Saturday, February 03, 2007


Firestorm didn’t start out as an African-American superhero. He was at first Ronnie Raymond a teenager who was in the wrong place at the wrong time when a nuclear accident happened and he was able to merge with Professor Stein and together they became Firestorm. Ronnie was in charge of the body because Stein had been knocked out before the accident. However, Stein was able to mentally talk to Ronnie to advise him on what actions to take. Ronnie was able to remember what they did as Firestorm but the Professor was not. When Ronnie saw the toll that it was taking on the Professor’s life Ronnie told him of their shared identity.
As Ronnie Firestorm in some ways resembled Richard Rider who became Nova over at Marvel Comics. In some ways their comic book careers mirrored each other. Both of their series were hits but popularity quickly died. They stayed in the comic book buyer’s eye by being members of superhero teams. Nova was in the New Warriors and Firestorm hit it big with membership in the JLA. Their popularity came back and both were given new series but the Fury of Firestorm lasted the longest. Eventually it too was canceled. It was during Infinite Crisis that we found out that only Ronnie died on their last assignment, investigating the murder of Sue Dibney, but the Professor was still alive in space. He merged with an African-American youth named Jason Rusch. Jason told Stein that Ronnie was dead. After helping him through his grief Jason and Stein became the new Firestorm. His adventures continue to this day and many of them dwarf the adventures that Ronnie had as Firestorm. Mr. Raymond will always be my Firestorm but it is great to know that Jason and Martin will continue in the role.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

This Day in Music History: The Beatles and I Want to Hold Your Hand

On February 1,1964, this day in music history, the dividing line between the rock and roll eras in America was completed. On one side of the line was Bobby Vinton who had the last hit of early era and on the other side was The Beatles with the first hit of the new rock and roll era. That song is I Want to Hold Your Hand. Other performers of the early era would still have hits from time to time over the next year or two but today is the anniversary of the beginning of the British invasion.
Brian Epstein, The Beatles manager, thought he would never get his group to have any hits in the USA. For one year the Beatles had become huge stars in England and the next logical step in their careers was to have them go to America. They were on the EMI label in England and he kept trying to get Capitol, the American label that EMI owned, to put them on their label. Their answer was always no. They said they may be a hit in England but you don’t know how to make records for America. So they licensed some of their songs to smaller labels in America like Swan and Vee Jay records just to give them a presence in the States. Mr. Epstein was not going to give up. He tried one more time when he took a trip to New York and gave a demo tape to Brown Meggs the director of eastern operations for Capitol Records. Mr. Meggs thought the record might do well in America. Before he left New York he met another man. He was a talent scout who saw how big the Beatles were when he was in England. He was at the airport in England when he saw a huge crowd greeting The Beatles when they were returning home from Sweden. When he left New York Mr. Epstein had signed The Beatles to Capitol Records and to a television deal to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show.
I Want to Hold Your Hand was released in England on December 5,1963 and went to #1. When American DJ’s saw how big it was they didn’t want to wait for Capitol to release it in the USA on January 13,1963. Some of them had friends who had been to Britain and bought them copies and they started playing it immediately. Capitol advanced their date to December 26,1963. A few weeks later it was #1 in the USA.
If you scroll down you can see a rare photo of the Beatles back stage at the Ed Sullivan Show.

Beatles backstage

Here is a photo of the Beatles backstage of the Ed Sullivan show. Ed is pretty clear and you can tell George is standing in front of him. It looks like John is to his left and I believe Ringo is on George's right. With all the people with hand held cameras and recorders it seems to be the media event announcing their apperance on the show. This is all speculation on my part but that is what I think it is.

Remembering George Harrisons Birthday

I remember reading that George Harrison said that he was born in February 1943 in the book The Beatles Anthology. He didn't say what date it was so I am placing this on here on February 1st. I thought when I was writing last December on the day Lennon died that it seem crazy to celebrate the day someone who's work you liked and respected died. Why celebrate that day? It almost sounds like your glad they are gone. Why not the day they were born? So from now on I plan on posting celebrations of the day those people were born and will try to ignore the day they died. So if any of George Harrison's family comes across this then I just want you to know that he is fondly remembered and he gave all of us a good time with his music and movies.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

This Day in Music History: Blondie and The Tide Is High

John Holt originally wrote and recorded the song "The Tide Is High" with his Jamaican band the Paragons. When Blondie was in London someone gave the group a compilation tape and that song was on the tape. When Deborah Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie heard the song they loved it and thought it could be a hit. It was the music more then the lyrics that they fell in love with. Deborah said "The musicality of it was just beautiful-beautiful melody, beautiful treatment. The harmonies on the original are very exciting." The difference between the original recording and Blondies is in the harmonies. Deborah again said that "the harmonies are slightly different because theirs are men's voices, so they are hitting some lower notes then I would hit." While there were many songwriters in the group they decided to record this outside song. It was included on their new LP. Their faith in the song was well founded when it was released as a single in November of 1980. It climbed the chart up to the #1 position on this day in music history January 31, 1981.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Wait Till Your Father Gets Home!

The classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon series Wait Till Your Father Gets Home comes to DVD this year but no exact date has yet been announced. Harry Boyle was your typical conservative Dad and he often clashed with his children the smart and liberal daugther, his older but dumb unemployed son and he smart money minded younger son (around 10 years old). The mother was very loving of them all but when there was trouble with the kids she always told them to Wait Till Your Father Gets Home. The show was released locally in first run syndication.

Pre-order season one of WKRP in Cincinnati

One of the funniest shows of the late 70's is now on DVD. WKRP was pretty accurate on what it was like to work at radio station and very funny at the same time. Season one is being released in April. You can click here to pre-order season one of WKRP in Cincinnati on DVD No cover art yet but I will show it to you when I know it is available. Till then I hope you like the TV guide cover.

This Day in Music History: Rose Royce and Car Wash

After years at Motown co-writing and producing hits like I Heard it Through the Grapevine for Marvin Gaye, War for Edwin Starr and many songs for the Temptations like I Can't Get Next to You, Papa Was A Rolling Stone and many more Norman Whitfield proved he was a mastermind when it came to making hit music. In the early 1970's he put together eight men and one woman to form the group Rose Royce. They had a few hits but their biggest was the title song for the hit comedy film Car Wash. Mr. Whitfield was asked to score the film and he asked Rose Royce and the Pointer Sisters to preform some of the non-stop disco/funk music for the film. Mr. Whitfield said he tried to have the music fit the mood of each scene. For example you would have some tense music in the scene where someone tries to talk a man out of holding up the place. With that in mind the opening theme seems like a car going through an automatice car wash. You hear handclaps as the water sprays the car. Then the bass comes in as the brushes are cleaning the car. As the car is finished running through its cycle the music is at its height. All of this came together to make Car Wash the #1 song in the country on this day in music history January 30, 1977.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Do you fall into discouragement after spiritual highs?

Elijah was afraid and fled for his life.… Then he went alone into the desert.… He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die.
1 Kings 19:3-4 NLT

Elijah experienced the depths of fatigue and discouragement just after his two great spiritual victories: the defeat of the prophets of Baal and the answered prayer for rain. To lead him out of depression, God first let Elijah rest and eat. Then God confronted him with the need to return to his mission in life—to be God's prophet.
Elijah's battles were not over; there was still work for him to do. Often discouragement sets in after great spiritual experiences, especially those that produce a high level of emotional excitement or that require a lot from us physically. When you feel let down after a spiritual "high," do what is necessary to restore your inner resources. And remember that God still has a purpose and plan for you.

Marvel in house ad

Remember seeing these ads for King Size books of your favorite comic books? Sure you had to pay twice the price but you knew it would be worth it. Even if the extra pages were reprints from the 40's or 50's chances were that story was new to you. Also, speaking of events you can come here on Feburary 1st for a my event celebrating Black History month when I will be posting character blogs of an African-American superhero each day.