Thursday, June 30, 2005

FW: 6,200 Unreported Military Deaths in Iraq

More stuff sent to me on Iraq...

-Mark.

VA Faces $2.6 Billion Shortfall in Medical Care - The Bush administration
disclosed yesterday that it had vastly underestimated the number of service
personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan seeking medical treatment.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/28/AR2005062800545.html

US suspected of keeping secret prisoners on warships: UN official
The UN has learned of "very, very serious" allegations that the United
States is secretly detaining terrorism suspects in various locations around
the world, notably aboard prison ships, the UN's special rapporteur on
terrorism said
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/unrightsusattacks

6,200 Unreported Military Deaths in Iraq
U.S. Military Personnel who died in German hospitals or en route to German
hospitals have not previously been counted. They total about 6,210 as of
January, 2005. The ongoing, underreporting of the dead in Iraq, is not
accurate. The DoD is deliberately reducing the figures. A review of many
foreign news sites show that actual deaths are far higher than the newly
reduced ones. Iraqi civilian casualties are never reported but International
Red Cross, Red Crescent and UN figures indicate that as of 1 January 2005,
the numbers are just under 100,000.
http://www.tbrnews.org/Archives/a1669.htm

Republican candidate calls Bush Admin 'Nazis,' quits party
http://www.lincolntribune.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1452

2005 is already the deadliest year in Afghanistan (just one more "Mission
Accomplished")
http://icasualties.org/oef/

Remember the Taliban? They're Back!
http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2005
-06-22T150206Z_01_SPI241661_RTRUKOC_0_AFGHAN.xml

Bogus analysis led to terror alert in Dec. 2003
CIA experts saw a secret code on Al-Jazeera that wasn't there
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/8380365

The War President
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/24/opinion/24krugman.html?

U.S. Plans Expansion of Crowded Iraq Prisons
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-abughraib26jun26,0,5822774,full.story

War is Very Ugly - picture from Iraq
http://poetry.rotten.com/failed-mission/

Bush's Stunning, Surprising, Full-of-News Speech on Iraq 06.28.2005 David Corn
Hey, how about that Bush speech on Iraq? Lots of new stuff. I was stunned
when he told us he thought Cheney was "off his rocker" (was that an age-ist
crack?) for saying that insurgency was in its "last throes." And that bit
about Rumsfeld and the Pentagon exaggerating--he didn't even say
"overexaggerate"--the numbers of Iraqi troops that have been trained and
equipped--damn powerful. He cautioned that Iraq might devolve into sectarian
violence and that there "ain't much we can do about that." He said he would
be happy to sit down with those Democrats and Republicans who have asked to
set a timetable for withdrawal and hear them out. "It's not as if Condi has
any new bright ideas," he remarked. He said he was going to impose a tax
hike on the rich to pay for "all the armor our troops in Iraq need." He also
announced that his daughters, with his encouragement, were enlisting in the
Army and volunteering for duty in Iraq. "They're not asking for any special
treatment," he said. "Laura and I are so proud of them." He asked all other
members of Congress who supported the war to encourage their children to
sign up. "We've got to do something about this recruitment crisis," he
explained. Bush then said he was sorry he had misled the world about "those
WMDs" and "also that business about Saddam being in cahoots with al Qaeda."
Quoting Billy Graham, he asked for forgiveness and for other countries to
pitch in and help make Iraq "the best it can be." To demonstrate he was
sincere, he announced he had suspended all contracts with Halliburton.
"Sorry, Dick," he quipped. Bush then removed his suit jacket and revealed a
medical device that he wears on his back. "Just thought you should know," he
said.
Not. For a more reality-based look at Bush's no-news speech, click here.
http://www.thenation.com/blogs/capitalgames?bid=3&pid=4059

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

What? No death? Yes.

Nobody famous that I know has died today. That doesn't mean there are a ton more casualties out there in reference to this ridiculous Iraq War we're in that has NOTHING to do with the events of 9-11. And, even if it did, 9-11 caused the death of some 3000 individuals. Surely, we have avenged ourselves mightily by killing over 1700 of our own soldiers and 100,000 arabs since that time.

I voted for Bush in 2000, voted for Kerry in 2004, and will vote for anything not Republican (despite still being a registered Republican) in 2008. Bush has a totally cockeyed view of his Vietnam, and why people haven't gotten up in arms yet about it is that stupid 9-11 fear. See what happens in 2008 when the casualties will be topping 3000 or more...

Normally, I don't get this political but the red states should be ashamed for believing Bush, ever. I tried in 2000, but never again. It's enough to make me change political parties, except that I still believe in the Republican values. I just wish Bush did.

-Mark.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Big Boy

I don't know if you remember Bob's Big Boy. They had a long history starting in Glendale, CA in the 50s and by the late 80s had fallen on hard times. Apparently, they didn't go comepletely away as I recently got issue #513 of "The Adventures of the Big Boy". Also, I purchased some choice issues from the late 60s and early 70s and realized that I have about 125 issues of the series, most of them numbering between #135 and #310. The earliest issue I have is #60, in a copy that must be an east coast variant as Big Boy is wearing a cap and there are numerous references to Frisch's restaurant. Not much more to talk about but it is just fun to know that Big Boy is still there publishing away. Where other comics go by the wayside, Big Boy is one of the few that has survived past the 500 mark despite the odds. Only a handful of comic books can make that claim.

-Mark.

Monday, June 27, 2005

First Tigger, Now Piglet!!!

Cry...

-Mark.

John Fiedler, the voice of Piglet, died Saturday at 80.

The news of Fiedler's death broke in the New York Times.

Fiedler served in the Navy during World War II, then started a stage career in New York. He performed in supporting roles alongside Sidney Poitier on Broadway, John Wayne in Hollywood and Bob Newhart on television.

But he was best known for the squeaky voice of the ever-worrying Piglet.

His brother told The Times that Fiedler landed that role when Walt Disney heard his voice on a program and said, "That's Piglet."

Like Winchell, Fiedler's film debut as Piglet came in "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day" in 1968. He voiced the character all the way up to the film series most recent release, "Pooh's Heffalump Movie," which came out in February.

As a voice actor, Fiedler's voice was also heard in Disney's "The Fox and the Hound" and "Robin Hood," and he made several guest appearances on television and equally as many roles on film.

Fiedler's television credits included "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "The Twilight Zone," "Bewitched," "Star Trek," "The Bob Newhart Show," "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" and "One Life to Live."

On film, he had roles in such classics as "12 Angry Men" and "True Grit."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Paul Winchell

It seems that I am always talking about someone dying. Well, that's because a lot of my childhood heroes are now passing away. Today's casualty is Paul Winchell, best known for the voice of Tigger is Disney's "Winnie the Pooh" cartoons. He also was Fleagle on "The Banana Splits" and Dick Dastardly and as ventriloquist for Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff. Watch the Three Stooges compilation "Stop, Look and Laugh!" for Winchell in action.

But Winchell's lasting contribution to mankind is probably the invention of the artificial heart (and you thought I'd say Gargamel). See www.paulwinchell.com for more on Winchell's work.

He will be missed.

-Mark.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bruce Hamilton

I just got this news from "Scoop":

"A towering figure in the history of American comic books is gone. Bruce
Hamilton, publisher of Gladstone Publishing, comics historian, and fan
activist, passed away at 3:00 AM on Saturday, June 18, 2005."

Though Hamilton had his detractors, credit must be given to him for keeping Disney comic books alive in the US. In contrast, when was the last time you saw a Harvey comic or one starring "Tom and Jerry" or "Woody Woodpecker" or "Dennis the Menace". Granted, Disney comics were always more popular, but the fact is that they could have died a similar death than any of the others (and have many times since 1984), so the fact that they are being published today in any form must be credited to Hamilton.

-Mark.

Monday, June 20, 2005

FW: RE: Disney Magazine Summer 2005

Here is my response to my Disney Magazine letter. They've ceased publication!

-Mark.

-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------
From: Dismag Letters <Dismag.Letters@disney.com>
To: "on behalf of Mark Arnold" <thft@att.net>
Subject: RE: Disney Magazine Summer 2005
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2005 16:37:36 +0000
Thank you for your recent letter. Disney Magazine is no longer in publication.
Disney fans have many ways of being part of the Disney family and staying
informed. Please consider adding your email address to disney.com's Disney
Insider newsletter, at www.disney.go.com/features/insider, which is a great
resource to help you stay informed of the latest news and events throughout the
company, and is available without charge.

If you have a Disney Magazine subscription and want information about the
options for fulfilling your subscription, please call 800-333-8734 and we will
help you expedite your choice.

We greatly appreciate and thank you for your commitment to the Walt Disney
Company.

Sincerely,
The Editors

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Betty and Veronica

In 1986 for really lame reasons, Archie Publications decided to start over a lot of their titles with #1 issues. The thinking was that now kids could collect their series from #1 on. At the time "Archie's Girls, Betty and Veronica" became "Betty and Veronica"; "Archie's Pal, Jughead" became "Jughead" and "Laugh Comics" became "Laugh". "Laugh" was soon canceled and "Betty and Veronica" and "Jughead" have racked up suck numbers that the second series is almost as long as the original. What's really odd is that Archie never renumbered its flagship title "Archie Comics" which is now almost 600 issues old. Had "B&V" or "J" kept their original numbering, they would have joined the ranks of "Archie". And since not too many comic book titles have reached that magical number of 600 or more, it would have been more impressive. For your information, the ones that have exceeded or are near 600 issues or more at this point of consecutive numbering are "Action Comics", "Detective Comics", "Journey Into Mystery", "Walt Disney's Comics and Stories", and soon "Archie Comics" and even "Adventures of the Big Boy"!

Oh well, my point is, for those interested, I am selling #1-155 of the SECOND series of "Betty and Veronica" on my Mark's Rare Comics website. Just click on the link to the left of this column.

-Mark.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Comic Books I Buy

I haven't written about comic books in a long time. I am not your average comic book collector. I am not a big fan of the superheroes. Here's what I buy on a regular basis from Lee's Comics:

Archie
Bart Simpson
Futurama
Looney Tunes
Mad
Mad Classics
Plastic Man
The Simpsons

Of course there are other one shot things like the "Little Lulu" softcover series from Dark Horse and "The Complete Peanuts" hardcover series from Fantagraphics that I buy whenever a new edition comes out, but the ones above are the monthly (or so) publications that I consistently get that keep publishing.

I would very much welcome return of Harvey Comics, and I am sort of getting my wish in September when "The Ultimate Casper" will be published.

I used to collect the EC reprints until they exhausted them and would collect "Dennis the Menace" if that title returned. Fantagraphics is going to debut with a "Dennis the Menace" series similar to "The Complete Peanuts" that compiles the daily strips, so I will probably purchase that, too.

It's not embarrassing to buy the things that I do; it's just that they are not the most popular things. Sure, I could by the latest "X-Men", "Spider-Man" or "Batman" titles, but that stuff just bores me. I'll go see the movies, but to read the monthly soap opera is of no interest to me.

I know that I am in the minority in that opinion, but I like what I read.

-Mark.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Paul McCartney Video

As you know from previous blogs, I am a huge Beatles fan. Yesterday (all my troubles...), I purchased a new DVD of a concert that Paul held in 2003 in Russia called "Paul McCartney in Red Square". The performance was excellent and I am so glad that Paul is in fine voice compared to the thrashed hoarse sound he performed with on his 1989-90 and 1993 tours. Maybe his new wife gave him some singing lessons!

It was nice to see McCartney do some tunes never performed live before, namely "Helter Skelter" and "Two of Us"! I know he always has his regulars which I kind of wish he would retire for a bit ("Hey Jude", "Yesterday", "Live and Let Die", etc., etc.) but overall I am glad he is willing to try something new in concert. If only he would play some of the latter-day Wings tunes and some of his 80s stuff live when he wasn't touring.

And, even though I usually support Ringo, this is one time where Paul has the upper hand as he is willing to change his set list every tour. Ringo always seems to have the same 5-10 tunes with little or no variation. I'd like to see Ringo perform "Oh My My" for example. It was only a Top 5 hit in the US!

Back to McCartney, I highly recommend the "Red Square" DVD. It is easily McCartney's best live video since "Wings Over America" which has yet to make it onto DVD, and it's only $12.99 at Best Buy...

-Mark.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Censorship and Asterix

I recently purchased an Asterix compilation that featured the story "Asterix in Switzerland". Inside there was a gag that featured the Michelin Tire Man and it was a pretty funny joke. Yesterday, I went to Lee's Comics and he had a more recent copy of "Asterix in Switzerland" and I decided to show him the joke. They replaced Bib with a very crude drawing of a viking, not only ruining the joke, but also showing sloppiness by not even trying to emulate the art style of Uderzo. Was Michelin so upset with a free plug? It was a cute joke and in no way offensive or degrading. Oh well. More censorship at large...

-Mark.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Protecto, the Little Robot

Just another quick plug for my comic strip, "Protecto, the Little Robot". A number of you have complained that "Protecto" just isn't that funny and doesn't seem to be going anywhere. That's because I designed it to be an adventure strip sort of like "Tintin" or "Asterix", and since I only show 2 or 3 panels each week, it does seem interminable that they will ever do anything. Taken as a whole, the strip will prove to be quite an adventure, so please be patient. Of course, if you have any ideas about which direction the strip should take, I am open to them. Also, I would love to produce it daily and color it, but time restrictions in my life preclude me from doing anything like that at this time.

To view Protecto, click on the Fun Ideas link to the left of this blog message.

-Mark.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Richie Rich's Vault

Here's the latest discussion at Richie Rich's Vault. If you haven't joined, what are you waiting for? Click on the name at the left...

Adam Awards never made it into print except for that single panel ad that ran in the late 70s (Richie Rich presents Adam Awards...He helps everyone). The story behind each of these characters is that Alfred Harvey asked his sons to create a new character. Alan Harvey created Komix Kidd (which finally was published in an ashcan edition by Alan in the 90s), Adam Harvey created Adam Awards, and Russel Harvey created Billy Bellhops which appeared in the "Richie Rich and Billy Bellhops" one-shot as well as on the cover of "Richie Rich Jackpots" #8. I don't think Eric Harvey created anything as he was younger.

Why no other new Harvey characters were created at this point is mainly due to internal squabbles that led to Alfred Harvey being deposed from his own company in 1977. That the company continued on for another five years is somewhat remarkable considering what went on.

It is worth noting that the focus of the company transitioned to the dramatic expansion of the Richie line, which reached its peak in 1979, when the famous "32 titles every two months" phrase first appeared. Amazingly, that phrase was really only accurate for about two months as the ability for Harvey to maintain that output on a consistent basis was not very good.

The only other new characters created in these latter years, were those that were linked to the Richie Universe, such as Mr. Cheepers, the Stone-Age Riches, Dr. Blemish, Timmy Time, etc.

-Mark.

Friday, June 10, 2005

More Ringo

Radio stations are so bad. On KFOG the other day, they were mentioning new album releases. They mentioned that Coldplay has a long-awaited release and then they mentioned that Ringo had a new album, but the DJ couldn't keep from giving a slight chuckle to the prospect of a new Ringo album. I was tempted to e-mail KFOG, but hesitated realizing that this would make for better blog material.

What is strange about KFOG is that they will play a very wide variety of music from the 1960s to the present in all genres excepting maybe rap, so for them to chuckle at a new Ringo release is strange to say the least. I mean they do play songs like "Yellow Submarine" with semi-regularity with singing by guess who? Ringo. Bizarre to say the least. And it is especially weird since Ringo's singing, songwriting, drumming and albums are so much greater than they were when he was with The Beatles.

The Beatles only released 12 official songs with Ringo singing lead as a group:
Boys
I Wanna Be Your Man
Matchbox
Honey Don't
If You Got Troubles
Act Naturally
What Goes On
Yellow Submarine
With a Little Help From My Friends
Don't Pass Me By
Good Night
Octopus' Garden

Of these, 9 have been played repeatedly by Ringo in concert and at least 2 of them are considered bonifide Beatles classics. That's great odds! Couple that with some of Ringo's well-known solo hits:
It Don't Come Easy
Back Off Boogaloo
Photograph
You're Sixteen
Oh My My
Only You
No No Song

Just my beef!

-Mark.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

No Time

I have no time for blogs today, but since I want to put something in this blog everyday, here's what I am going to say: I have no time for blogs today. E-mail with a subject to write on. My job at the newspaper is taking too much time for me to write.

:-D

-Mark.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

View Current Comics Auctions in US, AU, CA, ES, UK

Comic book collectors don't have to limit their search for a specific comic book to eBay in the USA. Mark's Rare Comics (http://rarecomics.home.net) displays the current comic book auctions on eBay in Australia, Canada, Spain and the United Kingdom as well as in the United States. Check it out today [Auction page link].

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Ringo

Poor Ringo. He has always been the butt of jokes in regards to The Beatles and his solo albums. Ringo released a brand new solo album today called "Choose Love" I have listened to some of the sample tracks and it promises to be one of Ringo's best. Since Ringo stopped drinking and went out on many concert tours and has revitalized his recording career, this seems to mean nothing for his record sales, which have been lousy for his entire solo career save for a handful of singles and the albums "Ringo" and "Goodnight Vienna" in the early 70s. Granted in the late 70s to the early 80s, Ringo released a number of albums that made even Yoko Ono's worst look good and I am a fan of Yoko's! But Ringo's last few studio albums "Time Takes Time" (1992), "Vertical Man" (1998) and "Ringo Rama" (2003) have been increasingly excellent and quite innovative.

I would have to say that "Ringo Rama" was much more creative than Paul McCartney's "Driving Rain" released at roughly the same time. Yet Paul's had quite a decent showing on the charts, while Ringo barely made the chart at all. Personally I don't care and apparently Ringo and Koch Records (his label since 2000) doesn't seem to either and that's good news, as Ringo keeps releasing remarkable albums that I can enjoy and purchase and no one has to worry whether they are charting or not. Keep up the good work, Ringo!

For those wishing to own Ringo's discography after The Beatles, here is a listing. All have been released to CD, but some are now out of print.

1. Sentimental Journey - 1970
2. Beaucoups of Blues - 1970
3. Ringo - 1973
4. Goodnight Vienna - 1974
5. Blast From Your Past - 1975
6. Ringo's Rotogravure - 1976
7. Ringo the 4th - 1977
8. Bad Boy - 1978
9. Stop and Smell the Roses - 1981
10. Old Wave - 1983
11. Starr Struck - 1989
12. Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band - 1990
13. Time Takes Time - 1992
14. Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band Volume 2 - 1993
15. Ringo Starr and his Third All-Starr Band - 1997
16. Vertical Man - 1998
17. VH1 Storytellers - 1998
18. I Wanna Be Santa Claus - 1999
19. The Anthology...So Far - 2000
20. Ringo and his New All-Starr Band Volume 1 - 2002
21. Ringo Rama - 2003
22. Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band Extended Versions - 2003
23. Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band Tour 2003 - 2004
24. Choose Love - 2005

-Mark.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Beatles Butcher Cover

I'll tell you my "classic" Beatles Butcher Cover story. If you are a hard core Beatles fan like I am, you know that one of the most prized possessions to obtain is an original copy of "Yesterday and Today" featuring the original cover shot of The Beatles adorned with hunks of raw meat and baby doll parts. Still in questionable taste today, this was completely over the top in 1966. So, Capitol Records in its infinite wisdom in trying to save a buck, decided to paste over the butcher shot with a tamer pose of The Beatles standing around or sitting in a trunk. Ho-hum.

Anyway, fans soon figured out that if you looked closely at the cover you could discover that the butcher cover could be lurking behind this trunk photo, and Voila! Instant collector's item! I had always wanted one of these, but the price was way out of my range. I lived in San Francisco for a time, and scoured record shops frequently (not for this album necessarily, but for lots of things).

Somewhere along the line, a friend of a co-worker showed me his copy of the butcher cover complete with pasteover trunk cover. He would not part with it, and said that a relative of his used to work for Capitol Records, and that's how it came into his possession.

I was jealous and felt that I would not be so lucky to find a copy in such pristine condition. Little did I know. I went to a record store in SF called Revolver Records a few months later and started thumbing through the Beatles section. Lo and behold, in the stack was a butcher pasteover copy in near mint condition! My heart started beating really fast kind of like how Charlie's did in "Willy Wonka" when he found the golden ticket.

The record was priced at $7.50. Surely, that must be a typo I thought, for the record was selling even back then at close to $1000.00. Stupid me didn't have any money on me, and I didn't want to risk going home and coming back for fear it might sell to someone else. So I was with a female friend at the time and asked her, "Do you have $10 that I can borrow and no questions asked? I'll pay you back as soon as we leave here." She said alright and lent me the 10.

I calmly walked up to the counter thinking that they would not sell it to me because they would figure out that the item was severely undervalued. I tried not to blow my cool and paid the bill and calmly walked out of the store. My friend asked me what this all was about and I told her the whole story as we walked to the bank. She said, "That should really be mine, then." I said, "Uh-uh, you said no questions asked." She said, "Alright."

I still own the album to this day and have never steamed off the trunk cover. I have heard that since so many people have steamed off the trunk cover, that the pasteover version has now become particularly rare. It's valued now at over $2000 I believe. Right now, I would not part with it, but maybe someday I will when I am older.

I am still thrilled to have such a rare find, and at such a bargain!

-Mark.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The African Queen vs. Mogambo

On page 54 of the Summer 2005 issue of "The Disney Magazine", they perpetuate the story that "The African Queen" (1951) inspired Walt Disney to create The Jungle Cruise attraction. While this may be true, no one ever seems to mention that "Mogambo" (1953) starring Clark Gable may have been a much closer inspiration for Disney. The film is like going on The Jungle Cruise, even including a scene where Gable fires a shot at an approaching hippopotamus!

I feel that the "African Queen" inspiration story is utilized as it is a much more famous film and was made first, but "African Queen" is only fleetingly similar to The Jungle Cruise, whereas "Mogambo" is astonishingly similar. I urge you to view "Mogambo" and judge for yourself.

-Mark.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Meetings

Meetings are boring. Do meetings ever accomplish anything? I always feel that if you need a meeting to tell somebody something, it could be told just as easily through an e-mail or a voicemail or one on one. The only time meetings seem to really be beneficial is if you are brainstorming an idea, but in most cases, the meetings I have been to are usually just one guy droning on and on about nothing important except to the speaker. Oh well. That's my beef for today, and I'm sticking to it.

-Mark.