Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Continuing a look back at my first exposure to a number of rock 'n' roll acts and superheroes (or other denizens of print or periodical publication), some of which were passing fancies, and some of which I went on to kinda like. They say you never forget your first time; that may be true, but it's the subsequent visits--the second time, the fourth time, the twentieth time, the hundredth time--that define our relationships with the things we cherish. Ultimately, the first meeting is less important than what comes after that. But every love story still needs to begin with that first kiss.

This was originally posted as part of a longer piece covering both pop music and comic book characters. It's separated here for convenience.

This was originally posted as part of a longer piece covering both pop music and comic book characters. It's separated here for convenience.

In 1964 to maybe '66 or so, our neighborhood rocket ship was parked in my back yard.

There was a large weeping willow towering above the ground behind my house, a tree that the kids on my block could climb and capture and, more importantly, use the boundless power of imagination to launch into outer space, and then fire retro rockets to land on exciting distant planets. With adventure in our hearts and rayguns at our side, the universe was ours! We were Flash Gordon!

Flash Gordon was probably my first superhero, maybe even before Popeye, and certainly before Batman. All the kids on my block watched reruns of the 1930s Flash Gordon movie serials starring Buster Crabbe; the serials were shown every freakin' day on Channel 9 by Baron Daemon, Syracuse's popular TV vampire. Baron Daemon, played by local hambone Mike Price, was a superstar to us kids, and I still regard him as a superstar, honestly. Price was just terrific at chewing the scenery, yukkin' it up, and doing broad schtick and corny comedy to the delight and merriment of every child in the greater Syracuse area. I tell ya, Baron Daemon shoulda been nationwide, and his local hit, "Transylvania Twist," is timeless and irresistible:


I hate to be judgmental, but if you don't dig this, then there's something wrong with you.

Price began his Baron Daemon character as the host of Channel 9's weekend monster movies, but the Baron proved so popular that he was given a weekday afternoon slot, The Baron & His Buddies. And, in between Baron Daemon's comic turns, he would show cartoons (including Astro Boy, another favorite!) and he would show Flash Gordon.

As a kid of four or five, I had no friggin' clue what was going on with Flash Gordon. But I knew that Flash was the good guy, and that he would pilot his rocket ship fearlessly through space. I don't even remember Dr. Zarkov, the chick Dale Arden, or the evil Ming the Merciless; Flash Gordon was all we kids on Richardson Drive needed to know. Good thing, too, because I wasn't the only clueless one at the time. I remember watching Flash Gordon, and hearing references to Earth, and thinking to myself, We must live on Earth! I shared this revelation with some friends, and they replied, No! We don't live on Earth! Earth is a planet! NO, IT'S NOT!, I replied, certain that I'd gained cosmic knowledge that my peers just couldn't grasp. I would now like to take a time-traveling rocket ship back to 1964 and give myself such a smack.

(And speaking of giving me a smack: I'm not sure how my parents resisted sending me to the moon--Bang! ZOOM!--when I effectively ruined our little TV set while playing Flash Gordon, moving the antenna and twiddling the knobs as if it were the control panel of a rocket ship. Oy....)

Within a few years' time, Flash Gordon was replaced as our science-fiction reference point by Lost In Space and Star Trek, though I didn't really become a fan of the latter until reruns in the '70s. Although ol' Flash was inarguably one of the most popular heroes of the '30s and '40s, his time had largely passed by the '60s. As far as I can recall, his comic strip was not carried in either of our local papers, The Post Standard and The Herald-Journal. I didn't see a Flash Gordon comic book until 1966 or later, when King Comics began its own short-lived comics line. King's titles were sold in multi-packs--three comics in one bag--so my Flash Gordon comic (purchased at Clancy's Silver Star in North Syracuse) came with an issue of The Phantom and an issue of Mandrake The Magician. The Flash Gordon comic had absolutely gorgeous artwork by Al WilliamsonCharlton Comics picked up the Flash Gordon license from King in the late '60s, but I don't think I saw those until much later. Beyond that, my only other Flash Gordon memory in the '60s is via Captain Action, the superhero action figure from Ideal; Flash Gordon was one of the licensed superheroes that Captain Action could transform himself into.
Hey, cool illo of Flash Gordon by artist Murphy Anderson!

My Flash Gordon fandom grew a bit in the '70s. I saw the original serials at matinee showings, and picked up a few Flash Gordon paperback novels, as well. Plus, there was the dirty-movie parody Flesh Gordon, which screened on a double bill with The Cheerleaders at The North Drive-In in Cicero.

Alas, I hated the late '70s Flash Gordon movie that came out in the wake of Star Wars' success; one can only wonder what would have happened if Star Wars auteur George Lucas had been successful in his original, thwarted effort to license the rights to a Flash Gordon feature instead; it would have deprived the world of both Darth Vader and slave-girl Princess Leia, but it would have given Flash Gordon one hell of a great return to the planet Mongo.

Eat your heart out, Dale Arden!
And I betcha kids in the '70s woulda known Earth was our home, and a planet. Stupid '60s kids....


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Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here. 


Continuing a look back at my first exposure to a number of rock 'n' roll acts and superheroes (or other denizens of print or periodical publication), some of which were passing fancies, and some of which I went on to kinda like. They say you never forget your first time; that may be true, but it's the subsequent visits--the second time, the fourth time, the twentieth time, the hundredth time--that define our relationships with the things we cherish. Ultimately, the first meeting is less important than what comes after that. But every love story still needs to begin with that first kiss.


This was originally posted as part of a longer piece covering both pop music and comic book characters. It's separated here for convenience.

As a college freshman in the Fall of 1977, I had my ear practically stapled to Brockport's student-run radio station WBSU, a closed-circuit AM signal heard only on campus. WBSU was where I first heard BlondieTelevisionThe DictatorsThe Ramones, all based on my obsessive and insistent requests to finally hear more of this punk rock stuff I'd been reading about in (again!) Phonograph Record Magazine. I was also requesting The Monkees--WBSU's library included a copy of the group's then-rare 1970 LP, Changes, so my (often-futile) pleas for WBSU jocks to play something from Changes were my only opportunity to hear Davy Jones warble "I Never Thought It Peculiar." Okay, you may think it's peculiar, but I never did.

So yeah, I listened to WBSU all the time. And I remember one particularly revelatory afternoon of communing with BSU, as I heard a couple of terrific oldies that I didn't know at the time: "Five O'Clock World" by The Vogues and "Lies" by The Knickerbockers. Both of these tracks have been on my All-Time Top Pop list ever since (and I immediately wrote in my journal that The Knickerbockers "sound more like The Beatles than The Beatles do!"). I believe the DJ also played my request for "Any Way You Want It" by The Dave Clark Five. To top it off, I heard two contemporary groups I'd neither heard nor heard of before, both performing '60s covers: "The Batman Theme" by The Jam, and "Misery" by The Flamin' Groovies.

We'll be discussing The Jam in just a few more letters from now. But the Groovies? Man, I was blown away by this band doing a credible cover of an early Beatles tune, and a somewhat lesser-known Beatles tune, at that. The Flamin' Groovies? Who the devil are The Flamin' Groovies?

An answer to that question wasn't immediately forthcoming. I'd never read anything about them, nor had I seen (or noticed, at least) any of their records at the stores. And, even if I'd seen a Groovies LP on the record racks, as a poor, poor college frosh, I couldn't afford to just buy a Flamin' Groovies album on a whim. I needed more evidence. And that evidence was tough to come by.

In retrospect, you would think I must have started requesting more Groovies music from the beleaguered WBSU jocks I was already pestering anyway, but I don't think I did (or, if I did, I wasn't successful). I mentioned The Flamin' Groovies to my friend Fred. Fred had a decent-sized LP collection, and he came up with a copy of a Flamin' Groovies album called FlamingoFlamingo appeared to be an older record--so much for my presumption that the Groovies were a brand-new group--and it didn't include "Misery." For some forgotten reason, I didn't borrow Fred's copy of Flamingo, and my obviously-casual Groovies quest went on its obviously casual way.

did see a Flamin' Groovies record at The Record Grove in Brockport: an import EP with "Slow Death,""Tallahassee Lassie,""Married Woman," and "Get A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues." An EP--even an import EP--was less of a financial risk than springin' for a whole album, but...no. Didn't take the plunge. Not yet.

So The Flamin' Groovies got backburnered. It would be well over a year before I paid any attention to this unsettled matter of The Flamin' Groovies' music. By the spring of 1979, I was dating a girl named Brenda; I think I've mentioned her a few times on the blog, since we've been, y'know, married since 1984. Brenda's pal Christie was seeing a boy named Paul, and it turned out this Paul fellow--a WBSU jock!--shared my fondness of punk and new wave. We all hit it off rather well. In random conversations about this music, Paul mentioned a compilation album he had, an import sampler LP called New Wave. He offered to lend it to me, and I accepted.

We've already discussed this New Wave collection in our Everlasting First entries on The Damned and The Dead Boys, and it will be popping up yet again before our alphabet is spent. In addition to those two acts, New Wave included a few tracks I already knew (by The RamonesThe Runaways, and Richard Hell & the Void-Oids), a great Talking Heads track I didn't know, and a few other things that were new to me, too.  And, of course, New Wave included a Flamin' Groovies song called "Shake Some Action."

"Shake Some Action."

I consider myself fortunate to be the sort of wide-eyed pop fan that can sometimes fall in love with a song or a band instantly. It doesn't always work that way, but when it does, it's magic. It was magic when I heard "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" by The Ramones. It was magic when I saw The Flashcubes live. And it was magic when I heard "Shake Some Action."

The song was just...hypnotic. There were so many little elements combining and clashing within that track, with bits of The Byrds and Phil Spector, a brooding, booming bass, guitars that seemed to snarl and jangle at the same time, punk swagger, pop yearning, and an insistent instrumental hook that grabbed me and whispered silkily in my ear, You're with us now, son. It was a recipe for cacophony, a surefire roadmap to a sonic mess...except that it wasn't. It was precise. It was perfect. And I swear, in that moment, I knew it was The Greatest Record Ever Made.

Okay. Now I was willing to spend money on Flamin' Groovies records! I remembered that I had seen a copy of the Groovies' Shake Some Action LP at a fantastic little record store in Joplin, Missouri over Christmas break--wish I'd heard that damned song a few months earlier! But by now, Shake Some Action seemed to have vanished from retail shelves.

But The Flamin' Groovies had a new album out: Flamin' Groovies Now. I bought a promo copy of that LP for cheap, and it was one of my go-to records for a few months thereafter. I was particularly taken with a track called "Don't Put Me On," if only because it directly copied some elements from the elusive "Shake Some Action." That summer of '79, I had a job at Hofmann Sausage Company, and I would listen to that track (often more than once) every evening when I got home from work, buzzed and hungry, eating my hot dogs and listening to my power pop.

Brenda stayed in Brockport that summer, and we alternated weekend visits, with her coming to Syracuse one weekend and me grabbing the Greyhound to Brockport on the next weekend. On one of those Brockport trips, I found a copy of the Shake Some Action LP in the cutout bin at Main Street Records. SCORE!!! I couldn't buy it fast enough. And that album included the Groovies' cover of "Misery," bringing me full circle to the beginning of my interest in The Flamin' Groovies.

Over a short period of time, Shake Some Action grew to become one of my all-time favorite albums, and the Groovies became one of my all-time favorite bands. It took me a while, but I eventually acquired all of their albums. I learned that the pre-Shake Some Action Groovies was, in many ways, a different band than the Groovies I knew, even though they shared some personnel. The Flamin' Groovies of SupersnazzFlamingo, and Teenage Head were fronted by the great Roy Loney, and were generally rootsier and less Mersey-smacked; my familiar, (slightly) latter-day Groovies were fronted by the also-great Chris Wilson, and those albums--Shake Some ActionNow, and Jumpin' In The Night--were consciously evocative of the mid-'60s British Invasion and American reaction. I loved both, but I'd be lyin' if I didn't admit my special affection for the Fabmania pop of the Wilson records. The constants in all Groovies incarnations were guitarist Cyril Jordan and bassist George Alexander; Cyril and George are still Groovies today, and Chris Wilson has even rejoined, too. I wish they'd come to Syracuse! The Groovies released a new album, Fantastic Plastic, in 2017, and toured with ex-pat Syracusan Chris von Sneidern subbing for George Alexander on bass. (Our pal CVS actually completed his fab This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 track "Insomniac Summer" just before headin' out on the road as a deputy Groovie.)

So my Groovies fandom began with a spin of "Misery" on WBSU, and exploded when I heard "Shake Some Action" on a record lent to me by a new friend named Paul. Back in that spring of '79, Paul asked me if I wanted to be his roommate for senior year, and I agreed. We became great pals for a while, and the friendship continued after graduation. It ended abruptly in the early '80s. It goes that way sometimes. Regrets? I've had a few. More than a few, really. It was groovy while it lasted.

Sometimes in my dreams, we still talk to each other
Although in real life I know we're done with one another
I don't think I'd want you to return
I'd just feel better if I could learn
What became of you
Because I remember you

Shake some action, Paul.

PS: I interviewed Cyril Jordan for Goldmine in 1992. One of these days I'll have to dig that outta the archives, transcribe it (ugh!), and post it here.


You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 908

Forty years ago! January 28th, 1978, was the first time I saw or heard The Flashcubes. The impact of that show on my life and everything I've done since...well, it would be impossible to overstate that effect. Maybe I would have written about rock 'n' roll anyway--my love of The Beatles and The Ramones and Phonograph Record Magazine had already inspired my first attempt at rock journalism about a month before my live introduction to the 'Cubes. Maybe I would have co-hosted a radio show eventually. But I don't see it. Without The Flashcubes and all their music has meant to me over the years, I would have been different. I don't believe I would have gotten around to my associations with Goldmine, or Rhino Records' Poptopia!, or This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, or this silly daily blog Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) if The Flashcubes hadn't illuminated my path with the brightest of bright, bright lights.

I've written many times about The Flashcubes. I wrote about my first Flashcubes show. I wrote a history of the band, I wrote a companion piece to that history, I gave a speech inducting The Flashcubes in the SAMMYS (Syracuse Music Awards) Hall Of Fame, and I crafted a fanciful fictional scenario of how things should have gone if The Flashcubes had become pop stars. When I realized that the 40th anniversary of my first Flashcubes show would fall on a Sunday, I knew I had to devote my half of this week's TIRnRR playlist exclusively to The Flashcubes.

Before the show, my lovely wife Brenda asked if I had enough Flashcubes tracks to fulfill that goal. Oh, no problem there, my sweet! I could have gone on for quite a while longer; I ran out of time for "My Little Angel," "Pathetic," "Gone Too Far," "No More Lonely Nights," "Damaged Beyond Repair," "Girl From Germany," "You Got My Promise," "Muscle Beach," "Nothing Really Matters When You're Young," and--believe me!--a long, long list of others. Nor did I have time for essential 'Cubes covers of music by The Beatles, The Monkees, The Searchers, The Raspberries, Paul Collins, Badfinger, Chris Spedding, April Wine, The Kinks, or The Jam, their magnificent (and definitive) cover of Eddie & the Hot Rods' "Do Anything You Wanna Do," or more from their superb Roy Wood tribute album Sportin' Wood. Nonetheless, I'm happy we were able to squeeze in as many 'Cubes classics as we did, fast 'n' frenzied, before the witching hour tolled last call at The Firebarn, The Orange, The Jab, The Slide, The Brookside, and every other grungy, beer-soaked, long-gone Central New York rock 'n' roll paradise where my teenage rock 'n' roll dreams of live rock 'n' roll became reality. It's 'Cubes tonight.

To provide balance (and retain The Kinks' permanent status as the only act to take over a whole episode of TIRnRR in its entirety), Dana served up tracks from Altered SweetFutureman Records' terrific new tribute to Matthew Sweet, as well as the latest from Tommy Gunn, Jonny Magus & the Bursting Bubbles, and Orbis Max with Rich Staples, fond farewells to Hugh Masekela and The Fall's Mark E. Smith, and assorted worthies from the likes of The 5th Dimension, Altered Images, The Yardbirds, and The Spongetones. Last call? Man, we're just gettin' started. This is what rock 'n' roll radio sounded like on a Sunday night in Syracuse this week.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl, Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse on The Spark WSPJ-LP 103.3 and 93.7, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/

Spark Syracuse is supported by listeners like you. Tax-deductible donations are welcome at http://sparksyracuse.org/support/

You can follow Carl's daily blog Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) at 

Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe FlashcubesChris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.

TIRnRR # 908: 1/28/18

THE RAMONES: Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? (Rhino, End Of The Century)
THE FLASHCUBES: It's You Tonight (Northside, Bright Lights)
THE TOURISTS: Blind Among The Flowers (Camden, Greatest Hits)
THE FLASHCUBES: When We Close Our Eyes (Northside, Brilliant)
ALTERED IMAGES: I Could Be Happy (Universal, VA: New Wave Gold)
THE FLASHCUBES: You For Me [live at The Firebarn 1979] (unreleased)
ALTERED IMAGES: Happy Birthday (Sony, VA: New Wave Hits Of The 70's & 80's)
THE FLASHCUBES: Five Personalities (Northside, Flashcubes Forever)
MICHAEL CARPENTER: Girlfriend (Futureman, VA: Altered Sweet)
THE FLASHCUBES: Social Mobility (Northside, A Cellarful Of Boys)
THE 5TH DIMENSION: Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In (The Flesh Failures) (Arista, Ultimate)
THE FLASHCUBES: Angry Young Man (Northside, Bright Lights)
ORBIS MAX WITH RICH STAPLES: Sticking Around (single)
THE FLASHCUBES: Taking Inventory [live at The Slide Inn 1979] (unreleased)
THE CLASH: I Fought The Law (Epic, The Essential Clash)
THE FLASHCUBES: Make Something Happen (Northside, Flashcubes Forever)
TOMMY GUNN: Love (single)
THE FLASHCUBES: She's Leaving (Northside, Bright Lights)
ANDY REED: Where You Get Love (Futureman, VA: Altered Sweet)
THE FLASHCUBES: Wouldn't You Like It (Northside, Flashcubes Forever)
MATTHEW SWEET: Sick Of Myself (Sony, Playlist)
THE FLASHCUBES: Blackberry Way (Northside, Sportin' Wood)
HUGH MASEKELA: Grazing In The Grass (Rhino, VA: Billboard Top Rock 'n' Roll Hits 1968)
THE FLASHCUBES: Stop! In The Name Of Love [live at The Jab 1978] (unreleased)
THE BYRDS: So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star? (Columbia, Younger Than Yesterday)
THE FLASHCUBES: Got No Mind (Northside, Bright Lights)
THE FLASHCUBES: Dizzy Miss Lizzy [live at The Firebarn 1979] (unreleased)
THE FALL: 2 x 4 (Beggars Banquet, The Wonderful And Frightening World Of...The Fall)
THE FLASHCUBES: On The Run [live at The Jab 1978] (unreleased)
ROGER McGUINN WITH CROWDED HOUSE: Eight Miles High (Capitol, single)
THE FLASHCUBES: Natalie (Northside, Brilliant)
THE FLAMIN' GROOVIES: Feel A Whole Lot Better (Rhino, At Full Speed)
THE FLASHCUBES: No Promise (Northside, Bright Lights)
THE SMITHEREENS: Strangers When We Meet (Capitol, Blown To Smithereens)
THE FLASHCUBES: Carl (You Da Man) (Northside, Flashcubes Forever)
THE SPONGETONES: She Goes Out With Everybody (Loaded Goat, Always Carry On)
THE FLASHCUBES: Cycles Of Pain [live at The Firebarn 1978] (unreleased)
THE BEATLES: And Your Bird Can Sing (Capitol, "Yesterday" And Today)
THE FLASHCUBES: Christi Girl (Northside, Bright Lights)
LISA MYCHOLS: Looking At The Sun (Futureman, VA: Altered Sweet)
THE FLASHCUBES: A Face In The Crowd [live at The Firebarn 1979] (Futureman, VA: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 3 [digital version])
THE FLASHCUBES: Wait Till Next Week (Northside, Bright Lights)
THE OUTLETS: Knock Me Down (Rhino, VA: DIY: Mass Ave)
THE FLASHCUBES: Sold Your Heart (Northside, Bright Lights)
THE YARDBIRDS: Little Games [mono mix] (EMI, Little Games Sessions & More)
THE FLASHCUBES: Tell Me To My Face (Northside, A Cellarful Of Boys)
THE KINKS: Susannah's Still Alive (Essential, Something Else)
THE FLASHCUBES: Medley: Welcome To The Working Class/I Wanna Be Sedated/Heart Of The City (Air Mail Recordings, Live In Japan--Raw Power Pop)
THE CURE: Boys Don't Cry (Elektra, Greatest Hits)
THE FLASHCUBES: Rawhide [live at The Firebarn 1979] (unreleased)
THE FLASHCUBES: Carl (You Da Man) [instrumental edit]

Sunday, January 28, 2018


Sunday January 28th marks exactly 40 years since that evening in 1978 when I first stumbled upstairs to The Orange to witness a live show by my soon-to-be-favorite band, The Flashcubes. Can't let THAT milestone go unnoticed! So all of my selections on tonight's This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl will be Flashcubes tracks. That's half the show, roughly every other track over the course of three hours, with Dana filling in with other varied rockin' pop delights (including a fab new tribute to Matthew Sweet). This oughtta be the most Flashcubes music ever played within a single radio show, and you should join us for Flashcubes favorites, deep tracks, and maybe an unreleased live cut or two. It's YOU tonight! Sunday night, 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at Spark 103.3 and 93.7 WSPJ-LP, and on the web at sparksyracuse.org

Saturday, January 27, 2018


This is the 800th post on Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do).

Sometimes only the best will do. The Best Of Everything looks back on specific greatest-hits and best-of LPs and what they meant to me.

THE MONKEES: Monkeemania (Arista [Australia], 1979)

You may not remember what it was like.

Ah, maybe you do remember. If you were a fan of The Monkees in the late '70s and early '80s, that vague tinge of isolation, even defensiveness, could well nip at the corners of your recollection even now. It may still feel uncomfortable, an icy chill when you prefer to give up your secrets and let down your hair, and sit with friends here by the fire light. The Monkees. You liked The Monkees. You loved The Monkees. But everyone else seemed to think The Monkees were utter, irredeemable crap.

You didn't necessarily look for validation. You knew you were right about The Monkees, that detractors were wrong, myopic in their smug dismissal of a made-for-TV fake band that didn't play its own instruments. You knew The Monkees were more than just their artificial origin, their test-tube genesis; you knew The Monkees' music mattered.  You'd stand your ground, you'd make your case to the skeptics, the Philistines, and proudly declare, I'm a believer! Some would listen. More would not. But you remained secure in your conviction. You just...y'know, wished there were a few more believers to be found.

The believers were out there. And you would find each other before too long.

I graduated from college in 1980. I didn't have specific plans beyond wanting to stay with my girlfriend Brenda and try to build some kind of life together. She still had another year of school left, and I had no immediate professional prospects; it made sense to remain in our college town of Brockport, get an apartment together, and take a shot. Perils awaited us on our chosen path. We loved each other. We still do. So there we went, walkin' down the street. My B.A. in English was good enough for McDonald's, so I had a paycheck. The head of the English Department at Brockport called me one day at McDonald's to see if I was interested in becoming a Graduate Assistant, but I surprised him by declining the offer. Objectively, one would say this was a stupid move on my part. But it may have been the right stupid move. I wasn't ready for grad school. My college days were over.

Money was a struggle, yet we managed. The rent was paid. Groceries were purchased. We had beer. I was even able to scrape up sufficient cash to keep on buying records. I wouldn't have called it living if I couldn't buy records.

My musical taste was left-of-the-dial mixed with classic: The Beatles, The Ramones, The Kinks, The Jam, The Rolling Stones, The Undertones, The Yardbirds, The Romantics, et al. That certainly included the music of The Monkees.

By the early '80s, I had a decent Monkees collection. I'd inherited copies of The Monkees and More Of The Monkees from my brother when he moved out of the house, I'd scored flea market copies of Headquarters and The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, found used copies of Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. and Head, and acquired a beat-up copy of Changes. I had an RCA Record Club copy of Greatest Hits, and 45s of "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You"/"The Girl I Knew Somewhere" and "Daydream Believer"/"Goin' Down," maybe "D.W. Washburn," too. I didn't have Instant Replay or The Monkees Present, and had never even heard the former, but nonetheless: not bad for a twenty-year-old Monkees fan at a time when the entirety of the group's original catalog was long out of print.

I played the Monkees music I had, and I played it often, right alongside my punk and British Invasion and power pop and new wave. It all fit right together for me. I remember turning in for bed one evening, letting the sound of The Monkees' Changes lull us to sleep as it played at low volume on Brenda's little stereo. Our almost-slumber was interrupted by a knock at the door: the police, responding to a complaint from our downstairs neighbor, who insisted we were playing our goddamned music too goddamned loud. It would not be his last complaint in that area, but that's a story for another day.

My record store of choice was Main Street Records, the best little record store that ever was. Main Street owners Bill and Carol Yerger were believers. It was in Main Street's import section in late '80 or thereabouts that I first spied the manifestation of a seemingly impossible dream: a comprehensive double-LP set from Australia, promising "40 Timeless Hits From The Monkees." This was Monkeemania.

Sometimes, one should believe in miracles, I guess.

It's difficult to fully articulate the jolt of glee I felt when I saw this album. I mean, I already had the vast majority of the songs it contained, so it's not like this could serve as a dramatic upgrade of my meager Monkees holdings. But! It did fill in some gaps, with tracks from those elusive Instant Replay and The Monkees Present LPs. The track listing indicated a live version of "Circle Sky," and I just ached to hear a live cut by The Monkees. I don't know whether or not I realized that two of the tracks--"Steam Engine 99 [sic]" and "Love To Love"--were previously unreleased, but they were for damned sure new to me. I had to have this!

It was priced around $20, in low-wage 1980 money. I had to have it, sure, but I wouldn't be able to have it anytime soon.

In those days, I was at Main Street Records at least once a week anyway, sometimes more often than that. I studied the glittering prize that was Monkeemania on each visit. The LP wasn't sealed, and the Yergers were okay with allowing me to look inside the package and read the extensive liner notes. Those liner notes made me want it even more.

This cannot be overstated: Australian rock journalist Glenn A. Baker's liner notes essay for Monkeemania was not only the first serious attempt to tell the story of The Monkees without dismissing them outright; for years, it was the only such attempt. Decades later, I can't thank the Yergers enough for letting me stand back in the corner of their store to read and re-read again and again and again what Baker wrote. Baker's essay became an integral part of this set's appeal to me. Someday it would be mine.

Months passed. I'm not exaggerating. I was poor! And, y'know, still buying other records, too. But Monkeemania was still on the rack at Main Street, awaiting its predestined rendezvous with a believer. Look out, here comes tomorrow. At long last, tomorrow arrived. I walked into Main Street, made a bee-line for the back corner, plucked Monkeemania from its perch, and returned to the front counter. Bill Yerger smiled and said, Finally getting it, huh? I smiled in reply, giddy with the satisfaction of a vow fulfilled. I went back to my apartment to listen to Monkeemania.

Monkeemania is not quite sequenced chronologically, though it does begin with the familiar "(Theme From) The Monkees" and commences through the group's first three singles, including both the A- and B-sides of the monster second 45, "I'm A Believer" b/w "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone." So Side One bashes through the theme, single sides "Last Train To Clarksville," "Steppin' Stone," "Believer," and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You," then plays the More Of The Monkees LP track "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)," completing a hat trick of Neil Diamond's three Monkees compositions back-to-back. Another More Of The Monkees cut--Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart's stomping "She"--follows, and leads into Boyce & Hart's sublime "Words" from third album Pisces, then David Gates' "Saturday's Child" from the eponymous debut and Harry Nilsson's "Cuddly Toy" from Pisces. A perfect side of perfect rockin' pop.

Side Two launches right into the mother lode of Monkees songs written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King: the "Clarksville" B-side "Take A Giant Step," More Of The Monkees' sublime "Sometime In The Morning," the irresistible "Pleasant Valley Sunday" single, and the Pisces groupie kiss-off "Star Collector." "Sweet Young Thing," Goffin and King's first-album co-write with Michael Nesmith, flows into the sheer majesty of Goffin and King's "Porpoise Song (Theme From 'Head')," followed by the easygoing delight of its B-side "As We Go Along," written by King with Toni Stern. Songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's complete Monkees c.v. follows, as we hear "Shades Of Gray" (the first Headquarters track so far) and "Love Is Only Sleeping" from Pisces. Side Two concludes with my first exposure to the Instant Replay track "The Girl I Left Behind Me," written by Carole Bayer Saga and Neil Sedaka. I confess that last track has never done anything for me.

After all these groupings of The Monkees' outside songwriters on the first two sides, Side Three explodes with songs written or co-written by members of the band: Nesmith's "Mary, Mary" from More Of The Monkees, Micky Dolenz's "Randy Scouse Git" from Headquarters, Davy Jones and Bill Chadwick's agreeably heavy "You And I" from Instant Replay, Nesmith's "Tapioca Tundra" from The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, Dolenz's incendiary "Mommy And Daddy" from The Monkees Present, Peter Tork and Joey Richards' shoulda-been-a-single "For Pete's Sake" from Headquarters, and Nesmith's country triumphs "Good Clean Fun" and "Listen To The Band," both from The Monkees Present. After some spoken-word audio clips of each Monkee (from the TV series episode "The Monkees On Tour"), the side closes with the rare treat of The Monkees playing live, savagely attacking Nesmith's "Circle Sky" in the concert sequence from their movie Head. If you're not a believer after hearing that, I say the devil can have you.

Monkeemania's fourth and final side serves up "Daydream Believer," the simply wonderful "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?," "D.W. Washburn," fave rave "Valleri," Instant Replay's "Looking For The Good Times" (first time I'd heard it, an instant winner for me), and the non-LP B-side "Someday Man." Then the underrated "Oh My My," Brenda's favorite Monkees track, is Monkeemania's sole representation from Changes.

But we're not done yet! Monkeemania continues with the first-ever release of two fantastic tracks from the vaults: "Steam Engine" (transferred to album directly from a TV broadcast) and another Neil Diamond song, "Love To Love," which immediately became my all-time favorite Davy Jones performance. The album closes with the B-side "Goin' Down," written by Dolenz, Tork, Jones, and Nesmith with Diane Hildebrand, and with "Tema Dei Monkees," a weird, badly-edited (but great!) rendition of  "(Theme From) The Monkees" sung in Italian by Micky.

Monkeemania does suffer from...well, let's call it less-than-pristine sound quality. What's the opposite of virgin vinyl? Gigolo vinyl? Jaded six-time divorcée vinyl? Even if the plastic were pure, it's just overloaded with ten tracks per side. It ain't exactly an audiophile release. The track selection is pretty swell, though one mourns the lack of "The Door Into Summer" from Pisces, and the absence of any of Nesmith's blockbuster trifecta from Headquarters--"You Told Me," "Sunny Girlfriend," and especially "You Just May Be The One"--borders on jarring. Yet believers absolve it of its flaws. It's somehow perfect after all. In 1981, it was the Monkees collection I needed.

The 1980s would turn out okay for The Monkees and their fans. Even before I bought Monkeemania, I received a Monkees t-shirt as a present for my 21st birthday. Some time well after that, during the summer of '81 or '82, I wore it to a bar for a live show by The Insiders, a young garage band that specialized in energetic '60s covers and like-minded originals. At one point late in their set, one of The Insiders said, Hey, I hear there's someone walkin' here around tonight in a Monkees t-shirt! This is the song he came to hear.  With that, The Insiders slammed into "Last Train To Clarksville," and I believe they also did "Steppin' Stone" before the night was done. It was the first time I had ever heard anyone--anyone--play a Monkees song live.

The crowd did not protest. There was no grass-roots revolt against the ludicrous idea of a rock 'n' roll group covering The Monkees. There was dancing. There was joy. I was not alone. There was belief.

Full-blown Monkeemania (without italics) made The Monkees pop stars again in 1986. I was managing a record store in Buffalo, and happy to help all of these young fans who'd seen The Monkees on MTV and became new believers overnight. There were rumbles of resistance--the odd sneer, the occasional rolled eye, the oozing condescension of the clueless--but they were the old guard. They did not believe. The rest of us, the ones who knew better? We were the young generation, and we had something to say.

My own copy of Monkeemania is long gone, the victim of shrinking available storage space, periodic record collection purges, and continuous upgrades. It was replaced by better sets, and those sets have in turn been replaced by even better sets. In 1991, I had an opportunity to review Rhino's four-CD Monkees retrospective Listen To The Band for Goldmine. I began that review by reflecting on what the music of The Monkees means, and what its value might be:

By choosing Listen To The Band as the title of this boxed set, Rhino has made it clear where the emphasis should be in reviewing The Monkees' recording career. Just by existing, this retrospective invites us to consider an intriguing what-if scenario: what if the memory of The Monkees had to stand on the music alone, deprived of the TV show image and Prefab Four hype? Can The Monkees be judged today as a legitimate musical force of the '60s (in spite of their artificial origins), or are they best discarded as mere cathode-ray background noise (in spite of their hit records), no more relevant than the incidental music from Bewitched or My Favorite Martian?

I betcha you can guess my answer to that question.

But by then, others were eager to agree. That was always true, I'm sure, but it was evident now. I'd found Monkees fans online, and read sincere appreciations of The Monkees in books and magazines. There were even a few rock critics who had seen the light. I once believed I was alone, that I was the solitary man immortalized in a hit record by a guy who used to write hits for The Monkees. I'll be what I am. But now, I finally knew: I wasn't alone. I was not alone at all.

I'm still not alone. I guess I never really was.

All Monkeemania scans courtesy of Monkees Live Almanac


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Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.

Friday, January 26, 2018

BATMAN's Degrees Of Separation, Part 4

Time for another dive into Batman's Degrees Of Separation, my ongoing pointless effort to replace Kevin Bacon with Batman, and see how many degrees separate Gotham City's Caped Crusader from various other figures of fact and fancy. Let's have another look at the rules:

When playing this game with a fictional figure, it's important to understand a few parameters. First and foremost, one must separate the character from actors who've played the role. There has been a long list of people who've played Batman on screen, from Lewis Wilson to Adam West to Ben Affleck, with many more Batguys in between. But these were all just actors playing a role; working on a film with Christian Bale would put you no closer to Batman than shaking Hal Holbrook's hand would put you one degree of separation from Abraham Lincoln.

On the other hand, all of a character's official appearances in comic books, movies, TV shows, radio shows, books, and what-have-you are fair game, regardless of whether or not that appearance is considered in continuity. Fanfic doesn't count, but Batman's team-up with the Scooby-Doo gang does.

Got it? We've already done three of these things. Part 1 studied Batman's connections to Jack Nicholson, Adam West, The Ramones, The Dickies, The Lone Ranger, Bob Dylan, Popeye, Prince, Dick Tracy, the castaways on Gilligan's Island, and the characters on the sitcom Mad About YouPart 2 went through John Wayne, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Michael Keaton, The Dead Boys, Elvis Presley, The Munsters, The Flashcubes, Phil Spector, James Brown, Mickey Mouse, Marilyn Chambers, and Suzi Quatro. And Part 3 was our Captain Action edition, linking Batman with Cap and Cap's other alter egos, Superman, Aquaman, Captain America, Sgt. Fury, The Phantom, Flash Gordon, Steve Canyon, The Lone Ranger (again), Spider-Man, The Green Hornet, Tonto, and Buck Rogers.

And now: to the Batlinks!


This repeats our previous path of Batman to Michael Keaton. DC/Marvel Comics crossover projects have brought DC's Dark Knight within a single degree of Marvel's Mightiest Heroes on a few occasions, notably in the four-part JLA/Avengers mini-series [one degree]. The Mighty Avengers met David Letterman (and appeared on Late Night With David Letterman) in the pages of The Avengers # 239 [two degrees]. As an unknown up-and-coming comic, Letterman (like Keaton) was a regular on Mary, the 1978 variety TV series starring Mary Tyler Moore [three degrees].


Batman's previously-detailed path to Dick Tracy continues here. Batman has met and worked with Will Eisner's iconic hero The Spirit in a previous crossover [one degree]. The Spirit worked with Tracy in an unexpected and enjoyable 2016 extended guest shot in the Dick Tracy newspaper strip [two degrees]. That same newspaper serial also included an appearance by the legendary Golden Age villain The Dragon Lady [three degrees]. The Dragon Lady was the frequent opponent of adventurer Terry Lee (and the potential paramour of Lee's mentor Pat Ryan) in Milton Caniff's all-time classic comic strip Terry And The Pirates [four degrees].


If superheroes were real, Batman or The Green Hornet or someone would have stopped Charles Manson and his murderous family cold, and actress Sharon Tate and the rest of that wretched little bug's victims would have lived. I wish superheroes were real. In the world of fantasy, Batman met the great American rock 'n' roll group Paul Revere & the Raiders on the '60s Batman TV series, when the Raiders played at a benefit for The Penguin's mayoral campaign [one degree]. In real life, the Raiders worked extensively with Doris Day's son Terry Melcher, who produced and occasionally co-wrote (with Raiders lead singer Mark Lindsay) some of the group's biggest and best records [two degrees]. As a producer, Melcher reportedly rejected aspiring singer-songwriter Manson [three degrees]. Sharon Tate lived at Melcher's former address, which is where she and her friends were slaughtered. Not a coincidence. Manson's in Hell now.


Unforgettable! I doubt many Batfans even had any idea who New York City DJ William B. Williams was in 1966 (or ever). But DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz was a fan of Williams and his Make Believe Ballroom on New York's WNEW, and Williams appeared--cover-featured, no less!--in the Batman story "Bruce Wayne Unmasks Batman!" in Detective Comics # 357 (November 1966) [one degree]. Williams is credited as the first to refer to Frank Sinatra as "The Chairman of the Board," and Williams was an early and consistent booster (and associate) of singer Nat King Cole [two degrees].


We can rebuild him. We make him better than he was. Better, stronger, faster. It didn't hold my interest for very long, but The Six Million Dollar Man was the closest thing there was to a weekly live-action superhero TV series in the early to mid '70s. Of course, I watched it, and I didn't hate it. Kinda liked it, actually, at least for a bit. Although the series was adapted into a comic book published by Charlton Comics, I don't think lead character Steve Austin ever encountered any characters (fictional or real) outside of his own milieu. Luckily, the same is not true of Jamie Sommers, lead character in the spinoff TV series The Bionic Woman. Actress Lindsay Wagner starred as The Bionic Woman on NBC at roughly the same time Lynda Carter starred in Wonder Woman on ABC (and then CBS). There was no inter-network TV crossover, but the recent six-part comic-book mini-series Wonder Woman '77 Meets The Bionic Woman brought 'em together anyway. So! Batman has appeared with Wonder Woman many times in comics, TV cartoons, and 2017's fab film Justice League [one degree]. Then Wonder Woman '77 Meets The Bionic Woman [two degrees]. Jamie Sommers was originally introduced on The Six Million Dollar Man, and she and Steve Austin shared another adventure or two after that [three degrees].


Listen, man: any way to get to the preeminent sex symbol of the '60s and '70s is worth the trip. The road to Raquel leads through Bob Hope, and yeah, that "the road to" reference is deliberate. I slay me. Iconic comic Hope starred in the long-running DC Comics title The Adventures Of Bob Hope; but unlike fellow DC superstar Jerry Lewis, Hope's comic book never played host to guest stars Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, or The Flash. Super-hip, a supporting character in the Bob Hope comics, appeared alongside members of The Justice League of America and The Teen Titans at the wedding of Mento and Elasti-Girl in The Doom Patrol # 104 in 1966. Additionally, Michael Eury's wonderful book Hero-A-Go-Go notes in a sidebar that Batman and Robin encountered Super-hip when they made a cameo appearance in an issue of Bob Hope [one degree either way].  Super-hip to ol' Ski-Nose [two degrees]. Bob Hope's famous USO tours usually included one or another attractive knockout actress as a tonic for the troops, and la Raquel was one such knockout (and how!) [three degrees].


I am so proud of this one. Although I would now rank it among my all-time favorite TV series, I was a latecomer to Veronica Mars. I binge-watched the series a few years ago, and belatedly fell in love with, oh, just everything about it. It took some work, but I was determined to link Batman with Veronica, and I got it done! I even worked in a link to the Syracuse University men's basketball team! Yeah, I'm intrepid. First, as unlikely as it may seem, Batman met The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in two different comic-book miniseries [one degree]. And if you think that's unlikely, howzabout former SU hoops great Carmelo Anthony meeting those radioactive terrapins in the one-shot comic book Amazing Adventures: Carmelo Anthony Special [two degrees]? (Melo also made a cameo appearance as himself in the 2016 film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, but didn't interact directly with the heroes.) When he was with the New York Knicks, Anthony had a contentious relationship with Knicks president Phil Jackson [three degrees]. Veronica Mars' cast of recurring characters included an actor named Aaron Echolls (played with slimy precision by Harry Hamlin), who mentioned receiving a copy of Siddhartha from Jackson [four degrees]. Echolls, of course, knew Veronica Mars [five degrees]. Cue the theme song! A long time ago, we used to be friends....


A reader pointed out that my previous path of Batman to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Batman-Catwoman-Vampirella-Dracula-Buffy) had two extra, unnecessary degrees, as Batman encountered Count Dracula directly in the graphic novel Batman & Dracula: Red Rain and the animated video adventure The Batman vs. Dracula. Oops. Batman to Dracula [one degree], and Dracula (played by Bela Lugosi) joined his Universal Studios horror co-stars Frankenstein (or more accurately Frankenstein's monster) and Wolfman in the comedy classic Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein [two degrees].

BATMAN TO SNOOPY [5 degrees]

Across two world wars, the acquisition of a comic book company's characters by a former rival, and the fanciful dreams of a funny-lookin' dog with a big black nose, we bring you this epic link of pop culture icons. In the '40s, Fawcett Comics was a pesky competitor of DC Comics, and the success of Fawcett's Captain Marvel (who outsold Superman) prompted enmity, lawsuits, and an eventual out-of-cort settlement that brought an end to Fawcett's original line. Decades later, DC assumed ownership of most of the erstwhile Fawcett heroes, including Captain Marvel and a character called Spy Smasher. Batman met Spy Smasher within the pages of a vast three-part superhero free-for-all in Justice League Of America # 135-137 in 1976 [one degree]. Spy Smasher met Nazi schweinhund Hermann Goering in a story called "Why I Did Not Kill Hitler" back in 1943's Spy Smasher # 10 [two degrees]. In 1933, Goering personally recruited a World War I pilot named Ernst Udet to the Nazi Party [three degrees]. In that previous War To End All Wars, Udet had flown under the command of Manfred von Richthofen, the bloody Red Baron [four degrees]. The Red Baron, of course, was the sworn enemy of the Allies' canine ace Snoopy, and the two faced each other in numerous aerial dogfights (sorry), and even met once face-to-face for a respectful Christmas toast in The Royal Guardsmen's holiday hit record "Snoopy's Christmas" [five degrees].


Yeah, this one's goofy, but it qualifies. In 1973, the ABC network aired a promotional TV special hosted by the comedy team of Jack Burns and Avery Schreiber, intended to hawk ABC's new Saturday morning line-up. Among the ABC cartoons for '73 were Super Friends and Mission: Magic, the former a new animated incarnation of the Justice League and the latter a vehicle for an Australian singer and pop hopeful named Rick Springfield. Springfield himself appeared, as himself, with Burns and Schreiber on the special, joining actors playing the roles of Superman and Batman. Batman to Rick Springfield [one degree]. Mission: Magic didn't succeed in making Springfield a star, but he eventually became one anyway, via his role on the soap General Hospital and with '80s smash hit singles like "Jessie's Girl." Springfield's ascension as pop idol led to a starring role in the 1984 movie Hard To Hold, which featured model Patti Hansen alongside Springfield [two degrees]. Hansen is married to Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards [three degrees].


Before we sign off, we should link Batman with a couple of actors related to the Batman film franchises. Actress Anne Hathaway played Catwoman in 2012's The Dark Knight Rises, but her degrees of separation go through the 1960s TV show instead (and, coincidentally, through that series' Catwoman, played by Julie Newmar). On a 1966 two-parter, Batman saved British rockin' pop duo Chad & Jeremy (playing themselves) when Catwoman literally stole their voices [one degree]. Chad & Jeremy had previously worked with Dick Van Dyke on the 1965 "The Redcoats Are Coming!" episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show [two degrees]. Van Dyke, assuming a horrible Cockney accent that is forgiven only because Dick Van Dyke should be forgiven for pretty much anything, co-starred with Julie Andrews in 1964's smash film Mary Poppins [three degrees]. Much later, Andrews appeared with Hathaway in 2001's The Princess Diaries [four degrees]. Heh. I just realized this same path would also link Batman to actor Nicholas Hammond, who played Spider-Man on TV in the '70s and appeared with Julie Andrews in The Sound Of Music.

Villains that cower when I take my swings, these are a few of my favorite things....

It pains me that so many people seemed to hate Ben Affleck's portrayal of Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Justice League. I thought he was fine, but I seem to be one of the few hoping (in vain, I'm sure) that he returns in upcoming sequels. In the mean time, let's get Ben to Batman. Batman to the amazing Spider-Man via a handful of DC/Marvel crossovers [one degree]. Spider-Man to actor Dan Aykroyd, who appeared with fellow members of Saturday Night Live's Not Ready For Prime Time Players in the Spidey comic Marvel Team-Up # 74 in 1978 [two degrees]. Aykroyd also appeared with actor/director Alec Baldwin in the 2003 film Shortcut To Happiness [three degrees], and Baldwin appeared with Affleck in 2001's Pearl Harbor [four degrees]. That also means Batman is four degrees from Baldwin's ex-wife Kim Basinger, who played Vicki Vale in 1989's Batman. Holy serendipity!


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Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.