Sunday, June 30, 2019

Gavin MacIntosh. He's mostly famous for going shirtless. At the age of 14, he was on the Freeform channel series The Fosters for three years. (Freeform is the fomer ABC Family cable channel.) His character, the handsome and athletic Connor, was openly gay, and in love with the geeky Jude foster. March 2, 2015, the characters kissed. Freeform got rid of MacIntosh's character because he was so good, so handsome, so sexy: There was no drama there. They replaced him with a gay pot-smoker who gets Byerly into drugs.

Since leaving the show, MacIntosh has barely acted. But he keeps taking his shirt off and allowing himself to be photographed. He appears to own an apparel company, and goof off.

I have a porch. Not that anyone has sat on it but me...

Friday, June 28, 2019

It's lights out for Dark Phoenix!!

The last X-Men film from 20th Century Fox has bombed at the box office. So far, the film's made just $61.5 million at the box office, with half the total coming on opening weekend. Script problems appear to have been major.

The plot of the comic book "Dark Phoenix" saga comes in two parts. The first part, known as "Phoenix", begins with Jean Grey getting her powers supercharged by a solar flare. A villain uses his mental powers to trick her into thinking she's the reincarnation of a super-villain. She goes insane. Prof. X insinuates Cyclops into her mind, where the villain "kills" him. This causes Jean to have a mental breakdown, and she frees herself of his power.

In the second part, "Dark Phoenix", Jean has fled earth. Running out of power on the far side of the galaxy, she consumes a sun -- killing the billion D'Bari living on the sun's planet. She returns to Earth. The Shi'ar form an intergalactic alliance to have Jean killed for her crime. Prof. X then invokes the Shi'ar law of "trial by combat" (good lord). The X-Men fail to beat the Shi'ar warriors. When Cyclops appears to die, Jean again has a mental breakdown and wipes out all the Shi'ar. She commits suicide.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The film's plot is complex and convoluted. It opens with a first act disconnected from the second and third. Jean Grey accidentally kills her parents when she is eight, and Prof. X suppresses her memories. Twenty-two years later, Jean's powers get supercharged by a solar flare. Jean recovers her memories and learns her father is still alive. She goes to visit him, and for inexplicable reasons the X-Men try to stop her. She kills some. She seeks help from Magneto (because these films are really Magneto featuring the X-Men) who refuses. The D'Bari (alive in this film) then come to Earth and tell her that the solar flare was really a power known as the "Dark Phoenix" which destroyed their world. It'll destroy Jean, too, they claim unless she allows them to remove it -- killing her in the process. Jean agrees, but Magneto and the X-Men stop her. Temporarily drained of power in her battle (I guess the Dark Phoenix tires easily), everyone is captured by the government. The D'Bari attack the prison train they're on, and try to kill Jean. Jean wipes them out, and then commits suicide in orbit.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On the whole, it seems to me that screenwriter Simon Kinberg -- who has written every X-Men movie for the past 15 years -- was adding and dropping characters, changing characters, and waffling between space opera and "realistic, down-to-earth characters". Fox wanted a reset, and Kinberg refused to do it -- sticking to X-Men: Apocalypse characters which fans disliked. Kinberg seems too wedded to his characters, which he created, and refused to see that fans disliked them. There are no real character motivations in the film, and the characters who appear have little to do.

  • April 2016: Writer Simon Kinberg chooses the Dark Phoenix Saga as the plot of the next X-Men film. He pitches the film to Fox as "something bold and radical" that "expand[s] the universe in the same way that 'Logan' [and 'Deadpool' feel] bold and radical". Because audiences allegedly criticized the fantasy reality of X-Men: Apocalypse, Kinberg says he'll focus on "real world imagery" such as disaster footage and lightning strikes, and focus on "relevant" themes.
  • May 2016:Kinberg decides to set Dark Phoenix in the early 2000s, a decade after X-Men: Apocalypse.
  • November 2016: Fox demands a "reset" of the franchise, and Bryan Singer decides not to return as director. James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult don't have contracts, but Kinberg writes the script to include Professor X, Magneto, Mystique, and Beast anyway. The script also includes Jubilee.
  • February 2017: Sophie Turner agrees to return as Jean Grey and Kinberg is given the directing job.
  • March 2017: Kinberg, who wrote X-Men: Last Stand in 2006, says Dark Phoenix will be written "differently" than it was for Last Stand.
  • May 2017: Fassbender signs a contract. Kinberg decides to add a "young Rogue" to the film, and moves away from "realistic and relevant" to explore "cosmic elements".
  • June 2017: Kinberg decides the Shi'ar are going to be the big-bad, and that Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Storm will appear in the film. The part of Shi'ar Empress Lilandra is written with Jessica Chastain in mind. McAvoy, Hoult, and Lawrence sign contracts. Kinberg adds Quicksilver to the script, and Evan Peters signs a contract. PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY BEGINS.
  • July 2017: Kinberg drops Jubilee (and probably drops Rogue at this point, too) and adds Dazzler to the script, whose plot Kinberg says is "hewing much closer to the original Chris Claremont/John Byrne" comic book story arc. (In fact, the script is nowhere close to the Claremont/Byrne plot.) Kinberg decides to feature original comic book X-Men costumes from the 1970s. All the costumes are designed to look "naturalistic" and "handmade".
  • August 2017: Chastain signs a contract. Kinberg now says the script will be "down to earth" and "realistic" and "not too intergalactic".
  • September 2017: Kinberg writes Colossus out of the picture, and changes Lilandra to Vuk. He changes the character Red Lotus to a new one, Ariki. Olivia Munn is signed to play Psylocke, who has been added mid-filming.
  • October 2017: PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY ENDS. Psylocke is cut from the film and no scenes with Munn are filmed. Kinberg says he will spend a year on CGI to make the film look right.
  • December 2017: Fox pushes the release date from December 2018 to February 2019.
  • March 2018: A test screening bombs. Kinberg rewrites the third act (during which Magneto and the X-Men do battle in NYC, Prof. X and Cyclops prevent Dark Phoenix from emerging, Prof. X and Cyclops prevent Vuk from absorbing all of the Dark Phoenix power and thus killing Jean, and the U.S. government captures everyone). Some scenes in the first, second, and fourth acts are also rewritten.
  • August to October 2018: Reshoots begin. Intended to last two months due to cast scheduling problems, they last three as reshoots are reshot a third, then fourth time and there are problems with the script again.
  • September 2018: The first trailer drops, even though the film is still reshooting. Some footage is not available, while other footage will not appear in the final film. Fans find the trailer boring, dull, and lackluster, and criticize the lack of big battle scenes, action, and explosions. Audiences disliked the character reboots in X-Men: Apocalypse, and are unhappy they are being used again.
  • October 2018: With reshoots still ongoing, Fox moves the film to June 2019. Kinberg has six months to finish the CGI on the third act and the reshot scattered scenes. He uses it all, worrying many that the CGI is not measuring up.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Random musings on the Democratic debates:

(1) If you thought there was going to be real discussion with 10 people on the stage both nights, and responses limited to 60 seconds, you might want to think again.

(2) I've heard people say, "Wow, I didn't know about XXXX until the debate, and I like what I heard!" -- which, to me, says you aren't taking the time to visit their web site and read their policy statements. You're so effin' lazy that you watched minute sound-bites that communciate very little information instead.

(3) Did you think the moderators called on top-name candidates more than no-name candidates? Gosh. Welcome to the media's "horse race" metaphor for describing campaigns to you. If you expected something else (like fairness), then I have a couple of bridges to sell you. Dirt cheap.

(4) Debates don't matter. Oh, candidates get a bounce for a couple of days. But the truth is, CAMPAIGNS and CANDIDATES matter.

(5) Did you watch to see who'd stumble? Would Joe Biden put his foot in his mouth? Could Cory Booker make a statement about a single policy in under six minutes? Can Beto break out? Will Amy Klobuchar go all conservative Midwesterner on people? That's entertainment value, not debate. You're watching for missteps, shocks, stammering, and stage-fright -- and not really for policies. Don't feel bad: Most people watch debates for the same reason.
Here's a conundrum: Who is the real father of Billy Quizboy on The Venture Bros.?????

We know that Major Tom Whalen was married to Rose Whalen. Yet, we also know that Rose was having an affair with The Action Man at the time of Tom's death. (When Tom came back to life due to misuse of a "metasonic locator" in the episode Ghosts of the Sargasso, Rose confessed her affair to him -- causing him to start screaming in horror again.)

So who is Billy's real father? Major Tom or Action Man???

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Dream Girl.

I'd let her predict my future.

I never liked the character much until the late 1990s. She was always a dumb platinum blonde who did nothing but slink and flirt and completely hetero-up the Legion.

Then the writers slowly transformed her. After getting brutally beaten by some supervillains, she asked Karate Kid to train her -- turning her into someone capable not just of defending herself, but of going on offense as well.

They dumped her "I'm just a big-breasted blonde" attitude and replaced it with someone who couldn't help looking the way she did... and used that to her advantage to trick, distract, and decoy any number of people who got in her way. Any villain who mistook her for another "dumb blonde" got his or her ass kicked. Any hero who under-estimated her got pushed out of her way. She knew the future, and she acted on it -- and woe to anyone who tried to stop her.

The writers also began developing her other super-talent: Science. It turns out Dream Girl is one of the galaxy's best botanists and biologists, and her knowledge of chemistry and physics is rivaled by few scientists anywhere. Even Brainiac 5 admits she comes close to rivaling his abilities.

Dream Girl's early appearances portrayed her as in love with Star Boy, who killed the man who murdered her former lover. In the 1970s, the writers turned her slutty. Instead of a free-love Naltorian, the writers imposed a weird sort of 1950s-style moral conservatism on everyone who interacted with her -- so that her flirtations and sensuality were condemned and seen as perverted.

Star Boy got shoved to the back of Legion stories in the 1980s and 1990s, and kind of disappeared. The writers then got her involved with Brainiac 5, and in the Legion "threeboot" of 2004-2009 she was portrayed as his future wife.

When the Legion got returned (mostly) to its original incarnation after the "Infinite Crisis" reboot of the DC Comics universe, Dream Girl was once more paired romantically with Star Boy. The twist this time was that she was much more interested in him than he in her, and that she repeatedly saved his life (much to his embarassment). For his part, Star Boy lusted for her, but was far less confident than she was and terrified of her powerful sexuality.

Their relationship turned tragic when she realized that his future had him traveling back to the 21st century, where his schizophrenia will go untreated. He'll adopt the guise of Starman, and die there.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

I think this is pre-shower, because he's not dripping wet.

He'll need to pull his shorts open to get the proper photograph.

Scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope have discovered electrically charged, carbon-bearing complex molecules shaped like tiny soccer balls in interstellar media.

The molecules are a form of carbon called Buckyballs -- formally known as "Buckminsterfullerene". They consist of 60 carbon atoms (C60) arranged in a hollow sphere. C60 has been found in some rare cases on Earth in rocks and minerals, and can also turn up in high-temperature combustion soot.

Life as we know it is based on carbon-bearing molecules, and this discovery shows complex carbon molecules can form and survive in the harsh environment of interstellar space.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

That's very well sculpted.

"Any lower, Mr. Bond, and my ears will pop..."

Standard Oil in Cleveland about 1889. The photographer was looking northwest across the company's property at downtown Cleveland in the far distance. He may have been standing on Broadway Avenue, or on Forest Avenue (now E. 37th).

This is where 90 percent of the oil in North America was refined from 1870 to about 1910.

That highlighted blue thing is Kingsbury Run.

June 22, 1633 – Under threat of torture and death by burning at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church, Galileo is forced to recant his view that the Earth moves around the Sun.

It was not until 1992 that Pope John Paul II expressed "regret" for the attack on Galileo. The Catholic Church has never admitted wrongdoing, however. Pope Benedict XVI has quoted others who claim the church acted "more rationally" that Galileo, believed Galileo would have undermined faith, and that the threat of torture was "just".
LOL!!! I wish I were a mad scientist and could do this...

Thursday, June 20, 2019

"The Raft", the first segment in the horror anthology Creepshow 2 (1987).

27-year-old Paul Satterfield is the hunk in the yellow trunks with the amazing package. The Blob later pulls him through the raft, folding him in half.

20-year-old Daniel Beer played the twink who survives.

Page Hannah played Rachel, the girl who dies in the beginning.

Jeremy Green played Laverne, the girl who falls asleep on the raft at night only to wake in the morning to find her face half-consumed by the Blob.

A Shin Godzilla (シン・ゴジラ , also known as Godzilla: Resurgence) primer.

Shin Godzilla is a 2016 Godzilla film produced by Toho. It is a complete reboot of the franchise, ignoring all films (even the 1954 original).

And there will be BIG spoilers....

Toho shut down its Godzilla franchise in 2004 with Godzilla: Final Wars. The studio had had a run of iffy Godzilla films in the 1990s, with some downright appalling stinkers (Godzilla v. Space Godzilla, for example). The studio also felt that audiences wouldn't accept a completely CGI Godzilla, and it wasn't capable of investing in extensive CGI at the time.

The success of Legendary Films' 2014 effort Godzilla changed Toho's mind. In December 2014, Toho announced that a new domestic Godzilla film would enter production. Toho had allowed its staff to work on Godzilla concepts for maybe as many as five years already, and in 2013 almost OK'ed production. But the studio was financially ailing, and felt a new Godzilla film was too much of a risk. The Legendary Pictures film changed that thinking.

Shin Godzilla was chosen for the title due to the variety of meanings the word "shin" conveys, such as "new" (新), "true" (真), or "God" (神).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The studio turned to Hideaki Anno, creator of the popular anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, as director and writer. Shinji Higuchi, co-founder with Anno of Daicon Films and a renowned anime storyboardist, was named the co-director. Higuchi had worked on Godzilla 1984 as well as all three Gamera movies in the 1990s. He'd also just directed the two-part live-action films Attack on Titan.

Selection of the co-directors was made in March 2015, and Anno produced a script within two months. Anno wanted Godzilla to be inspired by real-life events, much as the 1954 film was inspired by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He decided to draw on the two 2011 disasters that hit Japan: the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

Since Anno and Higuchi were working so closely together from the beginning, the film came together very quickly. Principal photography began in September 2015 and ended seven weeks later in October.

The design team jettisoned the hackneyed "Godzilla is an irradiated dinosaur" idea, and instead conceived of Godzilla as a fish and reptile combined by nuclear contamination like that released by Fukushima. Instead of repeated attacks by the creature, they decided Godzilla should evolve, appearing in an immature form at first, then as an adolescent form, then as an adult creature. They also decided that Godzilla should be a "force of nature" without personality or intent.

Mahiro Maeda provided the new designs for Godzilla. His work was inspired by the tiny arms and massive legs of the T. Rex, and newly released footage of animals with unusual jaws like the goblin shark and gulper eel. All three versions of Godzilla have fish-like pop-eyes, and deep-sea fish-like spindle teeth.

Toho originally wanted to use a combination of puppets, robots, and CGI, but changed to a full CGI film mid-way through the production.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The plot:

The Japan Coast Guard investigates an abandoned yacht in Tokyo Bay. Their boat is mysteriously destroyed and the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line is flooded. (The Aqua-Line is a bridge-tunnel combination that cuts across Tokyo Bay and connects Tokyo to the city of Kawasaki.)

News reports show a massive tail emerging from the bay during the events. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi argues for a military response, but the Prime Minister vacillates, worried about busting the budget, looking too militaristic, wanting more information -- completely risk-avoidant.

The Prime Minister assures the public that the creature is unable to come on land. So of course it moves inland via rivers and climbs on land in the Kamata district of Tokyo. At this point, Godzilla has massive hind legs but no front limbs. It moves by heaving itself like a worm, leaving a path of destruction.

Eventually, the monster comes to a stop and vomits an enormous amount of red liquid. It begins to evolve on the spot, turning into a reddish-skinned form that can stand upright on its hind legs.

The creature begins to emit massive amounts of heat, and it returns to the river and then the bay.

Yaguchi is put in charge of a task force to research the creature. Members of the task force prove hesitant to make conclusions, fearing what will happen if they are wrong or how their careers will suffer.

High radiation readings in the Kamata district lead a few members of the group to theorize that the creature's DNA is unstable and evolving because it is energized by nuclear fission.

Japan calls for international help, and the U.S. government sends a special envoy, Kayoco Anne Patterson. She reveals that the yacht in Tokyo Bay was owned by an anti-nuclear zoology professor, Goro Maki. Maki studied mutations caused by radioactive contamination, and a while back warned that Fukushima and other nuclear power plants would eventually cause a mutant monster -- which he called "Godzilla" -- to appear. His research, funded by the American government, is labeled secret. Patterson and the Japanese Coast Guard reveal that some of Maki's coded research notes were found aboard the yacht.

Godzilla reappears, twice its original size, and makes landfall near Kamakura. The Japan Self-Defense Forces attack but have no effect. Godzilla moves into Tokyo. The U.S. Air Force offers to kill Godzilla, but government officials want to evacuate the city first to minimize civilian casualties. As civilians flee, Godzilla wreaks more and more destruction and seems to mature into a more solid, armored creature.

The USAF finally is given the go-ahead. Several B-2 bombers drop "bunker-buster" bombs on Godzilla. The creature is damaged, but quickly recovers.

Godzilla now emits laser-like atomic rays from its mouth and dorsal spines. It destroys the B-2s and takes out a helicopter with top Japanese government officials in it. It then breathes what appears to be a massive amount of smoke. The creature's breath turns to fire, igniting the smoke and destroying much of downtown Tokyo. The fire then becomes a purple laserbeam, and as Godzilla pivots and moves it slices through skyscrapers and other structures.

Depleting its energy, Godzilla enters a dormant state and becomes immobile.

Yaguchi's team discovers that Godzilla's spines and blood work as a cooling system. They believe the creature can be stopped if frozen. Time now becomes important: Yaguchi's team, analzying tissue from Godzilla which ripped lose during the bomber strike, discovers that Godzilla is continually evolving AND asexual. The creature may develop into a more terrible form over time. Worse, as it matures, it is likely to "bud" -- creating hundreds of new Godzilla children.

Patterson tells the United Nations about the Yaguchi team's finding. The UN Security Council, worried about a worldwide wave of Godzillas, votes to permit the U.S. to use thermonuclear weapons against Godzilla should the Japanese fail to subdue it.

A terrified and submissive Japanese government evacuates more of Tokyo and the surrounding area. Patterson, whose grandparents survived Hiroshima, uses her political connections to buy time for Yaguchi's team -- even though the Prime Minister and cabinet have no faith in it.

Yaguchi's team deciphers Maki's encoded research, which helps them formulate a plan. Using Patterson's connections, they bypass the paralyzed Japanese government and secure international help in the freezing plan.

Using infrared and other technology, the Yaguchi team knows when Godzilla will awaken. The USAF uses drones to provoke Godzilla into using its atomic breath and lasers again, depleting the creature's primary weapon. Godzilla is then lured into an area where all the buildings are loaded with explosives. Trains and light rail cars filled with bombs are rammed into Godzilla's feet. When the explosives detonate, Godzilla is knocked down and rendered unconscious.

Tankers rush to the monster's side and inject fire-retardant coagulant into Godzilla's mouth. The monster awakens, and again bombs and trains are used to knock him down and out. More coagulant is forced down his throat. Once more, Godzilla awakens, and many hundreds of workers are killed. Just as Godzilla is about to regain the use of its atomic breath and lasers again, the coagulant works and freezes the creature solid.

The United Nations calls off the nuclear attack. But it warns that, if Godzilla shows any sign of life, an atomic attack will come immediately.

Yaguchi's team observes that the radiation emitted by Godzilla has a very short half-life, which means Tokyo can be rebuilt.

The film's final shot is of the tip of Godzilla's tail, where humanoid Godzilla-like creatures are frozen in the process of emerging from beneath the skin.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Japanese critics gave the film overwhelmingly positive reviews. Shin Godzilla was the highest-grossing live-action Japanese film of 2016 and became the highest-grossing Japanese-produced Godzilla film of all time. It received was nominated for 11 awards at the Japanese Oscars, winning seven -- including Best Picture and Best Director.

Western critics gave the film mixed reviews. It saw an October 2016 limited release.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In May 2018, Toho announced that there will not be a Shin Godzilla sequel. Instead, the studio will adopt a "shared universe" model similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This will require Toho to lease indicia (Monarch, the look of Godzilla and other creatures, etc.) from Legendary.

Toho is barred from releasing a live-action Godzilla movie in any year in which Legendary Pictures does so. This effectively prohibits Toho from releasing a sequel until 2021. Legendary's Godzilla will see films released in 2019 and 2020. Toho could not get a sequel out until 2019, and so there couldn't be a film until at least 2021. Morever, Legendary's contract to use Godzilla expires in 2020. Toho, which gets a big chunk of Legendary's Godzilla box office, is likely to renew the contract. It is UN-likely to interfere with Legendary's release schedule, which makes a Toho Godzilla film unlikely until 2022 or even later.

The Legendary contract does not mention animated films. Toho has produced three anime Godzilla films, Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (November 2017), Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (May 2018), and Godzilla: The Planet Eater (November 2018).

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Monday, June 17, 2019

Gloria Vanderbilt died today at the age of 95. Today's Vanderbilt news reminded me of R.J. Brande -- benefactor of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

The Legion made its first appearance in Adventure Comics Vol 1. #247 (April 1958). They appeared again in 1959, twice in 1961, and once in 1962 before finally becoming a permanent back-up feature in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #300 (September 1962). The Legion became the main feature (with Superboy moving to back-up) with Adventure Comics Vol 1. #309 (June 1963).

It wasn't until almost a decade later that R.J. Brande made his appearance in Adventure Comics Vol. 1 #350 (November 1966). He was created by writer E. Nelson Bridwell and penciller Curt Swan.

Brande's role in the formation of the Legion isn't told until Superboy Vol. 1 #147 (May 1968). His history would be retconned in Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes #3 (March 1981).

Originally, Brande was the galaxy's richest man, having made a gazillion smackeroonies by building stars. When returning home to Earth one day, he's saved from an assassination attempt by Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and Cosmic Boy -- then teenage tourists on their first trip to Earth. Impressed by their heroism, he decides to found and fund an organization of heroes.

As retconned, Ren Daggle is a Durlan, a shapeshifting alien. Durlans are widely distrusted in the galaxy because of this, and largely stay on their own planet. He and his wife Zhay have twin children, Reep and Liggt. Zhay, Ren, and Ren's brother Theg come down with Yorggian Fever, a deadly illness. Zhay dies. Ren and Theg survive, although shapeshifting will cause their deaths. Each shifts just one more time, into human form (so they can pass more easily among the galaxy's denizens). In the long run, however, there is no cure and the disease will return and kill them.

Ren leaves his children in the care of Zhay's sister, Ji. Ashamed of his inability to shapeshift, he adopts the name Rene Jacques Brande and begins using his knowledge of shapeshifting to research various technologies. He invents a means of creating stars out of nebulae, and embarks on a career making artificial suns for clients. He becomes one of the richest men in the galaxy, and buys a private planet where he builds a home.

Theg learns of Ren's new identity as R.J. Brande, and decides to kill him so that Brande's vast fortune will be placed in trust for Reep and Liggt. Theg intends to embezzle it and become wealthy on his own. He hires assassins to kill R.J. Brande when he travels to Earth. Luckily, three super-powered teenagers -- Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad -- were visiting Earth at the same time and stop the assassination at the Metropolis spaceport.

Brande is deeply impressed with the heroism of the three youths. Heroes had not existed on Earth or anywhere in the galaxy, really, for a long time. But Brande believed it was time for heroes and heroic organizations to re-emerge to combat a wide number of looming threats, and he asked the three teens to form a "Legion of Super-Heroes". Brande backed the Legion with his immense wealth by building starships for them to use, funding their activities, creating a high-technology base of operations, and much more.

Reep Daggle grew up to become one of the most adept shapeshifters of all Durlans. He joined the Legion as Chameleon Boy, but R.J. Brande -- still ashamed of his inability to shapeshift and feeling guilty about abandoning his children -- kept his parentage of the new Legionaire secret.

The Yorggian Fever returned, and Brande fell into a coma and began to die. By this time, a cure for Yorggian Fever existed -- but it required a blood transfusion from an immediate relative. Brande's identity as Chameleon Boy's father was revealed, and Reep saved his father's life.

Brande's identity was retconned a second time after DC Comics rebooted its comic book universe in 1985 with the "Crisis on Infinite Earths". He was reintroduced as a 20th century Durlan who helps found the intergalactic police force known as L.E.G.I.O.N. The villainess Glorith later brings him forward in time, where he founds the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th century.

In 1994, DC Comics rebooted is comic book universe yet again in "Zero Hour". R.J. Brande helps create the Legion once again. The writers of the Legion comic book intended to make Brande a time-traveling Martian Manhunter, but the idea was shot down by JLA editor Dan Raspler (who didn't want one of his heroes fucked around with). Nevertheless, the writers kept dropping hints that Brande is J'onn J'onzz.

The Legion's origins were retconned against after yet another DC Comics reboot, "Infinite Crisis" in 2005. Brande did not appear in this short-lived reboot.

Another reboot happened with "Final Crisis" in 2008. This is a close analogue to the 1958 orginal team and its history.

R.J. Brande dies in Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #1 (October 2008) after he is assassinated by business rival Leland McCauley IV. Itis only after his death that the Legion learns that he was a Durlan and Chameleon Boy's father. In this timeline, the reptilian Durlans nearly wiped themselves out in a thermonuclear war. The few survivors developed shape-changing abilities, but devolved physically into giant green tentacled worm-like creatures. (This comic reveals a lot about Durlans. They can shift into any shape, but the forms they take do not necessarily have the powers of the thing they are imitating. A Durlan's individual genetic make-up causes this limitation. Only on rare occasions can a Durlan take the form of something and realize he/she can mimic the powers of the thing they have formed.)

Brande was inspired to leave left war-ravaged Durla by history books documenting Superman's exploits and found the Legion. Using ancient Durlan technology, he found a way to reinvigorate red dwarf stars -- making him the galaxy's fifth or sixth richest man. In turn, he used his wealth to help rebuild Durla after millennia of degradation; funded a research institute which developed a form that Durlans could take that wouldn't freak people out (the orange-skinned humanoid with antennae); funded research that re-invented time travel (the Legion's Time Bubble); and proved that Superman was no myth by bringing Superboy forward from the 20th century.

In a final act, Brande sends a "Last Will and Testament" into the 21st century to Starboy (who has now taken the name Starman and is staying in the past). This is a trick, designed to avoid detection by the supervillain Brainiac -- who is trying to alter time so that the Legion never forms. Brande's "will" contains all the information necessary to stop Brainiac's plot.
The great mystery of Agnes Moorehead's life is Sean.

Moorehead and her husband, John Griffith Lee, were on the verge of divorce in 1952. They'd long talked about adopting children, but never had any. They separated in 1950. In late 1951, while visting a children's hospital, Moorehead learned about a woman with 14 (FOURTEEN!!!) children. Sean was one of them, born in California (with a twin sister) allegedly on January 6, 1949. The boy suffered from anemia, gum disease, severe malnutrition, and some undiagnosed lung problem (bronchitis, pneumonia, or tuberculosis). His mother was putting six of her children up for adoption, and Sean had been in two foster homes already. Moorehead took pity on Sean, and about December 20, agreed to become Sean's foster mother. (She did not foster Sean's sister. According to Debbie Reynolds, another wealthy Hollywood actor or actress adopted her.)

Moorehead divorced Lee on June 11, 1952. She never adopted Sean (by her own admission), but acted as his foster mother and legal guardian until he was 18.

Many newspapers comment on how Sean was a redhead like Agnes, but color photos show him with dark brown hair.

Moorehead was often on the road in plays or doing films, and Sean lived alone, supervised by maids Freddie Jones and Polly Garland and by a man named Jack Kelk. (Kelk was 14 when he was cast in 1933 on The Gumps, a radio program on which Moorehead starred. They became lifelong friends.) Sean spent summers at Moorehead's farm in the Muskingum Valley in southeast Ohio. His letters to her are heartbreaking, begging her to come home and love him, telling her how much he missed her, how he'd been a very good boy and wanted her to see him. When Moorehead was home, she was a strict disciplinarian. She believed in proper manners, and forced him to act like a Victorian child. She never permitted Sean to be himself around her. She often was absent when his birthday rolled around, but almost always sent him presents. (She missed it once.)

Sean became deeply troubled. His abandonment issues worsened. Larry and Mark Russell, the grandsons of a wealthy neighbor, played with Sean sometimes when he was at Moorehead's home in Los Angeles. They said Sean became increasingly possessive of toys, even food. Sean wanted to be called Eric (although no one knows if "Sean" or "Eric" was his birth name) because he said he hated "being Sean". No one seemed to like him. (Debbie Reynolds and her kids were the exception. She said Sean was nice and well-mannered.) Some time between 1965 and 1967, he broke into Moorehead's home safe and stole money from her.

Moorehead sent Sean to boarding schools in Wales and Switzerland. He played piano well, spoke French like a native, and became acquainted with Paulette Goddard (then living in Switzerland).

When he came home for the summer in 1963, he'd grown his hair long. Moorehead, who loathed the hippie movement and anything libertinous, demanded he cut his hair. Sean ran away (probably to San Francisco) for three weeks. When he returned, Moorehead again demanded he cut his hair, and he did so.

Moorehead finally brought Sean home in 1965, and enrolled him at a private school, Le Lycee Francais de Los Angeles. Sean hung out with hippies and counter-culture types, wore outrageous clothes, drank alcohol, wanted to experiment with drugs, and listened to psychedelic rock. Moorehead was enraged.

The following year, Sean wanted to enlist in the U.S. Army and go fight in Vietnam. Moorehead refused to let him. He was on the verge of running away from home and lying about his age when Debbie Reynolds intervened. She said, "You should learn about what you're getting into," and Sean agreed to visit a VA hospital with her to talk to soldiers about war. Meeting mained veterans unnerved him, and he dropped the subject.

Sean graduated from Le Lycee Francais in 1967. A few weeks later, Moorehead found a dismantled gun in a drawer in his bedroom. She confronted him, and demanded that he leave her home. He did. A short time later, Moorehead learned that a warrant had been issued for Sean's arrest for failure to appear in court for a traffic violation and failure to have a driver's license.

Sean had left the country with Mark Russell. They went to Switzerland, and stayed with Paulette Goddard for a time. Russell returned to the U.S., but no one knows what became of Sean after he left Goddard's home. Moorehead apparently heard a few times from friends about his whereabouts, and he may (or may not) have tried to obtain money from her once or twice.

Moorehead had only six more years to live, and Sean did not come to see her while she was in the hospital during her final illness. Moorehead left no provision for him in her will.

To this day, no one knows if Sean Moorehead is dead or alive, where he is, or what name he's been living under.

Sunday, June 16, 2019


I was never a fan of Bewitched. I acknowledge that it's still popular, though.

I was talking to someone on Facebook about the show, and they loved Agnes Moorehead's famous "hippie" print caftans. I said they weren't "hippie" at all -- and Moorehead would have been quite unhappy to have them described as such.

The caftans were designed by Vi Alford and Byron Munson. Alford is often said to the "women's wardrobe" and Munson "men's costumes", but they largely functioned as a team. They took inspiration from Moorhead's own design for the "flying costume" (worn by Endora when she was supposed to have been flying around on a broomstick or via magic), which had a green chiffon cape over a purple (broadcloth?) dress with bodice.

In his biography of Moorehead, Charles Tranberg says that Moorehead loved long (below the knee) tailored skirts that showed off her waist. You see a lot of her own wardrobe on screen, too, in part because most people working on contemporary film and television in the 1960s were expected to provide their own wardrobe. That's true of Bewitched as well. Elizabeth Montgomery, for her part, had very specific ideas about what middle-class Samantha should wear. She largely rejected the wardrobe designed for her by the Alford and Munson, and wore her own clothing. It's why Samantha's wardrobe is predominantly green for several seasons, and you see the same clothes over and over and over.

Moorehead used much of her own jewelry (costume and fine fashion) on the set. Nearly everything you see Endora wearing in terms of earrings, rings, necklaces, bracelets, and so on where owned by Moorehead.

Moorehead also designed Endora's eye makeup. She felt it was impish, not devilish or camp.