Sunday, September 07, 2008


In my opinion Marvel's greatest title of all time was not "Fantastic Four" or "Spiderman," but the comic that preceded them: "Tales of Suspense." No wimpy guys in tights here, but rather original stories of giant Kirby monsters on the rampage, different monsters in almost every issue.

By far the two best Tales of Suspense stories, the ones that towered over all the others, were "Goom" and it's sequel, "Googam, Son of Goom." I bought these off the newsstand when I was a kid and I remember thinking, "This is great! How are these guys ever going to top this?" Well, they didn't. Nobody did.

Thanks to a much-appreciated gift from John K, I was able to have Goom with me when I was recovering from surgery this week. Goom helped to keep my sanity during that ordeal. The only problem was that I found myself laughing so much that my stitches threatened to come apart. That's OK, Goom was worth it. If my scanner was up and running I'd scan it for you, but alas, I'm forced to rely on the inadequate images available on Google.

The story goes something like this: A young, idealistic New-Age scientist believes that hidden planets exist in the Solar System which we can't see. Being a trusting soul, he figures the creatures who live there must be incredibly nice guys who'd love to share their knowledge with us, so he sends radio signals to them revealing the exact location of Earth. Little does he know that he has just revealed our whereabouts to the biggest asshole in the universe: GOOM! Goom can't believe his luck! He immediately gets in his spaceship, which looks like a giant parakeet, and heads for the Earth to conquer it.

Goom lands in the wimpy scientist's backyard and begins threatening him and his wife. Goom rips up rose bushes, breaks things, and causes people to devolve into babies, all the while spouting lines like "For I am Goom,", "It is I, Goom!", Fools, it is useless to flee Goom!", "Cower before the all-powerful Goom!", "I can run faster than you, I'm taller than you, and I can out-think you!", and "Watch me rip apart this bicycle!" He gets the scientist to invite the world's leaders to his house for a peace conference, and when they show up, Goom threatens to eat them if they don't declare him the Supreme Ruler of Earth. I won't spoil it by revealing what happens next.

Goom is finally gotten rid of, but in the sequel we are informed that Goom left behind a giant baby in a cave. The baby is an even bigger jerk than his dad!

Of course a lot of this over-the-top dialogue style comes from "Brain from Planet Arous," one of the best and most cheesey sci-fi films of the 50s. This movie had a big influence on me, and when I first got a job in the animation industry I wanted to stick conquering brains into every story I worked on.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


I just spent five days in a hospital and the experience was indescribably ugly and nightmarish. I spent every minute of the five days waiting for the hour hand to make it's way twice around the clock, dreading the boredom and the extreme tortures to come. I had an extremely competent and experienced surgeon yet my advice to everyone reading this is, don't get major surgery if you can possibly avoid it. If you can't avoid it then have the surgery at the earliest possible time when the problem is relatively small.  I remind the reader that we don't live in Captain Kirk's time when Bones the doctor can cure everything with what amounts to a flashlight. Our time is more like the Civil war when whiskey and amputation were the remedies.  Surgery is still about all about violating your body, and causing pain. We're not really all that advanced.

Hospitals are crazy places. Everybody agrees that sleep is important to recovery, yet hospitals are one of the hardest places in the world to sleep.  The staff keeps waking you up to give you pain pills to put you to sleep. Since those pills cause constipation, and since constipation prevents you from getting rid of the gas that accompanies surgery, pain and sleeplessness are actually guaranteed by the system.

Some nurses are angels of mercy that really care what happens to you.  Others are martinets who will follow a regimen regardless of the consequences. I had to wear a catheter and I was constantly woken out of sleep by compulsive nurses who felt the need to "irrigate" it, i.e., put a big horse tranquilizing syringe into it and pump it to shake loose possible clots. The syringe causes searing, torturous pain by causing rapid change in the internal abdominal pressure. Once again, the justification for irrigation was that it would help patients sleep. After every irrigation I would stay awake for hours trying to shake off the horror of it all. 

Francis Ford Cuppola called Vietnam the first rock and roll war because rock was so frequently present, even during firefights. In the same way, we live in the first ( or maybe the second) era of daytime TV medicine. Daytime TV is the constant background rhythm of hospitals. You may be dying, and your doctor may be struggling to figure out how to medicate, but you both have one ear glued to the TV so you can find out what Dr. Phil said about Oprah, or who the movie stars dated last night.  Daytime TV gives me nausea. Does the world really need one more manicured, perky anchorwoman or one more executive-driven animated show with "tude?" 

Of course real conversations happen, even in hospitals. My roommate, was a police officer and we got to talking about crime.  I wondered out loud if criminals were really chronically unimaginative people, who just couldn't imagine the suffering they were causing to others. The policeman looked at me with stunned disbelief.  His answer:  "Real criminals aren't unimaginative. They're selfish and undisciplined. They want immediate satisfaction and would rather take the risk of killing a 7-11 clerk for 50 bucks than work a legal job for a day and make the same money risk-free. They live in an environment where crime is in the air and no other activity is admired or encouraged." I muttered something Hunter S. Thompson said about crime, and he brusquely made his apologies and closed the curtain securely around his bed. He just couldn't see the point in talking to a dilettante like myself who didn't know what he was talking about.  He never opened it again. I knew from peaking that he spent the time reading Field and Stream magazine.  

By the way, I'm a big booster of the police who, whatever their faults, risk their lives every day so the rest of us can be safe. I'm just not a fan of Field and Stream.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


I'll be gone for a few days. I'm not sure when I'll be back...maybe as soon as Friday. See you then!

Sunday, August 31, 2008


In the future humanoid robots will be common. No need to worry; they will always be identifiable by their poor choice in clothes.

Chairs will be so comfortable that nobody will ever want to leave them. The chairs will sprout wheels or wings as the situation calls for, and will be able to take us anywhere we want to go.

Ultimately the chairs will become more intelligent than we are, and get rid of us. Their proximity to us will have heightened their sophistication relative to other machines, and if machines ever go to war with each other, my bet is the chairs will win. Chairs will be the real inheritors of the Earth. Perhaps some chairs, nostalgic for the old days, will carry floppy dead humans in their seats.

Of course animals will become smarter.

The future will be obsessed with putting glass domes on everything. Cities, beds, parakeets...everything will have a dome or a space helmet.

A few mavericks will drive cars without domes where people can actually talk to each other, but these people will be justly shunned by their peers.

A few brave souls may actually leave their chairs and walk around their living rooms. When it's necessary to travel, the whole living room will pick itself up and scurry around town.

Humans will become perfect physical specimens. They will be tiny though, in order to conserve energy.

Of course the future will be environmentally responsible. The shocking waste involved in each individual having his own soda straw will be eliminated. Community straws will proliferate.

Incidentally, the type size on the comments page got smaller all by itself, with no help from me. Anybody know how to fix that?

Saturday, August 30, 2008


It must be the testosterone inhibiter I'm taking. I feel like doing posts on crocheting doilies! Man, hormones are really powerful! Oh well, here's another post on clothing. It's about ironing sheets, of all things! Pity me! I can't help myself!

OK, here's a question for ironing worth it? I mean, why not buy wash and wear clothes and save the trouble? Me, I don't like ironing so I'll try to buy clothes that don't need it. Sheets though, that's another thing.

No good hotel offers anything but starched and ironed sheets, and it's easy to see why. Slipping into crisp, starched sheets is one of life's really intense pleasures. If the bed is well made, with everything pulled tight, that's even better. And if the sheets are sun-dried and smelling fresh and outdoorsy well, that's the best of all.

Hospitals starch and iron their sheets and change them frequently. That's obviously for for hygiene, but I'll bet there's another reason. Crispy sheets are cheery. They give a patient a feeling of being fussed over and cared about, and of being in competent hands. Surely that makes the effort worthwhile. And what goes for hospitals goes for homes.

You can buy steam sheet ironers for the home. Connair has one (above) that's less than a hundred bucks, but I've never seen it. There's another kind that they make for hotels and laundries. That one has rollers and probably costs more.

I get the feeling that someone who does this only once in a while would be better off ironing in the traditional way. If you don't deliberately iron in folds, it should go pretty fast. You iron while the sheets are still damp with a really hot steam iron. The starch is added in liquid form in the washing machine. Just be sure to get good quality, cotton sheets that aren't too light. Sun drying discolors some kinds, why I don't know.

Sigh! I need to get off these anti-testosterone pills! Only a few more days and I'm a free man!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


John K just put up a couple of great wrinkle posts and they inspired me to take a shot at it, in the belief that great and noble subjects like wrinkles can't be discussed too frequently. This is a post about wrinkles; beautiful, sumptuous winkles. Wrinkles, the cartoonist's friend.

Wrinkles look great on a suit, in fact a suit that doesn't have them (above) looks odd and characterless.

Of course you take a chance when you buy a wrinkle suit. The wrinkles won't always flatter you and indeed they shouldn't. You want a suit that has character, that is independent and has a life of its own.  The suit's idiosyncrasies are part of its charm.

The thing to understand about wrinkles is that the best ones are always a surprise. You expect a certain amount of wrinkles around a bent elbow, you don't expect really drastic wrinkles around the bottom of the rib cage as in the picture of President Kennedy above. The wrinkle connoisseur treasures surprises like this. 

Having lots of wrinkles serves to call attention to the areas that don't have them. Here (above) the wrinkled-up sleeve beautifully contrasts to the unwrinkled, clean sweep of the back.

The effort to vanquish wrinkles is doomed to defeat. You may as well grow to like them because there's not much you can do about them. President Nixon tried to banish them by wearing characterless felt (or felt-type) puppet jackets... a situation where the cure was worse than the disease.

I hate to admit it, but not all wrinkles are equal. Some are just plain boring. Here's (above) a velour jacket that's so thick and heavy that it looks like Ahab just stripped it off a whale. The heavy, lazy wrinkles have no character. They just can't take the trouble to assume interesting shapes.

Here's (above) another negative example: these (above) are the kind of despicable wrinkles you get straight out of the washing machine. The large wrinkles are too predictable, the small ones too random. 

Really interesting wrinkles occur when a well-groomed wearer tries to avoid them, but they occur anyway. That's an example of the suit asserting it's own personality, and not just being a toady to the wearer.

Some of the 30s and 40s suits were tailored with the deliberate intention of creating interesting wrinkles. These were fine in their own way, but the heavy fabric produced only predictable wrinkles. Not many surprises there. 

I prefer the baggy look of the early 50s. Slender suits were coming into fashion then but the older generation clung to the baggy look...only by then the fabric was less heavy. One day, when time machines have been perfected, wrinkle connoisseurs will take tours of this era and bring back lots of photos of the flamboyant oldsters.
It takes guts to be a wrinkle man. We relish what the rest of the world considers mistakes. Before I was enlightened I used to be appalled when I sat down and my puffy pants "tent-poled" up from the lap. Now I enjoy it, and do nothing to hide it. Er...well, actually I do try to hide it sometimes; I guess I still have to work on that one. I have a feeling it makes girls uneasy.

There's lots more to say about wrinkles, but I guess this is all I have time for now. One of these days I'll post about another interesting mens fashion: the slim, crimped waist look with the outrageously over-sized hats and spit-shined patent leather shoes. 

Monday, August 25, 2008


I have a minor surgery coming up on September second. Please, please don't ask for the boring details. It's nothing life-threatening and really, I've had a lot less of this sort of thing than most, so I have no reason to complain. I'll be flat on my back for a couple of weeks and I don't know whether I'll end up blogging more or less. it might be more, because I won't have much else to do. It's boring lying there looking up at the ceiling all day.

Anyway, I'm dying to tell you about a small detail that you might find interesting. For a few weeks I've had to prep for the surgery by taking a pill that inhibits testosterone. It's only temporary, I'll go back to normal next month, but for a few weeks I've had the experience of having low levels of the stuff. What a revelation!!!!!! From feeling the lack of it, I can now deduce with confidence what testosterone does, and it's not what I expected.

Actually the first few days I took this pill my testosterone increased for some reason, and I found myself wanting to fight other men all day. I'd strut around with my chest out, hoping that some guy would give me a surly look. I swear I felt like going into a bar and picking fights. I wasn't mad at anyone, not in the least, I just felt like a bull seal whose whole reason for existence was to defend his rock and protect his harem. Fortunately other men cut me some slack, which was lucky for me, because I can't fight to save my life. I knew that, but it didn't seem to matter. Hormones aren't logical.

After a few days I felt myself being drawn in the opposite direction. I didn't feel like a girl...that would have required female, it was weirder than that. I felt, like a reasonable man. A good citizen. I felt mild. All forms of conflict seemed pointless to me. It hit me as a revelation that disputes are pointless because there's no such thing as right and wrong. All of us are always, now and forever, half right and half wrong. Gosh darn, can't we live in harmony together?

That's the mood I'm in now. This mildness is driving me nuts but I can't shake it off. I feel less creative and even less libidinous. Less libidinous means that I think of sex only half the day now as opposed to all day, which has been my normal state since I was 13. Oh,'s only for another week or so. I'm counting the days.

So the big revelation I got was that our behaviors are more hormonally driven than I'd ever suspected. Boy, we're not many steps removed from the jungle! Maybe the guys in gangs are all abnormally high-testosterone types, and the peacemakers of the world all have abnormally low amounts. How are these people ever going to understand each other? On another point, during my week of high testosterone levels I felt no desire to beat up women, just men, so I've also learned that testosterone aggression is only directed toward other men. Last but not least, I learned that hormones are related to creativity. I always suspected that but now I feel certain about it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I'm always interested to see what cartoonists hang on their walls. Usually it's cartoons and paintings. Sometimes it's music and film posters or, if the walls are dominated by the cartoonist's significant other, stately pictures of roses or horse-drawn carriages. My walls are mostly masks and cartoon cels.  The rest tend to be faces, why I don't know.  Here's a few that I either have framed up on the wall or am thinking about putting up.

This is a nice picture to end with, isn't it?  This is my all-time favorite picture of a dog, the towering Mount Everest of dog photos.

Thanks to Mike F. for turning me on to Julie Newmar and the "She May Be a Bag of Trouble" poster. Thanks to John K for the Mortimer Snerd photo.