item 1 >>> Now Playing… The American Beetles [sic] This is sort of half-way between Beatles imitators and a Beatles novelty…because unlike most novelty releases, they were a real rock group, from Miami, and went on to some success later in the 60s under the name The Razor’s Edge. But they were one of the quickest off the mark with this 45, as an American response to the British Invasion, and even performed “School Days” on American Bandstand, June 20, 1964.
item 2 >>> LQQK @ †h∆†!… Bug Music This segment is from The Flintstones’ 5th season…hard to believe they’d begun as a stone-age version of The Honeymooners. The Gruesomes were, obviously, Addams Family wannabes, and when they can’t get rid of their other new neighbors, the hillbilly Hatrocks, it’s “Bug Music” to the rescue. Originally aired Jan. 22, 1965…was it still cool to poke fun at the Fabs?…see item 10.
item 3 >>> Nothing Superventured, Nothing Supergained…We all knew the Marvel Superheroes…Capt. America, Hulk, Thor, Spiderman, and all the rest. And of course the gang over at DC…Batman, Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, and on and on. As I recall, the Charlton Group ran a very distant 3rd, with Capt. Atom, Blue Beetle, a few others. But after the Batman TV show hit, everybody rushed to get in on the act, with less than spectacular results. Now Harvey Comics was doing a fine business with Casper, Spooky, Hot Stuff, Wendy the Good Little Witch, not to mention Baby Huey, Richie Rich, Little Audrey, Little Dot, Little Lotta, Stumbo the Giant, Sadsack, and tons more. But they couldn’t resist the lure of the Superhero, and in 1966-67 came out with a god-awful assortment of bizarre creations. You may have missed some or all of them…no title ran more than 3 issues. Still, they’re fondly remembered for their sheer lunacy, and today we’ll look at a couple.
item 4 >>> Tiger-Gack…When you were a kid, did you invent your own Superheroes? Even try to draw them? You couldn’t have done any worse than Tiger Boy, who looked like something a 7th-grader dreamed up on the way to school on the “little bus.” Amazingly, his title was one of the ones that last 3 issues.
item 5 >>> Stretching the Point…Tiger Boy I had heard of…Jigsaw I had not, yet another take on the rubber-man routine. Why? Marvel had the Fantastic Four’s Reed
Richards aka Mr. Fantastic. DC had the revived Plastic Man from the 1940s, plus the awkwardly named Elongated Man, and even Jimmy Olsen as Elasti-Lad, remember? Still, I guess it was worth a shot. The original concept was a hero “put back together” by aliens, but all the pieces could rearrange themselves, sort of like an Erector Set or Tinker Toy…not unlike the present-day Transformers, I guess. Problem was, it was a complicated thing to draw, and they ended up just turning it into the old strechy thing…and pretty lame at that.
item 6 >>> Then we have…a couple of tries at combining the Superhero genre with the Secret Agent craze. Hence Spyman (left)…sure, a visor! That’s all we really needed! Those dummies at Marvel never thought of a visor! A little closer to the mark, but not much, was The Man from S.R.A.M. (right)…spelled backwards, that’s what? OK. Yeah, but didn’t DC already have J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter? Yeah, but he was green…Illya Kuryakin wasn’t green, was he? No, you have a point….makes sense to me. Harvey tried a bunch of others, including Bee-Man, Captain 3-D, Fighting American, Jack Q. Frost,
Pirana, Magicmaster, the Glowing Gladiator, and a goof-ball team called Miracles Inc. Even a couple of “funny” heroes, like Fruitman and Sooper Hippie. I would have just put masks and capes on Herman and Katnip, but nobody asked me. BTW, up above there was one of their books…Herman especially was toned down from his movie persona, a lot less devilish, more’s the pity…
item 7 >>> Penny, Penny, Penny…As a pre-adolescent, some girls and women on TV stuck in my mind…Annette, of course…Dale Evans, Nani Darnell, Marti Barris as Peppi Mint on the last days of Howdy Doody…heck, even the grown-up Shirley Temple. As I got a little older, I remember being quite taken with game-show panelist Betsy Palmer, altho I still didn’t know quite why. One that doesn’t stick in my memory, altho I certainly remember watching the show, was Sky King’s niece Penny, portrayed by Gloria Winters. Basically a child star…she got her start as Babs, daughter on the Jackie Gleason version of Life of Riley. After soaring around in the Songbird for a while, she retired from acting…and died in August of this past year. Can’t figure how I don’t remember. Did I own her in plastic, I wonder?
item 8 >>> Speaking of Pennies…I thought I was pretty much done with cents, until I happened to find this on the web. Got $1,795 that’s burning a hole in your pocket? Understand, there are very reputable groups that, for a fee, will authenticate a coin and grade it as to condition…personally, I have no reason to doubt their expertise. And they say what this is, is a blank or planchet, intended for use in minting Philippine 10 centavos pieces, that somehow found it’s way into a US Mint machine while they were stamping out pennies. Somehow? I know with stamp collecting, they distinguish between true errors…mistakes that are usually caught and discarded, but occasionally “sneak out”…and “collector-made” errors, which while authentic enough, are done on purpose, solely to sell to collectors. Usually, based on many factors, they can tell which is which, and this sure seems like the latter. True, Philippine coins were minted in the US, but this stopped in the late 1940s. Still, the penny in question does display the odd striations in the metal, typical of the bronze-nickel composition of the period…I’ve included here a 5 centavos piece that I actually plucked out of circulation back in the day. We saw plenty of Canadian coins on the North Shore, but this was a real find…OK, now I’m done with cents.
item 9 >>> Going Crackers…Going Gone…Did you know that New England was the birthplace of the American cracker? They were originally intended as a longer-lasting substitute for bread on board sailing ships. And Crown Pilot crackers were one of Nabisco’s oldest brands, going all the way back to John Pearson of Newburyport’s 1972 recipe…sort of a cross between saltines and a true hardtack. It was without question my favorite cracker as a kid…a great snack was something I called a “half-and-half”…a pilot cracker spread half with peanut butter, half with cream cheese. (You ate the PB half first, don’t know why, you just did.) Nabisco was eventually absorbed by Kraft, and in 1996 they discontinued the Crown Pilot cracker. Big uproar, they brought it back, then nixed it again (for good?) in 2008. But you know, nothing’s ever for good, is it? And I hate to even bring this up, but the Zwieback and the Royal Lunch crackers are also history…as is apparently another of my faves, Cheese Ritz. It’s been off and on for the past several decades, but has been off for a while now…
Below is what they looked like in the early 1950s, before Nabisco introduced the “corner” logo to their trade dress…
item 10 >>> Make Fun of the Beatles, Part 9,741…I’ve opined in the past that the corner was turned with the phenomenal success of the movie A Hard Day’s Night, released in the UK in July, 1964…then in the US a month later. Prior to that, the Fab Four were still widely considered a teen fad, a goofy craze that would run its course, that we’d all look back on and laugh about someday…and definitely, the music was lousy and worth making fun of. Even Superman got his licks in. Remember, in the Bizarro World, everything was opposite…get it?
Sure, I’ll take a wild stab at it, what have I got to lose? The robot spanked her…fully clothed, of course. Why, what were you thinking?
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Resume at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com
Audio samples coming soon…or just check the podcasts…twc-rr so blows…