Requiescat In Pace: Stan Lee

( I originally posted this at The American Catholic and I thought the comic mavens of Almost Chosen People might be interested in it.)

Stanley Martin Lieber, better known as Stan Lee, passed away today at age 95.  A World War II veteran, Lee  worked for virtually his entire adult life, except for his time in the Army, for Timely Comics, which became Atlas Comics and, by the early sixties, Marvel Comics.  After DC comics, the colossus of the comic book world at the time, met great success with its revival of superheroes in the mid fifties, Lee followed suit in the early sixties, but with a twist.  His superheroes had human frailties and wrestled with the type of problems that normal people deal with.  In short, he made superheroes more realistic.  He understood that such realism made his heroes and heroines more heroic, not less.  His strategy worked, and Marvel unseated DC, which was rather like Avis beating Hertz.  Lee assiduously also developed a loyal fan base.

For the past few decades Lee has not been involved in the operations of Marvel Comics, contenting himself with being the public face of the company and with humorous cameos in the numerous films based on Marvel comic book characters.  His wife of 69 years died last year, and recent stories about him have focused on allegations that his daughter, or others, have been attempting to take advantage of him, the type of very sad conflicts that often seem to surround the very elderly with money. Unlike in comic books, happy endings are not assured in real life.

However, none of this can diminish the entertainment and inspiration that Mr. Lee gave to hundreds of millions over the years, including me during my boyhood.  Excelsior Mr. Lee, and may this quotation now stand you in good stead:

“There is only one who is all powerful, and his greatest weapon is love.”
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Published in: on November 15, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Death of a Nation: A Review

 

 

I saw Death of a Nation, the latest film of Dinesh  D’Souza, on Saturday with my bride and son.  Overall I was disappointed by it.  The review is below the fold and the caveat as to spoilers is strictly in force.

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Published in: on August 20, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Death of a Nation: A Review  
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Aretha Franklin: Requiescat in Pace

 

Something for the weekend.  I Say A Little Prayer, sung by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.  She died this week at age 76, leaving behind a body of work that will give joy to generations to come, and that is not a bad legacy.

Published in: on August 18, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Aretha Franklin: Requiescat in Pace  
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Sad News

“I’m afraid you have it all wrong, all of you.  I’ve been monitoring some of their old-style radio waves, the empire spokesman trying to ridicule their religion, but he couldn’t. Well, don’t you understand? It’s not the sun up in the sky. It’s the Son of God.”

Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, Star Trek, Bread and Circuses episode

 

 

Sad news that actress Nichelle Nichols, at age 85, has been diagnosed with dementia.  Prayers for her and her family.

Published in: on August 13, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Sad News  
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The Untouchables: Death Theme

 

Something for the weekend.  The Death Theme from The Untouchables (1987).  With all the news about Chicago violence this week, my thoughts have turned to this wonderful, albeit ahistorical, movie.  The music by Ennio Morricone is wonderfully evocative of time and place.  The sad and powerful music recalls for me the line from The Lord of The Rings It is a sad thing to be a Man, but it is a proud thing too.

 

Published in: on August 11, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Untouchables: Death Theme  
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The Man in the High Castle Season Three: October 5, 2018

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Ecclesiastes 12:5

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61souSkwDk4

 

Well that took a while.  I have eagerly anticipated Season Three of the Amazon Prime Series The Man in the High Castle, and it will finally premiere on October 5, 2018.

The late Philip K. Dick, paranoid, left-leaning, mentally ill and drug abuser, was nevertheless a science fiction writer of pure genius.  His book The Man in the High Castle (1962) introduced me as a boy to the genre of alternate history, with his unforgettable evocation of a United States divided by the victorious Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.  One of the main plot devices in the book is a novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy which posits an alternate reality in which the Allies won World War II.  Like most of Dick’s work, the book suggests that the dividing line between alternate realities can be very thin.

Dick’s novel brings out the contingency of history, a factor overlooked by many people.  History is what has occurred.  While we are living it, making our contribution to what will be the history of our times, we understand that what will be is the result of many factors and predicting the future is a fool’s game.  The past seems rock solid by comparison.  Understanding however the events and circumstances that shaped the past, and also comprehending that different paths could easily have been followed, gives us a different view of the past and the present.    It is one thing to go through life with the philosophy that “what will be, will be” and quite another to appreciate that the future depends upon what we and our contemporaries do now.

Published in: on August 7, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Man in the High Castle Season Three: October 5, 2018  
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The President on the Duke

The things you find on the internet! President Reagan being interviewed in 1988 about John Wayne:

 

Wayne was ever a friend and supporter of Reagan:

 

Published in: on July 12, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The President on the Duke  
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Steve Ditko: Requiescat In Pace

 

 

In my misspent youth I collected comics.  (As a sign of advancing maturity I got rid of them when I was 13.  If I had saved such treasures as my beloved Spider-Man #2 I could have a tidy sum now!).  Perhaps my favorite comic book was the initial run of Spider-Man drawn by artist Steve Ditko.  Spider-Man became a crime fighter due to his beloved Uncle Ben, his foster father, being slain by a burglar that Spider-Man could have apprehended but did not due to his having been too self-absorbed to help a cop chasing the burglar.  I always thought Spider-Man had a powerful motivation as his lack of action, his sin of omission, led to the death of Uncle Ben, and as I was taught early by the nuns, a sin always requires reparation, and Spider-Man’s reparation was to fight crime, a theme that was constantly remarked upon in the comic.

I identified with Spider-Man.  Spider-Man was a bookish teenager lacking social skills suddenly vested with great powers.  He was also broke and his travails over money had a ring of familiarity to me.  My favorite Spider-Man story of the Ditko era was a trilogy in which he was suffering from the flu and had to stop the bad guys and somehow get the serum necessary to save the life of his Aunt May who was seriously ill.  It sounds silly in that bare bones summary of the plot, but the story arc emphasized some good lessons for a growing boy:  courage against the odds, fighting for those you love and that superpowers do not make the hero since Spider-Man lost much of his as a result of the flu, and was even more heroic as a result.

Steve Ditko, the legendary artist who drew Spider-Man, has passed away at age 90.  In a field dominated by Leftists, Ditko was a follower of Ayn Rand.  He had a very distinctive style, go here to see samples of his work.  His stark drawings were a reflection of how Ditko looked at the world.  Good and Evil were realities to him, and not merely differing shades of gray.  In 2004 Ditko wrote about another of his comic book heroes, Mr. A:

“Mr. A stands for a rational, objective philosophy of positive, pro-life premises and values. That is symbolized by his white and black card. A is A, no graying, no contradictions: Reality is an absolute, man is a rational being, reason (logic) is man’s only means to knowledge, man’s life is the standard of value, the good is that which supports a rational life, man must act on objective, rational virtues of integrity, independence, honesty, etc. The moral man is the man who leads a productive life, at his best in thought and action. …. Mr. A’s values are the highest values, the best values, for a man to live by if he wants the best life has to offer.”

A rather reclusive figure, as far as is known Ditko never married and had no children.  He politely declined requests for formal interviews, although anyone who wanted to could stop by his Manhattan studio and talk to him if he had the time.  Somewhat of a restless figure, not always easy to work with,  he was employed by many comic book companies during his career.  Ditko went his own way during his life, rarely willing to temper his art to suit his employers.  May he enjoy in the next life the peace and joy that his characters strove for.

 

Published in: on July 10, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Steve Ditko: Requiescat In Pace  
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Groucho Marx Interviewing Rod Serling

The things you find on the internet:

Broadcast on Tell it To Groucho, the short-lived successor to You Bet Your Life, on April 2, 1962.  Marx was a born interviewer.  A seventh grade drop out, not unusual at all in his time and place, Marx made up for it by being a compulsive reader and, aided by his lightning wit, could hold his own with the most brilliant of his guests.

Published in: on June 25, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Groucho Marx Interviewing Rod Serling  
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Lost in Space

Something for the weekend.  Theme songs from Lost in Space.  As a kid I loved the show, even though even at the age of eight I realized the show was science fantasy rather than science fiction.  The 1998 Lost in Space movie left me cold as it was too dark for my tastes and did not fit the lighter tone of most of the episodes of what was often an especially silly show.

 

 

 

A new Netflix take on the show debuted yesterday.  The episodes I have thus far watched aren’t bad.

 

 

 

Published in: on April 14, 2018 at 3:25 am  Comments Off on Lost in Space  
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