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Why Bill Haley Really Rocked

 Bill Haley seems like an unlikely rock star. A pudgy guy who had been in some country bands, Bill was in his 30's when he recorded Rock Around the Clock with the Comets. There is a lot of debate about the first rock song, and it definitely wasn't Rock Around the Clock. But while it wasn't first, it was the one that broke open the dam. After the song was in the movie Blackboard Jungle rock and roll was huge, and Bill Haley and the Comets were the face of rock and roll for many people. They had a string of hits, made a movie, and got so popular the Haley was beating Elvis in reader polls for best male singer in magazines well into 1956. Haley also had to put up with his fair share of racist crap. He was picketed by white supremacist groups, not only for having the audacity to play what they referred to as "jungle music". He also played on bills with black artists and bands. Sometimes The Comets were the only white people in a revue. He also insisted on only playing

Swamp Thing #2

Issue #2 picks up right where  issue #1  left off. Swamp Thing is watching the paramedics cart off the bad guys he just killed, when a group of creatures fall from the trees and attack him. Thanks to the hypnotic powers of one, he is put to sleep. They chain him to the bottom of a plane and fly away. Matt Cable sees and is determined to follow, still thinking Swamp Thing killed the hollands. The leader of the thugs is listening in on Matt through a transmitter hidden inside a stray dog (comics!) and also vows his revenge. Meanwhile Swamp Thing awakens in a castle and continues his fight with the creatures, but is convinced to stop by an old man naming himself Arcane. Arcane has created the Un-Men, as he names the creatures, in an attempt to create a new body for himself. See, he has the secret of immortality but doesn't want to use it while he's all old and wrinkly and whatnot. So he created the Un-Men, but they are either physically strong and mentally weak, or vice versa. He

The Young Ones Series 1 Episode 1

The Young Ones was the first non-musical show to be shown on MTV. This was before my family had cable, so I didn't see it then, but I have friends who love it from seeing it at that time. The show is new to me, and while parts of it were funny over all I just don't get all the fuss so far. The first episode introduces us (barely) to four university students living in a house together. Each student is a stereotype with Neil being a hippy, Vivyan being a punk rocker, Rick being kind of a New Wave social justice warrior, (yes I'm aware that phrase wasn't in use then but it's still the best description of him), and Mike the Yuppie. There's really kind of two story threads taking place. In one Neil has decided to kill himself, but he proves to be too inept. In the other they have received a letter stating the city is going to knock down their house. Mike plans to stop them, while Vivyan plans to beat them to the punch by demolishing the house form the inside. Parts o

Salute To Claude Akins

Claude Akins was born in 1926 (some sources have listed his year of birth as 1918, causing many papers to incorrectly report his age at the time of his death as 75) in Georgia, and moved to Indiana when he was young. Claude served in the military during World War II. I haven't been able to find any record of what years his army tenure covered, and can't help but wonder if he himself didn't fudge his date of birth in order to join the army before he was of age. I have no proof for this, it's pure speculation, but it would explain the confusion about his age and I know it's something had often happened during that war. After the war he went to Northwestern University where he majored in theater.  I haven't found much about his career from his graduation in 1949 and his first movie role in 1953, but that first role was in a doozy of a movie. He had an uncredited part in From Here To Eternity with Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, and Frank

L.B. Lenoir's Car Crash

 L.B. Lenoir was born in Mississippi in 1929. L.B. is his given name, the initials don't actually stand for anything. L.B. became famous as a bluesman who stood for something though. In his early days in New Orleans he played with the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson II and Elmore James. Later he went to Chicago and played with more blues heavyweights, including Muddy Waters and Memphis Minnie. L.B. became known for two things, his flamboyant style and his songwriting conscience. He wrote topical songs that touched on things like the Korean War and the civil rights movement. Some of his songs were considered too inflammatory for release in the U.S. In April of 1967 Lenoir was involved in a car accident. He apparently seemed alright, as he was released. But all was not well, as three weeks later he died of internal injuries. John Mayall wrote a couple of songs about his death in which he mispronounced his last name (it is pronounced lenore and Mayall says lenwar) which sadly seems to b

The Crypt of Terror #17

The Crypt of Terror was the book that used to be called International Comics, International Crime Patrol, and Crime Patrol, and would soon become famous as Tales From the Crypt. Issue #17 was released in April 1950. The first story is Death Must Come! The story involves two scientists who are both in their 70's. But while one of them is old and wrinkled, the other looks like he is still 25. We find out they discovered the secret behind aging. They found that the body develops a wax that covers the glands in the body and prevents them from functioning efficiently. There is a gland in the spleen that destroys this waxy build-up, but as you get older this gland stops working. They read about a young man who was killed in an accident, dig him up and put his gland inside one of them. The subject of the experiment stays looking young, but he needs replacement glands every so often, and the time in between shortens with each operation. He has called his friend to do another transplant, bu

Alfred Hitchcock Explains MacGuffins

Alfred Hitchcock created many staples of film making, but one of the more famous is the idea of the MacGuffin. A MacGuffin is a plot device that gets the action in a story moving. It can be treasure, or information, or anything really. What it is matters less than the fact that it matters to the characters in the story for some reason. When asked to explain this concept of the MacGuffin, Hitch had a story he would tell to clarify. On an English train on it's way to Scotland one man says to another "What's that package you have there?" The other man says "Oh that? That's a MacGuffin." The first man asks "What is a MacGuffin?" The second man replies "It's an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish highlands." The first man replies "But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands." The second man answers "Then that's no MacGuffin."