Monday, May 28, 2012

“Realizations: It’s Not Easy Being… Geek!”

Summary:  Remember the kid telling the parent that “History” is harder now, because there’s SO MUCH MORE OF IT, than when YOU went to school?

I’ve finally realized the definitive reason for the existence of “The Internet”!   

...Yeah, sometimes I catch-on slowly! 

It struck me as a bolt from the blue, while reading THIS BLOG POST on Alfred Hitchcock. 

I’ll spare you all the suspense and simply say that: “We can’t be EXPERTS on things anymore, simply because there are TOO MANY THINGS to be expert on!”

While I’ll never really consider myself a true “film buff” (A code word, perhaps, for self-anointed expert?), I have posted several items concerning Alfred Hitchcock – and have at least one more “in the can” waiting for the proper moment to loose upon the unsuspecting Blog-o-sphere. 

Despite this, nearly everything in the Blog post referenced above was NEWS to me!  I didn’t know Hitch made romantic comedies (to give myself something of a break, the Blogger seemed to regard this as being generally outside of common knowledge as well) – and it occurs to me that, her place in film history notwithstanding, I’ve probably never seen a single film featuring Carole Lombard! 

…So much for my ever becoming an “expert” on film – or even the subset of “Classic” or “Golden Age of Hollywood” film that more appeals to me.  

No matter how much I post on DVDs of the Warner Bros. films of James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, and Edward G. Robinson, with a smattering of Errol Flynn – and my less-discussed other preferred areas of concentration: Alfred Hitchcock, John Wayne westerns, Abbott and Costello, and the catch-all designation of “Thirties Horror Thru Fifties Sci-Fi”… there’s still WAY TOO MUCH for me to ever become anything resembling an “expert” on film.   My respect goes to those who are.   

Yeah, I might be able to tell you some interesting things about those specific artists, films, and/or genres… but (Sniff!) you’ll need “The Internet” far more than you’ll ever need me!   …I didn’t even get some recent film questions on JEOPARDY.  

Funny… that wasn’t always the case. 

Comic books serve as a far better example of the point. 

I was not part of the formative years of fandom, but I did find my way in at a point where – with lots of diligent study and the willingness to make many personal contacts with those in (or formerly in) the field, you could accumulate enough knowledge on the subject of comic books in general to become an “expert”.  That is, someone to whom others would go with questions. 

At that point, there was “The Golden Age” and “The Silver Age”, and whatever “transitional designations” one cared to name the periods that surrounded them.  And some sort of “modern” age was beginning.  I called it “The Direct Age”, in tribute to the “Direct Market” that was on its way to becoming the driving force behind the distribution of the comic book.  Wonder why no one else went with that…

Nevertheless, I accumulated a considerable wealth of knowledge and, for a time, immodestly considered myself to be an “expert”. 

Now?  Not so much.  More like, not at ALL!  Because there’s TOO MUCH material to be (…at least by my own standards) any sort of an “expert” on.  Too much I’ve neither seen nor experienced.  Some of it, in terms of current material, best left “unexperienced”. 

...Of course, by that, we don't mean ANYTHING pictured in this post! We love ALL of these! 

Today, I’d say the best we can do is become (or remain) self-declared “experts” in OUR OWN SPECIFIC AREAS OF CONCENTRATION… and let “The Internet” do the rest. 

Our favored “Areas of Geekery”, be they comic books, animation, TV, film, music, sports, etc. have grown to such huge and unwieldy proportions that, if “The Internet” did not exist, Al Gore would have to invent it – just to hold all this stuff!  A volume of “Stuff” that is now beyond the capacity of anyone with a reasonable definition of “a life”. 

Throughout this Blog, you’ll find lots of material on the subsets of film listed above, Dell and Gold Key Comics, all Disney comic-book publishers post-Gold Key, DC Comics from the ‘60s thru ‘90s, certain areas of ‘60s TV, and specific products of modern TV animation such as THE SIMPSONS, FAMILY GUY, DC Comics Animated product and other ‘90s Warner series, etc.  As the Blog’s header states: “The Things that Interest Me”.
"Star Trek rules!"  "No! Lost in Space does!"

When I become an old man by the fireside (…or maybe the “glow” of a personal electronic device), I’ll still be available for discourse on those subjects.  But, for the rest of it, please consult “The Internet because no one can be a “true expert” these days!  

There’s just too darned much stuff to allow that anymore, sonny!  


Anonymous said...

When you "consult the internet," though, please remember that most websites and blogs are not vetted in any way. I trust TIAH and several other sources to get their facts straight, but not everybody is conscientious. Any idiot can post any misinformation on the net. And a lot of them do.

Comicbookrehab said...

The Internet allows me to have fewer reference/coffee table books on pop culture. I used to have a book that my mom bought in the 70's - a guide to "film series" - like The Thin Man, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Tarzan, The Crime Doctor, Francis The Talking Mule, Mr. Moto, Boston Blackie, Charlie Chan, Dr. Kildare and I forget if there were more, but that sounds like it. It was there that I first learned that David Niven played Sir James Bond and that anybody that looked o.k. in a rag loincloth was cast as Lord Greystoke and only the Thin Man and Bond films looked like they had a budget. I came out of reading it in a haze with the urgent need to see the 1967 Casino Royale (I have seen it - I enjoyed all the scenes with Joanna Petit - what a knockout!)and the Thin Man movies (just how confusing is that? Nick is NOT the "Thin Man"
of the title! It's like expecting all the Pink Panther movies to be about a stolen diamond! Does this mean Clouseau becomes the "Pink Panther"? Then the titles of the sequels would make more sense! Is "Pink Panther" a double-entendre? Does this mean the panther of the cartoon is Clouseau as a tall and furry pink cat? He's certainly not "The Inspector" - that's Schneider the creepy plumber from One Day At A Time!I should go back to coloring books - less taxing...

Mom got rid of the book a long time ago, but I can't say that I miss it, because the internet replaced it! :)

Joe Torcivia said...

So, so true on web site vetting, Anon!

And thank you for the complement – and vote of confidence in what we do here!


‘Rehab: Don’t know what I’d do without IMDB, but I’ll never give up my shelves of reference books!

I even refer specifically to one of those books in the huge animation DVD review I’ll have up by the weekend! It was a great help to me in sorting out the particular series in question.

The animated Pink Panther CAN’T be Clouseau ! He’s too much in control of his surroundings… especially when that “Little Big-Nose Guy” is around!

Nah, he’s probably REALLY Bugs Bunny in disguise, extending his career.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, "the thin man" was the murder victim in Dashiell Hammett's novel and in the first movie. MGM confused matters by using "Thin Man" in the titles of all the sequels (it was also the title of the series on radio and TV). Similar to calling the monster "Frankenstein." And "Pink Panther" was used in the titles of the 1970's Inspector Clouseau movies, although most of them did not involve the diamond. I guess the names just stuck, even when they were no longer accurate.

Dana Gabbard said...

As I told Joe some years ago when he first shared this lament--we who are steeped in various stuff are more needed than ever. Worrying about being an expert misses the point -- it is the intellect of the person commenting that matters, not that they are super experts. I know plenty of experts with opinions however well informed that are full of beans. As long as you don't mis-state facts you should be OK.

Anonymous said...

Mr. and Mrs. Smith was an anomaly for Hitchcock. Some sources say he made it only as a favor to Carole Lombard. I realized while reading this blog that I've only seen two of her movies (My Man Godfrey and To Be or Not to Be). Her career was tragically cut short when she was killed in a plane crash during WWII (while on a tour to promote US savings bonds for the war effort). Today, she seems to be remembered more for her marriage to Clark Gable than for her movies. Which is a shame, as she was a very good actress and comedienne.

Comicbookrehab said...

I'm still convinced the animated Pink is the cartoon stand-in of Clouseau - ever see "Sherlock Pink" or any short where Pink uses karate to take down a fly?

Fact: before he died, Sellers was writing another sequel - Romance of the PINK PANTHER - of course the romance involves Clouseau! He IS the Panther!

Well, for two cartoons he certainly was standing in for David Niven!

Joe Torcivia said...

In reverse order…

‘Rehab: I’ve always thought – and still do – that Friz Freleng’s approach to the animated Pink Panther was rooted in his Bugs Bunny. The “Little Big Nose Guy” was Elmer Fudd AND Yosemite Sam!

…And Bugs sometimes got the “business end of things”, as in Freleng’s own “Rhapsody Rabbit”, which was kinda line any Pink cartoon with a little pest in it. Being Clouseau (or his stand-in) is REAL Out-of-the-Box Thinking! I’ll give you that!

Anon: Nice insight on Hitchcock and Lombard. I very much enjoy the former, and should get to know the latter a little better. Your comments are always of great interest. You should start a Blog of your own… unless you already have one, and I just don’t know it.

Dana: Always glad to see you here. I completely agree with your stand (and Anon’s above) of maintaining one’s integrity amid the wild-west realm of The Internet.

To All: Dana and I go back nearly three decades now. He first encouraged me to write for fanzines, starting with his own.

So, you have HIM to thank (or curse) for this Blog!

*I* have lots of fun here, so I’ll thank him!

Anonymous said...

I always assumed the Inspector in the cartoons was Clouseau. AFAIR, he was never called by name in the TV cartoons, but there was a two-page ad in comic books in the early 1970's (IIRC) for NBC's new fall season of Saturday morning cartoons. In the ad for the Pink Panther show, Bingo (from the Banana Splits) said something like, "Also featuring the bumbling Inspector Clouseau." I would have thought the cartoon Pink Panther was too competent to be Clouseau, but then I remembered some cartoons where he seemed to be accident prone (especially when that British-accented narrator was egging him on). So, you never know.

Comicbookrehab said...

Anonymous: I recall reading that Hitchcock was on autopilot when he made "Mr. and Mrs. Smith", but the master's touch is noticeable in his opening camera pan of the bedroom. Otherwise, it's sitcom stuff - "Fred Flintstone Woos Again" has the same plot. In an case, people who aren't aware of the back-story have written it off as a change-of-pace.

You're right about Lombard. Her acting is very timeless - a lot of actresses from that era gave performances that would not work in today's films, but Lombard would still be busy if she had lived on.

Joe: for real out-of-the-box thinking, how about the idea that the cartoon panther and cartoon Inspector that appear in the title sequences (and in their own series) are actually two parts of the psychic apparatus that exists in the mind of the live-action Jacques Clouseau : the ego (the cartoon Inspector) and id(the pink panther) - the closest we get to having a superego is the Phantom's Glove that only appears in the first film. This explains the bizarre haphazard nature of Clouseau's survival/existence - his many reported deaths, rebirths, failed attempts on his life, his bizarre instinctive ability to be right all along when on a case and his unlikely but surprising success with disguises. In this sense, the world around Clouseau becomes the superego! A kind of cosmic karma that bails him out every time.

Oh, and yes, the "Inspector" was Clouseau, but Sellers demanded compensation for using his likeness and threatened to sue, so the series was cancelled and they made no new cartoons...but that is why he was redesigned to look even MORE like Peter Sellers when the films were revived in the 70's. This distinction made it safe to keep airing reruns of "The Inspector" cartoons and package them on DVD. In the 90's it was safe to merge the designs of both and actually use the name Clouseau when he appeared in the t.v. cartoons with Matt Frewer as the talking Pink Panther. Clouseau's voice was done by Brian George ("Babu" the restaurant owner from Seinfeld).

Oh.. there's a popular theory that Steve Martin's Clouseau SHOULD be recognized as an older and wiser version of the "Son" introduced in Son Of The Pink Panther in order to link ALL the films into a single continuity... and if you want to know why Blake Edwards thought replacing Peter with Ted Wass could work, that's a story that I'll have to write on my blog...

Comicbookrehab said...

Oh,oh,oh...The "Little Big Nose Guy"/Yosemite Sam were both considered stand-ins for Friz Freleng. In the UK, they called "Big Nose" (his current name in the new cartoons) "Steve" for unknown reasons. Now whenever I see the cartoons with him, I'm like, "Steve!". Thanks, wikipedia.

Joe Torcivia said...


Your mentioning of Hitchcock and “Fred Flintstone Woos Again” leads us to one of those great confluences of fannish association (…or, as the post’s header says: “being geeky”) in that “Fred Flintstone Woos Again” aired IMMEDIATELY AFTER “Alvin Brickrock Presents” – the wonderful Alfred Hitchcock satire episode!

“Brickrock” on October 06, 1961 and “Woos” on October 13, 1961!

And, to further tie this to the original post, I actually KNEW they were very close in the same season – but referred to IMDB (and the DVD packaging) to confirm that they were actually back-to-back!

So, Personal Knowledge augmented by The Internet seems to be the way to go. :-)

And, yep… Your last Panther Point was REAL Out-of-the-Box thinking!

“Steve”?! Really? “Steve”?! Hey, Steve… Paint my house BLUE, while I paint it PINK, okay? You cool with that, Steve?

MAN! This has been a fun topic, with lots of great comments! Love it!

Even though we’ll move to another post really soon, we never close! So, feel free to keep ‘em coming!

Anonymous said...

Mr. and Mrs. Smith certainly sounds like sitcom stuff. There were episodes of Gilligan's Island and the original Dick Van Dyke show that were based on a similar premise (a couple find out that their marriage is not legally valid). The idea was probably used in other sitcoms that I don't know about.

Comicbookrehab said...

Maybe "Steve" is Clouseau's superego...the events of "The Pink Phink" correspond with events in the live-action comedies; Clouseau's flat appears to have pink and blue wallpaper in different spots. Those excercises with Cato must put his mind at ease. ;)