DDT's Pop Flies (55)

DDT (AKA Darryl Tahirali) is a freelance writer living in Orange County, California. Originally from Canada, DDT enjoys writing about music, baseball, and other areas of Western pop culture from the tasteful to the trashy. DDT can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The 2013 baseball season has seen one pitcher, Andy Pettitte, reach 250 wins, and three others—CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, and Tim Hudson—reach 200 wins. These are impressive milestones that traditionally have prompted discussion of whether that pitcher deserves induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. But are pitching wins a reliable indicator of a pitcher's true worth, particularly when it comes to the Hall of Fame?
Remember how, at the end of the first article in this series, Science Fiction Cinema: The 1950s: Ten Good Ones, I wrote that it would all be downhill from there? Don't worry—we haven't hit bottom yet. In fact, there is a still a ways to go before we get to—well, I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, now, would I?

But we are talking science-fiction flicks from the 1950s, which from our vantage point of more than a half-century later can be regarded with a fair degree of amusement (and sometimes bemusement). The most obvious differences between sci-fi flicks of the 1950s and those of today are in special effects. We are spoiled by what we see today, certainly compared to what was seen sixty or more years ago.
As a film genre, science fiction by its very speculative and imaginative nature holds the potential to be very good or very bad. Having to depict unreal circumstances can lead to very impressive or very embarrassing results depending on a number of factors, individually or in combination with other factors, from the skill and talent of the production team to the budget of the film. And no decade seemed to epitomize this more than the 1950s, which saw an explosion of sci-fi films both outstanding (The Day the Earth Stood Still) and awful (Plan 9 from Outer Space).

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Indeed, those Fabulous Fifties produced a plethora of sci-fi flicks that decades later remain memorable, for better or for worse. Partly this reflected the overall boom in post-World War Two popular culture, which in turn mirrored technological advancements of the period, from aerospace to atomic power. Yet those technological advancements also yielded fear and anxiety, which found their voice in sci-fi, as did concurrent fears about social and political realities. As the world moved through the Atomic Age to the Jet Age to the Space Age, films that explored the ramifications, both present and future, of those Ages grew in number and popularity.
Not in Hall of Fame has recently posted its updated list of artists not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I was privileged to be asked to help rank that list. But as I was assiduously assessing all of the more than 500 of the artists under review, it occurred to me that there were several artists missing from that list.

Let's be clear: I wasn't digging deep down into the weeds for obscurities. In other words, I'm not bemoaning the omission of Trotsky Icepick (despite the coolly arcane historical reference in its name) or John Trubee and the Ugly Janitors of America, whose bitter, wildly uneven, and ultimately mediocre 1984 album The Communists Are Coming to Kill Us! once graced my collection but, alas, has been thinned out over time.
Since we're in a "desert island" frame of mind—at least I am, anyway—why not look at the ten television series you'd want to have in that hypothetical zone of isolation designed to force you to evaluate and prioritize your tastes and preferences?

I know, I know: First, these are my picks, and they will not align with yours. Second, once we start looking at television, we're halfway home to civilization, right? How deprived can you be on that desert island if you've got hours and hours of programming to watch for just one series?
Movie mania has gripped Not in Hall of Fame recently—hooray for Hollywood! (And Bollywood, and Hong Kong, and London, and Vancouver, and everywhere else that movies are made today.)

Without wanting to steal any thunder from my fellow bloggers Lisa McDonald (AKA Live Music Head) and Jack Ferdman (Jack's Movie Lists), both of whom have got the ball rolling on movies in fine style, I too want to jump in with my contributions as I am definitely a movie buff as well.

However, I will have to reach into the archives this time and dust off one of those hoary old "Desert Island" exercises from some time past. Looking at the list of the top ten, though, I don't see any changes, and here's why: the channel-surf stop test.
In Part 1 of this two-part series, we examined in detail the two salient qualities of the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot: It is a ballot overstuffed with not just candidates—37 players!—but with qualified candidates, and it is a referendum on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) because of the presence of the two most dominant players of the last 20 years: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Part 2 concentrates solely on the merits of all 37 players on the ballot. With respect to PEDs, they are part of the sometimes-tawdry, sometimes-laudatory history of baseball, and the witch-hunt mentality surrounding them has obscured the fact that no part of baseball history has ever been pure or pristine. In short, there is no stigma here regarding PEDs. They are a part of baseball history as much as institutional racism marked the game before 1947, as much as allegations of widespread amphetamine usage marked the game during the "Golden Era" of the 1950s and 1960s, and as much as Gaylord Perry marked his baseball before he threw it.

The bottom line is this: You evaluate the baseball you have, not the baseball you wish you had.
The vote for the candidates on the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot is without a doubt historical because of two salient and unavoidable facts: One is that this year's ballot is overstuffed with potential Hall of Fame candidates—presenting an even bigger logjam to entrance to the Hall—and the other is that this year's vote is an inescapable referendum on the stance toward the "Steroids Era" as even more players active during the period of the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s implicated with performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) are newly eligible.

Note: Part 1 of this two-part series goes into detail—considerable detail—to examine both the overstuffed ballot and, more comprehensively, the atmosphere of moral dudgeon surrounding the suspected and admitted usage of PEDs by players on previous ballots and especially by players eligible for the Hall for the first time this year. If you want only to read the players' evaluations, skip to Part 2.
On October 4, 2012, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the 15 nominees for the Class of 2013 prior to sending a ballot to more than 600 industry members. Boy, I wish I were one of those getting a ballot—and I bet you do too!

Actually, for the first time, fans can vote online through December 5 on a special parallel ballot (available at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and elsewhere), with the top five vote-getters being counted alongside the industry ballot. The Hall of Fame will announce the inductees some time in December.

But under the pretext of getting one of the official ballots, I have "done my homework" below preparatory to casting my votes yea or nay for each of the nominees. If you haven't heard, the 15 nominees for induction in 2013 are the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, Heart, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Albert King, Kraftwerk, the Marvelettes, the Meters, Randy Newman, N.W.A., Procol Harum, Public Enemy, Rush, and Donna Summer.
As of this writing, third baseman Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers is one home run shy of leading (or being tied for the lead in) the American League in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in (RBI). Historically, these three categories have constituted the batting Triple Crown, and it is a mark of this rarity that only 14 hitters in baseball history, 11 of those during the modern era begun in 1901, and only 9 of those during the live-ball era begun in 1920, have ever accomplished this feat, which signifies the ability to hit for average, hit for power, and produce runs. In the current sabermetrics era, both batting average and RBI are considered to be overvalued as measurements of ability and effectiveness, yet of the 14 men who have accomplished this, 12 are in the Hall of Fame. Coincidence? Let's see.

Pitching also has its Triple Crown, for (starting) pitchers who lead their league in wins, earned run average (ERA), and strikeouts, and although wins have also been discounted by sabermetricians as a measure of a pitcher's effectiveness—a "win" is composed of many factors contributed by the team—both ERA and strikeouts are still very much indicators of a pitcher's effectiveness. Last year both the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, for the National League (NL), and the Tigers' Justin Verlander, for the American League (AL), were Triple Crown winners, the first time since 1924 that each league had a pitching Triple Crown winner in the same year; not surprisingly, both Kershaw and Verlander won their league's respective Cy Young Awards, with Verlander also winning the AL Most Valuable Player Award—quite an unusual honor for a pitcher. (For the record, in 1924 the Washington Senators' Walter Johnson was the AL pitching Triple Crown winner, while the Brooklyn Dodgers' Dazzy Vance was Johnson's NL counterpart.)
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had been inducting artists for twenty years by 2006, the first year examined in the five-year period under review here. For each of these five years, the Hall inducted five artists for a total of twenty-five, the fewest number for any five-year period to date. Yet of those twenty-five artists, only nine are clearly Hall of Fame-quality while nine clearly are not, with the remaining seven Hall of Fame-worthy acts although cases should be made for each. Once again, we see the Hall of Fame making inductions with a lack of discernment.

In Part 1 of this series, I evaluate the first five years' worth of inductees, which include the founding artists at the beginning of the Rock Era (circa 1955 to the present) while outlining the baselines for the audit process including the Defining Factors—innovation, influence, popularity, crossover appeal, and legacy—used to evaluate each artist. Part 2 examines the next five years' worth of artists, including some of the biggest acts of the 1960s and 1970s, while exploring the "legacy" Defining Factor in greater detail. More artists from the 1960s and 1970s are examined in Part 3, which also examines the continuing "backfilling" by the Hall of earlier artists along with a fuller discussion of my "small Hall" preference. The most recent audit in Part 4 finds the Hall inducting artists from the late-1970s—the birth of modern rock—while examining the role of "talent" in the overall assessment of the artists. One artist examined in Part 4, Percy Sledge, is clearly a marginal talent whose induction had engendered skepticism in even the most casual of music fans. Unfortunately, that lack of sound judgment by the Hall continues in this period.
As the new millennium began, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame continued its inductions of artists from the Rock Era's past—and, unfortunately, it also continued its trend of inducting too many substandard acts that had begun in the last five-year period (detailed in Part 3 of this series). Of the 31 acts inducted during this period, only 12 are truly worthy of the Hall, and only 7 are on the borderline of qualification, leaving 12 unworthy inductees. The 31 inductees is the lowest total number of inductees of the four five-year periods—was the Hall running out of talent to induct?