Saturday, June 30, 2012


Let's do a Barney Oldfield!

And I don't mean a u-turn on a rain slicked street in high pursuit of crime to stop.

Let me back up a bit. My name is Chuck Dill and I live in Martinsburg, WV. I want to start a blog in which I'll discuss my many different interests. I used to be a writer, although never a very good or challenging one, and I've wanted to start a blog for awhile now. What's kept me from doing it is the very real fact that everything I have to talk about is already discussed at great length elsewhere on the Internet. So what could I possibly have to offer you?

My interests start first and foremost with comic books. I'm a child of the seventies and that's the era of comic book publication that most interests me. From there, I'll end up discussing my other interests. Such as horror movies, biking, the Beatles, old houses, old haunted houses, old houses that look like they SHOULD be haunted, horror movies, orchestral movie soundtracks, James Bond, old time radio programs, the seventies, and history. Oh... And I'll be telling silly stories about my kids. It's probably what I do best, and if you hang out and read these stories you'll start to think I'm the perfect father. I'm not, so don't think that. It's a trick of the writing.

So, we've got two questions to answer. One, why Barney Oldfield? Two, why am I starting a blog if I think I have nothing original to offer you?

I went to college misguidedly thinking I was a great writer and college wouldn't have much to offer me other than credentials. Like all kids of that age, I was arrogant. I sat in one English lit class and learned about the different forms of criticism. The first one being something called "Historical Criticism".

Wikipedia says this: Historical criticism, also known as the historical-critical method or higher criticism, is a branch of literary criticism that investigates the origins of ancient text in order to understand "the world behind the text".

I thought that was the bee's knees!!! Looking at a piece of work from the perspective of the era in which it was written! Right then and there, I decided that would be my favorite form of criticism. I went right home and wrote my first college paper.

I got an 'F'. I had done NO supporting research on the paper at all. Arrogant. We were allowed one freebie paper all semester and I blew it on the first paper in an area that I had already decided was my favorite!

It was a different class that clicked harder for me. I forget the name, but the professor was young and hip and taught about how pop culture reflected our society and vice versa. THAT's what I was really looking for!

One of my loves is Doc Savage pulp novels from the 1930's. I've only read a couple, but Doc Savage stories have everything that I've come to love in entertainment. His first appearance was in Doc Savage Magazine number one, from Street and Smith, 1933. Written by Lester Dent. In that story, you can find the following passage:

Doc led out through the lobby at a trot. A taxi was cocked in at the curb, driver dreaming over the wheel. Four of the six men piled into the machine. Doc and Renny rode the running board.

"Do a Barney Oldfield!" Doc directed the cab driver.

The hack jumped away from the curb as if stung.

Did you catch that??? What? Who the heck is Barney Oldfield? And why would the driver know what to do if you yelled that at him!? Can we test this? I want to yell at a cabbie!

Apparently, Oldfield was an auto racer around the turn of the century. Barney Oldfield. In the 30's, dropping his name was akin to making a reference to going really fast.

This sort of reference dates the Doc Savage stories. It usually makes things inaccessible to most readers. But to those of us with a certain viewpoint, it does the opposite. Doc Savage seems to become more realistic with frames of reference such as this.

And that's my angle. If this blog has a theme at all, it'll be looking at what the comics, books and movies that I'm so passionate about have to say about our culture. What does this form of entertainment teach us about history? And fair warning, I won't be spending much time in the current decade.

As for the other question, which is 'why start a blog if I think I have nothing original to offer you'. I thought about that a lot. All I have to say is that I guess I'm doing this for self expression rather than your consumption. I got some thoughts, and I wanna share 'em a couple of times a week. Although hopefully we'll both be able to get something out of it.