Thursday, Aug 21, 2014
by Ned Wazowski
Is Spaceman Jax like Star Wars – set in a galaxy far, far away?
Over sixty years have passed since Spaceman Jax and the Galactic Adventures first premiered on TV (and then later, comics) and with each year that passes it’s always interesting to see how close we’ve come to Jax’s world in terms of science and technology. Spaceman Jax is set in Star Year 6354 ¾, of course, so if their measurement of a year is the same as ours we still have a long way to go before we catch up. However, depending on which galaxy Spaceman Jax calls home, we may be a long way away in more ways than one.
With more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe, it’s more than likely that Jax is causing trouble in some other galaxy altogether. Neither the show nor the comics ever mention the Earth, and no planet is shown with our distinctive arrangement of continents. And with the exception of the fan club pins, no reference is ever made to any of the planets in our solar system or any stellar body humans have observed. However, with somewhere between 100-400 billion stars in the Milky Way, it is still possible that Spaceman Jax is zooming around somewhere in our own backyard. For fans who think Spaceman Jax might be a future ancestor of one of us humans (heck, I’ve got a couple of family members who exhibit his particular brand of ‘spacey’), there are some theories that could offer support.
Considering that the show was created during the atomic age of the early 1960s, with fears of the destructive power of the H-bomb running high, it’s possible that in the show’s timeline the Earth was destroyed – just as Spaceman Jax’s home planet Tiberion 3 had been destroyed in a tug-of-war over its precious resources. In that case, perhaps the Earth’s absence in storylines is simply because after four thousand years, the rest of the galaxy has simply forgotten this piece of history.
Another theory explaining where the Earth is in the Spaceman Jax galaxy is that is there all along, just going under another name. Tarloc, the show’s greedy industrialist bad guy, uses the profits from his Tarloc Industries to buy up planets to exploit their resources. Each planet that he buys, he renames after himself (Tarloc XVIII or Tarloc XIX, for example. It sounds a little self-centered, but it’s pretty darn cost-effective. So perhaps the Earth was swallowed up in his galactic land grab, and by 6354 ¾ we’re now known as Tarloc XXVII.
Of course, every time I float these theories I get an inbox full of mail reminding me that it was only a cartoon, after all, and that I’m over-thinking it. (Can’t you just hear Jay Bernard, voice of Spaceman Jax, shouting that in a Shatner-esque way?) But where’s the fun in life if you don’t let yourself get carried away from time to time and take a few silly things very seriously?
Monday, Aug 18, 2014
by Ned Wazowski
The refreshing fruit that takes you right back to childhood.
Summer means many things: warm days, bar-b-ques outside and watermelon! In fact, I’d argue that the refreshing fruit is practically mandatory at picnics everywhere.
As humans, we’ve certainly been enjoying watermelon as a summertime treat since way back to ancient Egypt. Watermelon seeds were even found with the goods stored with King Tut – who certainly knew what he should bring for a refreshing snack on the other side.
Today you can find watermelons in a variety of colors, from green rinds with stripes or spots to flesh ranging from dark red even yellow. China is the world’s largest producer of watermelons, but for the priciest ones, you’ll have to go to Japan.
In Japan you can find cubic watermelons which are grown in special cube-shaped forms to give the fruit square edges. The watermelon cubes allow the fruit to be stacked and shipped more easily, and make it easier to fit into a smaller refrigerator. It all makes perfect sense, but it will set you back at least 80 bucks.
That’s not the most expensive watermelon, however. The most paid for a watermelon was over six thousand dollars at an auction in Japan. Now that’s one fruit where you’re not going to spit the seeds. Instead you’ll want to carefully collect each one and save ‘em for the kids’ college fund!
Seed-spitting contests have always struck me as odd, anyway. Don’t Moms spend a lot of energy to get kids not to spit? Then the next thing you know, it’s summertime and Mom’s organizing a spitting contest for the family reunion. How were we supposed to get in fighting shape for the contest if she always tells us to knock it off the rest of the year?
Whether you spit the seeds or just go for the seedless variety, enjoy some watermelon this summer and let it take you back. You’ll be glad you did.
Thursday, Aug 14, 2014
by Ned Wazowski
When the temperature goes up, it’s time for something silly.
Summer is many things, but one thing it’s not is serious. It’s just too hot. Too hot for neckties. Too hot for stuffy offices. Too hot for pesky rules about eating ice cream on the bus. In the summer, people celebrate the idea of spending a whole weekend lying on the beach (or picnic blanket or hammock) and doing nothing. By the time August rolls around, you need a break from taking things so seriously – which is exactly why this film is perfect for the summer.
Beach Blanket Bingo was released by American International Pictures in 1965 at the tail end of the popularity of the Beach Party genre they spawned two years earlier with their surprise hit Beach Party. Although interest in the genre was waning, this film is generally accepted to be the best of the series. The film stars Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello as Frankie and Dee Dee, respectively, whose relationship is tested by skydiving pop stars, the Malibu Rat Pack biker gang, a kidnapping and a mermaid. But in case the plot sounds too complicated, don’t worry. There are nine songs throughout the film to give you a break – or roughly one song every ten minutes. It’s all in good fun.
The film was directed by William Asher (who had just started producing and directing Bewitched with his then wife Elizabeth Montgomery), and Paul Lynde, Don Rickles, a pre-Dynasty Linda Evans and Buster Keaton round out the cast.
This was Avalon’s last Beach Party film until he and Funicello teamed up for Paramount’s Back to the Beach in 1987. The genre itself would peter out in 1966 with The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (box office success, like the bikini, never materialized). But every summer needs one last, great shindig before cooler days set in, and Beach Blanket Bingo is it.
So when the summer heat becomes unbearable and you can’t handle anything too heavy, Beach Blanket Bingo is just the ticket. It will help remind you that even summer isn’t meant to last forever.
Did you know? Although playing a teenager, Frankie Avalon was actually in his mid-twenties, married with kids.