MY CREEPY VALENTINE: Love Songs From Another Dimension

This piece was originally published February 14th, 2011.

Wolfman Valentine Post IconValentine’s Day is one of those holidays that really divides folks.

There seem to be few who remain neutral when asked about this February tradition.

For whatever personal reasons, some people grumble and immediately fire off a few shots exclaiming how much they despise the whole thing.

 

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Simmering with dislike, they view February 14th as nothing but a cheap ploy to force affection and spend some money needlessly—much to the delight of the nation’s retailers of course.

Meanwhile, sitting over in the effervescent land of candy, flowers and cards, are those who view it as a reminder of just how nice it is to be in love, to be loved and in general have a pleasant, however brief it may be, momentary bit of happily ever after.

So whatever money is spent, it’s still a bargain.

I thought it would be fun to list some of my favorite that deal with love. Yes they deal with love, although they deal with the subject in a rather tweaked, off-beat and sometimes sinister way. Hell, a few are downright dangerously obsessive and lead to nefarious endings.

So while love has been the primary subject of pop and rock and roll for decades, there are a few noble writers who have managed to take quite a different road than the normal love song.

You may have a few of your own to add to this list. Continue reading, please click here…

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I Dream Of Shoedini…

This piece was originally published January 17th, 2011.

Gilbert Gottfried Post IconBy now the world of infomercials and As Seen On TV products have been written and talked about, goofed on and parodied endlessly.

Yet, there seems no end to the inventions that these shadowy wizards are able to come up with.

Like modern day snake oil salesmen, the ever growing LLC of the fast buck is a school of commerce that continues to pull the punters in.

 

Here then, are a few favorites that have been piling up in the viewing lounge at Mystery Box HQ, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do…
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Gary Dell’Abate: Forever Baba Booey…

This piece was originally published January 3rd, 2011.

Baba Booey Post IconThere’s nothing like starting off the new year with a good book.

As well as staving off some of the winter chill surrounding The Mystery Box HQ, the distraction is a nice and gentle way of beginning things.



 

 

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And if there are some laughs involved in your reading material, then all the better.

Autobiographies are a fave of mine, and this particular one is especially worthy of interest…

The phrase “Baba Booey” has entered our popular culture.

Whether spoken by someone who has full on knowledge and knows the background of the term, a vague idea of its origin, or even absolutely no idea but they heard it said on TV or by somebody at school or work, they are words that are now bandied about, and often for no reason other than they sound funny, seems to mean something or somebody, and of course we all love some good old fashioned alliteration. 

Gary Dell’Abate is both the originator or these words and for now and forever will be known as Baba Booeyincarnate.

…and now Gary Dell’ Abate has a book.

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Continue reading, please click here…

Drew Friedman’s TOO SOON?: 15 Years of Even More Genius

This piece was originally published November 23rd, 2010. Drew Friedman Tor Post Icon

One day, the gods of all ART great and marvelous, finally will decide to roll out their lengthy gilded achievement banner listing cartoonists, illustrators and caricaturists. This banner will have been imprinted (in a Ben-Day dots process) with all the names of those who have been creatively talented beyond the skills of mere mortal men and women.

Without a doubt, near the top of this list of illustrious souls, residing among the gloriously renown names of Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Basil Wolverton, Jim Steranko, Wally Wood, Steve Ditko, Charles Addams, Edward Gorey and Robert Crumb among others, will be the name…

Drew Friedman.

For, as R. Crumb so eloquently has written, “I wish I had this guy’s talent.”

I have been a huge fan of Drew Friedman’s work for some 30 years now. Ever since I first laughed in astonishment at the panels that he and his equally talented brother, writer/musician Josh Alan Friedman (subject of a future Mystery Box column) came up with for inclusion in the seminal RAW Graphix Magazine, beginning with issue #1 in 1980.

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RAW Volume 1, Number 1 (July 1980) Continue reading, please click here…

TRIBUTE BANDS: EVERYDAY IS HALLOWEEN

This piece was originally published October 18th, 2010.

Mini KISS Post IconNormal Halloween Activity: Putting on makeup, wigs, costumes, grabbing a big cheesy prop or two and getting to pretend to be someone else.

Normal Tribute Band Activity: Putting on makeup, wigs, costumes, grabbing a big cheesy prop or two and getting to pretend to be someone else.

In the past, I’d often deride and ridicule the many “tribute bands” that have come and gone (or are still around) throughout at least the last three plus decades. I would think of them as the performing arts’ Lowest Common Denominator of bands.

I felt that while the old saying goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” the truth was closer—or so I believed—to a lack of originality, a complete loss for creativity, an inability to compose original songs, and a desire to just be a fan(atical) cog in some misguided pop dream machine.

For a number of years now, due to a few reasons, I’ve had a change of heart here at The Mystery Box H.Q. I have seen and experienced some incredibly talented and focused musicians playing in some really great tribute bands. They can be both fun, seriously good, and above all worthy of a music aficionado’s attention.


Can you guess what act Swede Dreamz is a tribute to? Continue reading, please click here…

A TRIP TO EDWARD GOREY’S ELEPHANT HOUSE

This piece was originally published September 28th, 2010.

Edward Gorey Post IconIt was decided that after being a fan of the works of Edward Gorey for more than thirty years, it was high time that The Mystery Box Field Expedition Team would finally visit his home, which is affectionately called Elephant House.


 

 

I couldn’t have been more excited for this chance to see first-hand what was now turned into a museum and thankfully, a living, breathing and ongoing exhibit of both his multitude of creations. Here you can experience Gorey creations such as The Gashlycrumb Tinies (they are also scattered through the house like a scavenger hunt), The Doubtful Guest, his animated sequences for the PBS series Mystery! plus, the everyday objects that he collected and lived among. The objects that almost invariably turned into inspirations for all his works.



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Robert Jaz’s Disoriented Guide to Super Bowl XLIV

This piece was originally published February 1st, 2010.

Larry Fine Football IconThe Super Bowl.

You’re reading those words and doubtlessly experience an instantaneous reaction to them.

In an era of total media saturation and immersion in the commercial build-up that proceeds it, a fairly difficult task is to not be bombarded by a mention of this grand American institution somewhere along your daily travels.

This Sunday is Super Bowl XLIV (that’s number 44 which means next year will be the really grand one with Super Bowl XLV, until we get to really really grand one which I guess they need to call Super Bowl L !? if they stay with the Roman style of numbering them. then again maybe they will go with XXXXX or maybe they will move to Sanscrit numbers because they look better).

 

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MAD Magazine 500th Issue Celebration!!

This piece was originally published July 20th, 2009

Alfred E. Newman IconMAD Magazine: Fine purveyors of outstanding highbrow literature, anthropological exploration, critical analysis and scientific socio-political satire for over 55 years, now gives their fans a reason to be cheerful (and dumbfounded).

Currently on newstands and available at overpriced booksellers everywhere is their…drumroll please… 500th issue!

That’s right folks, the “What Me Worry?” kid a.k.a. Alfred E. Neuman, and “the Usual Gang of Idiots” are still going strong and surviving in 2009.

Take that, Cracked Magazine!

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Continue reading, please click here…