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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Friday, January 6, 2017

BATMAN's Degrees Of Separation, Part 2

We return now to BATMAN's Degrees Of Separation, our ongoing effort to link the fictional character Batman with various other figures, both real and imaginary. The rules were detailed in Part 1, where we've already linked Batman to Jack Nicholson (three degrees), Adam West (three degrees), The Ramones (three degrees), The Dickies (three degrees), The Lone Ranger (two degrees), Bob Dylan (four degrees), Popeye (four degrees), Prince (five degrees), Dick Tracy (two degrees), the castaways on Gilligan's Island (three degrees), Mad About You's Paul Buchman (three degrees), James Bond (four degrees), and your humble blogger (three degrees). Let's do some more.

(Before we continue, we need to adjust one of our previous links. Intrepid Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) supporter Ellison Reese pointed out that there are only two degrees of separation from Batman to James Bond, rather than four. Corrections are good, but this one's a little galling because I should have known better, and I shouldn't have forgotten the recent comic book miniseries Batman '66 Meets The Man From U.N.C.L.E. With that, Batman to Napoleon Solo to 007, two degrees. Thanks for the tip, Ellison; I'm in your debt. And I hate being in your debt....)

As we noted in Part 1, inter-company crossovers have made this a much easier task. Collaborations between DC Comics and arch-rival Marvel Comics have placed Batman within a degree or two of nearly every major figure in the Marvel Universe. On top of that, Batman has participated in officially-sanctioned meetings with Scooby-Doo, Tarzan, The Green Hornet, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Judge Dredd, The Avengers (the '60s British TV crime-fighting duo), Doc Savage, The Shadow, Spawn, The Spirit, Predator, Aliens, Hellboy, and Space Ghost, among others, with more on the way. This all combines to give us a really, really big playground for our frolickin' and cavortin'. To the batlinks!

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From one Wayne to another? Why not? Batman to Superman (one degree); Superman (played by George Reeves) appeared on TV's I Love Lucy, and it's important to note that he is identified only as Superman (not actor Reeves) in that episode, and even demonstrates some super strength, leading us to conclude that it's an appearance by Superman himself (two degrees); John Wayne also played himself on an episode of I Love Lucy (three degrees).


I'm not aware of our Buffy ever crossing paths with any properties outside of her own Buffy/Angel universe, but a meeting with a public domain character gives us the portal we need. Batman to his long-time adversary/occasional horizontal bop partner Catwoman (one degree); Catwoman to the buxom space vampire Vampirella, whom she met in a crossover comic book (two degrees); in the '70s, Vampirella also tangled with the most famous reindeer of all...er, the most famous vampire of all, Count Dracula (three degrees); and Dracula has encountered The Chosen One, on both the Buffy The Vampire Slayer TV series and in the subsequent comic book series (four degrees). The same path through Dracula also gets Batman to Abbott and Costello in four degrees. (One could possibly lose a degree by going through any Marvel character that met the prince of vampires when Marvel was publishing Tomb Of Dracula, but isn't it more fun to go through Catwoman and Vampirella?)


Yeah, Keaton very ably played The Dark Knight in two Batman films, but we must remember not to confuse an actor with his role. We also mustn't forget the oatmeal, but we'll save that one for whenever we get around to linking Batman to Sesame Street (one degree, incidentally). Batman to Marvel's supergroup The Mighty Avengers in the four-part JLA/Avengers (one degree); The Avengers appeared on TV's Late Night With David Letterman in The Avengers # 239 in 1984 (two degrees); Letterman worked with Keaton many, many times, starting from when they were both regular cast members of Mary Tyler Moore's short-lived variety show Mary in 1978 (three degrees).


It's a little odd that Batman can get to Cleveland's legendary (but still lesser-known) '70s punk combo The Dead Boys just as efficiently as he can get to The Ramones or KISS. Nonetheless: Batman to Spider-Man (one degree); in an issue of Marvel Team-Up, Spidey met The Not Ready For Prime Time Players from Saturday Night Live (two degrees); SNL star John Belushi once sat in for one song on drums with The Dead Boys, at a benefit show for Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz (three degrees). The Spider-Man/SNL connection is also the quickest path from Superman to Christopher Reeve: Superman to Spider-Man, Spider-Man to the Not Ready For Prime Time Players, the Players to actress Margot Kidder, who guest-hosted SNL when the original Prime Time Players were still there, and Kidder to her Superman co-star Reeve (four degrees). (Reeve also co-hosted SNL at a later date, but with a different cast under a different regime.)


Nixon's the one. There is a long history of comic-book characters meeting U.S. presidents, but I'm not aware of any instance of Batman meeting President Nixon, and Nixon is our chosen path to get to King Elvis I. So, Batman to Captain America, in one of my favorite DC/Marvel crossovers (one degree); in the '70s, the Star-Spangled Avenger battled a vast right-wing conspiracy called The Secret Empire and its Committee to Regain America's Principles, ultimately discovering that The Secret Empire's masked leader was President Nixon (two degrees); and Tricky Dick famously posed for a photo op with Elvis (three degrees).


Batman's appearances with Scooby-Doo sure come in handy. Batman to the Scoobster (one degree); Scooby-Doo to Sonny & Cher, who also appeared on The New Scooby-Doo Movies (two degrees); record producer Sonny Bono worked with rock 'n' roll combo The Standells early in their career, well before they hit with "Dirty Water" (three degrees); and The Standells appeared on The Munsters, prompting Herman Munster's sage comment that he would sleep a lot easier knowing that the future of America was in the hands of fine young men like The Standells (four degrees).


Syracuse's own power pop powerhouse The Flashcubes can get to Gotham in three degrees: Batman to The Penguin (one degree); The Penguin to The Monkees (two degrees); and then The Monkees' Peter Tork once joined Screen Test (a group which includes three of The Flashcubes) on stage during a club show in New York(three degrees). If we want to add a fourth degree, we can take a more scenic route: once again, Batman to Scooby-Doo (one degree) and Scooby-Doo to Sonny & Cher (two degrees); Sonny & Cher welcomed The Hudson Brothers as guests on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour (three degrees); and Mark Hudson has contributed backing vocals to tracks by The Flashcubes, including a brand new one they just finished (four degrees).


While one might kinda wish Batman had put Spector away for murder, the path to the famed record producer is, alas, more pedestrian. Batman to Scooby-Doo (one degree): Scooby-Doo also teamed with an animated version of Jeannie, the character from TV's I Dream Of Jeannie (two degrees); nascent rock 'n' roll manager Jeannie encountered Spector when she took her clients Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart to meet the young producer in a memorable episode of I Dream Of Jeannie (three degrees). Maybe it was Jeannie who finally sent Spector to the hoosegow. This path through Jeannie also brings Batman to Groucho Marx in three degrees, which is far from the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.



The World's Greatest Detective to The Hardest Working Man In Show Business? Gotham's top crimefighter to Soul Brother Number One? The Shadow of Vengeance to The Godfather of Soul? Please, please, please! Batman to Superman (one degree); Superman revealed his secret identity to President John F. Kennedy in Action Comics # 309, cover dated February 1964, but famously on newsstands when JFK was killed in November '63 (two degrees): as a senator, JFK worked alongside future Vice-President Hubert Humphrey (three degrees); and James Brown joined Humphrey in a stay-in-school campaign following the release of Brown's "Don't Be A Drop-Out" single in 1966 (four degrees).


Sufferin' Succotash, if they were all this easy, I'd have nothing to write. Batman and the rest of The Justice League of America met the Looney Tunes gang in the epic four-part comics miniseries Superman & Bugs Bunny, written by my favorite blogger, Mark Evnier (one degree); Bugs Bunny shared a scene with Mickey Mouse in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (two degrees).



From Catwoman to TaliaSilver St. CloudVicki Vale, and an unnamed party pickup in Batman Versus Superman, there is a long list of women who've shaken the sheets with billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. So maybe it's not much of a stretch to link our Caped Casanova with porn star Marilyn Chambers. Batman to the Scooby-Doo gang (one degree); comedian Phyllis Diller appeared as herself on The New Scooby-Doo Movies (two degrees); Diller knew Barbra Streisand, from an appearance with a then-unknown Streisand on The Jack Paar Show to honoring her at an American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award celebration in 2012 (three degrees); and Streisand appeared in a movie with Ms. Chambers (four degrees). I'm tempted to leave it at that, and let people break the internet looking for an X-rated movie co-starring Barbra Streisand and Marilyn Chambers. But no; a pre-porn Chambers had a bit part in Streisand's 1970 film The Owl And The Pussycat.  And Streisand was the more provocatively clothed of the two.


But ol' Bruce just better stay away from my girl! Batman to Scooby-Doo (one degree); Scooby-Doo to actor Don Knotts, who played himself on The New Scooby-Doo Movies (two degrees); Knotts had previously achieved fame as Deputy Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, where he worked with young actor Ron Howard (three degrees); Howard later starred on Happy Days, where Suzi Quatro played recurring character Leather Tuscadero. And again, I say: Batman! Get your own girl!

Do you have a suggestion for BATMAN's Degrees Of Separation? Fire away, and we'll all meet right back here, same bat-time, same bat-blog.