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Steve Ditko – The Fountainhead Behind the Fountain-Pen

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oc1Even if you’re not a comic book fan, you’ve likely heard of Stan Lee. He’s been the mouthpiece of Marvel Comics since you were in little pants.  No pants, even. He had a hand in creating the most well known characters in comic book history like The Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and X-Men, among others.

Stan has been criticized for sopping up the credit (and the cash) but the older he gets the more readily he admits to relying on artists and writers to flesh out the look and feel of his characters. Artists like Jack Kirby, who in a perfect world would be as well known as the Beatles. At the risk of being too allegorical; that would make Steve Ditko the Rolling Stones of comic book artists.

Every self respecting comic book fan knows about Steve, but your run of the mill types have no idea who he was or what he brought to the drafting board. He designed Spider-Man, tantamount to designing Mickey Mouse. There’s few characters as easily recognizable. Yet he didn’t receive a dime for any of the Spider-Man films. Thanks, Obama.

I didn’t exist in the sixties so I missed out on Ditko’s early Spider-Man work until I read Origins of Marvel Comics when I was maybe 12. By then the franchise was twenty years old and I was more accustomed to Johns Romita, Byrne, and Romita. Jr.. Ditko’s style seemed too old-timey for me. It would be some years before fell hard for that old-school style and devoured all the reprints. I mean… Dr. Octopus? Elektro, Green Goblin, Sandman, The Lizard?! Mysterio? Come on!

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DocOctASM12That same Origins publication included the Ditko creation Dr. Strange. I hear that was something of a shock to the system at the time. Very surreal and metaphysical, and more internalized than the spacey worlds created by masters like Kirby.

Late sixties drug culture took an instant liking to it. They sat around getting stoned and reading Dr. Strange like folks would do years later listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. The drug culture was certain they found a kindred spirit in Ditko, even though the man never used drugs and was more a student of Ayn Rand. His character Mr. A was a direct influence on Alan Moore’s Watchmen hero Rorschach.

Ditko packed up his pens and left Marvel. Some say he had enough of Stan Lee’s liberal politics seeping into the editing. Like most things, it’s probably more complicated and we’ll likely never know. Ditko ain’t telling. He’s not a fan of limelight in general and interviews in specific. Now, goddammit, get off his lawn.

The new Dr. Strange movie may not make Steve Ditko a household name, but maybe seeing him in the credits will spawn some sort of cultural reinvestment in the fountainhead behind the fountain-pen.

Ditko Panel

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Hip Hop Now

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Here’s five acts doing their thing in the first installment of Hip Hop Now.

Chicago rapper Saba‘s new record Care For Me features Chance The Rapper on “Logout.”

From Everything is Fine, a collaboration between rapper/satirists Jean Grae and Quelle Chris, here’s “Zero.”

Tyler, the Creator stays weird and rhymes chicken nugget with fuckit on rap nugget “Okra.”

Dallas rapper Bobby Sessions lost his cousin to police violence and channels that energy into the controversial “Like Me.”

Rapper/actor A$AP Rocky samples Moby‘s “Porcelain” on “A$AP Forver.”

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A Quiet Place

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“A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.”

1522983854988A lot of skepticism crossed my mind when I first saw the trailer for A Quiet Place. A lot of familiarity to the falsely-marketed It Comes of Night were smeared all over this film. A family trapped in what seems like a post-apocalyptic world, forced to farm, hunt, and live like 1930’s Okie’s in the dust bowl. No real explanation of what happened and what is hunting them. Nah! I figured that they would foresee the comparisons and will stray away from the “its the people that are the real monsters” trope.

Thank the Lord that they did.

From the beginning of the film we see that there is a real threat, and the family is just trying to live in silence, literally. They have to keep extremely quiet in order to not be heard by the creatures who kill by sound. The theater experience was very interesting for this film as the audience fell to dead silence, as if we were participating in the same scenario.

This movie relied heavily on some tremendous acting. John Krasiniski not only directs but stars with real-life wife Emily Blunt, and holds down the lead role with a mix of grit and sincerity. Blunt knocks it out the park as the mother who suffers through grueling moments, pantomiming some extreme pain that had the audience cringing with tension.

More impressive were the kids. Noah Jupe, who has been quietly making waves with his acting in movies such as Wonder and the sub-par film Suburbicon, was stretched in this movie portraying the son, but Millicent Simmonds, who I couldn’t pinpoint to any other film, carried a lot of the emotional weight and was burdened with the heaviest guilt.

Now the creatures were obviously CGI and it was noticeable, but when they make their grand appearance it doesn’t really matter. The way they hunt, move about, and made their weird clicking noise, made them fascinating monsters and even a bit creepy.

This movie did a great job of mixing emotion and tension and even though I found it toned down on the horror, I think it could have a few people curled up in their seats from the thrill.

Overall Grade: B

This movie was good and it was held up but some truly stellar acting, directing and writing. Don’t expect a lot of horror, but do expect to be uneasy with a few scenes. Oh, the ending was simple but very bad-ass!

Drama, Horror, Thriller
April 2018
Director: John Krasinski
Paramount Pictures
1 hours 30 minutes

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Aegyo – What the What?

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You know how you and your significant other do the baby talk thing? Come on, you do it, admit it. Sometimes you talk to each other in a childish voice or make silly little gestures that you would never use at, for example, a business meeting or at the dentist. Well, this is a whole cottage industry in South Korea and they call it Aegyo. 

Aegyo, a tool long leveraged by South Korean ladies to get what they want through sheer cuteness, has been leveraged by male and female K-Pop Idol groups to ginormous success. In fact, there are songs where one can do little cutsey gestures to the whole thing. Two popular aegyo anthems are The Gwiyomi Song and Oppaya, and there are videos aplenty on YouTube where folks of all ages and backgrounds vie for cringe-worthy cuteness. Some of these videos have millions upon millions of views. There’s even K-Pop Idol shows where folks watch each other express aegyo and react with howls of laughter.

Holy cow, the more I talk about this, the weirder it gets. Yet, I can’t look away.

Other cultures are jumping on the band wagon, too. Check out the videos below for some adorable examples.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcgGASL8EXo

 

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