Tag Archives: Predator

It’s here! It’s here!

My Johnson Smith Company catalog has arrived!!  This is the first time I’ve gotten one in the mail in … 30 years?  35?  (I ordered it on a lark when I wrote that Throwback Thursday post a few weeks ago.)

What a trip!  The mail order company has definitely changed somewhat.  The catalog is far fewer pages now; as you can gather from the picture below, it’s closer in size to those free circulars that you can pick up outside the supermarket.

I was disappointed to see that there are fewer pranks and novelties aimed at kids.  (Whoopee cushions and X-Ray Specs, for example, are nowhere to be found.)  There are far more wares aimed at adults — they include a surprising number of sex toys for both men and women.  (The company adamantly asserts in bold red letters that these items are Non-returnable.)  There is an abundance of pro-Trump merchandise too — check out that “Donald Trump Life and Times Coin & Trading Cards Collection” in the second photo.

Ah, well.  You can still find some cool stuff.  Those “Alien” and “Predator” … “Body Knockers(?)” look pretty neat.  And that Mego “Nosferatu” doll is goddam spectacular.  (I had no idea that the Mego Corporation  was still making toys.)  I don’t know whether its eyes glow in the dark, but I really, really want to believe that they do.

 

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Throwback Thursday: early 1990’s “Aliens” and “Predator” comics.

I was chatting here with a friend last week about the “Aliens,” “Predator” and “Aliens vs. Predator” comics produced by Dark Horse Comics in the 1990’s.  While Marvel, DC and Image Comics all specialized in their superhero universes, Dark Horse tended to corner the market on hot properties in science fiction and horror.  (The company actually did try to compete by launching its own superhero line, but its unsuccessful “Comics’ Greatest World” universe lasted a mere three years.)

Dark Horse acquired the rights to the biggest science fiction movie characters of the first half of the decade, including “Aliens,” “Predator,” “Terminator,” “Robocop,” and “The Thing.”  It also produced great books in other genres too, like Frank Miller’s legendary “Sin City” series, Matt Wagner’s brilliant “Grendel,” and “Indiana Jones” comics.   (I never actually saw “Indiana Jones” on the shelves; the two retailers in my smallish Virginia college town never carried it.)

Perhaps strangely, I don’t remember any regular ongoing series for “Aliens,” “Predator” or “Aliens vs. Predator.”  Instead, the company published limited series on an ongoing basis.

Dark Horse had been a young company back then — it had started only four years earlier, in 1986.  But I’ll be damned if the people running the company didn’t know their stuff.  Not only did they snatch up big-name properties, they did a great job in producing consistently high-quality “Alien” and “Predator” books.  (Maybe “Aliens: Genocide” wasn’t as good as the other series, but it was really more average than flat-out bad.)  I honestly don’t know how they managed to publish such uniformly excellent comics that drew from a variety of creative teams.  The “Big Two,” Marvel and DC, produced their share of mediocre comics — even for tentpole characters or major storylines.  (See the “Batman” chapters of DC’s “Knightfall,” for example, or Marvel’s “Maximum Carnage” storyline for Spider-Man.)

Was Dark Horse’s track record better because their target audience was adults?  Did they just have really good editorial oversight?  Or did they maybe share such oversight with 20th Century Fox, which had a vested interest in its characters being capably handled?  I’m only guessing here.

I’ve already blathered on at this blog about how I loved “Aliens: Hive,” so I won’t bend your ear yet again.  An example of another terrific limited series was “Predator: Race War,” which saw the title baddie hunting the inmates of a maximum security prison.  And yet another that I tried to collect was “Aliens vs. Predator: the Deadliest of the Species.”  The series had a slightly annoying title because of it was a lengthy tongue twister, but, God, was it fantastic.  I think I only managed to lay hands on four or five issues, but the art and writing were just incredibly good.

Take a gander at the covers below — all except the first are from “The Deadliest of the Species.”  I think they are some of the most gorgeous comic covers I’ve ever seen, due in no small part to their composition and their contrasting images.  And I’ve seen a lot of comic covers.  I think the very last cover you see here, for Issue 3, is my favorite.

I would have loved to collect all 12 issues … I still don’t know how the story ended.  (It was partly a mystery, too.)  But at age 19, I absolutely did not have the organizational skills to seek out any given limited series over the course of a full year.

In fact, this title may well have taken longer than that to be released … Dark Horse did have an Achilles’ heel as a company, and that was its unreliable production schedule.  Books were frequently delayed.  To make matters worse, these were a little harder to find in the back issues bins.  (I don’t know if retailers purchased them in fewer numbers or if fans were just buying them out more quickly.)

I suppose I could easily hunt down all 12 issues of “The Deadliest of the Species” with this newfangled Internet thingy.  But part of being an adult is not spending a lot of money on comic books.  Maybe I’ll give myself a congratulatory present if I ever manage to get a book of poetry published.  Yeah … I can totally rationalize it like that.

 

 

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Throwback Thursday: “Star Trek,” the Original Series

I really missed the boat with last week’s Throwback Thursday — it was the 50th anniversary of the entire “Star Trek” franchise, with the first episode of the original series airing on September 8, 1966.  (And even the term “franchise” seems way too narrow to describe “Star Trek” in all of its incarnations — it’s really more like a permanent part of western popular culture.)  I’m not old enough to remember the show’s original run, which was a surprisingly scant three years.  But I remember it in syndication when I was not much more than a baby in the mid- to late 1970’s.

“Star Trek” was something that my older brother and maybe my father watched.  (I was fixated on programming that was more comprehensible for young kids, like “Land of the Lost” and reruns of “The Lone Ranger.”  Seriously, the original black-and-white serial western was still in reruns back then.)

But “Star Trek” was definitely something I was attracted to as a tot, doubtlessly resulting, in part, from the contagious ardor for it that I saw in my older brother.  (He might not admit it today, but he was a bit of a hard-core science fiction fan long before I was.)  The show was on at our tiny house in Woodhaven, Queens, quite a lot.  He also had toys and posters connected with it.  (And anything my older brother owned was something I endeavored to play with when he wasn’t looking.)

He had that Captain Kirk toy among the figures produced by Mego that you see in the bottom photo.  (Again, 1970’s “action figures” were often pretty much indistinguishable from dolls.)  In the early 1980’s, he had a totally sweet giant poster depicting diagrammed schematics for The Enterprise in surprising detail.  I’ve Google-searched for it, but found only similar pinups.  The one hanging in the room we shared was blue.

I remember him annoyedly correcting me because I called it “Star Track.”  (I did not yet know the word “trek.”  I myself was confused by my own mistake; I knew that there could be no “train tracks” in space, even if I studied the opening credits one time just to make sure.)

I was precisely the sort of pain-in-the-ass kid who fired off an incessant barrage of questions when I saw something on TV that I didn’t understand.  My father was patient to a fault when I punctuated his World War II movies with inane questions.  (I’m willing to bet I eventually acquired more knowledge of the war’s European theater than the average six-year-old.)  My brother was not always so forbearing.  I actually remember him changing the channel away from shows he was watching, like “Star Trek” or “MASH,” if I joined him at the little black-and-white television we had in our room.  (The poor guy needed me to lose interest and go away, so that he could at least hear the damn show.)

Certain “Star Trek” episodes remain memorable to this day, even if I understood maybe 15 percent of what transpired onscreen.  The was The One With The Domino-Face Men, which the Internet now tells me was actually titled “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.”  Then there was The One Where Kids Ruled Themselves on a Deserted World, which made a really big impression on me.  (The Internet tells me this one was “Miri.”)

As I grew up, the show faded from prominence in my child’s psyche.  It was just never my fandom of choice.  Nor was it for many other kids I knew … by the 1980’s, it was already considered “an old TV show.”  The kids on my street were always excited about the feature films; even if we were underwhelmed by the “slow” first film in 1979.  Blockbuster movies were major events back then, and fewer, and they were enigmatic in a way that is impossible after the Internet’s arrival.  (I think that Millennials will never be able to understand that, in the same way that you and I can never appreciate the vintage “serials” that our parents watched before the main feature at a Saturday matinee.)

In the 1980’s, just about every boy I knew was preoccupied with the space-fantasy of “Star Wars.”  On television, we had cheesefests like the original “Battlestar Galactica” and “V.”  As we got older, we gravitated toward the “Alien” and “Predator” film franchises.  At home, I read Orson Scott Card and Harry Harrison, and as I approached college toward the end of the decade, I’d discovered Arthur C. Clarke.  If we’d known another kid who was really into “Star Trek,” I’m not sure we would have considered it “nerdy.”  It would just have been very weird, because it we viewed it as a campy tv show from maybe two decades prior, like “Bonanza” or something.  I don’t think I ever even thought of the franchise as really relevant or popular until I was at Mary Washington College in the 1990’s.  “Star Trek: the Next Generation” would regularly draw kids out of their dorm rooms into the lobby at New Hall.

Still, it’s hard not to develop an emotional attachment to something that stimulated your sense of wonder as a tot.  I … felt pretty damn sad when Captain Kirk died in 1994’s “Star Trek: Generations.”  I saw it in a theater in Manassas, Virginia, I think, with my girlfriend at the time.  She actually felt she had to console me after seeing how doleful I was on the drive home.

 

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Uh … is this really the best way to protect children from Internet predators? Seriously.

Check out the video linked below, in which a local FOX affiliate films parents and an Internet prankster teaching adolescent girls about online predators.

I’m going to go ahead and express what I am certain is the minority opinion here. Of COURSE I agree with the goal of protecting children from Internet predators. But is this the best way to do it? Just think about it. What we have here is an elaborate, staged situation that could traumatize a child, which is THEN BROADCAST and is PERMANENTLY ACCESSIBLE via the Internet. I don’t care if the girls’ faces are blurred — I’m willing to bet that their classmates, neighbors and extended family members know exactly who they are. And now there is a documented public spectacle that could follow them throughout their lives.  (And any other Internet user could easily blog it, tag it, or link to it with the girl’s name.)

This is at least a bizarre manner of teaching children, and at most potentially harmful. I can’t imagine that something like this could be condoned by any child psychologist, or very many professional educators.  Who comes up with these ideas?  The Internet prankster, Coby Persin, whose modus operandi is impersonating adolescent boys?  The parents?  Parents can be idiots.  It’s why so many children can be idiots.  (I have schoolteacher friends.)

[EDIT: I should not have named Persin as a “professional” prankster or “consultant” in an earlier draft of this blog post — it implied that he is paid for his services.  Persin’s Youtube account is set up to receive donations and has paid advertising, but I don’t see any evidence that he was paid by the girls’ parents.]

I generally think it is a very bad idea for parents to broadcast footage of them disciplining their children. It just seems … simple-minded, and maybe even (consciously or unconsciously) a bid for attention by the parents.

But, hey — I’m no expert. Correct me if I’m wrong.

I actually DO know exactly how to protect oneself from the movies’ “Predator.” You cover yourself with mud so that he cannot see you via his infra-red vision; then attack with with non-metal weapons, as Arnold Schwarzenegger did in 1987.  I don’t have kids, but if I were raising adolescent girl, we probably WOULD re-enact that film. Any girl of mine would be raised to be the next Ellen Ripley or Sarah Connor.

FOX 12 Oregon: “Social Media Dangers”

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I have mastered the camouflage of the alien “Predator.”

I did.  And I have the photograph to prove it.

Observe.  The first photo is of me at Shenandoah National Park, climbing Stony Man Mountain over Labor Day weekend.  The second and third photos are of 20th Century Fox’s eponymous film monster, bane of alien xenomorphs the galaxy over.  YOU CAN SEE THAT THE TECHNOLOGY IS THE SAME.

Or … similar, maybe.  I am still not sure how the hell I pulled this off.  (It was supposed to be a normal picture taken by one of my old classmates.)  I suspect my camouflage results from the fact that I am so skinny that light can actually travel THROUGH me under certain conditions.  And it is fueled by the power of nerd.

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