July 2006


Superman: The Twenty-Second Coming


Since that summer night in 1934 when writer Jerry Siegel came up with the Superman legend as we know it (he was initially conceived as a villain), there seemingly has been an endless number of adventures for this superior being, throughout our life and times. And they have been told via every conceivable medium and execution you can imagine: comic books, newspapers, radio, movie serials (broken down into 15 breathtaking weekly “chapters” as we remember them in the early fifties, starring Kirk Alyn), animated cartoons, various TV series and feature films (starring of course Christopher Reeve) and even a Broadway musical. We never seem to tire of him nor his saga.

And now, he is back! Yet again. Yet, another major motion picture, Superman Returns, starring newcomer Brandon Routh.

This one is steeped in Christian allegory, what with Brando intoning (yes, Marlon has been “resurrected” for a posthumous performance— that’s how good an actor he is!) such prophetic lines as:


“They only lack the light to show the way.”

“I have sent them you, my only son.”

And there’s that descending-through-space-in-the-Crucifixion-pose scene.

And while the Superman-as-Christ allusions are so pronounced in this film (Superman Returns to Save Mankind From Its Sins headlines the NY Times review), Jerry Siegel did not have that in mind when he created the character over 60 years ago.

In an excerpt from an interview in the 1940’s, he spoke of the source for his inspiration:


Clark Kent grew not only out of my private life, but also out of Joe Shuster's (the artist for Superman). As a high school student, I thought that someday I might become a reporter, and I had crushes on several attractive girls who either didn't know I existed or didn't care I existed. So it occurred to me: What if I was really terrific? What if I had something special going for me, like jumping over buildings or throwing cars around or something like that?

Still, intended or not— and maybe it’s the traditional Catholic teaching in us—Superman as a Christ figure, has always jumped out at us. Like, from Day (or “Duh?!”) One. Way back when we were still in short pants.

We mean, it is so obvious. You make the call.


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Only in LA: The Voice of Rocket J. Squirrel


So here’s our son, walking the family Chihuahua up the private road. A lost Jaguar pulls up alongside him, and asks directions to a nearby restaurant. He provides it.

The driver, a woman, then asks the lad if he has ever heard of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Well of course he has! What do you think we’re raising here?

Whereupon, she begins to do the voice of “Rocky” followed by that of “Natasha.” And she does it perfectly. As she should. Because she is June Foray. And Rocky is the most famous of the countless characters to whom she has given the gift of her wonderful voice. She has in fact, been unofficially titled: “The Queen of Voice Performers.” Headshot and résumé follow:

Born in 1917, June Foray has become the goddess of animation voice actors, having a career that has spanned over 60 years. She has been the voice for Granny (Sylvester and Tweety's owner) from the Warner Bros. cartoons. Granny has even had a revival of sorts in The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries and Baby Looney Tunes. More of her work includes Merry Melodies, Smurfs, Tiny Toon Adventures, Disney's Mulan, and the Flintstones. And she was the voice of Rocky, Natasha, Nell Fenwick, and other female characters on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.


Ah, LA. That’s why we live here. For the culture.

A special thanks to you Ms. Foray! That at 89, you’re still not acting your age. And that you are still bringing smiles to the faces of yet another generation. Even the Chihuahua seemed amused.


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IWOSC Reads Its Own

The Independent Writers Of Southern California (IWOSC), of which we are members, will once again sponsor its twice-yearly public reading program at Border’s Bookstore in Westwood, on July 9th, from 7-9pm (Free admission).

We will be participating, along with approximately a dozen other members— each of us assigned about ten minutes reading time.

The program covers a broad spectrum of writing genres including novels, short stories, plays, non-fiction, essays, poetry and something called a Muse-Letter.

We have participated on two occasions and found it to be a very stimulating and fun evening. Yes FUN. Many of the pieces are of a more humorous bent. Hope you can join us.

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This Book Will Save Your Life: A Novel


We had never read a book— fiction or non— that so captures the quirkiness of LA, in all its culturally peccadillo-ed splendor. Not to mention that type of angst that is so indigenous to this particular coast. And yes, incongruously, the title This Book Will Save Your Life does suggests something along the lines of the “self-help” genre rather than that of a novel.

Its author, A. M. Holmes, is a bold and edgy writer whose credits— beyond her nine books— include: contributing editor at Vanity Fair, short story and essay writer for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper’s; winner of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, etc. And while she resides in New York (of course), she must have spent a good deal of time here, as evidenced by the likes of…


“Ahead, in the distance, there is something orange and smoky; it takes him a moment to decide— brush fire or simply dawn in Los Angeles?”

However, the book is not about LA per se, but as Stephen King in one of the book jacket blurbs, suggests:


“I think this brave story of a lost man’s reconnection with the world could become a generational touchstone, like Catch-22, The Monkey Wrench Gang or Catcher in the Rye.”

We might not go that far (and what is The Monkey Wrench Gang by the way?), but Ms. Holmes can write. And having had the opportunity to speak with her at a couple of book publishing parties, we have found her to be an interesting woman in her own right, beyond the dynamics she brings to the page.

Anyway, she had us by page 4.


“He began to cry. He cried without making a sound, and when he realized he was crying, the very fact of crying, or the fear of it, told him that something was very wrong. And he cried harder.

Was this “It”? Was this how “It” happens? Was there something before this, something he should have noticed, a warning? Either this was the warning or this was IT.”



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Fun Fact For The Fourth From Philadelphia


With the Fourth of July here, we offer this little gem from America’s history:

Contrary (to Popular Belief), which happens to be the book title from which this fact was excerpted (Joey Green; BROADWAY BOOKS; 2005), George was not the first.

Here is how that goes, as taken directly from the Mr. Green’s book. Follow the bouncing ball:


• The United States was established on July 4, 1776. George Washington was inaugurated thirteen years later, on April 30, 1789.

• During the intervening years, the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia drew up the Articles of Confederation (the first American constitution.)

• In 1781, Maryland representative John Hanson was elected the first president of the Congress of the Confederation. His official title was “president of the United States in Congress Assembled.”

• After Hanson, seven other men served as president:

o Elias Boudinot
o Thomas Mifflin
o Richard Henry Lee
o John Hancock (and we thought he just hand a fancy handwriting)
o Nathaniel Gorham
o Arthur St. Clair
o Cyrus Griffin

• In 1787, congress held a constitutional convention. The delegates wrote the current constitution, ratified by the states in 1788.

• The following year, the ratifying states elected Washington our nation’s ninth president (but the first under the new constitution).

More information than many of us will ever want to know, for sure Yet it does serve as a reminder that history and government are not about key dates and names, mandated for memorization while in grade school. It is about what transpires in between those dates; in between those holiday weekends of summer.

We were especially reminded of this having just returned from Philadelphia; THE place where most of the aforementioned drawing up, ratifying, signing and electing took place.

The setting for such history is quite dramatic and moving. Although we must admit, we were somewhat taken aback by the size and location of The Liberty Bell. We somehow expected it to be better hung, so to speak.

Ah, but Jim’s on South Street was everything it was cracked up to be in terms of making the quintessential Philadelphia cheese steak sandwich. Arteries be damned! But we digress. Have a great 4th!


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