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Monday, November 29, 2021

Initial Thoughts on Disney+ Docuseries "GET BACK" by The Beatles

 

 

Over the last four days, Jennifer and I watched the three-part Beatles docuseries “GET BACK” over on Disney+. I had been hyping it on Facebook ever since it was announced a few years ago that director Peter Jackson was going to take the footage that has been locked in a vault for decades and make a definitive docuseries out of it that would in a way re-write and re-place the abysmal “LET IT BE” film that for 50 years has been termed the documentary about the break up of The Beatles. The footage and sound recordings had been meticulously restored. I felt that since I’ve hyped my excitement up about wanting to see this docuseries, I might add my two cents. I thought since many of you know that I am a diehard, lifelong Beatles fan, you'd like to know what I thought.

For this longtime fan who has poured over the music of The Beatles, listened to this material for thousands of hours over the since early childhood including collecting and listening to bootleg outtake materials of these sessions, reading book after book of analysis on the subject matter, and even owned a bootleg copy of LET IT BE on a pirated DVD, etc. --- well, this docuseries changed my perception on many things of what I’ve believed yet what was most important to me to watch as a fan was to see the dynamic of the Fab Four working together in the studio and seeing how these songs materialized while witnessing the dynamics and drama going on in their interactions. It did rewrite the history books and what I had previously thought.

While it was said that Peter Jackson had free reign to cull the footage and make this documentary to reveal the true happenings of what was  going on, I still do suspect there were a few selective moments that may have been left out to not cast certain people in a negative light --- most of all – probably John Lennon as he was struggling with a drug problem in the early part of January 1969 before they moved the sessions over to the Apple Studios. The traditional history was that Yoko Ono caused the break up of The Beatles and I purely don’t believe that was the case. But I digress. 

To distill all of this into a quick reaction of the docuseries --- yes, I loved this film and thought it was truly amazing. It was very much a “Fly on the Wall” experience to watch The Beatles make one of their greatest albums in their final year all together as one group. To see and hear songs “come together” was truly out of this world like watching childbirth to hear them materialize. 

I mentioned to Jennifer that this 6+ hour docuseries  is really for the hardcore diehard Beatles fan to watch. Again, I had to break it up and watch it over four days with her because of the length of the 3-part docuseries. I think for the casual fan and/or a “newbie” who doesn’t know much about The Beatles, it would be best if there was a companion abridged “Reader’s Digest” version of this to make it a shortened 2-hour film at the most to watch it one sitting. I read the other day that Peter Jackson did put together this shortened version that he premiered at two red carpet events for the rich and famous in London and Los Angeles and I hope that Disney will make this version also available for the casual viewer that would be more likely to watch it in one viewing for the highlights. Otherwise, I think this is too much to digest unless you were somewhat more invested into The Beatles.

So, while I could write a whole thesis on my reaction(s!) to this docuseries, I will just keep it simple and say that I absolutely loved it. For decades, like I mentioned, the only way to see the original 1970 “LET IT BE” film was through pirated copies as it was a sore spot for The Beatles. Now, with Peter Jackson’s intervention, this has finally after all these years been lovingly remastered and given back to the fans to see a fuller, bigger picture of what more honestly transpired during those sessions, and it was a love letter to and from The Beatles to their fans – and actually this was a gift to Paul, Ringo, and their loved ones as it is a sore spot no more. I truly loved “GET BACK” and thought it was “Fab”.

 

Friday, November 19, 2021

The Gingko Tree


 

 

Once again, I am watching live right now from my window the Gingko tree in my neighbor's front yard releasing all of it's leaves at once. It is just raining down the golden yellow Gingko leaves. The Gingko is my favorite tree. The leaves are all falling to the ground in one big shedding action. While some people love a sunset or to watch a shooting star, this is about as close as I get to looking at God's amazing wonderment in action with nature and just be at my utmost awe over this simple cyclical action. There is something spiritual about this annual moment for me that I just can't convey into words in how it moves me so much. I just happened to walk outside this morning to witness it once again. I think I was at the right place at the right time for right reason. I didn't miss it this year. And I am grateful.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

I Saw The Rolling Stones for their Opening Show in St. Louis

So, Sunday night, I went to St. Louis to see The Rolling Stones with my longtime high school pal Ronald Rice. We had a great time and attended what was a historic concert for this great rock band. It was the first show of the U.S. "No Filter" tour that originally began in 2017 but had to be put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic. There was some talk that it might not ever be concluded and last month the longtime original member of the band, drummer Charlie Watts died. But the show must go on. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ron Wood with other musicians hit the stage to present a rousing rockin' show. A video was shown before they hit the stage of Charlie Watts in tribute. The three surviving members were visibly emotional as they thanked the fans and paid tribute to their fallen comrade as this was the first show that they were going to do without their beloved drummer. The night's performance was one of the greatest shows I've ever seen. For me, it was my first time seeing The Rolling Stones as I've been a fan of them for as long as I can remember. My pal Ron has seen them several times, but this was a "bucket list" item for me. Well, it was only rock and roll, but I liked it.... liked it....liked it....yes, I do.





Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Look at My Unpublished Batman Illustrations for an Essay on the '66 BATMAN TV Series

 

My pal Jim Beard recently released a second book in his series that exams the original 1966 BATMAN television show that starred Adam West. Originally, a few of my illustrations were going to be in the second volume (I had some artwork on the back cover of the first book), but after some legal mumbo jumbo, WB/DC Comics lawyers didn't want any non-licensed illustrations to be used in the books. My artwork, and that of other artists, had to be unfortunately pulled even though we thought that Fair Use of Copyright was allowed under these circumstances of review and commentary. It is what it is. Still, I encourage Batman fans to pick up the books if you think it is up your Crime Alley. 
 


 
 
In the meantime, here are some of my unpublished black and white spot illustrations that were originally going to be in the second book that I thought some Batman fans might get a kick out of...
 



 

THRILL SEEKER COMICS Joins the Upcoming INDIEVERSITY PROJECT on KICKSTARTER

  



 
 
The gang's all here! Look for us to join the upcoming INDIEVERSITY PROJECT where the "Thrill Seeker Universe" will have one of the spotlights featured in the Independent Comics Multiverse. The Kickstarter crowdfunding has already met the initial pledge goal to be funded. You can make a pledge right now yourselves so that you can order your copy to take home and see all sorts of multiversal worlds where independent comics exist. 
 
Our inclusion marks the beginning of our celebration just a wee bit early where next year it will be 20 years since THE YELLOW JACKET: MAN OF MYSTERY, EMERALD MANTIS, and THE SACRED SCARAB debuted in SHOOTING STAR COMICS ANTHOLOGY #1 with the THRILL SEEKER COMICS feature. More news to come... We hope everyone of you are doing well!
 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

20 Years Ago… What was I doing on September 11, 2001?

 

Early that morning, I was heading to work over at Springfield College in Illinois. I had a 9:00 a.m. World Regional Geography class that I was teaching that semester. My students were about to begin studying the section on The Middle East and the Muslim religion that day – of all days. So, on my way to work, I had the radio on and was still in Sherman at the red light waiting to turn. The disc jockey on the radio was reporting that a jet airplane had hit one of the Twin Towers in New York City that morning and then a newsflash came across that a second jet had just hit the other tower. There was shock and silence.

I knew at that moment that our country was under attack.

I pulled in to the gas station in Sherman to fill up and I went inside. I told the clerk behind the counter that they might want to turn on the news and told them about the World Trade Center had just been hit by two jets and that I think our country may be under attack. Later that afternoon, this same gas station would jack up the cost of gas with nearly 50 cars trying to get gasoline in a panic.

I arrived at the college and went downstairs into my classroom where I had about 50 students. Everything was abuzz with the news and I had a television set that I turned on to the news as we all just watched live what was going on. I “officially” cancelled class and we just watched the television. A few minutes in, news hit that another plane had just hit the Pentagon. There was disbelief, shock, sadness, and anger. We all watched for probably about an hour and then people began to come and go. I remember heading over to my office across from the classroom and trying to gather all the news that I could. We heard that all flights across the nation were being grounded. We heard rumors that the Sears Tower in Chicago (now called The Willis Tower) was a target, but that didn’t come to fruition. Thank God. All sorts of chaos and this feeling in your gut hit you that you were witnessing a moment in time that was going to forever change the world.

As a side note, I remember that day before the attack, I was planning on eating lunch in my office as one of my favorite musical artists, Sting, was going to broadcast over the Internet a live concert from his home in Italy. The concert was cancelled for the online broadcast, though Sting did decided to go ahead and do the concert. He would later release it as a live CD album and DVD. I digress, but this was part of my memory from that day.

I was also scheduled to teach an art class that afternoon where I had only three art students. Hunter, Stan, and Richard. I remember talking to them during the lunch hour and they were mentioning they weren’t coming to class as they planned to go get gas for their cars. I guess news of a possible gasoline shortage was starting to float around as a rumor. None of us felt like making art that day. I also broke a rule as an instructor and I didn’t notify the Dean of Academics office that I was cancelling a class. I just was numb and emotionally distraught with what was happening.  I decided to head home early that afternoon.

Heading home to Sherman, Illinois, I passed the gas station that I had visited earlier in the morning and was amazed at the line of cars that I saw. Not since the 1970’s oil crisis had I seen a scene of that many cars all honking and lined up to get gas. I went ahead and made my way home.

I’m ashamed to admit this, but I don’t have recollections of interacting with my ex-wife or children that evening when I got home. My kids would have been ages five and one. I just know that I was emotionally so very numb. I remember the television was covering the news and there was footage being shown that evening that I don’t think I’ve seen since. It was tragic. Watching the World Trade Center collapse. Watching footage of the jets hitting the towers. Watching footage of people falling out of skyscraper buildings to their deaths. All I remember was that I was sitting on the couch as evening fell and it got dark outside. I was glued to the television set just watching the horror.

At some point, the Dean of Academics at Springfield College called me that late afternoon. I kind of got a little bit of a chew out that I had cancelled my class and hadn’t reported this to his Administrative Assistant. I apologized and let him know that the students and I decided to cancel class due to the events of the day. He asked if I was okay and I think he heard it in my voice that I was numb. He kind of let it go and never it mentioned it again. I don’t know how anyone else could have carried on that day acting like it was business as usual.

I just remember sitting in the dark watching television until I had enough and decided to go to bed. I do remember checking on my kids in their beds as they slept and thinking that the world had just become an uglier place for them and nothing was ever going to be the same again.

It is 20 years later as I write this. I’m still numb thinking about that day and what it has done to the world and our country. I think it will remain one of the saddest days of our lives. Our country seemed to rally in the days after that and there was an American fervor like I had never seen with patriotism and oneness. Two decades later, our country is torn in two where I wonder if we will ever be united again.

 



Friday, September 10, 2021

Band of Brothers 20th Anniversary

 

I just re-watched BAND OF BROTHERS for the umpteenth time. Each year, I find myself annually revisiting this 10-part HBO original series based on Stephen E. Ambrose's best-seller, and executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. This landmark series recounts the story of "Easy" Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division, starting with their jump training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, while following the unit through their airborne landings in Normandy, Operation Market Garden, the Siege of Bastogne, and on to the war's end at the Eagle's Nest.

This week, HBO has released as special 10-week long 20th Anniversary Podcast that revisits the series. The prologue included an interview with Tom Hanks, and while I type this, I'm listening to the podcast for episode one "Currahee" that features an interview with Ron Livingston who portrayed Captain Lewis Nixon.

For those of you like me who love this series, I highly recommend the free podcast. You can learn more at https://www.hbo.com/band-of-brothers/podcast.

Squirrel Girl

 


Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Beatles are releasing a 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Boxset of LET IT BE album

The Beatles announced today that they're releasing a  50th Anniversary boxset for their classic album Let It Be that now includes New Mixes in Stereo, 5.1 Surround, and Dolby Atmos by Giles Martin. Also, included are expanded Never Before Released Session Recordings, Rehearsals & Studio Jams; and the Previously Unreleased 1969 Get Back LP Mix by Glyn Johns.

I'm really looking forward to this!


THE BEATLES GET BACK TO LET IT BE WITH SPECIAL EDITION RELEASES | The Beatles




Tuesday, July 06, 2021

I have something inside this month's GREEN ARROW 80th ANNIVERSARY 100-PAGE SUPER SPECTACULAR

 

This year marks the 80th Anniversary of my favorite comic book character, Green Arrow, who debuted back in MORE FUN COMICS #73 back in 1941. He's had an illustrious career and his own television series on the CW that recently ended.

This week, DC Comics published GREEN ARROW 80th ANNIVERSARY 100-PAGE SUPER SPECTACULAR that has eight variation covers. Pictured here is the homage to the 1940's Green Arrow and Speedy by artist Frank Cho.

I was surprised and I'm pleased to say that a small piece that I did nearly 20 years ago in GREEN ARROW SECRET FILES & ORIGINS #1 is reprinted in this issue. I was reading the book today and got to nearly the end of the book when I was knocked off my feet to see something very special that I contributed was reprinted with credit given to me. Thank you, DC Comics. 

You can find this book at quality comic shops on sale now!