Alex, Andrew, Sam, and Steve over at Nerdversity 101 asked me a few questions regarding Thundarr, classic G.I. Joe, and my upcoming Kindle Worlds G.I. Joe project “The Most Dangerous Man In The World” based on the
infamous “lost” Joe TV episode.
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Alex, Andrew, Sam, and Steve over at Nerdversity 101 asked me a few questions regarding Thundarr, classic G.I. Joe, and my upcoming Kindle Worlds G.I. Joe project “The Most Dangerous Man In The World” based on the
1:87 is one of the most delightful websites I’ve encountered in ages. There’s a wealth of charming / witty / delightful photos there, but this one in particular appealed to me:
Check it out:
You can also find
them on Instagram
“The Sign Of Three”, episode 2 of season three of BBC’s Sherlock series was in my mind the best Sherlock Holmes story ever told, in any medium, by any writer.
Sorry, Sir Arthur.
It had everything one could hope for in a Sherlock Holmes story and more:
Nifty mystery, ingenious solution, plenty of glimpses into the private lives of Holmes & Dr. John Watson. But more than that, it was a story that involved Holmes & Watson on a personal level, not as puzzle-solvers-for-hire. It unfolded in a seemingly lackadaisical, disjointed fashion, apparently being about one thing before spiraling tightly on another thing which, in the end, proved to be about the first thing after all.
But as delighted as I was by “The Sign Of Three”, the season closer “His Final Vow” seemed to go out of its way to undo all the good things about the previous episode.
The good parts were very good:
The villain was suitably villainous and a better (which is to say, worse) foe for Holmes than Moriarity. The build up to the first Major Plot Twist was primo Sherlock, and even though Holmes was heartlessly manipulative of another person, while dismaying it was still within his character.
Oh, but that Major Plot Twist…
Okay, the series is right on the money when it points out Watson is a danger junkie, that he seeks out people, relationships, and situations that feed that addiction. Doyle alluded to as much (albeit not in those terms) in his original stories.
But what Sherlock the series fails to pick up on is that Watson, not Holmes, is Doyle’s wish fulfillment character. Doyle was much too bourgeois in real life to want to be “a high functioning sociopath” like Holmes; he wanted to be the staid, steadfast upper-middle class Englishman with a wife and a home and a pipe and a prestigious career, but with the ability to go off at his own discretion for daring adventures on the side.
Watson is essentially Doyle’s Mary Sue
in his fan fic about Holmes.
So, yes, Watson would indeed gravitate towards dangerous people, but not all people he gravitates towards would be dangerous nor does he want them to be.
Watson, like Doyle, feels comfortable in a world where everything is exactly what it seems to be — and despite puzzling clues, in the end they all end up meaning one thing and one thing only. He knows Holmes is an insensitive wanker because that is how Holmes always presents himself. He knows clients can be disingenuous or even dishonest because that’s how they present themselves.
But he also knows certain people are trustworthy because no matter what their social circumstances, they will never present themselves falsely. Watson, like Holmes, can trust junkies and thieves and beggars and gang members provided they never fly under false flags.
In a nutshell, at arguably one of the most basic, primal levels of Watson’s emotional life, he has a person who presents themselves under a false flag. He might very well have continued his relationship with this person knowing they had a somewhat tawdry past, but it doesn’t play true to either the BBC series or the entire Holmes / Watson oeuvre if they presented themselves as one thing and then revealed themselves to be another.
As bad as that was, however,
it was only the smallest shark
that Sherlock jumped.
As noted, the villain was truly good (in a bad way, if you catch my drift), and a better match for Holmes than Moriarity. He was, in fact, the anti-Holmes, more so that Holmes own brother, Mycroft (or Mike, as people kept referring to him in this episode much to his annoyance; nice touch, that). In the end the villain was seemingly victorious, he had out maneuvered Holmes, Holmes was forced to admit to Watson he had no plan on how to deal with him.
Which, of course, is precisely the moment where Holmes does something that reveals he’s been two steps ahead of the bad guy all the time and the seemingly insurmountable fix that he and Watson are in is actually all part of his well laid plan to turn the tables on the villain and hoist him by his own petard.
Only that doesn’t happen.
Instead, Holmes settles (one can’t say “solves”) the matter in a manner more befitting of Mike Hammer, John Shaft, or even Philip Marlowe.
This is not to say that Holmes is incapable of or even unwilling to use direct means, but they are always punctuation marks to carefully laid out lines of thought.
The main plotline ends with Holmes facing banishment (read “suicide mission”) as a penance for his atypical resolution to the case. While not as much of a downer as the season two faux suicide, it’s still a grim ending to the season.
…and apparently the producers felt the same way
because reaching so far into their arses that they
could tickle their uvulas, they yanked out the
biggest shark of all.
Some genres you can get away with they-are-only-dead-if-you-have-a-body-and-even-then-only-maybe; Dracula and Frankenstein are quite literally unkillable and nobody bats an eye when they pop back.
But non-fantasy characters can’t be treated so cavalierly. In the nearest analogy to the Holmes / Moriarity match-up, James Bond never actually killed or presumed he had killed Blofeld until the villain’s final appearance in the books (You Only Live Twice) or films (For Your Eyes Only). Bouncing back from the dead is something to be used very sparingly and since Bond had already done it in his own series, Fleming and later the films’ producers opted not to have any villain come back for seconds after being officially killed off.
Holmes and Moriarity both were killed in the season two closer. If somebody is going to get a call back, it’s going to be Holmes. Sherlock has fun with the ridiculousness of his return in the season three opener, presenting three mutually contradictory explanations while implying none were true. They can get away with that because the tone of the series is light enough for viewers to swallow one such huge implausibility, and because whatever ruse was used to fake Holmes’ death, it clearly involved an army of confederates (“No more than 25,” Holmes explains) to pull it off.
Those confederates would not overlook Moriarity’s corpse — or lack there of — in the aftermath. At the very least Holmes would be aware Moriarity faked his own death and, once Holmes’ own resurrection was revealed, would have no reason not to warn Watson that their old nemesis was still on the loose.
Further, Mycroft and the British government clearly felt Moriarity’s death had been proved to their satisfaction, so their reaction to the bizarre video announcing Moriarity’s apparent return from the dead is puzzling.
The most obvious conclusion is that it is not Moriarity hizzownsef who jacked the nation’s video channels but either a still surviving confederate or an entirely new villain who seeks to capitalize on Moriarity’s notoriety for whatever reason.
One final thought:
Who exactly is this series about? It is not Sherlock Holmes, for despite his name on the title he remains an elusive enigma as a character. We like him (but he is not likeable) yet his character growth is pretty much nonexistent other than begrudgingly realizing he likes Watson and needs people like Molly and Mrs. Hudson in his life.
Rather, everything in the series seems to revolve around Watson. In the first episode we see his problems, and his build up prior to Holmes being sprung on us virtually unannounced (albeit brilliantly so). Watson was grown from a PTSD victim to an active agent in his own life, he has grown emotionally and opened himself up to others.
Where are the creators taking us with this? Are we going to learn in the end that this whole series has been about the distress / recovery / healing of Watson’s mind?
 I’m really trying to avoid spoilers here.
 A theory long expounded since the very beginning of Holmes’ literary career; people wishing to write their own Sherlock Holmes stories would be well advised to leave Watson out of it and come up with their own Mary Sue to interact with Holmes. It would be truer to the original form than adding a second level of projection onto the tale.
 Watson would be driven to distraction if he had to work with Perry Mason.
 There’s a lot more to this line of thought, and those interested would be well advised to seek out The Amazing Randi’s thoughts on the subject. Randi’s central thesis is that far from being open to a wide range of possibilities, Holmes is actually confined by a narrow range of stereotypes in which all things can mean only one unique thing, and false conclusions derived from same are the fault of the deducer, not of the things failing to be what they are presumed to be.
 Yes, he used Blofeld’s mini-sub as a battering ram in Diamonds Are Forever, but Blofeld was still protected by a thick pressure resistant hull and was never shown dying on screen; further, since his two henchmen came after Bond aboard the cruise ship, one could only assume Blofeld was alive and still paying them as they would have no incentive to tangle with Bond otherwise.
 Or it could be Mycroft simply getting his brother out of a jam by creating a bogus new threat that only the great Sherlock Holmes can solve. Which would imply Holmes’ actions at the end of “His Final Vow” were part of a plan sanctioned by the British government. The problem with rabbit holes is that the rabbits keep digging more…
Exactly what do we own when we purchase media?
When I was a lad my father took my brother and me to see Gorgo;
in effect he made us a gift of the movie going experience of watching Gorgo.
Gorgo made quite an impression on me as a young lad, so much so that even with only one showing I was able to vividly remember the plot, characters, key scenes, and even bits of dialog.
A few years later I saw it again on TV and enjoyed it once more. This time I had to pay for my viewing experience with my time: Periodically the film would be interrupted as commercials for various products were shown in the hopes I would either purchase them directly or pester my parents to purchase them.
I don’t remember if I saw Gorgo again after that for many long years, certainly not until it started cropping up on the various super-stations during the cable TV boom. I did think of the film quite often and quite fondly, and whenever stuck in some boring mind-numbing task (waiting in line, f’r instance) I might replay it (or literally hundreds of other movies as well) in my head.
At some point I acquired a VHS machine, and I probably taped Gorgo off of one of the premium channels or Turner Classic Movies so I could “have” it.
But truth be told,
I don’t think I ever
And I probably have it sitting in my DVD collection somewhere, either part of a multi-set I bought in a bargain basement bin, or a copy I burned directly off the air.
As best I can recollect,
I’ve never watched that DVD.
Why should I?
I can access YouTube, and Gorgo is on it, and if I feel like watching Gorgo it is a lot easier just selecting it off the menu than searching through my DVDs, firing up the player, and loading it in.
What, exactly, do I own in regards to Gorgo?
Well, I own the memory:
They can’t take that away from me. And I acknowledge that in terms of remembering films and stories I’m much sharper than the average person; that’s the way I’m geared and that’s one of the key components in my being a writer.
Anything I’ve forgotten about Gorgo wasn’t that good / interesting to begin with.
I don’t own the stories or the characters:
If I tried selling a Gorgo story without the copyright holders’ permission, at the very least I would find myself on the receiving end of a cease & desist letter from their lawyers.
But…if I came up with a story about an old man (as opposed to a young boy as in the original film) who befriends Champ, the legendary lake monster of Vermont (as opposed to Scotland and London per the movie), and tries to free her when she’s captured by people who want to exploit her, only to see her much younger, more vigorous, more vicious brood rise from the lake to rescue her (as opposed to Mama Gorgo stomping London flat to rescue her baby), well, the Gorgo rights holders couldn’t say boo.
Okay, let’s look at the VHS copy I probably made of Gorgo.
Was I pirating the film?
Stealing from the
No. The Supreme Court in the US and other courts around the world have ruled that if you have paid for access to media in your own home, you may copy it for your own personal enjoyment.
I couldn’t sell a VHS copy of Gorgo, or charge money to others to see it, but I could sure watch it whenever I felt like since I had already paid for it via my cable fee (a fraction of which was sliced off and paid to the Gorgo rights holders).
And I could take that copy of Gorgo with me wherever I traveled, to watch whenever I liked, and I was as free to invite as many non-paying guests as could fit into my home to enjoy it with me as often as we wished.
What about the Gorgo DVD?
As digital media I can easily — and legally! — port it into any machine I own. If I choose to edit it down to a “good stuff” highlight reel, I am free to do so, again with the caveat that I not sell / lease / charge admission for same.
But why bother since I can access Netflix through any wifi and just fast forward through all the boring stuff to the good scenes where Mama Gorgo carves London Towne a brand new bunghole?
What exactly have I purchased in all my acquisitions of Gorgo in various media?
As best I can tell,
all I’ve really purchased is
the right to access Gorgo
through a variety of
A funny thing about consumers:
If they don’t have to drag out their wallet, if they don’t have to write a check or swipe a credit card, they have a tendency to think of their purchases, particularly their smaller ones, as “free”.
This is not true, of course, but to the person who has set up an automatic monthly payment on their credit card to access Netflix, Netflix seems free because they never have to think consciously about purchasing access to a film or TV show again.
One movie or a hundred,
it’s the same invisible price.
Media piracy has existed since way back when, possibly even to prehistoric times. A traveler encounters a troubadour with a catchy song, and the traveler carries it in her head to another land, where others hear it and re-interpret it in their own fashion. Eventually their troubadours put it in their repertoire…
…all without ever compensating the originator of the tune.
Then as now any payment for the media was through the gatekeeper:
If you wanted a song from the troubadour, you tossed a coin in his hat; if you wanted a copy of a scroll, you either copied it by hand (thus paying for it by your own labor) or hired a scribe to copy it for you.
The printing press (and later photography and audio recordings) upset that little applecart. It permitted gatekeepers to put a price on access to the content, not just the performance of same or a physical copy of same.
It gave a brief golden age from Guttenberg to the digital era where it was possible for the creator of any given piece of media to share in the gatekeeping fees. A publisher advances a writer a sum for his book, a sum the publisher recoups through sales. Should the book prove popular, the publisher theoretically shares any excess profit with the creator in the form of royalties.
But we are entering a new era, one where access to audiences is so transparent, so sieve-like that gatekeepers find themselves impotently ranting and raving against a tsunami that is rolling against them.
A lot of gatekeepers — and here I include many creators — are going out of business because they add no value to the final product by their gatekeeping: Quite the contrary, by making it more difficult to access media instead of making it frictionless, they steer the public tidal wave away from them and to pirate sites.
The gatekeepers will ask
“Why can’t we set a price for our media?”
You can, go right ahead.
But the consumers
will decide if they want
to pay that price.
Give the audience frictionless access. Stop gouging them for a ton of money upfront and recognize you’re in it for the long haul.
Yeah, once upon a time it was possible to be a media mogul or a one hit wonder and flood your coffers by restricting access to the content down to a trickle.
But those days are over, and a new business model is in order.
Nowadays the flood belongs to the consumer,
and the trickle to the gatekeepers.
Deal with it.
 I remember how, as they were helping London prepare for the onslaught of Mama Gorgo, the two protagonists paused to resolve a personal issue that had come up between them earlier in the film; this may have been the very first inkling I had of plot points and beats and B-story and counter-theme.
 In essence, the TV station was recruiting me to be a salesman, and my payment was the opportunity to watch Gorgo again.
 This version of the Champ story is duly copyrighted © Buzz Dixon. It’s mine, Bissette, mine! But if you’re interested, gimme a call…
 And trust me, most 1960s kaiju movies are essentially 60-70 minutes of melodramatic padding around 20 minutes [max] of city-stompin’.
 Though by definition, how would we know?
 This is how the English ballad “The Unfortunate Rake” ends up as “Streets Of Laredo” in the American West and “St. James’ Infirmary Blues” on the southside of Chicago.
 I say “theoretically” because history has demonstrated that the worst thieves, pirates, and gougers are the very gatekeepers screaming / bitching / moaning the loudest now as consumers do unto them as they have done unto creators. This is the motive behind the effort to do away with net neutrality and continue to funnel money into the self-appointed gatekeepers’ pockets, not those of the creators.
 Essentially universal access to all media paid for by a slice of internet access fees. It can be done and has been done regionally, so stop kvetching and move.
Now most of you are doubtlessly going “Who the heck was Larry Ivie?” but to a lot of us “monster kids” he was a key influencer in our lives, albeit one who never fully graduated into the pro ranks.
Larry is best remembered for his remarkable albeit short lived 1960s monster mag, Monsters & Heroes, and before that his occasional articles for Castle Of Frankenstein. Back in the 1960s there were no serious professional regularly published magazines dedicated to sci-fi/fantasy/horror films; Forry Ackerman’s Famous Monsters Of Filmland was pretty much it, but while it supplied a wealth of film making details & rarely seen photos, it was written is a tone that can best be described as juvenile and with an editorial out look that said said there was no such thing as a bad movie — at least so long as they were dependent on studio publicists for photos & interviews.
CoF and later Monsters & Heroes changed all that (and, to be fair, so did a couple of other short lived mags). Larry’s Monsters & Heroes had a unique editorial POV insofar as it actively encouraged DIY culture long before DIY culture was even a thing to encourage. Larry was a fan who was always on the verge of breaking into either comics or film, and while he offered a great deal of inspiration & encouragement to others, he never seemed to be able to make the final leap himself.
Larry Ivie as The Mask in Don Glut’s amateur
Batman And Robin film made a year before
the Adam West TV series premiered.
I corresponded with him briefly in the 1960s, and from that correspondence I’d say he was a sincere, earnest, enthusiastic, and decent person who genuinely wanted to nurture new talent. Some of the earliest works by Bernie Wrightson, Jeff Jones, and Mike Kaluta were published in Monsters & Heroes, and he regularly gave aspiring film makers a chance to show their work.
I lost contact with him when I was drafted and never communicated directly with him again. Occasionally his name would come up in conversation ala “whatever happened to…?” but the answer was always that he was struggling along on some new project or trying to complete an old one.
The brass ring of pro-dom, of being a professional with a recognized body of work always seemed to elude Larry, and from what I’ve read online this may be due to an obsessive perfectionism that kept him from releasing anything until he felt it was absolutely ready.
He lost contact with that generation of monster kids who then grew up to be pros and creators in their own right. The news of his death is not surprising, but it is sad.
He never made the pro ranks, but he started a thousand others on their way, and to that we say thank you.
While not a great movie, Noah is certainly a good one, and it is certainly the hands down front runner for the title of weirdest Biblical picture ever made. You can’t drag the Nephilim into your story and hope to stay within the bounds of normalcy.
Kudos to director Darren Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel for moral complexity, unexpected plot twists, good restrained acting, and top notch production values. It follows the Biblical story closer than either the 1928 version or the 1966 version but it does add stuff that is not specifically excluded in the Bible story (such as how they kept all the animals quiet on the ark) and ends with a positive statement that we are most like God when we show mercy and love.
The middle portion is much stronger than the beginning and end, Anthony Hopkins steals the show as Methuselah, and the fallen angels vs. human army slugfest has gotta be the wildest scene ever filmed for a Biblical movie.
So why do so many people hate it, sight unseen?
A great many people objecting to it are doing so mostly because it says rapacious greed and treating humans like commodities are evil (there are hints of cannibalism in the film as Tubal-Cain’s army prepares to assault the ark). As servants of Mammon and not God, these critics are appalled at the mirror-like reflection Noah shows of contemporary culture, and as such they feel duty bound to condemn it.
Noah gets more into the why & wherefore of the flood than previous versions of the story, and in doing so casts it in a light that doesn’t make God seem to be a petty spoiled child who kicks over the sand castle when things don’t go His way but rather a just and loving creator who realizes that humanity is far from perfect but if there is to be any hope of saving us from ourselves it is to save those who desire to serve Him and His creation (including other humans) rather than those willing to consume the planet with their own greed, gluttony, and lust for power. That is what is driving the prejudice against this film.
God (referred to thru out as The Creator) is depicted as just and righteous, yet loving and merciful. The destruction of the world is a human process, the flood is a cleansing one from God.
Noah is willing to serve God, but in the process makes an erroneous but not wholly illogical assumption; he does not act on that assumption but shows love and mercy instead. This leads to his famous post-flood drinking binge because he feels he has failed God. In the end of the film Noah and his family realize the flood was not to punish the wicked but to save the just from the unjust, and that we are closest to the image of God when we show mercy and love.
So far all the objections I’ve seen have either been from false-flag extremists or nit-pickers who regard any deviation from what they believe to be true and factual as blasphemy.
Does Noah take liberties with details in the Genesis story?
Yes, but without undermining the moral & theological core of that story.
Does the film state there is a Creator God who has the moral right to judge humanity?
Does the film state mercy and love are the most God-like traits humans can hope to aspire to?
Once again, affirmative.
Does the film have the Nephilim in it (referred to as The Watchers in the movie)?
Yes, and I think a lot of people are bugged that somebody dared to depict them other than the way they had personally imagined them.
Has any movie ever followed the true Biblical account?
Movies are works of fiction using actors performing off scripts that are written and edited to form a dramatic whole; that’s why even with historical films we see events and characters dropped or melded together so that the underlying truth of the story can come through even if the actual facts can’t be emulated.
There have been hundreds of films based on various stories in the Bible. This is one of three big budget Hollywood productions based in whole or in part on the story of Noah.
What this movie does state clearly again and again is:
- There is a Creator responsible for everything
- This Creator has the moral right to judge His creation
- Even those who believe the Creator has abandoned them believe He exists
- A just God is more interested in saving the just (i.e., those willing to serve Him and His creation including the humans He has created) than in punishing the wicked
- We are never more God-like than when we shown mercy and love
Sounds like Biblical truth to me…
[1a] Some would argue Godspell deserves that title and I would not oppose anyone who chose to argue that point. But ultimately Godspell is a pretty straightforward adaptation of the Gospel of Matthew set in Manhattan with a troupe of circus performers adding song and dance to the otherwise intact text; it’s odd in appearance, not content. Noah is like the James Tissot of Biblical movies.
[1b] The question also arises as to just what is a Biblical movie? Godspell, despite its odd style, is clearly meant to be the actual story found in Matthew; Jesus Of Montreal, despite being one of the finest religious allegories ever made, is not the gospel story per se but a story about the gospel story; a fine distinction but a real one. And The Sign Of The Cross, the only religious based movie to give Noah a serious run for the title IMO, is technically not a Biblical movie even though it occurs during Paul’s time in Rome.
 That’s one of the things that makes this movie so weird for a Biblical film: It actually shows stuff that no other Biblical movie has shown before. I think the style of the presentation is what is bothering some folks, not the actual content.
 It’s certainly closer to the text than the 1925 version (which was forgiven its egregious departures because it was presented in a pious manner)or 1966 version (which was just an all around bad movie, no matter how sincere the film makers were). We shall not speak of the Disney adaptation with Donald Duck as Noah (admittedly a more even keeled Hollywood personality than Russell Crowe).
art by Caldwell Easley
For a movie that I didn’t even know existed until about 2pm yesterday afternoon, Nothing Lasts Forever has quickly won a place in my heart. The only feature film to date by Tom Schiller, an Emmy-award winning writer who made numerous short comic films for Saturday Night Live and documentaries on a variety of subjects, Nothing Lasts Forever is one strange / quirky little movie that manages to pull off one of the most difficult challenges for a film maker: Shoot a contemporary film that looks like a classic Hollywood production.
I’m not saying Nothing Lasts Forever is a perfect film; far from it. But when it works it works oh-so-well and its loopy story of a musical fraud turned wannabe artist who gets recruited by an empire of hobos who secretly run New York City to fly to the moon on a bus and bring love to the lunar colony dominated by colonialist consumers just ain’t the kinda thing you see every day at the mega-plex.
The film near seamlessly mixes contemporary footage with stock shots from classic Hollywood films . The story never quite jells, shifting gears abruptly and jumping from premise to premise, but Zach Galligan and an astonishing supporting cast — includes Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Imogene Coca, and Calvert DeForest (Larry “Bud” Melman on David Letterman’s old show) among others — keep the story rolling with fresh, funny characterizations.
Add to that a never ending stream of often subtle sight gags and Nothing Lasts Forever should easily keep any old and / or oddball film lover interested.
And just where can you see this jem?
As the Vick’s people would say:
Aye, there’s the rub…
For reasons not entirely clear, the original distributor never made much of an effort to show the film in the US: Apparently just a handful of test screenings then the film was yanked and seemingly forgotten.
It has fared better in Europe, but even there is is considered a cult item.
Part of the problem may be legal (entanglements with various rights holder re stock footage in the film) but more likely it’s just that this film is so far afield of anything done by mainstream Hollywood that one can’t feign surprise to learn no major distributor in the US wants to handle it.
Luckily, however, there is YouTube, and if you hie thyself over there,
you can catch Nothing Lasts Forever in all its delirious black + white glory.
How long it’ll stay up, I dunno. But currently it’s your only chance to see one of the quirkiest film made in the last 30 years.
 Oh, that old story…
 Since most of the exteriors were shot in Manhattan, and since much of Manhattan hasn’t changed in the last century, the melding is quite good.
I get all sloppy sentimental (but not about Nazis!)
after the jump so I’m front loading the link & pictures
then will bore you to tears on the other side.
You have been warned.