverhawks
- Tom Slick
- Mighty Mouse
- The Herculoids
- Space Ace
- Hoppy the Marvel Bunny
- The Tazmanian Devil
- Huckleberry Hound
Reference: The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation, Frank O’Brien.
- How To Train Your Dragon
- Dungeons and Dragons
- Pete’s Dragon (1977)
- Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God
- The NeverEnding Story
- Quest for Camelot
- Spirited Away
- Pete’s Dragon (2016)
- Dragon Fighter
- The Flight of Dragons
Not listed: Disney’s Robin Hood although doesn’t that really feel like it should have at least one dragon in there, somewhere?
Reference: The Most Unsordid Act: Lend-Lease, 1939-1941, Warren F Kimball.
So, now, I know that you want look to me as a respectable or “cool” figure. Before you bestow this trust in me, though? You should know that in the 80s I read more than one article about the making of Earth Girls Are Easy from in Starlog magazine. So, just, scale your expectations of me to that, please. Thank you.
- Bean Dad
- Sea shanties on TikTok
- Like three probes orbited or landed on Mars and one of them had a helicopter
- Balloon Boy
- The Kellogg’s strike
- That morning we all found a box of Peak Freans on our counter even though they haven’t made Peak Freans since like 1989 and nobody could explain where all these Peaks Freans came from
- That guy did that really good impression of Robin Williams learning of John Belushi’s death
- Culture Club released the hit song “Karma Chameleon”
- The imperatives of state bureaucracy drove European governments to impose family names on all their inhabitants, without regard to local culture or the lack of community need for such things
- The controversial “Rashomon” episode of Scooby and Scrappy Doo aired
- Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins died
- Ken Russell’s film adaptation of The Who’s Tommy uses rather a lot of beans, is unconnected to “Bean Dad”
- End of the Recombination era of the universe, when electrons and atomic nucleuses finally became cool enough to bind together into atoms, allowing photons to travel great distances, causing space to no longer be opaque for the first time
- Boss Baby 2 came out
- Audiences were enchanted by that “so good … but no lumps!” commercial but can’t remember, was it for gravy? For Alka-Seltzer? But Alka-Seltzer was that “Mama Mia, that’s a spicy meatball” commercial, right? That was like four years ago?
Reference: American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA, Nick Taylor.
- Despite the name no so-called “universal remote” has ever in fact been remote from the universe.
- No United States president has ever been born in the future.
- The 100 pleats in a chef’s hat represent the 100 times that the guy who bought the hat-pleating mechanism insisted on showing this was too a good purchase and would pay for itself in time.
- In the Star Trek episode “Court Martial” Spock discusses what would happen “if I let go of a hammer on a planet that has a positive gravity”, implying there are enough zero- and negative-gravity planets around he needs to shut talk about them down before it even starts.
- There must always exist at least one breadbox that cannot be put inside another breadbox. However, if the universe were infinitely large, we could not count on this being true.
- No episode of the 1980s animated series of The Smurfs establishes that Gargamel knows of the Snorks.
- Those coworkers whose names you aren’t sure you have yet, and it’s too awkward now to ask about? Sara and Mike. If there’s a third, it’s Darryl or maybe Darren. Go confident on the “Darr” part and underplay the second syllable and you’ll get away with it.
- D is known as “the sunshine vitamin” because it was first discovered by spectral analysis of the sun. It would not be seen on Earth for nearly a generation after its detection.
- Not only could they make Blazing Saddles today, they did, which is where everybody was all day and why they’re all tuckered out. You should have come over and helped, you’d have had a great time. Maybe you can catch them next month when they hope to make Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One.
- Despite every advance in the technology to write songs, they are likely to be outnumbered by unwritten songs through 2024 at the soonest.
Reference: A Diplomatic History Of Europe Since The Congress Of Vienna, René Albrecht-Carié.
- Ben Templeton and Tom Forman’s Motley’s Crew
- Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey
- Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer’s Felix the Cat
- Bill Griffith’s Zippy the Pinhead
- Grim Natwick and Max Fleischer et al’s Betty Boop
- Gary Larson’s The Far Side
- Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie
- Brant Parker and Johnny Hart’s The Wizard of Id (with David Zucker and Jerry Zucker of Airplane! directing)
Not listed: that time Ralph Bakshi thought he was making a primetime TV cartoon version of Blade Runner.
Also not mentioned: that Tintin project because I don’t think Tintin was ever a comic strip and, like, Betty Boop had a short-lived comic even if it wasn’t good.
Also, coming back to the mentioned: Motley’s Crew? Really? Huh. I mean, I guess that’s a comic strip that existed all right, but … Really. Huh. I mean … huh. You’re passing on Bill Schorr’s The Grizzwells for this, then.
Reference: Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: How One Man’s Courage Changed The Course of History, Giles Milton.
- Star Wars: A Star Wars Story
- Star Wars: A Wars Star Story
- Star Wars: A Star Stories War
- Wars Star: A Stars War Story
- Star Wars Stars: A Story
- A Wars War: Star A Star Story
- Star Star: A Wars Star Stories
- Star Wars Star: A Wars Star War Starry Story
- Star Wars: Star Wars Story A
- Star Star War Star Wars: A War Stars Story Wars Star Story
- A Star Wars Story: Star Wars
Honorable mention: Star Wars: Sraw Rats, the secret movie for people who know Star Wars forwards and backwards.
Reference: Who’s Who In Mythology: A Classic Guide To The Ancient World, Alexander S. Murray.
|Thing||Durations in Runtimes of Turbo (2013)|
|Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address||0.05938|
|Construction of the Empire State Building||244.375|
|First non-exhibition/spring-training baseball game of the Houston Colt.45s, 10 April 1962||1.583|
|“The Gates of Delirium”, by Yes||0.2274|
|The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island (including commercials)||1.250|
|The Hundred Years’ War||637,711.71|
|One second||0.000 173 6|
|Robert Altman’s Popeye||1.1875|
|The 1960 Summer Olympics||262.5|
|Thunderhawk roller coaster (one ride cycle only), Dorney Park, Allentown, Pennsylvania||0.01354|
|Turbo Teen (complete series, including commercials)||4.0625|
|We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story||0.7396|
Reference: Roughing It, Mark Twain.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real thin man!” — Not said by Nick or Nora Charles, The Thin Man.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real treasure of the Sierra Madre!” — Not said by Fred C Dobbs, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real love story!” — Not said by Jennifer Cavalleri, Love Story.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real wizard of Oz!” — Not said by Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real Goldfinger!” — Not said by Goldfinger, Goldfinger.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real cool hand, Luke!” — Not said by Dragline, Cool Hand Luke.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real space odyssey!” — Not said by Dave Bowman, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real Scrooge!” — Not said by Mr Snedrig, Scrooge.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real shape of water!” — Not signed by Elisa Esposito, The Shape of Water.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real Casablanca!” — Not said by Rick Blaine, Casablanca.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real space jam!” — Not said by Lola Bunny, Space Jam.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real planet of the apes!” — Not said by Dr Galen, Planet of the Apes.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real Wall Street!” — Not said by Gordon Gecko, Wall Street.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real Turbo!” — Not said by Turbo, Turbo.
- “Yowza yowza, that’s a real Chinatown!” — Not said by Lawrence Walsh, Chinatown.
Reference: Inside Nick Rocks: The Complete Story of the Music Video Show You Remember Being On Between Mr Wizard’s World and You Can’t Do That On Television, and How it Changed the World — and Whatever Happened To “Joe From Chicago”, Dr Will Miller.
Reference: Anxious Decades: America in Prosperity and Depression, 1920-1941, Michael E Parrish.
- Star Trek: Revolution
- Star Trek: Blackbird
- Star Trek: Nobody’s Child
- Star Trek: Nowhere Man
- Star Trek: The Night Before
- Star Trek: Yesterday
- Star Trek: Across the Universe
- Star Trek: Tomorrow Never Knows
- Star Trek: Here, There, and Everywhere
- Star Trek: Octopus’s Garden
- Star Trek: She Came In Through The Bathroom Window
- Star Trek: I’m Happy Just To Dance With You
Reference: The Gutenberg Galaxy, Marshall McLuhan.
I suppose that it’s fair to describe me as a voracious cinephile. Why, so far this month alone I’ve eaten three copies of Chappie (2015).
Reference: Wotalife Comics #4, cover date Oct-Nov 1946, Fox Feature Syndicate, publisher.
Hey, does it feel to anyone else like we should have heard Robert Zemeckis announce he’s trying to do a computer-animated remake of Who Framed Roger Rabbit by now? Has anyone checked in to see what he is working on? Maybe we could just make sure?
(So my favorite part of the teaser trailer is how right after the “COMING / IN UP TO 3-D / SUMMER 2022” title card you get Dot, Line, and Squiggle all shouting as they realize they’re going over the waterfall. What’s yours?)
- Paul Blart, Mall Cop
- Paul Blart, Mall Cop
- Paul Blart, Mall Cop
- Paul Blart, Mall Cop
- Paul Blart, Mall Cop
- Paul Blart, Mall Cop
- Paul Blart, Mall Cop
- Paul Blart, Mall Cop
- Paul Blart, Mall Cop
- Paul Blart, Mall Cop
Fun fact: one time Trivia Night at the local bar was about something I knew I knew nothing about, so I warned everybody at the table that I was just going to offer “Paul Blart, Mall Cop” for every question. The first couple times they chuckled at the bit, but this faded out after like the third question. Nevertheless, I carried on, and you know? By about the ninth time? It started to change. My commitment to the bit paid off: before the end of the night everyone agreed this had the structure of a joke and was slightly amusing, they guessed, in its way.
Reference: The Footnote: A Curious History, Anthony Grafton.
- Jack Skellington opens the tree-door into Saint Patrick’s Day Town instead.
- In a Prisoner Of Zenda scenario Jack Skellington has to pretend to be Santa Claus long enough to foil the evil plot that would destroy all holidays. Everywhere.
- They kidnap the Santa Claus from the Rankin/Bass Specials Universe, the one who never saw a Christmas he wasn’t ready to ditch.
- Story is set in an alternate history where a Progressive-era reformer convinced the American culture that his, highly idiosyncratic, order for washing his body parts was the one and only one truly hygienic way to clean, and since most everybody is naturally drawn to a different order and has to train themselves out of it most folks have very slight bathing or showering-related neuroses, and while there’s modern research showing whatever order you wash your body parts in is fine, not following The Cleaning Protocol is still seen as this weird-o hippie moon-man attitude and is shunned by respectable white cis-hetero society.
- Sally has a specific interest that isn’t this Jack guy that I guess knows who she is but I’m not positive he does?
- It starts with what looks like a Freaky Friday scenario, Jack and Santa swapping bodies, only for Jack to slowly realize that in the future he grows up to be Santa Claus.
Reference: Empire Express: Building The First Transcontinental Railroad, David Haward Bain.
(Have to say I’m really interested in how #4 there plays out with the baseline story.)
Bambi, of movie and book fame, we remember is one of the princes of the forest. And then we know that he’s not a king because it’s the elk who are the kings of the forest. But this leaves us with the obvious question: who are the barons of the forest?
In the hopes of learning, I called Felix Salten (1869 – 1945), author of the original novel Bambi, A Life In The Woods. He said, “We were all having a pleasant time, and then you had to go and be like that. Why? Why do you do this?” before hanging up. I think this is an important contribution to the debate.
My love suggested that boars could maybe be the barons of the forest. This sounds good.
I apologize for the late notice; I only learned myself a couple hours ago. TCM (United States feed) is spending tonight showing “Leonard Maltin’s Short Film Showcase”. It’s a bunch of short films, as you’d think. Some of them I’ve seen; some are new to me. Many of them are comedies. There are a handful of travelogues, musical shorts, and dramas too.
Robert Benchley gets a couple entries, with “A Night At The Movies” right around … now, Eastern time. Three hours from now, less about ten minutes, Pacific time. Or, “How To Sleep”, sometime after 5 am Eastern and Pacific. Thelma Todd gets four entries, two of them with ZaSu Pitts. I’d recommend any Thelma Todd or ZaSu Pitts piece sight unseen. Some of the shorts, including at least one Thelma Todd one, star Charley Chase. Chase is an interesting person. In the silent era he was one of the second-tier comedians who kept edging his way up into the first tier, right up until he attempted a movie adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and made basically every choice wrong. That’s not on tonight and you’ll think better of Chase for that. There’s also, somewhere around 12:45 am, “Buzzing Around”, starring Roscoe Arbuckle, about inventing a magic rubber coating that makes things unbreakable. Other miscellaneous things include a bunch of Pete Smith specialties. Pete Smith made a lot of short films, mostly comedy documentaries, all with a reliable American Cornball tone. You’ll either kinda like it or not.
As I say, I don’t know how much of any of this I’ll watch. It is probably good for dipping into as you have ten minutes. One I am warily curious about, and that’s running sometime around 5:20 am, is titled “The Black Network”. The summary: “In this short film, the owner of a shoe polish company sponsors a radio show that showcases black performers”. So this does sound like a chance to see people whose talents were discarded. But, ooh, that mention of shoe polish does not sit well at all. Mm.
I got to thinking about Fly Me To The Moon, which is not a forgotten computer-animated movie from 2008 because even the people making it did not know they were making it. In the movie, a fly sneaks aboard Apollo 11 and saves it from Soviet flies.
The film has a page of goofs. It leads with the characters giving each other high-fives years before high-fives were a thing. Also, the movie apparently ends with Buzz Aldrin explaining to viewers that there weren’t any flies on Apollo 11.
Also the Wikipedia plot summary and the IMDB Goofs Page disagree about whether the Apollo capsule lands in the Pacific Ocean or in Florida. I grant that people of good will could disagree about the contents of an ambiguous scene. And that a movie does not need to have a single reading to be good. But I think if it is unclear whether an Apollo capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean or in Florida then the movie is doing something to stoke confusion, is all.
The trivia page mentions that this is Christopher Lloyd’s fourth film in which he interacts with members of the McFly family. So that’s also kind of sitting on my head today.
So if you’re in my age cohort you grew up seeing the opening credits of Tales From The Darkside. You know, where the camera pans across footage of a forest while the foreboding voice of Perilous McDoomenough intones, “Man lives in the sunlit world of what he BELIEVES to be … reality.” And then the screen fades to a posterized negative image about how there is “unseen by most an underworld”. And then you changed the channel because whatever was coming next would have to be way too frightening to watch.
I got thinking, you know, this has to be like slasher movies were. The hype makes it sound like this intense and barely-comprehensible experience. And it turns out to be about as scary as an SCTV episode. I was too much of a coward to watch horror movies as a kid. I mean, except the one time that they had us do a sleepover for Vacation Bible School and we camped out in some of the classrooms off in the CCD wing. And one of the things they showed was Friday the 13th. I thought it was pretty good. Also I don’t understand how this could have happened. We went to a pretty liberal diocese but still. I think we also watched Heathers. I know Vacation and European Vacation we watched at my friend Eddie Glazier’s bar mitzvah. I’m not sure I should be talking about this 35-plus years on. I might be getting somebody in trouble.
But that’s sort of how terror was for a white middle-class kid growing up in the suburbs in the 80s. And yes, I mean New Jersey-type suburbs, which in other states are what you would call “urbs”. Or “great undifferentiated mass of housing developments and corporate office parks stretching from the Amboy Drive-In to the Freehold Traffic Circle, dotted by some Two Guys department stores”. Still. I grew up a weenie and I would be glad for that if I didn’t think being glad about myself was kind of bragging.
And we knew how to be recreationally scared. We just had to think about the nuclear war. New Jersey enjoyed a weird place for that. I know in most of the country you came up with legends about why the Soviets had a missile aimed right at you. One that would be deployed right after they bombed Washington and New York City. “Of course the Kremlin knows Blorpton Falls, Iowa is the largest producer of sewing machine bobbins outside the New York City area. They’ll have to bomb us so the country can’t clothe itself well after World War III.” It was a way to be proud of your town and not be responsible for surviving the nuclear war.
Central Jersey? We didn’t have to coin legends. We knew, when the war came, we’d be doomed. It wouldn’t be for any reason. It’s just we’re close to New York City, we’re close to Philadelphia. Nothing personal. All we were doing was being near something someone else wanted to destroy. This turned out to be great practice for living in 2020 that I don’t recommend.
Oh, sure, there was the soccer field what they said used to be a Nike missile base that would have protected New York City from the missile attacks. Maybe the Soviets would have an old map, or refuse to believe that they built a soccer field in the United States in the 60s. That former-Nike-base could be a target, if the Nike missiles to intercept the missiles didn’t work, which they wouldn’t.
You might ask: wait, why didn’t they put the base that was supposed to protect New York City in-between New York and the Soviet missile bases instead? The answer is that in-between New York City and the Soviet missile bases is Connecticut. The construction vehicles for the Connecticut site set out on I-95 in 1961 and haven’t made it through traffic yet. Central Jersey was a backup so they could build a site that couldn’t work but could abandon. Anyway I don’t know the soccer field was ever actually a Nike base or if we just said it was. If it really was, I suppose it’s a Superfund clean-up site now. Makes me glad I realized I didn’t want to socc. I wanted to type in word processor programs from a magazine into my computer.
Anyway after thinking about that long enough, it turns out the movie threats we faced were kind of cozy. Yeah, they might turn you into an Alice-in-Wonderland cake and eat you, but at least you’d be singing all the way.
So back to Tales From The Darkside. You know what you find if you go back and watch it now? Tales From The Darkside never even had episodes! They knew everybody was going to be scared off by those credits. Each episode, for all four seasons, is one frozen negative-print posterized image of a tree while someone holds down a key on the synthesizer.
It is way more terrifying than I had ever imagined.
|Roman Numeral||Arabic Numeral||Neither|
|Pocahontas II||Lilo and Stich 2||Aladdin|
|The Little Mermaid II||Brother Bear 2||Beauty and the Beast|
|The Lion King II||The Lion King 1½||Aladdin (again)|
|Cinderella III||The Fox and the Hound 2||Beauty and the Beast (again)|
|Cinderella II||An Extremely Goofy Movie|
|Lady and the Tramp II||The Little Mermaid|
|101 Dalmatians II||Atlantis|
|Hunchback of Notre Dame II|
Not listed: Mickey’s Twice Upon A Christmas because it is a Wikipedia prank and does not exist.
Reference: Joseph Henry: The Rise of an American Scientist, Albert E Moyer.
Dethany Dendrobia, the pale Goth guest star is from Bill Holbrook’s On The Fastrack. I’ll get to what she’s doing in Joe Staton, Mike Curtis, Shelley Pleger, and Shane Fisher’s Dick Tracy some paragraphs down. On The Fastrack is a longrunning workplace-humor comic strip. It turned up often enough when I was Reading the Comics for my mathematics blog. Dethany Dendrobia is the comic strip’s third protagonist. She took over the strip about a decade ago from previous lead character, Wendy Welding. Dendrobia is Goth, yes, and I forget whether her paleness is makeup or her nature.
Holbrook’s three comics (On The Fastrack, Safe Havens, and the web comic Kevin and Kell) go in for a cartoony world. In it, for example, the Computer Bug, source of so many problems, is a real literal character, who can speak with and negotiate with you and all. Dendrobia, hardworking and cheerful, is also Goth, fascinated by death and time’s ravages. So her “freakish”, Morticia Addams-influenced, appearance codes her in Dick Tracy as a villain. But in her home comic strip this is how a normal person looks.
While the characters are crossing over there are some differences between the comic strip universes. Dick Tracy is carrying on as though the Covid-19 disaster weren’t happening. Except for the Crimestoppers tips at the top of Sunday panels, which carry warnings about scams. People faking being from the IRS asking for stimulus check information. People running fake health screenings. Scammers telling you the schools are “safe to reopen” for in-person classes. People claiming that employers should not be legally liable for their employees getting the coronavirus at work. People selling fake vaccinations. The frauds you would expect.
On The Fastrack, meanwhile, has made the characters being locked down an important part of the story. The easy way around this is to say the Dick Tracy events happened, like, last year or so. Except both strips have built in how Dendrobia is preparing for her wedding, to Guy Wyre, this coming Halloween. (Dick Tracy also recently made a guest appearance in On The Fastrack, there as a hologram, to avoid spreading non-ironic death.)
It gets more “inconsistent”. In Holbrook’s other newspaper comic, Safe Havens, Fastrack built and launched a spacecraft to Mars. That crew went and bioengineered that planet into new life. In that strip, Dethany is the chief flight director for Fastrack Inc. There is no good reason I haven’t been doing plot recaps for that comic. But that’s even harder to reconcile with what we’ve seen here. Especially since Holbrook decided to freeze the On The Fastrack characters’ ages, when Dendrobia took over. But Safe Havens continues aging the characters in loose realtime. You never hear this mentioned by people who say they can’t understand the relationship between Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean.
(Tom Batiuk’s Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean both take place in the present day. But Funky Winkerbean is also a decade “ahead” of Crankshaft. That is, if a Crankshaft character appears in today’s Funky Winkerbean he’s ten years older than he “should” be. A Funky Winkerbean character appearing in Crankshaft is about a decade younger. That’s all.)
17 May – 9 August 2020.
Actress Fortuna Dyer was getting into character for her Breathless Mahoney bio-pic. Thing is Breathless Mahoney was a villain. Dyer wants information out of B.O.Plenty, who back before his heel-face turn kind of got pretty near murdering her. Tracy gives Dyer an interview, recapping the Mahoney-Plenty story of the 40s. And asks her not to contact Plenty, who’s gone all good.
Dyer bails Shaky out of jail, a surprising fast return for last story’s villain. Shaky’s uncle, the original Shaky, was married to Breathless Mahoney’s mother. Dyer says she wants more background on Mahoney. So he’s got a job now, that’s great. The job seems to be talking about their relatives over dinner with Dyer. That doesn’t cause any conflict at all with Edison Lighthouse, Shaky’s girlfriend, whom he starts missing date nights with.
Lighthouse, annoyed at her abandonment, turns to her one friend: Ugly Crystal. You know, whom she met while fleeing the cops last time around. Over coffee at the mall Crystal recommends dumping Shaky. She doesn’t know what his deal is. But she knows someone sending his signals is not good. Lighthouse challenges Shaky, who admits to what’s going on, even though it’s a little weird.
Meanwhile Dick Tracy learns that Shaky’s out of jail, when Sam Catchem notices Shaky at the filming location.
In another mall hangout, Ugly Crystal mentions how her dad’s got a cool Oklahoma Days centennial belt buckle. And there’s a whole world of belt-buckle-collectors who’ll pay good money for that sort of thing. Shaky, eavesdropping, hears how this could be worth thousands. He forms a plan. Shaky is confident in his plan, even though his plan is quite bad. He needs cash. Dyer’s been pumping him for information, but all she’s delivered is the promise of a movie cameo. When she puts off a dinner date, he breaks in to Ugly Crystal’s home to steal her dad’s belt buckle.
So a thing Ugly Crystal maybe never mentioned to Shaky when he mistook her place for a safehouse? Her dad’s Lafayette Austin, undercover cop. Also he has like a dozen belt buckles so it’s easy to find one’s missing.
Tracy goes to the movie set to arrest Shaky, who’s doing his cameo as Uncle Shaky. The arrest is for “harassment”, and I’m not sure who he’s harassing. But he’s got the belt buckle on him too. There’s a short fight, and a new arrest, and that’s it for Shaky.
Also maybe for Dyer. On Shaky’s arrest she drops her method-actor pose of demanding everyone call her Breathless. .
Oh, and that $2,000 buckle was actually a $20 buckle. Ugly Crystal was “worried” about Edison Lighthouse being with Shaky. And Shaky thought that baiting Shaky into stealing from Austin might “[help] save Fortuna Dyer”. Which … I guess succeeded, but it feels like some class of entrapment at least. Also it’s not clear that Tracy did much besides have the matter solved for him.
The current story began the 5th of July. It brings in Dethany Dendrobia from Bill Holbrook’s On The Fastrack. Fastrack itself is a company with a slightly vague portfolio, but a lot of what it does is data warehousing.
Dendrobia’s in Tracy Town because Fastrack is buying a new warehouse. Dendrobia’s investigating the string of construction accidents. Someone’s following her, and took a shot, tearing her overcoat. The warehouse is one that used to belong to Stooge Viller, whom GoComics commenter Neil Wick writes was the fifth-ever Dick Tracy villain, back in 1933. Viller survived a couple stories and died in 1940.
The antagonist is someone named Coney, a rotund fellow whom we meet buying a double-wide ice cream cone. And the motive: there’s a rumor that Viller hid millions somewhere in the building. But after a month of work Coney’s gang hasn’t found anything.
Tracy and Dendrobia investigate the warehouse. They find Coney and his gang. Coney insists he’s the building’s owner. So, all right. That stalls things for a couple days. Coney goes to Wilson Properties, complaining about these snoopers. Alex Wilson says the warehouse was sold by mistake and they haven’t been able to negotiate anything with Fastrack. It’s … a heck of a mistake. But, don’t worry. The real estate investment trust that fraudulently sold the building? Whose mistake results in the attempted murder and actual kidnapping and possible death of several people? They will never face a consequence.
Still, it gives underling Howdy a new chance to get rid of Dendrobia or else. Howdy by the way looks rather like Howdy Doody. This makes me think we’re supposed to recognize Coney from something, but I don’t know what. He looks generically like an ice cream mascot but that could just be good character design. He also doesn’t look anything like the iconic “Tillie” caricature of Coney Island showman George Tilyou, which knocks out the other obvious association.
Howdy gets some information from Bookworm, which might be a shout-out to the Adam West Batman. With that information he drives over to On The Fastrack and kidnaps Dendrobia’s fiancee, Guy Wyre. Howdy gives Dendrobia the ultimatum: get her boss (Rose Trellis) to let go of the warehouse and she gets Guy Wyre back.
And, the 9th of August, Sam Catchem meets up with Sleet. Catchem knew her back when she was a racketeer and paid $500 to kill him. So it’s nice they’ve gotten past that. What relevance it has to these proceedings is unknowable as of Sunday. (He was getting information about Wyre’s kidnappers.)
This catches you up to mid-August 2020. If you’re reading this after about November 2020, or want what Dick Tracy news I come across, I may have something at this link. Thank you.
I look through a couple months’ worth of Jim Scancarelli’s Gasoline Alley, unfortunately still in reruns for the dailies. I believe at least some of the Sunday strips are new, but haven’t checked. I’ll let you know what I find.
And one last note. Over on my mathematics blog I’m spending the rest of the year explaining one mathematics term at a time. I’m leaving a lot of mathematics terms un-explained. But you might like what you see. Thanks for reading.
Reference: Something New Under the Sun: satellites and the beginning of the Space Age, Helen Gavaghan. Bonus fun fact according to Gavaghan: for a while in the mid-50s rocket designers talked about something that could launch to earth orbit as an “LP rocket”.
If you’re like me, again, a thing I don’t recommend, you were amazed to learn there was a movie version of Gulliver’s Travels back in 2010. Yeah! Starred Jack Black and, of course, James Corden and everything. Nobody cared about it, or went to see it, which is why even Jack Black and James Corden are learning about it right now, from this post.
Still, this entails a mystery. Logic tells us that there should have been, somewhere between 2015 and 2018, a somehow more indifferently received sequel. Its name should most likely be Gulliver’s 2ravels. It should star whoever’s the one-tier-lower versions of Jack Black and James Corden. I can find no evidence it exists, though. I’m not saying that all our troubles are caused by this unexplained gap in the popular culture. We should just see if maybe that’s a problem and if we could fix it.
|Day of Week||Has Hosted the CBS Sunday Night movie?|
|Sunday||Yes (1986-2006, 2020)|
|Tuesday||Yes (1972-74, 1986-2000)|
|Wednesday||Yes (1977-81, 1986-2000)|
Not listed: the CBS Late Movie (1972-89) as it aired outside prime time and I didn’t want to list it.
Reference: Fantasia Mathematica, Clifton Fadiman, Editor.