Saturday, August 30, 2008

How idiots of the Invisible Empire helped Barack Obama

I watched Barack Obama give his historic acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last week. It put me in mind of some things that have been stirring around in my brain: Obama will make a fine international spokesman and symbol of America for the rest of the world. Most of the world is non-Caucasian, non-European. He looks more like a citizen of the world than just the U.S. He is also extremely articulate and bright. Did you see him stumble and fumble, tripping over his own tongue like our current White House occupant? No he didn't, because he has a clear gift for communication.

I thought about the long road that people of color have had to travel to put him in this position. It was over 40 years ago that images from the civil rights movement were being played out on nightly television news shows. At that time I don't think anyone ever considered that a Barack Obama would be running for president. Seriously running, not just in the race without a real hope of getting the nomination: Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton.

Recently I watched a History Channel feature, The Secret History of the Ku Klux Klan, from its founding in 1866 by Nathan Bedford Forrest to the current small, radical hate group it has become, as well as the other groups of haters it has spawned. At one point the Ku Klux Klan was a powerful force to be reckoned with, now it's a bunch of guys most rational people think are nuts.

In the 1960s, at the time of the Civil Rights Movement, there were no black people sitting in positions of national power, so the original civil rights bills were all signed by whites. But that was right and it was legal. In its own way the Ku Klux Klan caused the civil rights bills to be passed because they are idiots, murderous idiots. They thought that by killing civil rights workers, by bombing out a church where civil rights strategies were plotted, by killing Medgar Evers or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that the civil rights movement would go away, but they in fact made it stronger.

They didn't reckon on mass communication of the 1960s. When people around the world, including the United States, saw footage of the lunchroom sit-ins of the early 1960s they saw young black people in suits kneeling on the floor while leering, screaming white creeps poured garbage on them. Score one for the oppressed. When people around the world and in the U.S. saw footage of Alabama police using water hoses and police dogs on black demonstrators they were shocked. I know I was. What did the people do to deserve such treatment? Well, they bucked the established order, established for the benefit of white people.

When we heard stories about civil rights workers being lured to their deaths in Mississippi it only strengthened the cause they were fighting for. The peabrains who planned and executed the murders were KKK members. What they hoped to accomplish is moot, because what they actually accomplished was the opposite.

It's too bad that people had to die. Martyrs are powerful symbols, and unfortunately these people had to suffer being murdered in order to achieve that status. Had Dr. Martin Luther King not been killed in Memphis over 40 years ago, do you think he would have the same impact alive as he does now, four decades after his death? His assassin was trying to squelch his influence by killing him, and yet increased it tenfold, a hundred or thousandfold, by pulling the trigger.

Barack Obama is standing at the head of a line cast by history, backed by great people who had courage and fortitude. Some went to their deaths because they were doing the right thing.

I read recently that the younger generation doesn't think the same black-white terms that we, as their parents and grandparents, were taught to think. Black people are on TV every day, whereas they weren't much seen on TV when I grew up. Younger white people don't see a whole lot of difference in people of different races because they are more familiar with them. Television and mass communication, in a turn away from their exclusion policies of the past, have made it possible. When Barack Obama gave his speech on August 28, he was seen by people all over the world, not just in the U.S. With that familiarity comes trust.

Or, conversely, mistrust. The goons of the KKK and like-minded white supremacist-types, in spirit and in body, are still lurking around. Whether they belong to a group or are just hating on their own, they're out there and we have to be vigilant. History has taught us that when a person as important as Obama comes along he brings along a trail not only of supporters and admirers, but people with murder in mind. At this point in civil rights history the martyrs have been made and let's have no more of them. It's time for a Barack Obama to step out of the shadows of those men, that turmoil, those times, and be the leader he was meant to be.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First day of school

I don't know a teacher who wouldn't like to say this to a parent, just once.

Today is the first day of school in our school district, all 100 schools, 65,000 kids, all with butterflies in their stomachs, or like me, with cramps in their guts. Jeez, adding it all up, my years as a student and my years working for the school district I'm up around 45 years of the first day school experience. You'd think I'd be more used to it by now.

In our town today the thermometer is about 95 degrees or more. Most of our schools aren't air conditioned; only the year-round schools have it. So our kids in the older, traditional buildings will be sweltering in their new clothes and new shoes.

That reminds me. I didn't get my back-to-school shopping done this year. Wow, how can I stand it wearing last year's shoes? Oh, the shame.

I'll be interested to see how my old junior high school does on its first day. The school burned down three years ago, and has been rebuilt. Well, maybe that's optimistic. It's been under construction, and the past two months the construction has gone on night and day, seven days a week. I'm sure the neighbors are about goofy from the sound of construction equipment. When I visited the school last week to help set up their internal mail delivery, I noticed construction guys everywhere. The contractor said he lost half his work days last winter with the bad weather, and they have been trying to make it up, but a building this size goes up in its own time. You can't hurry love and you can't hurry construction. We don't want it falling down on the kids, now do we?

The school has been double-bunking with another junior high for three years. There are students who are going on to high school this year who spent their whole time as a student of this school under the roof of another. They will never know either the old building or this new one. They are kind of the falling-between-the-cracks kids. Displaced persons, refugees. In July, 2005 a fire started in a computer, and the principal tried to put it out but the fire quickly got out of control. I went home only to watch the TV news and see live helicopter shots of my old school in flames. Not only did I attend the school nearly fifty years ago, I've been its school district mail person for 32 years. To say I have some sort of emotional investment in that school is an understatement.

I'm glad to see it re-opening, bigger and better than before. In all of my years as a student and as an employee--in all 102 years of the school district where I work, as a matter of fact--it's the only time a kid's dream came true, and the school burned down. The principal and staff have worked hard under extreme pressure. When I think back on my career after I retire I'll remember this man and his staff and remember what they did. He didn't get paid a dime extra, but I'll bet his working hours doubled over the past three years. It's that sort of dedication, that sort of professionalism, in the face of district and public politics and lost construction days, that make me respect these folks so much.

I usually don't name people in this blog because I don't want them googling their names and coming up with this blog, since I do it under a pseudonym. What I want to say to Principal Doug B., vice-principal Dr. Shauna M, and custodian Jay D., as well as the rest of the staff and teachers, good luck to you today and this alumnus will be wishing you good luck on your new school re-opening.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Boogie Olympics

I haven't watched much of the Olympics. Sorry, I just think they have become so bloated, so self-important, that they have taken the fun out for me. I see sports that aren't really sports. It's nice to watch Amazon babes in bikinis whacking a volleyball on the beach, but as an Olympic sport...? C'mon. It's not a sport, it's an activity, quoting sports curmudgeon Jim Rome. (Jim was actually referring to bowling, but to me there isn't a whole lot of difference.)

I think the Olympic games should go for a few days, not weeks, have less pomp and circumstance and more pure athletics. No basketball, no baseball, no water polo, no beach volleyball, synchronized swimming or synchronized diving. I'd like to see marathon running, track and field, swimming and gymnastics.

But if you've just got to have those non-sport sports, how about boogie dancing as an Olympic competition? I think these kids would take gold. Maybe just silver, but they are awfully good. It can't be any harder to score dancing than it is to score ice dancing in the Winter Olympics or floor exercises in the Olympics gymnastics events.

They don't get sand between their toes, either.

Friday, August 22, 2008

May you stay forever young

As I type this, Sally is flying home from Pennsylvania after spending a week with our son, his wife and their kids.

I know how she's feeling right now; it's difficult to leave them. But we'll both be there in October.

Whenever I see their beautiful little faces I think of Bob Dylan's song:

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The me that isn't me

Here's my security badge from work. Do you know me? Do you know my double? There's been another sighting recently of my "twin".

If you recall, I have mentioned in the past that several people have reported to me over the years that they have approached a person they thought was me, only to find out it was someone "who looks exactly like you." One lady went up to a man in a restaurant and was so sure it was me she was convinced "I" was trying to fool her.

The most recent incident involved my work leadman, Gary, who reported to the Scott M. Matheson Federal Courthouse in Salt Lake City recently for jury duty, then later told me he saw a fellow juror he thought was me. "Same hair, same beard."

Are they just looking at the strictly external things, my white beard, my hair? Do they notice my overall build, my height, the clothes I usually wear? Because from the time we're babies we learn pattern recognition. Our mother's face is imprinted, and that extends to those around us. Some people say they can tell it's me if they hear my voice. If someone I know as well as Gary, who I have worked with for 27 years, can't tell it isn't me, then how much does this double of mine look like me? ...or sound like me, for that matter?

Another man asked me a couple of months ago, "Is that you on the Auto Zone poster? I could swear it's you."

I never see this person or persons they think is me...I never see the printed material they say I'm on. I haven't seen the Auto Zone poster. My brother said years ago he attended the play Fiddler On The Roof and thought at first it was me playing Tevye!

As I tell these people who report these elusive Postino sightings: "If the guy looks exactly like me, and he's doing something wrong, then it isn't me." That will cover the bases; then I can go out and do any old damn thing and when people confront me I can say, "Must've been that person who looks exactly like me."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A trivial mind at work

My friend Eddie from the Chicken Fat blog ran a very funny picture from the 1950s. It's by Mad Magazine artist Will Elder, and a veritable Who's Who of Who Was Who in the mid-1950s.

I think I'm pretty good at Trivial Pursuit, since I can remember the most trivial stuff and yet forget the important things...but there are a couple of folks even I can't identify in this drawing. Still, for the ones I can, I've put numbers. You go through and see how many you know. I'll tell you who they are if you don't know, but go ahead...I'll wait for you to finish.

You click on the pictures to make them full-size.

Hmmm, dummm-de-dah-dah...oh, hello. Back so soon? Couldn't get 'em all, could you? OK, in the words of Bing Crosby, "Junior, I'll elucidate."

1. Lone Ranger and Silver. Silver is so smart he can sit in a theater chair!

2. Prince Albert in a can, as in the old joke: A kid calls a store and says, "Do you have Prince Albert in a can?" "Yes, we do." "Well, then, let him out!"

3. Santa Claus. You knew that one, didn't you? And you're being good this year, aren't you?

4. 5. 6. Rice Krispies' own Snap, Crackle, Pop.

7. 8. The Smith Brothers of cough drop fame. Here the joke is they're sucking on their competitor's drops.

9. Donald Duck as the drop-down duck from You Bet Your Life, the quiz show starring Groucho. The duck would drop down with the secret word. If the contestant said the word he got a hundred dollars. In this case the word is Lollabridgida, as in Gina, the sexy Italian star.

10. 11. Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin. At that time the most famous comedy team in the country, with their movies being number one box office.

12. Julius LaRosa. See #24.

13. Groucho Marx. See #9.

14. Milton Berle. "Uncle Miltie." The first cross-dresser to become a big star. Also known for stealing jokes from other comedians, and for making really cornball jokes. He called them "lappy," as in, "You have to lay the joke in the audience's lap."

15. Ralph Edwards, host of This Is Your Life. The folks who were brought up on stage and had their lives recounted were supposedly not told ahead of time. I never believed you could get a celebrity in the audience of that show and fool him. I'm sure there was chicanery afoot with this program and anyone who believed the celebrity was actually surprised, you know the word gullible?

16. General Douglas MacArthur. Famous during World War II, "I shall return," was fired by then-President Harry Truman, #25, during the Korean War.

17. The Quaker from Quaker Oats.

18. Edward R. Murrow, host of See It Now. His on-screen smoking was his trademark, along with his famous radio voice.

19. Sir Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of England.

20. Roy Cohn, counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy, #27. Cohn, who set himself up as a moral paragon, succumbed to AIDS in the 1980s, and became a character in the play, Angels in America.

21. Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday from the TV show, Dragnet.

22. Aunt Jemima. That makes two characters well-known in my household in the 1950s. My father worked for Quaker Oats as a salesman; Aunt Jemima was a product made by the Quaker Oats Company.

23. Jackie Gleason. Along with Sid Caesar, Bob Hope, Milton Berle and Groucho, probably the most recognizable comedian in the country. Here he's seen as his pathetic character, The Poor Soul.

24. Arthur Godfrey. He was host of several television programs during the early 1950s, very popular host, although without any discernible talent of his own except for stroking a ukelele. He was often seen with radio headphones. The joke here refers to #12, Julie LaRosa, who Godfrey fired on the air. It was very controversial at the time, but I remember Godfrey kept his popularity and LaRosa spun into obscurity.

25. President Harry S. Truman, who played the piano, looking at a musical piece with the most famous television pianist of the day, Liberace, #26.

27. Senator Joseph McCarthy. One of the most notorious figures of the early 1950s, whose presence on the House Un-American Activities Committee, his questioning and his famous charge of "Communists in the State Department," for which the numbers changed every time he mentioned it, kept him in the public eye. He was eventually brought down, but not before having his name become a synonym for accusation and innuendo.

28. Abraham Lincoln.

29. Bing Crosby, checking his dollar bill to see if it is indeed the same person as the one sitting next to him. The joke, carried out by comedian Bob Hope, #31, in many forms, was that Crosby was filthy rich. Which, of course, he was.

30. Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.

31. Bob Hope, see #29.

32. Dr. Fredric Wertham, M.D. This is an inside joke by artist Will Elder. Wertham was a critic of horror and crime comic books, then popular. He wrote a book called Seduction of the Innocent which brought about an industry Comics Code, lampooned on the back cover of the horror comic he's reading. Mad was published by William M. Gaines, whose popular horror comic book line, including Tales From the Crypt, Vault of Horror, and Haunt of Fear, were targets of Wertham's.

33. Marilyn. What else need I say?

The unidentifables in the picture would be the person drawing stars on General MacArthur's arm, and the person sitting to the left of Jackie Gleason.

Separation anxiety

It took longer than normal, but I finally figured out what the joke is with this comic strip from yesterday.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Little Audrey

I was looking through a biography recently and noticed this picture of a mother and baby I figure is from about 1930-31.

The baby in the old picture looks a lot like our baby, my granddaughter Gabriela, called Gabby. She's seen here with her dad.

And with her mom.

The little girl in the 1930s picture grew up to be this famous movie star.

So what I'm wondering is, will our Gabby grow up to look like Audrey Hepburn?

My wife Sally, Gabby's grandma, is flying to Pennsylvania tomorrow for a visit. I miss our girls very much, both Gabby and her older sister, Bella. I also miss their mom and dad. I'm set to fly there in October, but for now I have to depend on pictures.

Here's a little something from my son's blog about Gabby and her current fascination with the color green.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

That finger's not the only thing that points up

Another public figure brought down by sex. John Edwards is just the latest in an interminably long line of men who get caught in adultery.

The general public has heard this old story so many times about so many different guys. The media gasbags pick up rocks and in a biblical sense, stone the perpetrator. Some they kill (figuratively speaking). Some you can’t kill if you roll boulders on them. For all of the millions of words written and said about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Bill came back from a political death. And the media dropped a mountain on him.

My personal feeling is that while everyone might gasp, point fingers and act outraged about guys getting caught with pants down, so many men have done what these guys have done that the outrage is usually more for show than true moral indignation. In Edwards' case his wife's terminal cancer will negate any understanding he might otherwise get. We all know some women are attracted to powerful men, and since guys are at their true core just out to get laid, it isn't hard to convince even normally smart males to forget common sense, do the nasty, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

John Edwards had to know going in (no pun intended) that there was a strong risk he'd be found out. The worst part is when originally exposed he cried foul, blamed political dirty tricks, and used the tactic of outright denial. After an interval Edwards told ABC News that the affair had indeed taken place. It happened, just like he said it didn't. Doesn't do much for Edwards' credibility, does it?

When it comes to sex, a guy's moral compass swings around and points in several directions. Politicians, religious leaders, presidents of the U.S…so many have done the dirty deed. It’s easy to sin in haste and repent at leisure, but a guy in a public position should haul himself up, take a breath, be smart enough to weigh the risks. If he's a politician the media and his political enemies are looking for this sort of thing. John Edwards has a place in recent history, but his affair will override his history of political campaigns. Once again a guy’s penis was where it shouldn’t have been. It happens so often I'm almost more surprised that it's news than the fact it happened, or who it happened to.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Real monsters

This probably comes under the heading of things I'd be better off not knowing.

The little horror creature on top, scanned from the latest issue of Discover magazine, is e-coli, the little devil that makes people sick, even kills 'em, when food is contaminated. Honest to god, it looks like it comes from Hollywood special effects, but it's a real monster, folks. And while small, we should all fear this killer.

These other little critters are dust mites, who live their lives in our beds, munching on the dead skin cells we're constantly shedding. I have known about these little beasties, but try not to think about them when crawling into the rack for a night's z's. The idea that thousands of things are living off our leavings is unnerving to say the least. Good things these things are so small they can only be detected with very powerful microscopes. I can't even imagine what it would be like if they were big enough to see with the naked eye. To throw back the covers and see several thousand dead skin gourmands the size of black widows or cockroaches is more than the human mind can manage.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

63 years ago today...

On this date 63 years ago the U.S. dropped its secret weapon, the atomic bomb, on Hiroshima, Japan.

Three days later they dropped their other atomic bomb on Nagasaki, which led directly to the end of the war with Japan.

Those bombings by the U.S. are still the only times that nuclear devices have been used on civilian populations. Except for when the U.S. used nukes on its own people.

As told in The Day We Bombed Utah by John G. Fuller, atomic testing was done until the late 1950s in Nevada. Above ground blasts were held until the prevailing winds were blowing over Southern Utah, a "low yield" segment of the population.

Andy's Atomic Adventure is a propaganda comic book put out at the time. You can read the whole thing at the Hairy Green Eyeball blog. "Hey, kids! Getting radioactive fallout on you isn't all that bad! Your government can be trusted. Nuclear testing is in your best interest. We know what we're doing." We caught on to that lie, but it wasn't the first lie our government has told us, and won't be the last. For some reason they seem to find it necessary to lie to us a lot. At this point who can trust anything they say?

Today, August 6, is a day we should step back and remember that people, all of them innocent of any wrongdoing except for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, have died from the use of nuclear weapons, in war and in peace.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Shifting focus

Cartoonist Dan Piraro (Bizarro) had to explain this cartoon to me in his blog because I had missed the point completely. What he says is that he should have made the car keys bigger or more obvious. My take on the panel when I saw it was that the guy is old and he has piercings and tattoos and they look silly on a guy his age. When I saw Piraro's explanation of his joke I realized that I had interpreted the drawing based on my own feelings. It went right by me that the senior moment was because this tattooed, pierced old man had hung the car keys FROM HIS EAR!

Yes, I do feel that way about body decorating. I don't understand the appeal when you look to the future. In the early '70s when I ran the shipping department of a dried foods company I knew a crusty old truck driver who had all the ravages from years of sun exposure. I asked him about the blue blob on his arm, which I took to be a girl. He said, "That's Betty Boop. I got her in the Philippines in '35 when I was in the Navy." My opinion of tattoos came from that; what looks beautiful now on your firm, young skin and beautiful bodies will someday fade or be hidden by your folds and wrinkles.

Back to Piraro: I was taught that cartoons should have readability, which means the artist shouldn't put in a lot of details that cause the reader to shift focus away from the gag. My eyeball was bouncing all over this panel, looking at the tattoos, piercings, thinking how ridiculous all of that is, and I missed the joke.

I didn't miss the joke with this panel by Piraro from 1999. This is very readable and caught me by surprise when I saw it. It's why it's my favorite. Wouldn't you just love to be able to tell someone who had power over you at some point that they were wrong? I'm sure this is a nightmare panel for teachers.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Understanding Utahspeak

When you move to Utah make sure you know how to speak the lingo.

Years ago I heard that some linguists can listen to a person talk and determine where they're from, within 50 miles. That would be especially true of Utah, where such linguistic divisions are geographic. My dad was raised in the central part of the state, where a short "a" sound was substitued for a long "o", giving him pronunciations like "shart" for short or "harse" for horse.

Dad was sometimes teased for this. He worked with a lot of out-of-state people, mostly from New York. He asked me once, "How do you pronounce the word s-h-o-r-t-s? I said, "Shorts," with the long "o". He said, "See? They've been kidding me! I told those guys in New Yark I was pronouncing it right! Sharts! Just like you said, sharts!" Apparently Dad couldn't hear how he sounded.

Despite being raised just 7 miles from Dad, my mom didn't talk that way. She was precise with her speech, making sure she pronounced her words correctly; that came from her own mother, and I'm glad, because she impressed it on me. Otherwise I'd sound like a Utah hick like Dad.

When people move to Utah they've got to be startled by some of the expressions Utahns use without thinking. My favorites are "Oh my heck!" and "ignernt." I tell people who ask that "oh my heck!" comes from an early Mormon belief, "Swear not by holy places." So to early Mormon settlers the term "Oh, my heavens!" which is polite to the rest of the English-speaking world, would be blasphemy, akin to taking the Lord's name in vain. "Oh my heck," or even "oh my hell," are OK because hell obviously isn't a holy place. "Ignernt" is a corruption of the word ignorant, but "ignernt" means rude, as in "That clerk in the grocery store was so ignernt to me!" I've tried to explain it to the folks who use that term that it isn't a word. One guy I worked with said, "I thought there were two words, 'ignorant', and 'ignernt'." Nope, sorry, just one word, and the one you're using doesn't exist.

Still, it means that if I'm in a crowd in say, Hong Kong or New York City, and I hear someone say, "Oh, my heck! That woman bumped me and didn't even say 'excuse me'! How ignernt is that?" I know I'm hearing someone from close to home.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Quick as a Flash

The Flash Gordon serials were shown on afternoon TV when I was young. In the early 1950s a lot of our television time consisted of movies and cartoons from the 1930s. In Salt Lake City we watched Cactus Jim, a guitar-playing, singing cowboy who gave a whole package. We got a cowboy movie, a couple of ancient cartoons, and a chapter of Flash Gordon. Forget about the cowboys and Farmer Alfalfa cartoons...Flash Gordon was the attraction for me.

This 1936 serial starring Buster Crabbe is pure hokum. It's a throwback to an earlier era wrapped in a science fiction trapping. It's really just an old-time melodrama: "Marry me or pay the mortgage!" in fancy dress. Flash and Dale Arden go with Dr. Zarkov to the planet Mongo to stop it from crashing into Earth. The story was originally presented as a Sunday comic page by the great Alex Raymond, then made into a movie serial. Crabbe was great as Flash; he had that kind of blond, California surfer-look. Crabbe was an Olympic swimmer, an athlete. Flash Gordon was also an athlete, a polo player. Emperor Ming was just another version of the Yellow Peril, the racist view of Asian people, popular at the time. Why Ming looked Asian and no one else did is a mystery. Apparently nobody in that era asked why.

What comes across in watching a DVD of the original serial is something I didn't understand as a kid, and probably only subconsciously recognized when I saw the serial again as a junior high student: the blatant sexuality. Ming's daughter, Aura, lusts after Flash. Ming lusts after Dale. Flash wants Dale, but in a chaste way. Or at least that's the way he acts. Poor Dr. Zarkov doesn't get any chicks at all. He's kind of homely, and spends most of his time in his laboratory.

The plot is moved forward by sex. Dale is hypnotized by Ming so he can "marry" her. In this screen capture you wonder who has the hots for her more, Princess Aura or Emperor Ming.

Actresses Jean Rogers and Priscilla Lawson are posed in sexy costumes, racy for their day. With their bra tops, long hair and high heels they are a couple of hotties.

The special effects in Flash Gordon are par for the time. In some cases the special effects look cheesy. The Hawkmen's city in the sky is a painting on a backdrop with smoke blown across it; the space ships are models on wires. The science is also laughable. In one sequence slaves are shown stoking the "atom furnaces" with radium, which looks like a pile of rocks. It looks like the gang on a ship stoking coal into a boiler. Dr. Zarkov is one of those scientists of a former age. It's assumed because he's a "scientist" that he knows everything about "science." He's pressed into service by Ming, then by King Vultan of the Hawkmen. No one asks him what his scientific field is. Well, he created the rocket ship that brought the three of them to Mongo. I guess he's a rocket scientist!

In the first episode it's shown the Earth has a short time to exist, what with cataclysmic events happening because of the approaching planet Mongo. This idea was inspired by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer's novel, When Worlds Collide. Flash and Dale, strangers to each other, meet on a transcontinental plane. The plane is going to crash! The pilot rushes out and tells everyone they have a parachute and they'll need to use it! Passengers jump up, throw on their 'chutes and bail out! Of all of the things we're asked to believe as this plot--such as it is--rolls out, that was the one that caused my jaw to drop.


Dale wonders if this soldier will share the secret to his sexy eye makeup.

Jean Rogers as a damsel in distress, and damn, what a damsel.

The magazine, Spacemen, is from the early 1960s. The photo of Dale and Flash looks like a publicity still. If I was Flash and had that babe on my arm...well, I'd be all over that sweet stuff. Considering the sexual theme to the serial and the bulge in Flash's trunks, I'd say within moments Dale will find out the true meaning of the caption, "his fantastic rocket."