Saturday, November 20, 2010

10 Minutes on Obsession (not the fragrance)

        I'm the type of person who doesn't merely develop an interest in something. Unfortunately I'm the type that has to dissect a subject. I need to take it apart and see how it works. I delve into the history attempting to find out the why, put it into context of a when, and maybe somewhere along the line I can figure out a why.

      This is amplified by tenfold when I'm writing about something. It becomes a matter of trying to show off in a very MTV "You think you know, but you have no idea" way. It was in doing this kind of research that I discovered that Bob Kane was an asshole.

     The non geeks among you probably won't recognize the name Bob Kane. The rest of you will know that Bob Kane created Batman...At least he took credit for it, as it turns out that his friend Bill Finger added a good deal more to the mix than Kane ever did. As well as the overall look of the character (Kane's version wore a red union-suit, stiff batwings and a small domino mask, no gloves) Finger came up with the backstory, the main characters and the noir atmosphere that still remains with the book. Meanwhile Kane's participation with Batman seems to have stopped (apart from making sure his was the only name connected with the caped crusader, and ensuring he got a cut of any merchandising of same) with the 3rd appearance of the character, where Jerry Robinson pretty much takes over and you see a vast improvement in the artwork.

     I was researching the story of  Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for a project I'm still hoping to develop, when I uncovered another story that put Kane in a less than favorable light. It seemed that when WW2 was over and Siegel & Shuster were in renewal negotiations with National Comics (aka DC) for the rights to their creation, Superman. They went to Kane for help, and laid their cards on the table. If they could get his help then they would have the top two creations in NAtionals stable and force them to the bargaining table. Kane said he'd think about it, then used the information to negotiate a better credit and merchandising deal for himself, and when Jerry and Joe returned , he apologetically told them that he regretted that he couldn't help them. National fired Siegel and Shuster and informed them that since publishing the first Superman story in 1938, which they had purchased for 132 dollars, they had owned the rights to the Man of Steel, and didn't need their permission to do anything with him. Siegel and Shuster end up in borderline poverty, and Bob Kane makes a ton of money particularly during the different resurgences of Batmania.

     Jill Sobule has a song called "Heroes" which asks the musical question "Why are all our Heroes so imperfect..." In most cases it's simply because they're human. Anyway I traded Bob Kane for Jerry Robinson ( who eventually did see that Jerry and Joe got some of what they deserved) and Bill Finger, so I figure I got the better end.

By the way this took about a half an hour to write, but I figured since I missed yesterday, I needed to make up time.





Thursday, November 18, 2010

10 minutes on Bullying

In the schoolyards of my youth we had bullies. They had different prejudices but it amounted to the same thing. I don't understand you, therefore I will beat the living crud out of you. Pretty simple philosophy when you think of it, but probably ends up taking up a lot of your time because you probably don't understand a lot.
        It was a simpler time too. You got bullied for being different. That's it. Just be different and sooner than later somebody will show up that doesn't like you. Lord knows I had my share. I was different in so many ways.
        I was fat. I was in choir. I had long hair (despite the fact that it was the 60's it hadn't caught on everywhere yet) and I was thought to be a wuss. The latter was a mistaken assumption. I could be called every name in the book, and there was some beauties, but I wouldn't react. Get physical and that was a different matter. I would make it a matter of finishing what had been started.  It happened maybe twice while I was in grade school, and then never again... Change anything? Nope. They just changed tactics.

And they don't go away. They follow you to Middle and High School. They adapt, and you adapt. One thing that I've observed, though, is that they really don't like creative types much, and that's straight up jealousy.
             It feels like it will never stop and, yeah, the scars run really deep. But you're smarter than they are. You have avenues of escape. There're always people and paper and blogs and most of all there's You. And you are supremely powerful. That's what I hear, anyway.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Ten Minutes on Music and Childhood

I was a rock and roll kid, with pop tendencies, and a touch of blues thrown in to taste. in my house everything was played, pretty much. There was Jimmy Reed, Johnny Cash, Richie Valens, Bill Haley, Clyde McPhatter among others.

As I started to develop my own tastes I naturally drifted towards what I heard on the radio and saw on TV. And what was on radio and TV from 1963 on? The Beatles...So naturally, my first all music album was "The Beatles 2nd Album" mostly because it had a cover of the Marvelettes "Please Mr. Postman" on it. I'd had kid albums before but this was like a grown up record. Mom got the Rolling Stones, and was never much of a Beatles fan. This would be typical of our relationship for the next few decades. To be honest my mom has pretty good taste in music, and I credit a lot of my eclecticism to her. I picked up on some of her faves. Neil Diamond, Simon and Garfunkel, Gene Pitney...

Gene Pitney had the most amazing voice. He had a 3 Octave range. When I practiced singing I practiced singing to "Half Heaven, Half Heartache' or "Every Little Breath I Take".And when I was a kid I could hit those notes. Of course when I was a kid, I was also a boy soprano in St. Simon's Church Choir...Chew on that one 'til tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This weekend I was introduced to the ten minute writing exercise as a means of uncorking the blockage that some writers go through. It was during the Fabulous Soul-O theatre workshops run by Tracy Erin Smith who is a great artist and a great teacher. The idea is to simply start writing and keep writing til the time runs out. Stream of consciousness, improvisation, call it what you will. You take a topic and just keep going until the 10 minutes runs out. The pen  keeps moving, the fingers keep writing for the duration, and when it runs out (the time) you stop. Some of what comes out will be crap (according to Sturgeons Law 90% of everything is Crap), but some of it might contain the germ of an idea, and some of it might be wonderful. I got some of each. It was enough to get me to enter the Fringe lottery. Something I haven't done in 14 years. Plus I figured that it was long enough from the last time that people would have forgotten.

     I'm at  a slight disadvantage here, because I'm a slow typist, and a slow cursive writer (my handwriting can be illegible if I'm in a hurry.

   By the way if you hadn't guess this one was about 10 minute timed righting exercises and time is now up...