A Friday Haiku
Star Trek: Discovery
I saw just one episode
I won’t pay blackmail
Growing up blond
I was a towhead kid. Very light-colored hair. Most of my friends had dark hair. I hated them for it.
Why? Because all the cool television characters at that time had dark hair and the dorks had blond. So when we’d get together on the playground and oretend we were, say, The Monkees, all my friends were Davy, or Micky, or Mike, the cool guys. So who got stuck being the idiotic Peter? Yes. Me.
Starsky and Hutch? Starsky was the cool guy who drove the cool Torino. I got stuck being the sappy Hutch.
All the shows we watched, the cool guy always had dark or black hair. Captain Crane on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea? Black hair. Jim West on Wild, Wild West? Black hair. Don West on Lost in Space? Black hair. Jim Kirk on Star Trek? Not black, but a darker brown than blond and then as T.J. Hooker, it was black.
OK. OK. Sergeant Saunders (Vic Marrow’s character) on Combat! had blond hair, but it was always covered by an Army helmet. So although Saunders was cool as hell, he was an outlier.
My point is, for role models, us blond kids didn’t really have any. And yes, it still bothers me all these years later. Woukd it have killed TV to have a few more blond heroic characters for us to identify with?
The Silver Age: Thor
I’m current reading the very first stories of The Might Thor. The original ones plotted by Stan Lee, written by his brother Larry Lieber, and drawn by Jack Kirby. These first few stories are almost laughable in their simplicity. In Journey into Mystery #83, we are introduced to the lame Dr. Don Blake, who is vacationing in Norway. He is hiking (with a bum leg and a cane) in some wilderness and comes across an advance scout party of aliens from Saturn here to invade Earth.
He steps on a twig, which the rock creatures hear and chase him. On his bum leg. In the pursuit, he loses his cane, but manages to climb some rocks and hides in a cave.
In the cave, he finds an old gnarly stick, which he uses to try to move a boulder blocking the back exit of the cave before the aliens find him. He strikes the boulder in anger and he us transformed into Thor, the Norse god of thunder and his stick is now Mjolnir, the enchanted uru hammer.
On the hammer are inscribed the words, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of… Thor.” Words I don’t believe we ever see again. One also wonders, does this mean anyone could have picked up the cane and become Thor?
Now Dr. Blake has all the immortal powers of the thunder god until he strikes the hammer and resumes his mortal form again. However, if he is separated from his hammer for longer than 60 seconds, he becomes the frail doctor again.
So as you can guess, many of the early stories use that weakness to create tension. “It’s almost been 60 seconds! If I don’t touch my hammer soon, I’ll be at their mercy as Dr. Blake.”
In the third issue, Journey into Mystery #85, we meet Loki and some of the other gods of Asgard. But Thor himself doesn’t appear in Asgard until the tenth issue, Journey in Mystery #92.
So far, I’ve noticed several interesting things. First, Dr. Blake and Thor aren’t two different people. Blake becomes Thor when he strikes the cane, but he just seems like Don Blake with muscles and powers.
So the question becomes, where was Thor all this time? Odin, Loki, Heimdall all exist on Asgard, but what about Thor? And why was Mjolnir disguised as a stick in that cave?
When Blake becomes Thor, he still thinks and talks like Blake. They haven’t yet introduced the strained Shakespearean speech Thor is known for, with thees and thous and anon.
As Dr. Blake, he’s very much in love with his nurse, Jane Foster, except he’s afraid to profess his love for fear as she will either laugh because he’s frail and handicapped, like a grown-up Tiny Tim, or he fears she’ll only pretend to love him back out of pity. So he says nothing. All the while Jane Foster is in love with Dr. Blake, but thinks he beyond reach because he’s cold and impersonal. Then Thor appears and she’s all, whata guy! If only Blake was that exciting.
The whole thing is very reminiscent of the Clark Kent/Superman/Lois Lane schtick.
I grew up a child of the Silver Age, but I didn’t become aware of Marvel Comics until 1965 or so, three or four years after these stories came out. By then, many of Marvel’s characters had already gone through their growing pains.
I was more familiar with DC, which was better established and had a stranglehold on the distribution system, making it difficult for Marvel to reach many markets. I can’t even recall seeing their comics early on, just DC, Gold Key, and Dell.
So, I’m finding these early stories fascinating from a historical perspective and I can’t wait to watch how Thor evolves into the character I remember reading in the late 60s and early 70s. Verily.
I might also mention that, in the comics at least, there were several blond role models for a kid to look up to, including Thor and Captain America/Steve Rogers.
I didn’t. It was a busy week, workwise. I only ran once, on Sunday. So, it’s probably just as well I didn’t step upon the scale.
I admit, I wasn’t going to watch this. It just didn’t seem interesting. Most sci-fi comedies are more corny than interesting. I also have no idea who this Seth McFarland guy was, so that didn’t pull me in.
But, given the fact that CBS fucked us over with Star Trek: Discovery, I decided to give The Orville a shot.
I was going to DVR an episode to watch, but discovered that there is this thing called Fox OnDemand. I can watch all the episodes.
I gave the first episode a shot at impressing me.
And you know what? It was good. I mean, really good. Sure, it had it’s flaws, but overall, I was impressed.
The special effects are as decent as any serious sci-fi show out there. The story took a while to build, but it entertained. The acting was good. The characters, although at times their parts seemed a bit forced, were relatable and likable.
I’d say, overall, The Orville is a very good sci-fi program and unlike the first (and only free!) episode of Star Trek: Discovery, it managed to make me want to see more. (I’ve already posted why I didn’t care for ST:D.)
I will be making The Orville a regular viewing habit. Good for Fox. Shame on CBS.
Halloween at Frankenstein’s Castle
Every Halloween, one of WTMJ-AM radio personalities, Jonathan Green, would play a recording from Armed Forces Radio of a Halloween prank recorded in “Frankenstein’s castle.” Green retired many years ago, but I found the recording on YouTube.
The premise is that Armed Forces Radio program director Hunt Downs took three announcers to spend the night in the castle, explaining the myth that the monster’s ghost returns to haunt the castle every 100 years and this was that night.
Each was given a small flashlight and a walkie-talkie and sent to different parts of the castle.
The following recording was unscripted and are the true reactions of those announcers.