Monday, January 31, 2011

Doodle Dee Dee Doo

Look! Somebody printed money on a shirt by mistake! But don't blame Jack Gilford! And Joey Bishop got money ink squirted on him and now he's green! WHO'S MINDING THE MINT? was just the way I remembered it, and what's wrong with that? Nothing, I contend! Here are some items for consideration. 1) Jim Hutton is a remarkably sullen protagonist THROUGHOUT! Even at the end, which is - spoiler alert - a happy ending. He is just a grim, bitter character. That's something I didn't quite remember after all. 2) I remembered the theme song! It goes "doodle doo, doo dee, doo doo dee dee doo, doo..." 3) Jim Hutton has a nice apartment in this movie. The carpet is nice. He has weird pastel curtains, like the one on the cover of that Pat Boone album, and a nice couch like the one that Jerry Lewis enjoys in THE BIG MOUTH. There's lots of modern art on the walls. His closet door is electronic! It slides open automatically! 4) There's a dog named Inky in the movie, portrayed by a dog named Peanuts. The last part of the closing credits sequence shows "Inky" in a little scuba outfit, waving at the camera!

The Man Who Fell Off the "Internet"

When I was a little kid, there used to be something called "The Big Show" on TV when I got home from school. Gee, isn't this so fascinating already? Don't worry, it gets duller! "The Big Show" was an old movie, hosted by a man named Mac or Max (turns out his name was Max Goodman, more on that in a postscript below - are you pinching yourself?). He was the biggest square you have ever seen, a guy in a dark suit and glasses, standing in front of a marquee. Once he made a mildly off-color remark about a Deanna Durbin movie. No offense to Max Goodman or his descendants, but he really did! That wasn't his usual style. I remember the remark exactly, though I won't trouble you with it. There is probably some important conversation I had with one of my grandparents which has been pushed out of my brain by Max Goodman's Deanna Durbin joke. I was so young I didn't even understand it at the time, but I could tell it was wrong! Perhaps Max Goodman cringed at himself or something, or maybe he even apologized, and that's how I knew I had witnessed something untoward. Wow! I'm really off-track here. This isn't what I meant to talk about at all. Good thing this is a "blog" and nobody cares! I don't even care if you stop reading right now. In fact, I recommend it. What I meant to tell you is that WHO'S MINDING THE MINT? came on TCM last night. I haven't watched it yet. I have it on the dvr. When I was a child, there were no dvrs! Gee this is interesting! So I had to wait for WHO'S MINDING THE MINT? to come on "The Big Show," which it did over and over and over, to my great pleasure, instilling in me my first precocious desires to pull off a big heist - an ambition which has to this date gone unfulfilled. It's probably terrible. I will watch it and let you know. Yet until I came across CAPRICORN ONE, I considered WHO'S MINDING THE MINT? the pinnacle of humankind's artistic longings. "The Big Show" seemed to have a limited number of available films. One was about a giant tarantula. I think they showed practically everything by Abbott and Costello, including a dispiriting little bagatelle titled ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KEYSTONE KOPS. Even as I child I could tell that no one's heart had been in that one. Everybody looked worn-out and sad. On Fridays it was Tarzan, or so I recall. Are you asleep yet? Because listen! By the time I got to high school, "The Big Show" had a rival on channel 10. It was called "Movies 10." There was no square host! There was no host at all! Just an animated opening, kind of groovy, in which a movie camera assembled itself out of some geometric shapes over a red background, I think, and suddenly the cameraman was pointing the camera at YOU, the viewer! Freaky! Then straight to the movie, which was usually groovier fare than ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KEYSTONE KOPS, such as POPI starring Alan Arkin or THE HOT ROCK or CALIFORNIA SPLIT or THE PINK PANTHER. So is it possible that I am misremembering such a vital event of my childhood, and that I first saw 1967's WHO'S MINDING THE MINT? on "Movies 10," not on "The Big Show"? I refuse to believe it! Now for the promised postscript: how did I find Max Goodman's name? It wasn't easy! There is only ONE mention of "The Big Show" hosted by Max Goodman on the whole "internet" as far as I can tell. It is buried deep inside the "web" site of some guy who summarized every episode of a local AM talk-radio show in Mobile, Alabama. Unless you are some weirdo stickler for corroboration, I strongly advise that you do not "click" here. Let me sum it up for you. Here is some of the talk-radio show, as presented by the "blogger" in question: "Third half-hour begins with audio of Reagan during his re-election campaign at his political party's national convention. Caller George has childhood memories of a ferryboat service long ago, including a memory of being told to 'turn around' after his mother dresses up in a bathing suit, which bothered George throughout the years." Much later, the relevant portion: "Former WKRG personality Max Goodman spoke with John Nodar this morning about his career at the station from 1963 to 1985. Goodman held positions such as morning weather forecaster, newscaster, announcer, and host of TV5 programs such as the movie showcase 'The Big Show'(aired daily from 3:30 PM-5:00 PM) and 'Channel 5 Bingo', in which viewers with bingo cards from Greer's Food Market can play along from home. One of Max's most cherished memories is when general manger C.P. Persons asked if he would go to Washington, D.C. for an interview with Attorney General Katzenbach." And that's it for "The Big Show" on the "internet." Not even a photo of Max Goodman that I can find. So we will have to settle for Deanna Durbin. The "blogger" in question stopped "blogging" in 2009 because he got depressed about the tone of talk radio.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Great Minds Think o' Veidt

Do you remember January 7, 2011, when I "posted" a "post" called "The Veidt Stuff"? Sure you do! It is probably all you think about. Well, now James Wolcott has "posted" a "post" called "The Veidt Stuff" over at VANITY FAIR. I don't think he copied me. I think it is one of those "great minds" things you hear about.

Gary Cooper and His Chimpanzee

Re: that photo of Sylvia Sidney and Gary Cooper. I have to keep convincing myself that it is Gary Cooper, because sometimes when I look at it, it just doesn't look like Gary Cooper. Now, in the movie (CITY STREETS) itself, there are lots of times when Gary Cooper looks just like Gary Cooper. In the publicity photo, his identity is not as easy to grasp. Why? Is it because we're not used to seeing Gary Cooper in profile? Is it because his eyelashes seem so long? Is it because Gary Cooper wasn't "Gary Cooper" yet in 1931, and the photographer missed out on what makes him "Gary Cooper"? The other day when I was looking for a photo of Gary Cooper in CITY STREETS, I came across one of Gary Cooper and (supposedly) his pet chimpanzee, though I suspect it was something cooked up by the studio to make him seem interesting for a fan magazine. There was something phony about the setup. Still, maybe you are asking yourself why on earth I did not supply you with a photo of Gary Cooper and his supposed pet chimpanzee. Well, there was something depressing about it. Sometimes photos of monkeys and/or chimps depress me, as you know. The chimp had a resigned look on its face. And it was wearing a diaper. So here instead is a frame of Sylvia Sidney from the movie, and it's a good one, but you're not getting the full effect. The shot starts with an extreme close-up on her eyes, then one closes, and then, as the camera pulls back, you see she has a gun, and finally you see she's at a carnival shooting gallery where Gary Cooper works, wearing a cowboy hat and looking a lot like Gary Cooper.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

How It Is

Spurred by McNeil into minimal research on DYNASTY I find I was right to compare it to Beckett! Look at this picture, for example, which reminds me of Beckett's novel HOW IT IS: "in the mud the dark the face in the mud the hands anyhow something wrong there the cord in my hand the whole body anyhow and soon it is as if there at that place and no other I had lived yes lived always" - I also found out that "Crystal" spelled her name "Krystle." To which I replied, "!"

Crystal's Lie, Part One

As promised, I have slept on it and now that my mind is rested and supple I will try to recall what McNeil said about DYNASTY. He said he watched an episode called "Crystal's Lie, Part One." Can that be right? Was there a character called Crystal? That sounds right. I will tell you what I did not tell McNeil: I have never seen an episode of DYNASTY! Here is what I think McNeil said about "Crystal's Lie, Part One": "It's impossible to tell whether it's a work of genius or the product of an idiot." He said there's a scene in which a man comes home, looks through the mail (or something, this is all an approximation and any inaccuracy should be attributed to me, not McNeil), loosens his tie, sits down, and has a conversation with his wife like: "How was your day?" "Fine." "Where's Bill?" "Playing football." "Do you want something to eat?" "I ate lunch pretty late today" and so on and so on. "Just two people sitting around in their home," McNeil called it. Then he said there was a long scene on an airplane... I think he said an airplane, but he mentioned couches... were there couches on airplanes in the DYNASTY days? Maybe it was a private airplane! I am pretty sure McNeil said some people were sitting on couches on an airplane, across from one another. One got a drink. Then the two people stared at one another and crossed their legs and just sat there a while before one of them began speaking. Like Samuel Beckett I guess! McNeil is mesmerized by the stately pacing of DYNASTY is the way I would put it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dynasty

I talked to McNeil on the phone today and he had lots of ideas about the TV show DYNASTY. I wish I could remember some of them! I will think about it and get back to you.

The King's Speech

Our friend Joey brought over a screener of THE KING'S SPEECH and it is about the king's speech. And during the ENTIRETY of the king's speech, which is about fighting Germany, they play rather triumphantly the 2nd movement of Beethoven's 7th symphony - I am almost 100% certain that is the piece of music I heard - and how German can you get? So that's pretty weird isn't it? I can't be the first person who has noticed this, but if you think I'm going to take the time to google it you are crazy. On the plus side, the movie made me dig out my LP on which Kelly Hogan sings "Love Alone" while my friend from Hubcap City plays guitar. That is a song all about how "love, love alone caused King Edward to leave his throne," which functions as a subplot of the film. In real life, of course, it is all more complicated, and everything is awful, but let's not worry about that right now. PS Doesn't Beethoven transcend nationality, and wasn't he all about Universal Brotherhood, and didn't the British use the opening motif of his 5th symphony as a symbol for victory, and couldn't the second movement of the 7th have some similar significance of which I am unaware, so shouldn't I just stop having brilliant insights?

The Third Charlie

Charlie Louvin then Charlie Callas. Don't be the third Charlie!

Charlie Callas Died

Charlie Callas died! And you know what I say to that: HMWORNK! Hurmf hurmf hurmf hurmf.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Making Life Better

Maybe it was because he knows how much I love the needle that is so easy to thread and the blender that Montel Williams uses and the thing you put in your shoe and the Tater Mitts and the amazing money clip... or maybe it was just plain old brotherly love. Either way, my brother sent me this picture. "Jack! Great News! You don't have to bend over EVER again! (To clean your feet)," he writes.

Very Distant

Charlie Louvin died. The Louvin Brothers were from Alabama. You know how I always like to tell you who was Alabama. Charlie Louvin introduced the recent Alabama music CD for the Oxford American. The first paragraph of Mr. Louvin's New York Times obituary calls him "an inspiration to several generations of rock musicians," which made me think of the Elvis bio by Peter Guralnick, where Charlie's brother Ira literally tries to strangle Elvis because (in part) he hates Elvis's music so much. Then Charlie is quoted: "They were very distant from that point on."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

For Your Happiness

Another frame from the "glowing violin" number. And because you never get enough Kibbee, a promotional still for the film: Guy Kibbee and Joan Blondell.

My Cause

Thanks to my efforts on behalf of Guy Kibbee, we have TRIPLED the number of people who "like" Guy Kibbee on facebook. That's right, now there are three. What's more, I just introduced several impressionable grad students to Guy Kibbee through a little movie called GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933. I think their minds were blown when dozens of women holding glow-in-the-dark violins started dancing sideways up a mirrored wall. I know mine was! Again!

Something Wild

SOMETHING WILD has the best closing credits ever. Plus that band "The Feelies" appears in SOMETHING WILD. I bought a Feelies LP in the 80s and played it about twice. Like, "Huh?" Like, "Whatever." Like, "At least I got my discount because I work at the record store wearing this stupid vest." Well, I just listened to it again and it's good! Was I stupid back then? I guess I was stupid back then.

Miller's Crossing

I was just thinking about the time many years ago when I was watching MILLER'S CROSSING - on VHS! that's how long ago - with my friend Lucy. Early on, a mysterious hat blows across the forest floor. Lucy's mom came in and said, "Oh! Somebody lost his hat!" I love it when moms say things like that. Moms are the best! Here is my other MILLER'S CROSSING story. Once Kent and Mr. Ward and I were emerging from a limousine - that's the kind of thing we used to do! emerge from limousines and so on - and whom should we see standing outside our hotel but Jon Polito. I was feeling happy - in the sense that I had enjoyed several gallons of wine with my dinner - so I am afraid I grabbed him by the shoulder - I am aghast now at the thought! - and said "We love you!" Mr. Polito grabbed my shoulder VERY HARD and said "We love you, too!" Then Kent said, "Ethics." And Mr. Polito began gamely quoting his "ethics" speech from the beginning of MILLER'S CROSSING. That was fun! But here's a helpful hint, kids: don't grab celebrities by the shoulder. It's rude! PS: McNeil's students recently watched MILLER'S CROSSING and found it "boring." What? That made McNeil sad inside. Thus conclude my thoughts on MILLER'S CROSSING.

Let's Stop Doing Something

I was sad to read in today's New York Times that Mark Bittman is going to stop writing his column "The Minimalist." A lot of times he told me how to cook a whole meal in one pot, which is all I ever want to do, really. But so many times he wanted me to puree something, and I don't know why, but pureeing something gets on my nerves. So I would sort of skim the column for the word "puree" and when I found it, I guess I would shout in dismay or something, and ask myself why bad things happen in the world. But today is not a time to reflect on the negative! The good thing is that Mr. Bittman signs off with 25 "fave" recipes from his column. If I can talk Dr. Theresa into eating it, I will try making the spaghetti and fried eggs tonight. Two great tastes that go great together, I bet! In honor of Mark Bittman I hereby bring my popular "blog" feature "Today's Weather" to an end. When I was "posting" it this morning, I noticed that the last time I did one was LAST January... and the one before that was in the January BEFORE THAT! So I guess you can say I should have called it "This Year's Weather" and maybe I am not doing much in honor of Mark Bittman. But isn't that the way "The Minimalist" would want it? As for picking 25 highlights of "Today's Weather," I have confirmed that there were no highlights. Well, maybe the time McNeil saw a weird cloud and took a picture of it.

Today's Weather

It didn't snow. This has been "Today's Weather."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stub

McNeil will be interested in this message from Barry B.: "I saw NWA at the Atlanta Civic Center. While the audience seemed to enjoy the show (from my perspective) we were apparently not as rowdy a crowd as NWA was accustomed to. Between songs NWA would shout 'Is Atlanta in the house?! Is Atlanta in the ****** ****** house?!' They would go into another song and they seemed to be working it extremely hard. They were rapping their ****** off. After several songs however they said, '**** Atlanta,' and sauntered off the stage looking all put out. Too Short opened. I still have the ticket stub." (And here it is!)

Ice & Snow

Lately McNeil has put aside his obsession with the Monkees and moved on to Ice Cube. It is always Ice Cube this and Ice Cube that. Last night's telephone conversation (which began abruptly with McNeil spitting out some Ice Cube lyrics) concerned the circumstances surrounding the break-up of NWA. I was surprised to learn during the course of that call that - given his affection for Bogart - McNeil has not seen Ice Cube's movie TRESPASS, an unofficial (?) remake of THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE. I saw it when it came out and remember liking it a lot. It was shot in Caroline's old neighborhood, Cabbagetown. Hey, they also shot part of a Steve Martin movie over there. It was based on SILAS MARNER. That's a real thing, a Steve Martin movie based on SILAS MARNER. As I recall, Kelly Hogan (who also lived in that neighborhood at the time) drove over for a visit and her car was covered with fake movie snow from the Steve Martin movie. Which reminds me: it's supposed to snow again tonight. This is a "blog," folks.

Stats!

By far - BY FAR! - the most popular things on this "blog" are this picture of Sandra Bullock and this picture of Alex Trebek. That's what the "stats" say! And they say it every day - not the accompanying "posts," just the pictures. Oh, stats, to paraphrase Raymond Chandler, I don't know whether to kiss you or slug you.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Handsome Couple

Everyone will be so excited to hear that while I was in the shower, the name and plot of that Guy Kibbee movie occurred to me: CITY STREETS (1931). And I checked imdb, and yes, it was Guy Kibbee. The old brain is still chugging away after all. Guy Kibbee is (spoiler alert) a gangster who bumps off another gangster and his stepdaughter Sylvia Sydney takes the rap because she refuses to squeal. (The cops catch her walking around with a "broken arm" but there's nothing wrong with her - she's using the sling to conceal the pistol she's supposed to ditch for Guy Kibbee.) At the end, Robert Osborne came out and explained that CITY STREETS was the first movie to use voiceover to indicate what a character was thinking. The studio was like, "WHAT? She's not moving her lips but we can hear what she's thinking? Nobody will get it!" And the director was like, "Trust me." But the main thing you will be thinking about as you watch CITY STREETS is that Gary Cooper and Sylvia Sidney are the best looking couple ever.

Jack Pendarvis Likes This

Hey, you know how you can "like" things on facebook? For example, over 117,000 people "like" Dentyne brand gum! They didn't mention that in THE SOCIAL NETWORK for some reason with an ominous Trent Reznor chord thrumming beneath a scene at Dentyne headquarters. Right now I am the ONLY person on facebook to "like" Guy Kibbee. If you "search" for "Guy Kibbee" it says "1 person likes this." This is something that needs to be fixed or maybe we shouldn't worry about it. I think I was watching a Guy Kibbee movie on TCM, and I want to say he had a moustache and was a little thinner than usual and played a creep. Well, come to think of it, maybe that wasn't even Guy Kibbee! But whoever he was he made me scamper to my computer to tell the world how much I "like" Guy Kibbee. It seemed important!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Kent Is Kent

Hey, over at VANITY FAIR they are talking about a brand new movie called UNCLE KENT. "A quietly ironic L.A.-based animator invites a female friend he met on ChatRoulette over for the weekend, which evolves into a subtle roller coaster of sexual frustration, experimentation, and emotional confusion," they summarize. So, the guy who plays the title character - Kent - is our "Blog" Buddy Kent Osborne! They are one and the same! But it is not a documentary, though you may assume from your "blog" knowledge of Kent that this character who shares his name may share some other details with him - like emotional confusion! Ha ha! Not really. Like making cartoons. But that's the way movies are these days! They like to mix up your head in daffy new ways. I do want you to remember that even though Kent is Kent, Kent is not Kent, if you know what I mean. Like, I haven't seen the movie yet, but I think of his irony in real life as loud and cheerful, not quiet! And I honestly don't even think it's irony. I think maybe he is doing that thing I accused myself of doing, yes, sometimes I think Kent is "using the trappings of irony in a non-ironic way" or whatever I said that time, something confusing and ill-put, because that's the way I roll. Anyway, I am excited about UNCLE KENT! PS A "subtle roller coaster"? I kind of like that! But it would be disappointing at a fair. But great in a movie! Unless that movie was the 1977 disaster film ROLLERCOASTER. But great in UNCLE KENT!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

IFC

Hey, I was watching that IFC, where they have some motto like, "Watch out! We might blow your mind too much" or "We doubt you can handle our level of independence, but good luck trying!" (I am paraphrasing.) And they ran this commercial for a special needle that is lots easier to thread than an ordinary needle. An old woman in the commercial said, "I am an old woman and my eyes are going, so thank goodness for this convenient needle." Once again, I paraphrase. Anyway, I am not complaining. As a rule, we do not live up to our mottos, do we? Speaking of commercials, I know I always gripe about them, but far too seldom do I single out enjoyable commercials. So last night Donald Sutherland was doing a voiceover about special oranges in this orange juice commercial and I was like, "I totally trust what Donald Sutherland is saying about these oranges."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

ABC

Do you want to see Jon Host sing the ABC song? Sure you do! It's from the kids' show that Barry B. and I used to make together!

Edgar!

You know about the Edgar. It is named for Edgar Allan Poe. And of all the novelists in the universe, only six were chosen as Edgar nominees this year, and of those six, two are "Blog" Buddies. That's right! Let's root for Laura Lippman and Tom Franklin. You know they are the best! So shut up your big mouth!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

FYI

I read on Sara Gran's twitter thing about an owl who got drunk on schnapps so the police gave it some water and then it felt better. As Annette Hanshaw used to say, "That's all."

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Herman Hickman Show

Say, I never did put away this copy of THE COMPLETE DIRECTORY TO PRIME TIME NETWORK TV SHOWS 1946-PRESENT by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh. Now that I've found it, I suppose I should leaf through it for something entertaining to share with you. Here's a series from 1952-53: THE HERMAN HICKMAN SHOW. According to THE COMPLETE DIRECTORY TO PRIME TIME NETWORK TV SHOWS 1946-PRESENT by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, "Herman Hickman was the star of this program." Good to know! It featured Mr. Hickman's "football predictions, reminiscences on his days as head football coach at Yale University... and an occasional poetic recitation." Yeah, I'm going to put this book away now.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Obligatory Dolenz Perambulation Addendum

Speaking of Kent Osborne and Micky Dolenz, I suppose I am obliged to mention that Mr. Dolenz was another of those persons Kent and Mr. Ward and I met back when we were working in TV together. When Kent asked about the Monkees, Mr. Dolenz gave this curious reply, as I recall: "I was NOT in a BAND called the Monkees! I was an ACTOR on a TV show ABOUT a band called THE MONKEES!" I would describe his predominant mode of perambulation during our brief acquaintance as "slowly backing away."

All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up

Welcome once again to "All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up," your one stop on the "web" for all the latest in sizzling celebrity entertainment. McNeil, who has been on a Monkees kick, will be pleased to learn that Micky Dolenz is playing himself in the movie MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID. As reported in the New York Times, natch! We close today's "All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up" by reiterating this: It's real! It's 2011! It really happened! The future is here! We're living in the 21st century! And Miss Arkansas' talent is yodeling with ventriloquist's dummies! So I say there is hope. That's it for "All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up." From all of us here at "All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up": until next time, keep "reaching" for the "stars"! (Photo by Kent Osborne.)

PS

Turns out there was yodeling involved. See for yourself.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

From Kent's TV

I wasn't watching the Miss America pageant, but thank goodness Kent Osborne was.

Hardboiled Chicken Dinners

Dr. Theresa told me and Laura Lippman told me and Megan Abbott told me too: now I'm finally reading MILDRED PIERCE for myself and finding out how great it is. But NOBODY told me that it would make me hungry for chicken all the time. Yes, even more so than I, THE JURY, this is the novel by a hardboiled author that is most concerned with the deliciousness of a chicken dinner - and Cain could really teach Spillane a thing or two on getting it across. Hey, doesn't "hardboiled" look better without a hyphen? My dictionary discourages me, but Megan Abbott encourages me. Even when I run across the word in a novel by Chandler or Cain there's a hyphen, but nowhere in Megan's insightful academic study THE STREET WAS MINE: WHITE MASCULINITY IN HARDBOILED FICTION AND FILM NOIR is there a hyphen (to the person who "recalled" that book and made me bring it back to the library yesterday: Phooey!). I say Megan is right. Hard-boiled eggs need a hyphen; hardboiled yeggs do not.

The "Blog" Presents: "Talkin' It Up!"

Welcome to "The 'Blog' Presents: 'Talkin' It Up!'" - a great new regular feature I just made up in my head. So let's get right to it and see what people are "talkin'" about around the "blog"! McNeil called but couldn't remember why he called. Dr. Theresa and I had a lengthy discussion about paper clips - likes and dislikes. Just wait until you're married! Jon Host sent an email with the word "mussitate" in it. It's a real word for real people! That's it for today from "The 'Blog' Presents: 'Talkin' It Up!'"

Friday, January 14, 2011

"More Jerks, Please!"

You know how evil children in movies are nearly cherubic on the surface? Have you seen the evil child in a Toyota commercial? I am not calling the child actor evil; he is just doing his job as outlined for him by misguided adults - I mean to say that the character in the commercial is evil. He rides around in his Toyota vehicle looking down (literally!) on his friends. One friend, who is in the back seat of a neighboring auto, mouths "Help me" to the evil cherub, because his (the less fortunate kid's) parents are in the front seat SINGING A SONG! Which is the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone ever. So the evil cherub ignores his friend's plea and glumly ROLLS UP HIS TINTED WINDOW TO IGNORE THE SUFFERING OF HIS FRIEND. The cherub puts on his headphones and watches a cartoon on a dvd in the back of his Toyota vehicle... a cartoon that shows - I AM NOT KIDDING - a dog being shot many, many times with bullets, but it is some kind of superhero dog in a costume and cape and does not get hurt, at least. All commercials are about jerks now. Jerks we are meant to emulate! So I am forced to conclude that there is a focus group somewhere in which people are exclaiming, "I love jerks! If a jerk likes something, I will definitely buy it! More jerks, please!" I think the intended demographic is tiny evil children who buy cars. Like Richie Rich! It is not parents who enjoy singing, that's for sure!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Literary Matters

Welcome once again to our most dispiriting regular feature, "Literary Matters." Literary matters are horrible! But today's literary matters are barely literary at all, so I think we will be fine. 1) I dug out my copy of THE COMPLETE DIRECTORY TO PRIME TIME NETWORK TV SHOWS 1946-PRESENT by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, hoping for some juicy tidbits about the sitcom version of SEMI-TOUGH. But the joke was on me, because the "present" when I bought that book was 1979. That's right, kids! My "present" used to be 1979! That's what I thought the "present" was! And as I am sure you are aware, the sitcom version of SEMI-TOUGH came out in 1980, or as we thought of it then, "the future." BUT I remembered that Mr. Ward had a copy of that book, too, only an updated edition, updated to what year I could not recall, but well past 1980. So I wrote him, hoping for some of the aforementioned tidbits. Friends, it turns out that Mr. Ward's copy of THE COMPLETE DIRECTORY TO PRIME TIME NETWORK TV SHOWS 1946-PRESENT was STOLEN FROM HIS CAR several years ago! Now, you may ask yourself why Mr. Ward was driving around with a copy of THE COMPLETE DIRECTORY TO PRIME TIME NETWORK TV SHOWS 1946-PRESENT in his car. Because he is the greatest person ever, that's why. He obligingly poked around on the "internet" for me, but sadly reports "there's not much info about this show. How is that possible?!" 2) I have been thinking about that comic book cover where O.G. Whiz is sitting on Abraham Lincoln's lap. It is puzzling to me. Is the intended tone some kind of Richie Richian grotesquely privileged winsomeness? We see that O.G. Whiz has a nice big pillow and teddy bear and alarm clock and slippers and pajamas and possibly a smoking jacket, as well as a preferred spot of sorts - he is in a "VIP area" if you will. Yet sleeping at the Lincoln Memorial suggests vagrancy, a cruel chill in the night air, a possible lack of other options, a nagging sense of loss. Mixed messages, O.G. Whiz!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Here's One

And here's one of O.G. Whiz getting ready to go to sleep on Abraham Lincoln's lap for some reason.

Exactly

I know what's going on at that old shoe factory! It's like that comic book no one remembers but me, about O.G. Whiz, a little fat kid who takes over a toy company and looks exactly like a guy Mr. Ward and I used to work with.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Trouble at the Old Shoe Factory

Saw a little of that show PARENTHOOD again. I am not interested in the subject of parenthood, but luckily PARENTHOOD is not about parenthood. It is about a shoe factory. People keep telling me it is not about a shoe factory, but every time I see part of it, it is about a shoe factory. Tonight a new owner took over the shoe factory! He was a youngster with a skateboard and he said he wanted to make the shoes "radical." That's really what he said! Twice! And all the old people at the shoe factory were like, "Whoa."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Robert Preston Bonanza

Seems like everybody wants to jump aboard the Robert Preston train! Mr. Ward writes in with his own Robert Preston memory: "In an effort to battle the Chicken Fat Epidemic of the early 70s, my grade school gym teacher in Morristown, New Jersey used to put on this Robert Preston record at least once a week and make us do calisthenics – many involving the inevitable Indian Clubs. According to the posts on youtube this was way more common than I ever imagined."

Sunday, January 09, 2011

I Do

Support for SEMI-TOUGH (the movie of course, not the subsequent sitcom) keeps rolling in! My friend the Hollywood producer (who really exists, I promise!) calls Robert Preston's turn as Big Ed Bookman "one of the great supporting character performances of the 70s, in my humble opinion. But you know this already." I certainly do, Hollywood producer friend who really exists! I certainly do. (My friend sends a quotation from Big Ed he often uses in his daily life, unprintable on this "blog.") Pictured, Robert Preston, not in SEMI-TOUGH.

I Hate to Break It to You

Say, when I was doing a "Google Image Search" for that frame of Burt Reynolds in SEMI-TOUGH, I discovered that there was a 1980 TV series spun off from it, starring my old buddy D-Day from ANIMAL HOUSE, David Hasselhoff, and Markie Post. See? See what happens, kids? The 70s always become the 80s. There's nothing you can do about it. It's not fair, but that's the way it is. I'm telling you now so maybe it won't hurt as much.

You Heard Me

Lots of ice on the ground right now and it reminded me I have this picture of our house in the snow on Christmas morning. What's that? You don't want to see a picture of our house in the snow on Christmas morning? Then stop reading "blogs," jerk!

Woolly Momentum and Mohair Scarves

Say, did you know that "Blog" Buddy Megan Abbott OWNS a copy of SEMI-TOUGH? Writes she: "Oh, it's one of my favorite, favorites--one of those 70s comedies that just seems to run on its own woolly momentum, like Jules and Jim as directed by Blake Edwards. All that fun it has with EST is great, of course, but it's a movie sort of in love with itself and its own louche-ness, like Slap Shot or Willie and Phil, but it's a generous love. It's a love that's patient, and kind. Remember when characters in movies could be called free-spirited and that wasn't code for annoying pixie types with fabulous tans, cascading hair and mohair scarves? (what am I talking about?)" I have no idea, Megan! But I'm with you!

The 70s

Children, gather round and let old grandpa tell you a story. In the 1970s, when the biggest star in the world made a football movie, it would turn out to be a weird, rambling, captivating satire of... everything? ... costarring Robert Preston, Lotte Lenya, and Bert Convy, and practically the first thing you would see would be Brian Dennehy's rear end. And the name of that young man was... Burt Reynolds. And the movie was SEMI-TOUGH. And now you know... THE REST OF THE STORY. This is Paul Harvey.......... Good day! Oh 1970s, we didn't appreciate you when we had you! (Pictured, Lotte Lenya. Yeah, I know what I said.) See also.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

No?

Do you want to read about the first time Dick Cavett got drunk? The New York Times can help! It was a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black that Jerry Lewis gave him. No? You don't want to read about that? Well, it's there if you want it.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The Veidt Stuff

Had enough Conrad Veidt for today? I DIDN'T THINK SO! I asked Barry B. (re: the previous Conrad Veidt "post") if the picture of Veidt that frightened him so as a child was the one in which Veidt is grinning and cross-eyed - because that one is terrifying! And Barry B. replied, "Yeah, it’s a straight-on shot and his shoulders are shrouded like he’s wearing a cloak or smock. It freaked me out which caused me to sit and stare at it for too long an amount of time." I hear you, Barry B.! I actually picked the least horrific shot I could find from THE MAN WHO LAUGHS for "blog" usage. The others are just too scary. I am sure that anyone who reads this "blog" knows this already, but Veidt's look in THE MAN WHO LAUGHS was the inspiration for the Joker in the old Batman comic books. Say, one of the many images I have described would make a great illustration for this "post," wouldn't it? Well, too bad! I am going back to my old "random illustration" rule, because my computer really is going to blow up. Steam comes out of it every time I add a new photo, and there's a faint chugging noise. So from now on, just old random recycled photos from the "blog's" glory days and nothing else! Nothing will make sense anymore, and you're going to like it. I grew weary of that promise before, and never turned back, and have added over 500 pictures since then, which is why my computer is really truly going to explode for real unless I mend my profligate ways.

"Blog" Mail "Bag"

Welcome once again to "Blog" Mail "Bag." Today's question comes from young Barry B. of Atlanta, GA. Writes Barry: "Isn't that a picture of Conrad Veidt you put up on the blog? 'Cause a publicity still of him from The Man Who Laughs freaked me out when I was a kid." Answer: Yes. Thanks for taking part in "Blog" Mail "Bag"!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Canonical!

It does my old heart good to know that McNeil assigned a viewing of the George Romero killer monkey movie MONKEY SHINES to his students last semester AND that WITHOUT KNOWING of McNeil's previous assignment, Dr. Theresa is discussing the very same killer monkey movie with her winter intercession students today. Move over, Jane Austen! There's a fresh new face on the syllabus... and it belongs to an adorable killer monkey!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Olive Garden

Saw this Olive Garden commercial where this grown man says, "It's just like being at the kids' table again!" And he says it with a big smile on his face, like he's proud. Like, "Look at me, I'm a huge diapered baby!" Like, "This is the condition to which I aspire!" Like, "There are no adults anymore!" Like, "The world is so great this way!" Like, "Wheeeeeeeeeeee!" It made me think of that phone commercial where the phone turns the guy into a baffled toddler and what a terrific selling point that is. Oh yeah, and then I saw a phone commercial where a guy texts really hateful things to his friend and neighbor - making fun of his home and his clothing - but he does it for really cheap because his phone has such a great "plan" that comes with it. And as the guy texts, he stands there grinning dumbly at his neighbor, like daring him to object. Really he's like a psychopath. Like, "I don't understand your human emotion." Honestly! It's a monstrous grin. A rictus! And the neighbor says to the crazy guy, quietly, "Look me in the eyes." The actor interjects pathos that the commercial does not acknowledge! There is a plea for humanity buried in there. A plea for humanity that the commercial finds stupid and amusing! The commercial is ON THE SIDE of the jerk with the phone, not on the side of the insulted neighbor. The commercial is like, "Buy this phone so you can be a jerk for cheap!" The commercial is like, "Hooray for jerks!" The commercial is like, "Hooray!" Say, did you know that Tom Franklin and I first met at an Olive Garden? That's a "'Blog' 'Fact'" you can clip and save! Trade with your friends. PS It was Mobile in the 80s, what do you want from us?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Fate Cannot Harm Me

Have you been looking for Jerry Lewis's recipe for Bavarian cream? Look no further! From Phil Oppenheim comes this precious "link." It's an article by Alan Scherstuhl, whom you may recall as the man who dug up the instructional booklet ENJOY YOUR PIGEONS. This time he goes from pigeons to doves. In the celebrity cookbook he has uncovered (that's a photo from it above), there's a recipe for "Doves Epicurean" including this declaration: "After the partaking of these fine-feathered birds done to such intoxicating perfection, the sportsman can say with the epicure, 'Fate cannot harm me, for I have dined today.'" Plus look for a cameo by "blog" fave Carol Lynley!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Central Time New Year

Dr. Theresa and I were home before midnight and we decided to turn on the TV to see if anyone was dropping anything locally or semi-locally, you know, the way they drop that big ball in New York City. Turned out the Hard Rock Cafe was dropping a guitar in Memphis. Now this was on our local PBS affiliate, and it was odd, because the "show" was mostly blatant, prerecorded advertisements for Beale St. businesses that seemed maybe (I don't know!) a notch above Applebee's in "authenticity." Some "expert" from the chamber of commerce or somewhere claimed that before Beale St. became refurbished with these (apparently) Applebee's type places, "The only place to hear music in Memphis was the lounge at the Holiday Inn." He really said that! Now I am no expert on anything, and maybe I misunderstood the guy, but I believe there has always been music in Memphis, very little of it at a Holiday Inn. One business owner was a guy named Silky Sullivan (Dr. Theresa kept calling him Silky Soft) but the name of his place is Silky O'Sullivan's, with an O thrown in. Silky Sullivan explained to an interviewer that he was named after a racehorse. Then, in a prerecorded segment, he sang his "theme song" ("When Irish Eyes Are Smiling") getting a lot of the words wrong. I guess the most exciting part was when they were going to drop the guitar. We cut to three hosts sitting around a cramped little table. One of them says (I will paraphrase slightly, probably), "I had the good fortune of speaking to the manager of the Hard Rock Cafe earlier today, and he explained that dropping the guitar from a height of one hundred feet in ten seconds requires split-second... what? They already dropped it?" That's right! While she was talking, they had dropped the guitar four or five minutes early! And we didn't even get to see it, not that seeing the guitar prematurely dropping would have given us much satisfaction, it having forfeited its function as a celebratory marker of the exact beginning of the new year, which was not to commence for several more minutes. So they cut to the scene of the already-dropped guitar, where, in Dr. Theresa's description, a few people were "shuffling around in the rain like zombies." Happy New Year!