Archive for April, 2007

We have been remiss…

…in not noting the passing of Bobby “Boris” Pickett:

He does the “Monster Mash” no more.

Bobby “Boris” Pickett, whose dead-on Boris Karloff impression propelled the Halloween anthem to the top of the charts in 1962, making him one of pop music’s most enduring one-hit wonders, has died of leukemia. He was 69.


He continued performing through his final gig in November. He remained in demand for Halloween performances, including a memorable 1973 show where his bus broke down outside Frankenstein, Mo.

Bobby Pickett, circa 1996

All together now (and I know you know the words…): “He did the monster mash. … It was a graveyard smash.”

Sea gives up WW II torpedo boat

From Associated Press:

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – The explosive-laden wreck of a World War II torpedo boat has risen from the Pacific Ocean off the Solomon Islands, pushed above the water by a powerful earthquake, an official said Friday.

The boat was exposed when reefs rose 10 feet above sea level during a 8.1-magnitude quake that caused a devastating tsunami, killing 52 people in the western Solomons in early April, said Jay Waura of the National Disaster Management Office.

The Solomons’ main island, Guadalcanal, was the scene of fierce fighting during World War II. The coastline is littered with wrecks including the torpedo patrol boat commanded by President John F. Kennedy, PT-109, which was found in 2002 by shipwreck hunter Robert Ballard.

Numerous sea battles against Dagon also fought in the area.

Star Trek actor’s ashes scattered in space

Beam me up Scotty. From the Sunday Times of London:

THE ashes of James Doohan, better known as Scotty in Star Trek, were blasted into space aboard a private rocket yesterday from a launchpad in the New Mexico desert.

Many fans turned out in full Star Trek regalia for a memorial service for the Canadian-born actor the day before the launch of the SpaceLoft XL rocket.

Doohan’s widow, Wende, said her husband was eager to reach the final frontier: “He would be ecstatic. He would be the one pressing the button. He totally was so into space.”

Ancient Roman ruins in Rome found

From the Department of Bizarre Twists of Fate:

A series of ancient paintings have been uncovered beneath the streets of London.

The Roman artworks were found underneath an Italian restaurant in Lime Street, in the City of London. [emphasis mine]

Painted 1,900 years ago, the paintings depict goldfinch and lavish bunches of grapes, magazine London Archaeologist reports.

He’s baaaaaaaack.

Frank Miller. And dark, as ever.

Miller arrived at the W a month and a half ago with a one-week reservation, but the L.A. fling is still going and he’s still living out of a suitcase filled with black clothes. The reason is that Miller, the most important comic book artist of the last 25 years, is enjoying his moment in the Hollywood sun. There was, of course, the record-breaking March box office of “300,” a lovingly faithful adaptation of Miller’s bloody 1998 graphic novel, but there’s also the two sequels to “Sin City” now in the pipeline and the Batman project now being filmed in London that borrows its title from Miller’s 1986 masterpiece, “The Dark Knight Returns.” “They finally got the title right,” Miller said with a pretend sneer. “I was wondering when that would happen.”

…Now there’s a sweet satisfaction in the fact that the new Hollywood approach is to hire fan-boy directors and show fawning respect for the source material. “Sin City’s” Robert Rodriguez even insisted on sharing director credits with Miller on those films (a maverick stand that cost Rodriguez his membership in the Directors Guild), and that led directly to a somewhat shocking development: Miller has now been tapped to write and direct his own film based on Will Eisner’s classic noir hero “The Spirit.”Latte Times

“I intend to be extremely faithful to the heart and soul of the material, but it won’t be nostalgic. It will be much scarier than people expect,” Miller told Variety. –

Skunky Dubloons

I thought that lime only went with Corona…Not Rainier. But I’m sure NOTHING you put with this cerveza will erase the “skunky.” Self respecting Pirates I’m sure would order up something else.

Buoys to mark 1899 shipwreck including Rainier beer bottles

More than 107 years after fire ravaged its masts and deck, the Hera’s hull and some of its cargo – including hundreds of bottles of Rainier beer – remain intact.

…Built in 1869, the Hera, a three-mast schooner, spent its first 30 years sailing between San Francisco and Australia; San Francisco and Portland, Ore.; and fishing for cod in the Bering Sea.

It departed Seattle for Honolulu in 1899 loaded with grain, the pianos, 1,800 barrels of lime, a knocked-down school house and 60,000 quart bottles of the Seattle Malting and Brewing Company’s Rainier beer. – Seattle PI

Vampire hunter’s funeral

Just got back from a funeral for a young vampire hunter, who was killed in the line of duty. Honor guards with flags whipping in the breeze, bagpipes and drums, huge turnout.

I’ve been busy with work duties of late, including lots of traveling. A lot of tales to catch up on, but not enough time to do it.

The Dead of the Sea

Domoic acid. Seems it’s more like “demonic” acid. Whales and dolphins keep washing up dead...everywhere here in Santa Barbara of late.

Researchers said today that a virulent outbreak of domoic acid off the California coast is killing thousands of animals and affecting more species of birds than ever before.

Beaches are littered with dead birds, seals, dolphins and otters. In Santa Barbara, a 29-foot sperm whale recently washed ashore.

The reasons for the deaths are not clear, but many of the animals tested positive for domoic acid, which affects the brain, said scientists at the International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro. – LATimes

Although, I don’t know if the cause of death of the “newest” dead whale was any better than the domoic acid. A little whale calf apparently was an appetizer for an Orca.

The 23-foot-long calf was attacked and killed by a killer whale as the baby whale migrated north with its mother, said Michele Berman, assistant curator with the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum.

….The orca stuns the calf by ramming it or breaching on top of it and then proceeds to eat the tongue and throat, an easily removed chunk of protein. Often that’s the only part of the whale eaten by the orca, in an effort to avoid parasites that live in the gray whale’s digestive tract.

“It’s a pretty brutal attack,” Berman said.

The calf also had long rake marks on its skin left by the orca’s teeth as well as bite marks on its pectoral flippers. – San Luis Obispo Tribune

Sounds like a deep sea Dracula.

(And…no…THIS is NOT the way you dispose of a whale body)

Jack Valenti…(PG) RIP

Jack Valenti, the former White House aide and film industry lobbyist who instituted the modern movie ratings system and guided Hollywood from the censorship era to the digital age, died Thursday. He was 85.
…Valenti abolished the industry’s restrictive Hays code, which prohibited explicit violence and frank treatment of sex, and in 1968 oversaw creation of today’s letter-based ratings system.”While I believe that every director, studio has the right to make the movies they want to make, everybody else has a right not to watch it,” Valenti told The Associated Press shortly before his retirement in 2004. “All we do is give advance cautionary warnings and say this is what we think is in this movie.” – SFGate

Sign his Guest Book.

Johnny Cash: Hurt

I listen to Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt a lot of late. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a deeper appreciation of Johnny Cash’s music and of Johnny Cash the man, who cared a great deal for the poor and the imprisoned and for civil protest.

(Although the only forest fire I ever accidentally started was put out before doing any damage by the timely arrival of a torrential thunderstorm, I do have a tendency to dress in black, which is about the only thing I have in common with Johnny Cash.)

In 1971, Cash wrote the song “Man in Black” to help explain his dress code: “I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down, / Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town, / I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, / But is there because he’s a victim of the times.”

My daughters are growing up on Cash’s early music. The three-year-old gets in her car seat and tells us to “put Johnny on.” They’re growing up on Cash’s tales of dirt-poor farmers and locomotive engineers and auto factory workers. The music is often upbeat while the lyrics are dark and of the desperate Every Man hanging on with hands slick with sweat from hard work and fear.

But it is his cover of Trent Reznor’s Hurt — the last hit Cash had while living — that is the one that I turn to often.

It too is dark and sounds like the tale of someone just barely hanging on. (Also drug addiction is involved, something Cash also could understand.)

Cash’s version turns pain into poetry and it is not surprising that it was turned into a YouTube montage of images from Virginia Tech. (See also this montage with Cash’s When The Man Comes Around.)

With so many deaths from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the failure by the administration to take action that might have prevented the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, this has been a grief-filled decade.

Johnny Cash gave us a powerful expression of pain and regret. Even from the grave, the Man in Black speaks for us.

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