Thursday, June 07, 2007

marvel stan lee tezuka star nagai wars !!11!!

As threatened, here are some pix from the issue of "Foom" I mentioned previously somewhere, I think on Anime Jump... "Foom" was Marvel Comics' in-house fan magazine, and in the late 1970s they were making deals in Japan for things like the crazy Japanese Spiderman TV show, stuff like that.

Here's Stan Lee meeting Osamu Tezuka:

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Here's Stan Lee meeting Go Nagai:

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Best of all, they got Go Nagai (or Ken Ishikawa, or SOMEBODY at Dynamic Pro) to do some Star Wars artwork:

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The best part about that Star Wars pic is thinking how Marvel fans would react, how Star Wars fans would react, and how anime fans would react. The article is more or less a hook to hang some publicity photos on, but Marvel's guy in Tokyo mentions how widespread the Japanese comics industry is, how the storytelling pace is a lot slower and more cinematic, how American style comics simply won't sell in Japan, and more or less demonstrates a firm understanding of the Japanese pop culture industry, which is interesting for 1978, because it took thirty years for anybody to actually put any of this understanding into practice in the US (and it wasn't Marvel). Also neat is the mention of all the other fantastic co-productions that were in the works for Japan, including a Japanese Silver Surfer. Don't hold your breath waiting for that one, 1978.

Also fun is the consistent use of the word "oriental", which is bar none still the cheesiest way to refer to anything Asian.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

the four marjoes

four images of popular television and screen star Marjoe Gortner.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New for 1986!!!

This is a translation of an article detailing new anime video releases for 1986, from the long defunct magazine "Globian". Enjoy the confusing, slightly meandering and elliptical descriptions of forgotten cartoon gems of the golden age of the Original Anime Video (or Original Video Anime, if you prefer).

translated by Bruce Eimon
(courtesy Lorraine Savage)


VIOLENCE JACK
The world of Violence Jack is a world of darkness due to meteors and volcanic eruptions. Huge meteors attack earth and destroy the surface of Japan. Some of the meteors land on and disrupt volcanoes. These volcanoes spring up all over Japan. The sky became dark with ashes and magma destroyed all the green life.A comet hits and destroys the sun. There is anarchy over earth. In the confusion force becomes the only means of justice. Men use violence, women fight back or become suppressed. But one woman is different; Mari fights violence with love.People have to kill to eat. What do we do? We suffer.

GARIAN (Galient?)Garian, which was on TV for a while will have a video that is different. Garian is a historical drama of planet Arsutu; a son avenges his father's death.

SPT LAYZNER III
This TV series was cancelled. Part III will be the last part not shown on TV. Editor's note: a lot of animation will be cancelled in the next five years due to a glut in the medium.

NARISU SCRAMBLE
This is a science fiction school animation. It takes place at a computer controlled school where the headmaster keeps female and male students separated. But three girls start a revolution. The headmaster sends his daughter, Narisu, to settle the revolution. She wears the Powered Protector! What will happen?

FRUITS VERSION 2
This video does not have good quality but it will have fresh, new ideas. It deals with something we're forgetting in life.

AMI III
This adult animation takes place in the winter. Ami has a love affair with her brother. He hasn't contacted her in a while. He calls her and then dumps her. Depressed, she goes to a friend's apartment and mysteriously gets sucked into a doorway!

URUSEI YATSURA IV
How different can this be from the long running show?

MAGICAL EMI-FINALE
This original video is 30 minutes and different from the series. It will be out in September 1986. The video is a side story about Emi's summer vacation. Nothing exciting happens and there are no new characters.

BLACK MAGIC
This was a very minor comic that made it into video anyway. In the future, a transportation truck is in an accident and a combat robot M66, escapes from the truck. It then goes on a destroying rampage. The main character, Tyufon, is a newspaper reporter who covers the incident.

GAIBA
This too was a minor comic and the video will come out in November 1986. Everyone who orders the video will get a free Gaiba eraser!

RUNNING BOY
Based on a TV video game, will come out in July 1986. It's about a simulation game.

URBAN SQUARE
Coming out in Jan 1987. This is past its due date due to the precise, detailed drawings of the guns in the picture. This will be beyond the realm of movies and will have perfect animation.

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COSMO PINK SHOCK
This was a laser disc and not very popular, but will be a video. Michi was separated from her friend when they were four years old. Hiroshi was taken away from her. Michi then went on the spaceship, Pink Shock, looking for him. This is a story of a simple obnoxious girl who raises hell. But she's so cute you let her do it and forgive her.

CALIFORNIA CRISIS
The theme: in our present society, we can hang onto something stable, our value, in this state of confusion. This takes place in good ole California. This is a view of America from a Japanese point of view of the good ole days. It may not be correct.The story centers around a car chase scene. The director was influenced by movies like "Easy Rider" and he wanted to use 70s music. The movie also reminds him of "Close Encounters" but it's not a science fiction movie. Yet... The cars chase for the gift from the UFO-- but the director won't tell us what the gift is.

OPEN THE WINDOW
A girl has magical powers and goes into another world. There she becomes queen and fights evil.

REM 2 (Dream Hunter Rem?)
A story about the psychology of adolescence taking place at a girls' boarding school.

PELICAN ROAD
A girl likes motorcycles, but not wild riders, just the motorcycles. You'll like this video if you like motorcycles.
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WINDARIA
Two people do not keep their promise and break their trust, and live unhappy lives because of it. Two keys of the story are the ghost ship and the bird of red light.

RIYON LEGEND FLARE
This X-rated video is about Riyon which is supposed to be the most beautiful planet in space. It is peaceful and has never been attacked before. The queen of the eastern kingdom Flare will marry the king of the West to unify the two. But a force from another planet comes, led by emperor Gurode, and attacks. Flare gets captured by the Gurode forces. Her servant gives her body over to be tortured to save Flare. Gurode's forces have the latest mechanical weapons and most of the men get killed.

CALL ME TONIGHT
In this R-rated video, Rumi is a high school girl by day and operates a telephone club by night. She meets a guy with strange powers; when he gets excited he turns into a monster. She likes him because he's like her; he has two extreme lifestyles. The other girls at school get jealous of Rumi.

GALL FORCE
This video was originally planned with three girls but went to seven because it was so popular. The enemies of Gall Force, the Paranoid, are totally different life form. They are under combat with their female race, the Soulnoid, and have advanced technology.

SAMY MISSING 99
This science fiction spectacle is like Alice In Wonderland. A girl gets sucked into another dimension and meets a rabbit. She goes through into a new and different world.

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ARMORED WARRIOR VOTOMS
They are looking for perfect soldiers and trying to get a certain type of material.

AMON SAGA
The most important character is the moving city, Naruhisu, riding on a giant turtle.

MAMONOGATORI (Magic Story)
This adult film uses singing idols as voices to attract people to these type of dumb movies released in summer.A gangster in a small city accidentally saves the life of a young witch, Betty Valentine. She married him as thanks. Her grandmother tests them to prove their love. Meanwhile, Betty must kill the person who killed her sister.

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ROOT SEARCH
This is a horror movie. Most foreign movies spend a lot of time on art but in Japan we spend a lot of time on characters. This movie is an exception. It will concentrate on art.In a space ship people are paranoid, a giant silhouette approaches. No attacks upon it works, people scream...

NAYUTA
This is a complex story centering on Nayuta. Her parents are killed by aliens and she has to find her place of comfort. This story has love, sadness, adventure, and fantasy.

LOVE CITY
The main girl is cute and the guy is handsome and strong. They must fight an organized mafia type called Furado. Everyone has a head meter which shows their level of power. The only person who gets an infinite sign on his forehead is one with infinite power, who is the leader of the Furado, named Furaodia Lee. Kei, on the good side, has a meter reading of 5, which is low. Yet he really is powerful.

LAPUTA
There is a distinct difference between the city in the sky and the city on the ground. The ground city has inefficent technology. Laputa, in the sky, has efficent machinery. But Laputa gradually decayed and lost its power.

PROJECT A-KO
This movie is a big spoof with nonsense animation. It's sure to be a big hit.

Friday, March 23, 2007

the secret history of anime parody dubbing

(this article was originally written in the late 90s. Many dramatic changes have taken place in the anime parody world since then but I haven't been paying attention.)
One of the craziest things Japanese anime fans do - besides spend thousands of dollars on cartoons that are in a language they don't understand - is parody dubbing. Like making your own music videos, dubbing your own voice over somebody else's video is an idea that sort of comes naturally to the hard-core anime person. You've got two VCRs, you're pretty well versed in the process of hooking them up to make copies, and sooner or later you're going to look at that "audio input" jack and start thinking to yourself, "Hey, that could be my voice coming out of that little TV speaker, making Rick Hunter say silly things!"
In fact, if you get two or three overstimulated teenagers and make them watch some untranslated anime, it won't be ten minutes before the quips and gags start flying. It's only a matter of time before somebody digs up a microphone, somebody else cannibalizes their stereo, and there you are making your own parody dub. This is nothing new - none less than Woody Allen employed the exact same technique for the re-dubbed feature film "What's Up Tiger Lily?" - but it took anime fandom and A/V nerd know-how to take it from the pro studios and put it in our own living rooms.
Who started this wacky sub-sub-subculture? Well, the earliest evidence of parody dubbing is a legendary treasure known as "You Say Yamato". It's an episode of Star Blazers dubbed wacky, and while it undoubtedly is the granddaddy of them all, whether or not it can be called 'influential' is debatable because nobody had a copy of the damn thing, and if you didn't live in New England you didn't even get to SEE it. I myself was bugging one of the creators for a copy as early as 1985, and even my desperate pleas went ignored, because, you know, if they copied it they might get in trouble with the copyright holders. Well, that was their excuse, anyway. Having since obtained a copy, I find the legend of "You Say Yamato" looms large because of its early entry into the field and its relative obscurity, rather than because of its comedy value.
Anyway, the one that was both very early and very influential was a little thing that really had no title, but became known as "Dirty Pair Does Dishes," by a Southern California group known as Pinesalad Productions. Pinesalad had dubbed some Robotech episodes ("How Drugs Won The War" and "Why Don't You Come Over For A Sip Of Sherry, Slut."), but it was their Dirty Pair that really brought down the house. The voices were goofy, yet fitting - Kei sounds like Der Arnold and Yuri's voice is strictly Valley Girl. The soundtrack was pure 80's New Wave, and the dialog was silly and suggestive enough to make even the most sour-faced anime fan laugh.
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What's more, this one showed up just as anime tape trading was getting into high gear. DPDD was copied and re-copied and re-copied to such an extent that just about everybody involved in anime fandom from 1988-1992 had seen the darn thing so many times that it wasn't even funny. Pinesalad would go on to dub three more Dirty Pair episodes before extricating themselves from the anime parody community.
Around the same time Pinesalad was mangling the Dirty Pair, two guys in Atlanta were doing the same thing to Star Blazers, AKA Space Cruiser Yamato. They called themselves Corn Pone Flicks, and their film would be re-christened Star Dipwads. Corn Pone wasn't content to just take an episode -they took the entire film Arrivederci Space Cruiser Yamato and re-dubbed it. What set CPF's approach apart from the others was the simple yet effective tactic of editing. While other parody film producers were content to just let the video run unmolested, Star Dipwads would use the magic of editing to make the Star Force destroy their own headquarters, warp whenever the heck they felt like it, and shoot themselves in the main bridge. The Comet Empire was explained away as a giant orbiting swarm of copulating sheep, and Prince Zordar was clearly insane, asking his subordinates repeatedly to explain the existence of goats.
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The non-sequitur comedy of "Star Dipwads" entertained con audiences for years until CPF got tired of showing it all the damn time. CPF would later produce the live-action mockumentary "Making Of Star Dipwads", the half-live, half-parody prequel "A Star Dipwads Christmas", the parody subtitled "Grandizer VS Great Mazinger" and "Mazinger Z VS Devilman", and lots of straight fan subtitled videos, not to mention many short comedic films including "Corn Dog Seven" and "The Phone." The last installment in the Dipwads saga -1997's "The Return Of Star Dipwads II -The Metal Years" - continued the "mockumentary" theme as an intro to one wild thirty minutes of parody dubbing in which the Star Force spends three years fiddling with the thermostat and Captain Avatar's psychic powers are growing stronger by the minute. There was even a Star Dipwads comic!
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As the 90s bloomed so did fan dubbing. Sherbert Productions produced their own Dirty Pair parody and moved on to Ranma 1/2 and Gatchaman. Some guy down in Florida did an episode of Tekkaman where the plot concerned hair care products. Seishun Shitamasu dubbed Gunbuster into a fake Robotech. Magnum Opus Productions did their own version of "1982- Grafitti of Otaku Generation" and turned it into "Fanboy Generation", complete with fake "interviews." They just completed a smutty version of Speed Racer. A Great Lakes outfit known as "G.R.A.A.C." released their own take on Evangelion, only this one has a pronounced Hibernian accent. Yes, it's "Bad Scottish Dubbing," complete with a fair Sean Connery impression. And Birmingham's Video Mare Jigoku produced not one, not two, but three in the live-action-clips-versus-animated-clips "X-23" series. The second installment (produced in conjunction with Corn Pone Flicks) is 150 minutes long and violates literally hundreds of copyrights and 'fair-use' agreements. Guess what? Nobody cares.
Video Mare Jigoku also did a video in which the Enterprise battles Captain Harlock, inspired by seeing CPFs video where Captain Harlock battles Han Solo, which was inspired by seeing a very very early homemade video possibly by Texas fan Jeff Blend, in which the Enterprise battled the Yamato (the Yamato won). CPF later did a video where Captain Harlock single-handedly destroyed the Empire from Star Wars. Did Lucas sue? Not yet.
Some of these parodies are funny - some are tedious - some are downright abusive. But the important thing is, the kids aren't just sitting back and couch-potatoing like zombies. They're taking what they see and using it as fodder for their own creativity, and that can't help but be cool.
The technology has come a long way, too - gone are the days when you had to record your dialog onto an audio cassette (the same cassette deck that was providing many of your sound effects!) and play it back into the video. Even back then some VCRs had "audio-dub" switches - keep the video, but record new audio - that music video creators were already using to good advantage. These days the kids can mix the audio on their desktop super computers, combine it with video either out to a S-VHS or again, right on the desktop, and there you go. Titles are child's play.
The best of the parody-dubbed films these days rival even professional TV shows, at least in appearance. Seamless edits and fancy titles abound. The actual writing is still sometimes stuck in the goofy-sit-around-and-make-fun-of-the-cartoons league, but even that has its own DIY charm. This is comedy without focus groups, editorial boards, sponsors or producers - this is total artistic freedom. So what if dick jokes abound? It's FREEDOM, man. Go out there and get some!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

AFF XXI -the final curtain



This was the program book cover for the last AFF. Note the SF/fantasy characters on the cover- nobody even remotely connected with these properties was at AFF that year. A nitpick, but one indicative of the total cluelessness infecting the higher-ups at the convention in its last few years. The convention had some high-profile media guests- Claudia Christian from the popular SF series Babylon 5, two A-Team cast members - but you wouldn't know it from this program book cover. On the other hand, in the Dirk Benedict bio one learns that a macrobiotic diet saved him from prostate cancer in 1975.

The Castlegate was in fine form this year; the convention was allowed the use of the former nightclub as a consuite, which became the most entertaining part of the show. We shot darts at each other in the halls, abused the Vampire players (one player, outraged that we would poke Vampires with sticks and proclaim them "dead", said that he expected us to treat them with a "modicum of decency". One con staffer got into a bar fight with cowboys, starting the brawl with a beer bottle to the head. (He later said, "He knew I was going to fight, and I knew he was going to fight, and I knew it would wind up with a beer bottle to the head, so I just got it over with").

I was in charge of the anime room and we showed Porco Rosso, Ah My Goddess, Streetfighter II, Giant Robo, Macross Plus, Prefectural High School Earth Defense Force (as we were calling it in those days), Urusei Yatsura, Akira, Rose Of Versailles, and Future Boy Conan, among other titles. I even ran an Anime Hell, though I couldn't tell you what I showed. Other events? Hollywood movies like The Flintstones, True Lies, Total Recall, and Rocky Horror (of course); episodes of genre TV like Wizards & Warriors, Logan's Run, Friday The 13th, The Night Stalker, and The Flash; and panels like "Q&A: Comics Guests" and "Panel: Fantastic Art", and cookie-cutter every-con-has-one stuff like "opening ceremonies" and "costume contest."

And yeah, that was it. So if you paid $35 for this convention you would feel completely ripped off. We didn't feel too great about it and we got in free. It was obvious to most of the staff that the convention was having a real problem getting guests of any stature - nobody busts down your doors to see B-movie legends, regardless of what the fans tell themselves - and while we had a lot of suggestions for events that might not require airfare from Hollywood, they were always shot down in favor of yet another scream queen or pro wrestler.

The fandom was becoming younger and more interested in things like computer and video gaming, live-action RPGs and Magic, and of course the Japanese cartoons. AFF reacted to this new surge of interest by ignoring it completely; they allowed people to play the games, but they did not capitalize on it in the slightest.

Another problem was that the AFF had generated massive amounts of bad publicity because of the bad blood between it and Dragoncon. Right, wrong, whatever; the practical matter is that people don't want to go to a convention percieved as shrill, self-serving, petty, politicky, and jealous. AFF was percieved as all those things. Having public tantrums in the halls of your own conventions, scheduling AFF a week away from Dragoncon, engaging in vocal smear campaigns - all that stuff keeps people away from your door. (re: MOC)

So we'd been keeping our eyes open when we started AWA, and we managed to avoid most of the pitfalls - we had a raft of cheap, involving activities for everybody, we kept a tight rein on our budget, and we never relied on guests to sell tickets, Plus we never feuded with other conventions in public. Will AWA last 21 shows? Who can say? All I know is that AWA will never have Darth Vader, Spock, or The Crow decorating its program book, and that's good enough for me.

Atlanta Fantasy Fair would not return. The owners divorced, and while one party wanted nothing to do with conventions, the other party wanted to keep going, yet at the same time deny the first party any convention money that would have to be paid if the name "Atlanta Fantasy Fair" was used. So the next year saw an exciting new convention, "Starcon And Comics". Comic book artists, B-level celebrities, and - this will really get people in the door - an Elvis impersonator. Scheduled on the same weekend as AWA 2 in November 1996, it became a living example of the Old And Busted being destroyed by the New Hotness. You know, guys, a damn phone call is all it would have taken to get us to change our dates, we would have worked with you guys, we had a lot of sympathy and goodwill. But nooooo, you had to act like big shots. I sure hope you felt like big shots watching the dealers pack up on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

the atlanta fantasy fair

Okay, so there was this convention in Atlanta called the Atlanta Fantasy Fair, and according to the internets it might as well not have existed. But exist it did, from 1975 until 1995.



AFF started in 1975; location unknown. "At the first Atlanta Fantasy Fair in 1975, the guests were Stan Lee, Kenneth Smith, and me, with my Superman collection." M. Hirtes

1976 Atlanta Fantasy Fair II
Location? Guests?

1977 Atlanta Fantasy Fair III
Location? Guests?

1978 Atlanta Fantasy Fair IV.
Location? Guests?
1978, first convention: Atlanta Comics & Fantasy Fair. Stan Lee, Starlin, Chaykin, Steranko. For some weird reason, Robert Conrad was hanging around the lobby on Saturday night.

1979 Atlanta Fantasy Fair V.
Location? Guests? - "In 1979 Deni and I had the table next to John Byrne at the Atlanta Fantasy Fair and we made a fortune on back issues and sketches... " (Dave Sim) Visions #1 was published.

1980 Atlanta Fantasy Fair VI.
Location...? Guests? Visions #2 published.




1981 Atlanta Fantasy Fair VII
Castlegate. Guests Al Williamson, Michael Whelan, Bob Burden, Mike Jittlov? Visions #3 published.




1982 Atlanta Fantasy Fair VIII August 13-15
Omni Hotel & World Congress Center, Atlanta GA Guests Frank Miller, Ray Harryhausen, Will Eisner, Philip Jose Farmer, Forrest J. Ackerman, Bob Burden, Mike Barr, Dick Giordano, Brad Linaweaver, Somtow Sucharitkul, Len Wein, musical guests "Axis". 4000 copies of program book (Visions #4) published.



1983 Atlanta Fantasy Fair IX, August 5-7
Omni Hotel & Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta GA. Guests: Theodore & Jayne Sturgeon, Gerald Page, WSFAns Ted White & Forrest J Ackerman, Bob Burden, Forry Ackerman, Bob McLeod, Wendy and Richard Pini& more. Rooms were $44 a night, 3 day passes were $19.

1984 Atlanta Fantasy Fair X
Omni Hotel & World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA. GOH: Larry Niven. With: Forrest J Ackerman, Robert Bloch, Sharon Webb, Richard Pini & others. Membership: $25. Write to: Atlanta Fantasy Fair. P.O. Box 566, Marietta, GA 30061

"Not only saw Buckaroo Banzai, but I have a real polyester Buckaroo Banzai headband given out as a freebie at the Atlanta Fantasy Fair in the summer of 1984. I wonder if anyone's insane enouW^W^W^^W what it would go for on Ebay? (jackd) "

1985 Atlanta Fantasy Fair XI
Omni/WCC. Newt Gingrich and Fredrick Pohl are guests.

1986 Atlanta Fantasy Fair XII
Omni/WCC.

1987 Atlanta Fantasy Fair XIII
Omni /WCC. Lamar Waldron displaced as con chair before the 1987 convention.



1988 Atlanta Fantasy Fair XVI, June 24-26
Atlanta Hilton & Towers in Atlanta, GA. Convention location displaced due to Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. Steve Jackson is a guest.

1989 ATLANTA FANTASY FAIR XV.
Atlanta Hilton and Towers, Atlanta, GA.

1990 Atlanta Fantasy Fair XVI
Date? Location? Guests - Jack Kirby

1991 Atlanta Fantasy Fair XVII
Location? Guests?

1992 Atlanta Fantasy Fair XVIII June 20-21
Hyatt Atlanta Airport Guest: Peter David


1993 Atlanta Fantasy Fair XIX June 25-27
Hyatt Atlanta Airport, Atlanta GA. Guests David Prowse, Grace Lee Whitney, Caroline Munro, Monique Gabrielle, Jeff Rector, Gunnar Hanson, Irish McCalla. Memberships: $27 until 6/5, $30 at door.


1994 Atlanta Fantasy Fair XX June 17-19
Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, Atlanta GA. Guests: Sarah Douglas, Bruce Campbell, Jeff Rector, Geraint Wyn Davies, John Russo, Ted V. Mikels. Memb: $27 until June 5, $30 at door. Rooms $79 sngl/dbl, $99 tpl/quad.


1995 Atlanta Fantasy Fair XXI, June 23-25
Castlegate Hotel, Atlanta GA. Guests: Claudia Christian, Dirk Benedict, Dwight Schultz, Jeff Pittarelli, Don Hillsman II, Wayne VanSant, Joe Phillips. Memberships $35 for 3 days. Rooms $69.

So, as we can see, the convention went from being Atlanta's premier SF/Fantasy gathering with top-notch guests and venues (Stan Lee, Al Williamson, Jim Steranko, Ray Harryhausen, the Omni, the Hilton) to a confused mish-mash of scream queens, airbrush artists, and B-movie personalities, operating out of the Castlegate (!). More information about the Castlegate may be found here.

There are many gaps in my knowledge of the AFF, and I welcome those with the foresight to save their T-shirts and program books to bequeath their information unto me. Locations, dates, guests, anecdotes... they're all welcome. You can leave comments here or email me at davidrmerrill@yahoo.com .