The Today Show, 1990. Discussion of Zappa's influence in Czechoslovakia before, during, and after the fall of communism, his contribution to Jacques Cousteau's Outrage at Valdez, and his interest in politics combined with his distaste for major and third parties alike.
The Zappas on Video Games
The benefits of being a pack rat:
Sharkey posted this on his blog in...according to the date stamp, November of 2002.
I remembered it a couple days ago and I thought, you know what? I bet I don't even have to dig through old hard drives to find it. I bet my obsessive process of backing up data and copying it over from old computer to new has survived two new computers, four different Linux distributions, and I don't even know how the hell many hard drives. (I am, after all, the guy who corrupted his hard drive when he installed Windows 98 and recovered the data in 2008.)
Anyhow, I was right. Sitting right here on my current computer, after all those moves.
(And then I get to thinking, "Wait...I've only gotten two new computers in the last decade?" But then I remember no, there's also the Mac Mini I used to have hooked up to my TV and now use as a backup server, the Win7 desktop I currently have hooked up to my TV, my laptop, my phone, my tablet, and assorted old towers that have managed to pile up in my office and get used occasionally for various purposes. Plus my wife's desktop and two laptops.)
You know, just the other day my coworkers were talking about Hoarders, and I commented that the nice thing about being a digital packrat is that the data I've been holding on to for decades doesn't take up a hell of a lot of space. My comic collection, on the other hand...
Anyhow, not the point. The point is, here's Innerview: The Zappas on Video Games, by Merl H Reagle, JoyStik, January 1983. Scanned by, and from the personal collection of, Scott Sharkey, and preserved through over a decade's worth of computer migrations by packrat Thaddeus R R Boyd.
Interesting, but not altogether surprising, that games were already being scapegoated by politicians and the media for juvenile delinquency as far back as 1983.
I also love the story of Frank recording the noise in an airport arcade and then listening to it on the plane. I think he also tells the story in The Real Frank Zappa Book -- that or I've been misremembering where I read it for the past decade.
(Christ. An interview from 30 years ago which I've been copying from hard drive to hard drive for one-third of that time...)
There have been a lot of disheartening rulings, over the past few years, in cases where comic book creators or their heirs attempted to reclaim the rights to their work: the Siegels, the Shusters, the Kirbys. And Gary Friedrich.
Friedrich -- co-creator of Ghost Rider with Roy Thomas and Mike Ploog -- has fallen on hard times. Like far too many creators in comics, he's gotten old and poor and sick while the company he used to freelance for has made millions off his work. Like far too many creators in comics, he tells a story of the company promising far more than what it delivered.
Friedrich sued Marvel in an attempt to reclaim the rights to Ghost Rider. Marvel countersued -- Friedrich had been selling signed Ghost Rider prints without giving them a taste -- and, because Friedrich is not an artist, he was signing other people's Ghost Rider art.
Friedrich lost. And not only did he lose, but Marvel made an example of him. They sought not only $17,000 from a man who was too broke to pay his medical bills; they also demanded that he stop publicly referring to himself as the creator of Ghost Rider. I've seen lots of creators lose cases like this -- but never seen terms that seemed so punitive and downright mean-spirited.
Friedrich appealed. And today, a three-judge panel unanimously vacated last year's ruling.
On Tuesday, a unanimous three-judge panel of the appeals court deemed that Friedrich's 1978 agreement with Marvel was ambiguous.
"First, the critical sentence defining the 'Work' covered by the Agreement is ungrammatical and awkwardly phrased," Circuit Judge Denny Chin wrote in the 48-page opinion. "Second, the language is ambiguous as to whether it covered a work published six years earlier."
The appeals court found that Marvel was not entitled to a judgment based on its argument that a statute of limitations has expired. The court also found that there is a genuine dispute of facts regarding the authorship of the character.
And The Hollywood Reporter quotes Chin further:
Spotlight 5 had been published six years earlier by a different corporate entity (Magazine Mgmt.) and had grown so popular that Marvel had already reprinted it once and had launched a separate Ghost Rider comic book series. Given that context, it is doubtful the parties intended to convey rights in the valuable Ghost Rider copyright without explicitly referencing it. It is more likely that the Agreement only covered ongoing or future work. Hence, there is a genuine dispute regarding the parties' intent for this form contract to cover Ghost Rider.
There are several points at issue. First, like in the Kirby case, the question of whether the work was created for-hire, in which case Marvel would be the legal author, or whether Friedrich and Ploog created that story independently and therefore co-authored it and sold it to Marvel. Thomas, unlike Friedrich and Ploog, was an employee of Marvel, and the extent of his role is disputed -- was the book authored by Marvel? Co-authored by Marvel?
And, like in the Siegel and Shuster cases, there is a question as to whether (if Friedrich was a legal co-author of the work) he gave up the right to reclaim the copyright. Chin's quote above is instructive: put frankly, it requires quite a stretch to believe that Friedrich would have knowingly given up his right to termination for such a small amount of money.
I believe that legal point is also at the root of the Siegel, and especially the Shuster, cases. That the Siegel and Shuster heirs would have deliberately given up their rights to reclaim Superman for the small amount of money DC offered them -- especially the Shusters, whose payout was reportedly only tens of thousands of dollars -- defies common sense.
All that said, while this gives Friedrich another chance, it doesn't give him any guarantees -- indeed, the appellate court has already noted several facts in Marvel's favor. Jeff Trexler runs down the facts, and compares the case to Siegel's 1974 case against DC.
I don't know what Friedrich's chances are -- I wish him the best but fear that recent trends aren't on his side -- but this case has repercussions beyond his case. Even if he loses again, this case raises more questions about Marvel's 1970's-era contracts -- and that could have some serious repercussions throughout the industry.
Star Trek into Idiot Plot
Major spoilers follow, I guess, albeit mostly stuff everybody's been expecting since roughly the end of the last movie.
So let me get this straight.
Eric Bana travels back in time and kills Kirk's father.
And this causes Ricardo Montalbán to turn into Benedict Cumberbatch?
Did that happen 300 years prior to the era Bana actually traveled to, or did it cause an already cryogenically-frozen Ricardo Montalbán to turn into Benedict Cumberbatch?
Like, was he really surprised when he woke up?
I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the real Khan to be the guy in the pod they had to open up to save Kirk.
I mean, it's not like the plot reasons for Khan's ethnicity and national origin changing are that important. There is a rather strong argument to be made against the Hollywood trend of recasting minority roles with white guys (and no, trolls, casting Laurence Fishburne as Perry White is not "the exact same thing", because you see making a film's cast more diverse is not the exact same thing as making it less diverse), and, moreover, there are some rather regressive overtones in making the ultimate genetic model of a human being a pasty white guy. But as for the plot reasons? You could really handwave all that stuff. Whatever; it's just a movie; they recast the guy. Don't think too hard about it.
Which would be much much easier to do if the last act of the film weren't spent beating you about the head and shoulders with Wrath of Khan references.
After the first couple, I thought, You know, I'm getting way more out of this than people who haven't seen Wrath of Khan recently.
By the end of the film, I thought, You know, they're much happier for not getting all those damn references.
Hell, I was the only person in the theater who laughed out loud when Spock yelled "Khaaaaaaaaaaan!"
Anyway. I'm a casual Trek fan. I've seen a few episodes and movies here and there; I generally enjoy them.
I can definitely see the fans' gripes that the new movies are dumbed-down action flicks -- but what the hell, they've been pretty entertaining, and impeccably cast.
I still love Benedict Cumberbatch. Even if I don't think they should have cast him as a Mexican.
Lost Interview Part 5
Zappa on America as a candy-coated dictatorship.
Captain Beefheart vs. The Grunt People
afka.net has the first and last page of Captain Beefheart vs. the Grunt People, an unproduced Zappa screenplay. Wiki/Jawaka has a little bit more information, but only a little.
Zappa loved B movies, and this one looks like it would have been a lot of fun.
The Roxy Performances Trailer
The Zappa Family Trust released this trailer years ago -- as far as I can tell, the DVD has still not been released. Which is a bummer, because this is some of the highest-quality Zappa audio I've ever heard on YouTube.
Roger Ebert's going to be getting most of the press today. But some other important folks died these past couple days too.
You know who writes great obits? Mark Evanier writes great obits. I'll start you off with his post on Ebert.
Then there's George Gladir, unsung Archie scribe, co-creator of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and 2007 recipient of the Bill Finger Award, an award that recognizes great comics writers who don't get the attention they deserve.
A comics creator who did get plenty of attention also passed today: Carmine Infantino, one of the most important artists, creators, and editors in the history of the business. He's best known for ushering in the Silver Age between the co-creation of the Barry Allen Flash and the design of the New Look Batman. And he was art director during an era noted for stories written around crazy covers.
And I learned something about one of my coworkers today: when I told him Ebert and Infantino had died, I got a bigger reaction for Infantino. You know, I'm starting to like this place.
Last, but not least -- and I'm going with the New York Times here because Evanier doesn't have an obit for her -- yesterday marked the passing of Jane Henson, Jim's widow and earliest collaborator.
Sad times -- we lost some real talents. But they all had a good run.
Nightline 1985, Part 2
More from Donny Osmond on how G-rated movies don't sell tickets and directors add more adult content specifically to avoid the G rating. (I hear that's the whole reason for the scene in Star Wars where Luke finds Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru's charred corpses; prior to that scene being added, the film earned a G.)
And does anyone remember where interviewers could just say "A warning to our affiliates: we're going to go over"? I don't. Obviously live presentations and sporting events can go over time, but I don't remember seeing an interview do it -- aside from The Daily Show's frequent "Watch the rest on the Web!" schtick.
This one cuts off abruptly too, a product of YouTube's old 10-minute time limit.
Dear Jeepers / Letter from Jeepers
An early (1963) single with Bob Guy, host of Jeepers Creepers' Theater, one of those shows where somebody dressed as a vampire shows B-movies. Uploaded by TheVascampius.