It’s time for the fourth chapter in the 1943 Batman serial, “Slaves of the Rising Sun”! Kind of hard to mistake the implication in that title I suppose. But just in case you did, a slew of anti-Japanese epithets should clue you in.
So we pick up from the end of chapter 3, where Batman and Robin engage in a spirited round of fisticuffs in order to thwart Dr. Daka’s plan to blow up a supply train — which I guess was a vital cog in American’s war effort against Japan? — and retrieve his lost radium gun.
Aside from the opening action sequence, the absolute best part of “Slaves of the Rising Sun” is hearing Lewis Wilson’s atrocious Indian accent. If you ever wondered what it would sound like if Boston was in the middle of India, you need to watch this.
Here are some cool images taken during a Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C., circa May 1942. As this was the first Memorial Day since the United States military officially entered World War II it likely took on extra significance. I’m no military expert so I can’t identify any of the units in these photos. I’m assuming they’re reserve units, but I could be wrong. There’s a few shots in this gallery of what was referred to at the time as a Colored unit.
Photography credit goes to Thomas McAvoy for Life magazine.
Since his introduction in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939), Batman has maintained a fairly consistent image. No doubt that’s part of his timeless appeal. That and he kicks lots of ass. So with the release of The Dark Knight Rises nearly upon us, I figured now was as good a time as any to look back at the evolution of the Caped Crusader, as seen in his major media incarnations.
For the sake of image size and my sanity I’ve not included every variation of Batman, but I think I’ve hit the most important and iconic ones. Here’s a lower-res sample of the the full infographic:
For the full-resolution version of this infographic, click HERE. You may need to right-click and open in a new tab/window if it doesn’t display correctly.
School is almost out for the summer for a lot of kids in the U.S., but they can still learn! And what better topic to learn about than jazz? That’s what Julian “Cannonball” Adderley must’ve thought, as he narrated a 1961 album called A Child’s Introduction to Jazz. It was released on Riverside Records (RLP 1435) as part of their “Wonderland” series, designed to teach kids about a variety of topics in an entertaining way.
Throughout, Adderley narrates the history of jazz and talks about the genre’s roots in work songs, blues, and ragtime, and brings the listener through Dixieland, Swing, and Bebop. He also explains the instrumental makeup and musical structure of jazz.
Numerous songs and clips back up his lessons, which makes the whole experience rather rich and informative. Some of the legendary jazz artists featured on this record are Scott Joplin, Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Fats Waller, Ma Rainey, Duke Ellington, Wes Montgomery, Art Blakey, Bix Beiderbecke, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Woody Herman, Coleman Hawkins, and John Coltrane.
This is a fascinating record and I highly recommend listening to the whole thing at least once.
(Spotify users — you can listen to many of the songs featured on Sunday Jazz by subscribing to my GFS Sunday Jazz playlist.)
We’re back for the thrilling third chapter of the 1943 Columbia Pictures Batman serial, starring Lewis Wilson as the Dark Knight! In this installment, Batman narrowly escapes death while rescuing Linda Page from Dr. Daka’s henchmen.
Page’s father — Dr. Martin Warren (Gus Glassmire) — still in Daka’s clutches, refuses again to join Daka and is turned into a mindless zombie through the use of one of the more complicated contraptions I’ve ever seen in a movie.
Batman tries to lure Daka’s men into a trap by placing an ad for the radium gun he captured from them earlier. The plan fails, and the Dynamic Duo must race to stop Daka’s men from destroying a supply train and a bridge. Can they stop them in time?
I know for a fact that I’m not alone in my love of Miles Davis’s seminal 1958 album, Porgy and Bess, or of its cover. In addition to being one of the landmark albums of Cool Jazz, it boasts a cover image that is every bit as alluring as the music within.
It could just be my imagination, but what we have here is a rather suggestive image, but perhaps I’m reading into things. You may be wondering — that’s probably Miles on the cover, but who’s the woman? And what does this have to do with Porgy and Bess? Well first, that is Miles Davis, and the lady holding his trumpet is Frances Taylor, his first wife.
The cover was shot by famed photographer Roy DeCarava, who apparently had some trouble getting it taken in the first place. According to a poster on the All About Jazz message boards, here’s that story:
Roy DeCarava said that he had been trying to track down Miles for some time to get the cover photo because the album was done and Columbia wanted to get it out there. Only thing missing was the cover photo. Miles kept dodging him, not showing up for appointments, not returning his calls, etc. So, finally, Mr. DeCarava just shows up at Miles’ house one day and knocks on the door. Miles answers the door, looks at him for a minute and just says, “ahh shit, Roy”. So Miles invites him in and they shoot the photo in the back yard of Miles’ upper west side brownstone with Miles’ wife. I think he said it took no time at all, very quick.
Funny how some of the greatest album cover images have rather simple and sometimes amusing origins, isn’t it? Think about that for a few minutes while you listen to my favorite song from Porgy and Bess, “Gone.”
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I’ll cop to not being a huge fan of the Swing Era of jazz. I certainly appreciate it for its rich history and cultural importance, but the jazz I love the most starts with the Bebop era in the mid-1940s. Still, one of my favorite tunes ever is “Swingmatism” by Jay McShann & His Orchestra, particularly the rendition I’m presenting today.
Now according to the video, this cut of “Swingmatism” was recorded with Charlie Parker on alto saxophone. I’m not enough of a historian to know any better, but it matters little. It absolutely sizzles and swings like few compositions from the era. So enjoy!
(Spotify users — you can listen to this and other featured Sunday Jazz songs by subscribing to my GFS Sunday Jazz playlist.)
Last week we started watching the 1943 Columbia Pictures Batman serial. So let’s keep it going with the second chapter, “The Bat’s Cave.” This chapter is notable in that it introduced, well, the Batcave. It had never been mentioned in the comic book — in fact, the only hideout of sorts for Batman/Bruce Wayne had been a tunnel between Wayne Manor and an old barn where he kept the Batmobile.
After a brief recap of “The Electrical Brain,” chapter two of Batman picks up with the Caped Crusader capturing one of Dr. Daka’s flunkies and bringing him to the Batcave for interrogation. Hmm, maybe not the greatest idea. Elsewhere,the Dynamic Duo make time to torment Alfred, Robin proves to be completely useless at surveillance, and Batman verrry sloooowly rescues Linda Page from captivity.
(Watch for a fun continuity error involving Batman’s cape in the big fight scene.)