Saturday, August 24, 2013

On Ben Affleck as Batman....

           The Brunswick Saga will continue but I just had to post about the recent developments on the new Batman Superman movie
            It was around winter of 1987 and I was a sophomore attending Young Harris College where I had grown up. The new issue of Rolling Stone magazine had arrived at the library and I thumbing through it when I came across a tidbit that shocked me.

            Michael Keaton has been cast in Tim Burton’s Batman. Michael Keaton, you mean Mr. Mom? I was outraged. This was not going to work. I began to loudly go off to my study partner, Rob Ray.

            Rob was a theatre major and we had met while working on the children’s theatre production of  The Emperor’s New Clothes. He took the article, scanned it and handed it back to me. “I like it,” he said.

            “Are you kidding me!” was all I could come up with. This prompted not a “Shhhhhh” from the head librarian at the front desk who also happened to be my father but rather a deep and foreboding  “Ahhhehm” which was the Big Guy’s trade mark way to shush the masses.  

            I lowered my voice. “Rob, this guy is a comedian. You’re a comic book guy surely you see my point.”

            Rob closed up his history book knowing further study would not be done until this matter resolved. “ Of course, I see your point and frankly, it’s very short sided. Robby, I sorta expected more from you.”

            “More from me!?” Another Ahhhem from the circulation desk.

            Rob went on to make his point, “You’re not seeing the whole picture, Robby. This is going to be huge. Keaton must have something or there is no way the studios would let this go on. He and Burton had worked together before so it’s obvious that Tim Burton sees something special in Michael Keaton’s take on Batman. “

            As this sunk in, Rob delivered the final punch. “Oh and one last thing, the guy is an actor which means he has the ability to portray different roles, dumbass!”

            As the point began to make sense, I looked up to see the Big Guy towering over our table, not pleased with our loud discussion. He was usually good natured about students chatting in his library but when it was me, he always came down hard. Rob interjected.

            “We’re sorry, Papa Rich. Your son and I were talking about the new Batman movie which was cast.”

            “Yeah?” The Big Guy was always a sucker for a good action movie. “Who’s Batman?”

            When the Big Guy learned it was Michael Keaton, the whole library heard, “Are you kidding me?” The circle continues….

            I woke up yesterday morning to check my Facebook and other morning computer sites to find out Ben Affleck had been cast as the Dark Knight in the new Batman/Superman movie. With the exception of my wife who is not a comic book geek, most people shared my reaction of “This is a joke, right?” I even paused for a moment on my drive to work to ponder the ways this might be an early April fool’s trick.
You know this is happening as we speak....
            I heard all the arguments and jokes yesterday. Affleck can’t be Batman because he was Daredevil. Is Matt Damon going to be Robin? How is that chin going stick out through the mask? I made several jokes about the name dropping which Kevin Smith is going to be doing for next several years. And as I went to bed last night, I realized how stupid all of this has become.

            First of Chris Evans played the Human Torch twice before donning the red, white, and blue tights as Captain America and he was outstanding in a difficult character to play. On the Robin front, I doubt we’ll see much because it’s a difficult character to translate on to the big screen and I am sure Damon will be too busy with Elysium 2:Electric Boogaloo.  Finally, prepare for the onslaught which is Kevin Smith. Seeing that he lives in Affleck’s old home, my money is the number of ways Smith can make jokes about residing in the Batcave. Frankly, I can’t blame him. I’d squeal louder than my 12 year old daughter watching Dr. Who if I could make such a claim.

            Affleck is a great actor and he has the chops to pull this off so long as the script is good. After checking IMDB before writing, I saw that David Goyer is penning the script. Relief. Many of the good comic book movies have come from his pen. He did all the Blades, the Nolan Batmans and also the new Man of Steel. Not to mention, Zack Snyder is directing and he’s pretty good about respecting the source material.

            We hated Michael Keaton for being cast as the Batman and he certainly surprised us all. I still hold his two performances as my measure for the other guys who have filled those boots. Affleck is going to surprise us because he shares something which Keaton and even Bale brought to the silver screen—intensity.

            Over the past several years, Affleck has seemed to shy away from those roles where his boyish charm comes though and het s to be a bit rougher. The Town, Argo, and Hollywoodland have been showcases to let Ben Affleck be a darker more mature actor. So long as we can get past Pearl Harbor and Armageddon, it’s not going to be too hard to see this guy as Batman. Besides this makes him the first actor to play both Superman and Batman. (He was George Reeves in Hollywoodland).

"How do you like them apples, Clark?"
            From here on out, I am quitting on the Affleck hating and I look forward in seeing him playing the older more grizzled Batman which Zack Snyder has been teasing us to expect. When my fellow geeklings ask me why I am not worried I’ll point out that in the past 24 years, I’ve had to endure worse from a Batman role. Need I bring up Val Kilmer? Clooney’s Bat suit nipples? Alicia Silverstone, the daughter of Alfred and Batgirl?


            We’re going to be just fine.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

What Me Worry? Episode One of the Brunswick GA Saga......

            The year is hazy but I am guessing somewhere around 1980 or so, my older cousin gave me a stack of books she didn’t want anymore. As I type, I realize not one of them except for the copy of MAD magazine Digest stands out in memory. This was my introduction to MAD.

            I’d seen MAD magazine several times before at Northside Elementary. Chuck Carey was an avid reader and always getting his latest copy confiscated by Mrs. Johnson. In those days, MAD magazine was dangerous material to have in a fourth grade classroom comparable to sadistic threats against the principal. My mom was also not a fan and refused to have a copy in the house.

            “It is base humor, Robby,” my mother would say over her shopping list. “And one thing the Richardsons are not is base people.” This of course made no sense to a nine year old boy whose only concept of “base” was something to run towards in order to be safe.

            So after an interjection from the Big Guy, also a long time reader, first time caller, I finally discovered the joys of MAD magazine over a long ride from Claxton GA.

            Magic. Simply magic.

            Two things struck me right off the bat. First, it was funny. The humor made me laugh out loud several times. Some of it was even a little on the edge of dirty which was not allowed. I still recall a Mort Drucker cartoon of two dogs pooping on the sidewalk followed by their owners stepping right in the dog’s “calling card.” Pure comedy gold for elementary aged boy.

            Secondly, MAD magazine had amazing art work. The cartoons looked like the people MAD was mocking yet not exactly. To a budding artist like me, foundations were laid for hours of sketching favorite actors from movies and TV shows.

   That very first digest I read had a satire called The Milking of the Planet of the Apes which even I got a kid. I still recall laughing at the opening panel where Charlton Heston along with the other survivors have crashed their capsule and trying to paddle away. The female astronaut has not survived which is off panel but explained by one of the surviving astronauts saying, “Unless one of you guys can dance backwards, our social life is screwed.”  I still find this amusing at 44.

My horrible version of Jack Davis drawing Billy Murray in Ghostbusters'
            From years of comics, I had gotten in the habit of looking at the opening pages credits to see who wrote and drew the comic I was about to peruse. Even though I had no real idea of who Carmine Infantino, Gene Day, Sal Buscema where, I began to get an idea of artwork I liked and disliked. This would be my introduction to Jack Davis. .

            Jack Davis would be the artist who drew my Planet of the Apes parody. Future magazines would lead to more Mr. Davis as I read his version of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Soap, Benson, M*A*S*H, this list can go on for pages.

            Jack Davis has a distinctive style and it soon became one which I could pick out easily. His subjects always had a kinetic energy like the panel was in motion. A character’s eyes always had that gleam which would bring it more to life. The young artist which I was picked up on Davis’s signature move of cross hatching and shadings. While I had some good art teachers to learn from, Jack Davis would certainly be an influence.

This was $2 at the Little Store back in 1981...
Davis also did more than MAD magazine. He drew TV Guide covers along with Time magazine. In January of 1981, the UGA Dawgs won their first Sugar Bowl. The AJC Sun edition had a special insert with You-know-who as the artist for the cover. I cut this out of the paper before the Big Guy had a chance to read it. It stayed on the wall until I left for college.  (Ed note: He was also responsible for the infamous Coke Bottle design for that year which I also had but have long since lost. Birthday’s coming, Kim. Hint, hint lol)

            I could go on about how much I dig Jack Davis but frankly, I sound the same as any other fan. And yes, this guy has a following. It’s a big one as I would discover after a phone call from my old YHC buddy, John Trotter.

Trotter, as I like to refer to him, is an old friend to the Tide. I wrote about him here during, oddly enough, a Jack Davis art contest sponsored by the Georgia Museum. Trotter won the contest which the winner was selected by Davis, himself. Extremely cool.
Artwork through the gracious courtesy of John Trotter, 2013 winner of the Jack Davis UGS Cup. All rights reserved. Offer not valid where prohibited. Ask you parents before voting, Wait one hour after eating before swimming. John Trotter artwork released through division of Paintmonkey Studios Inc. "Don't let just anybody draw your art, Let a Paintmonkey do the job. We're Paintmonkey Studios located near scenic Atlanta"
Trotter had an extra ticket to go see the Jack Davis Retrospective which was being presented by the Glynn Art Association down in St. Simons. It was only an hour away so how could I not go?
In addition to the art show, a panel was being presented comprised of a few folks associated with Davis and his work.   Nick Meglin, who has been a longtime friend and work associate of Davis’s not to mention a former editor of MAD. Tom Richmond who a current editor of MAD magazine. Jack Pittman who is the former president of the National Cartoonist Society.
It was an amazing night and one I am going to get back to you on in the next installment of what I’m going to refer to as the Brunswick GA Saga……


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ready For a New School Year

            Going to wrap up the summer vacation version of Photobomb Tuesday with two smaller events that sum up the summer nicely.
            First up, Jude and I had a Guy’s Day  a few days ago so we decided to surprise Kim and her new job at the paper by cooking a special dinner. Jude was insistent on baking a cake all by himself. Big surprise when Little Man selected the Double Death by Chocolate flavor.


Unbeknownst to me, careful cake box placement is

essential to a productive shopping trip. This was the first I’ve

 heard of such but my shopping partner was rather insistent

With a little team work, we felt it turned out pretty good and that night Savannah Morning News’s latest reporter was very happy all thanks to Chef Jude.  

Jude’s plan was to design a cake to rival Cake Wars. He had a really good idea of making the cake look like a newspaper with the headline, “Congratulations.” I tried to explain how writing with icing is different from a pencil but I was ignored much the same as when my mom tried to explain the same thing to me when I was 9.

In a soon to published blog, I travelled down to Brunswick to hang out Dinner 4Geeks’s Jeff Doke and go to the Jack Davis art Retrospective with John Trotter. Trotter does a UGA Football season calendar every year so I got mine and decided to surprise my ol’ pal and colleague, David Westbrook. You met Dave waaay back here. I am very lucky to teach with a talented faculty and even luckier to have two of my closest friends, Dave Westbrook and Steve Freenor. Our senses of humor jives well together and we are often making each laugh usually at our expense.
            Dave is a die hard Gators fan so I just knew he’d appreciate Trotter’s UGA calendar. It actually became a bit of a process. First, I had to sneak both of our posters into the media center. Our media specialist refuses to allow the illumination machine to be used for non-educational items so steal was necessary. You’ll notice the posters are upside down in case I was visited.

Here is the finished product which looks great and safe from most graffiti based pens.

So we’ll see how Dave’s transition from reptile lover to Dawg lover goes as the season passes. I feel it’s going to be a smooth transition. At least the school years is getting off to a proper start.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Changing Channels

            We have an expression around the house called “Channeling Bob.” It occurs during instances where I am acting like the Big Guy and it happens more frequently than I sometimes realize. My sister points it out to me frequently which amuses me because I see her “channeling” as well. At this point, I guess it’s obvious where we get out temperament from.

            In our eyes, the Big Guy was named Robert and we liked it that way. Yet somehow in his professional library world, Robert became “Bob.” Robert was the guy who took us out hiking, made funny faces at passing cars on the seven hour ride to Savannah, and acted more like a kid at Christmas than my sister and I did.

            Bob was the other side of the coin. He popped up during times of frustration or our misbehavior. Bob was moody with the ability to lash out without warning. Bob was always right no matter what evidence I’d bring to the table. Bob was the guy who wouldn’t let it drop that I gave up playing varsity basketball so I could join the school paper and write which was my dream.

In my fifteen year old mind, Bob was a difficult man to deal with. So much in fact, every August, I’d walk down to the Irvine Sullivan Library at which the Big Guy ran and checked out their copy of The Great Santini. It was my introduction to Conroy and gave me great comfort to read about Ben Meecham dealing with his larger than life Marine pilot Dad whom also had a dark side.

The summer has had some serious ups and downs. It’s a short break for me. I got out in the middle of June and go back the first week of August. After last year, as much time as I can get has been needed to shake off the “stink.” Kim has had an almost Greek epic quest in her job search which has paid off but it’s been tight. She actually starts today full time at the Savannah Morning News. I am so proud of her.

We’ve been dealing with court ordered family stuff all summer too as well as preparing to go back to deal with some issues regarding Kim’s credit at no fault of her own . Kim and I make an outstanding team but when a situation cuts this close to our family, it wears on the nerves. No worries, we’ve made it through because we work together but it doesn’t change how we have been put in some ludicrous situations that just make me shake my head. I’d say more but got leave something for that book I’m going to write one day. Wink. Wink.

With Kim working, I’ve been staying at home with the kids to play Mr. Mom. I’ve enjoyed my summer with Roni and Jude but it has begun to wear on us all. Their friends have been gone all summer and we could only afford one camp apiece so they’ve been getting pretty bored. I now understand why parents are so happy when kids go back to school. Lol

The kids are great but I do spend a fair amount of the day trying to find ways to keep them busy and productive so boredom doesn’t sink in. True irony here lays in my avoiding the use on my beloved Xbox360 or any other computer devices. If the kids get on there too early, the games turn their will to be creative to mush.

I’ve also instated chores to be done to get Roni and Jude not only to pitch in but start learning about responsibility. Fortunately, I have Lord of the Rings Legos as my carrot on a stick. Otherwise, nothing would get done.

But I am my father’s son. Along with the good natured and enormous desire to be the best husband and step-dad I can be, comes the baggage of channeling Bob.

Bob has been popping up this past week. My tolerance has been chipped away by the frustrations of not finding a tour guide position. I always get antsy this time of year as I wait to see what the school has deemed my subjects to teach this year and with whom. It’s frustrating to be stuck teaching special ed in a classroom where the teacher doesn’t want you to co-teach and I know nothing about the subject. The finances have been driving me nuts due to an ancient AC unit which was just replaced and stupid court costs for a credit card situation that Kim got stuck into.

            Last week, all those things began to mount on top of cabin fever. The kids are kids. Kids will do as little as possible so they can do the fun things. I know this. I have been dealing with this since 1986. Yet some reason, everything with them drove me nuts. Dishes were put up dirty which are a big no-no in our house. Clothes were shoved into dressers and not neatly. Towels on the floor. You get the idea.

            Our roles began to change in the house which was a bit of blow to the ol’ manhood and male pride. I began to notice situations where Kim was the heavy while the kids ignored me. It’s usually the other way around. Of course, I attacked in a mature and professional manner.

            I gripped tighter.

            Things got worse and Bob began to run the show.

            Channeling Bob is not like any regular form of possession where eventually I come “to” and have no idea what has occurred. Nope. During any rants or raving, I am fully aware there is a crazy man running the show because I am there watching and listening. I just feel powerless to do anything because that means you are wrong. And you’re never wrong.

            Which sounds just like something Bob would say and it brings me back to myself.

            It’s been a hard line to walk lately and to always be honest on here; I haven’t been doing my best.

            This parenting thing is crazy. I’ve always had mad respect for any single mom raising kids on their own. My close friend, Janelle Law, taught me that lesson many years ago and it’s carried through to my amazing wife who can do anything, Kim. This summer has reinforced that respect to a deeper appreciation of what moms bring to the table. I can barely do this with the two of us. I am amazed at you ladies who have done it on your own. Thank you.

            The Big Guy was my biggest influence in my life. I’ve come to realize this as I write more and more.  You take the good and you have to take the bad. Bob could be a bit of a tyrant and very difficult to live with at times. Looking back, I know it’s obvious he wanted me to be a good man and I strive to do just that for myself and as an example to the kids.

            Part of being a man is more than just living by an example. It’s about also recognizing when you are wrong, admitting it, and them moving on by trying to do better. Kim and I had a long “discussion” over this. In retrospect, I was becoming very short with the kids and also with her.  Even though I recognize my shortness combined with a dash of being moody, I know it will never just go away.

            I always tell my kids that it’s OK to be angry when something doesn’t go your way but it’s not OK to take it out on those around you. It would appear the tables have been turned on me and now I get to practice what I preach. And one thing I’ve learned with my love of the TV watching that if you don’t like the show, turn the channel. Sorry, Bob……