Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Today at Dad's Garage: The return of BaconFest!

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Friday, March 28, 2008

What I Sang 3-27

From tonight's karaoke at El Azteca:

"Senses Working Overtime" by XTC.
"Moonlight Feels Right" by Starbuck.
"Young Turks" by Rod Stewart.
"Everybody Needs Somebody" by The Blues Brothers.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Double Exposure

DOUBLE EXPOSURE (1982). Directed by William Byron Hillman. Starring Michael Callan, Joanna Pettet, and James Stacy.

The plot: A troubled commercial photographer is plagued by nightmares in which he murders his models (as well as other nightmares in which he's murdered himself). Sure enough, the victims from his dreams turn up dead in reality, leading him to the not-unreasonable suspicion that he's losing his mind. Of course, things aren't as simple as all that, and there's no shortage of suspicious characters around him.
Our protagonist is played by Michael Callan, perhaps best remembered as one of Jane Fonda's suitors in Cat Ballou. In other films, he's established himself as a decent, likeable actor, but that doesn't come across here. The film presents his character as an irresistable ladies' man, but he just comes across as a creep, particularly in the scene where he first meets his leading lady (Joanna Pettet). Is it the fault of his performance or the script? I'm going with the script.
The highlight of Callan's performance is a hilariously over-the-top scene in which he alternately apologizes to and berates his photographs of the dead models...a sequence that brings new meaning to the words "mood swing." A convenient echo punctuates his ranting: "Maybe I should call the police. NOOO! (Nooo!) Maybe I should kill myself. YEESS! (Yeess!)" It's this movie's answer to Hamlet's soliloquy.
The most interesting element of the movie is the casting of James Stacy as Callan's brother. A promising young actor in the 1960s (starring in the TV series "Lancer"), his life was forever changed by a 1973 motorcycle accident in which he lost his left arm and leg. He continued his acting career, despite the limited opportunities available to him (you may remember him as the bartender from Something Wicked This Way Comes, or as the partially-destroyed cyborg in F/X 2). Interestingly, Double Exposure makes hardly any acknowledgment of the character's physical condition, apart from a passing reference to "the accident" early in the movies. I got the impression that the script was originally written for an able-bodied actor, with only minimal changes when Stacy was cast...which would be admirable, except (SPOILER WARNING for a 26-year-old movie that you're probably not going to see anyway) he turns out to be the killer. Now, since most of the actual murders (as opposed to the dreamed murders) were committed off-screen, it's plausible that he might have pulled them off, but there are also other killings that we see with our own eyes, and some of these (such as breaking a victim's neck) would, let's face it, be physically impossible for him (even with the previously-unrevealed prosthetic limbs he's wearing in the climactic scene). So, the big revelation comes across as a cheat.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
The supporting cast is chock-full of familiar faces who had either seen better days or would go on to bigger things: Seymour Cassel (a regular player in John Cassavetes' and Wes Anderson's films) as Callan's psychiatrist. Pamela Hensley (of TV's Buck Rogers) as one of the cops investigating the murders, and Cleavon Little (Blazing Saddles) as her hard-nosed captain. Misty (Hee Haw) Rowe as a lingerie model. Oh, and there's the big, bald character actor Robert Tessier (one of those "hey, it's that guy" actors you've seen many times, even if you don't know his name) as the bartender. And, in her film debut, Victoria Jackson as one of the brothers' dates...and she even does some of her future Saturday Night Live schtick of reciting poetry while doing a handstand!
However, I'd like to make particular note of one of my favorite actresses...Sally Kirkland. Yes, I like Sally Kirkland, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Sure, she may be notorious for her wacky interview antics and outlandish, attention-seeking outfits, but if you can look past that, she really is a gifted actress. (I like to think of her as Edy Williams with talent.) In Double Exposure, she has the thankless role of a particularly clueless hooker whose reaction to a pair of hands around her throat is "You gonna give me a neck massage?" However, once she realizes what's actually happening, Kirkland does an impressive job of conveying sheer terror and fight-for-your-life desperation through her facial expressions. It may be a gratuitous "get-naked-and-die" scene, but she gives it her all. No, it's not Anna, but it's not the low point of her career either. (That would be either Fatal Games or Flush.)


Scandal! Episode 4

While Episode 3 was cancelled due to a power failure, I have just finished posting the synopsis of Scandal! Episode 4:

(And hey, Blockade Boy! Once again, I've managed to incorporate one of your trademarks into the story!)

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Kids' Jokes for Foolio 3-22

I had to miss the past couple of weeks of "Uncle Grampa's Hoo-Dilly Storytime," but I was able to make it out there here is the return of Kids' Jokes for Foolio!

"Foolio, you're a chicken!"

"Why did the bubble gum cross the road?"
"Because it was stuck to the chicken's foot!"

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"
"Because he wanted to get to the fence on the other side!"

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Juan who?"
"Juan day, I'll get a cat of my own."

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"
"Because he felt like it!"

"Why did the elephant cross the road?"
"To get to the chicken!"

"Why did the elephant cross the playground?"
"To run off the cliff, to get away from Foolio's jokes!"

"Why did the pig cross the road?"
"He was stuck on some gum!"

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

What I Sang 3/19 AND 3/20

It's a double-dose, since I didn't have a chance to post earlier.

From last night at Midtown Tavern (for "80s Movie Night"):

"In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel (hold your boom box high!)
"Wild Wild Life" by Talking Heads.

And tonight at El Azteca:

"Situation" by Yaz.
"Satellite of Love" by Lou Reed.
"It's a Sin" by Pet Shop Boys (in honor of "Indulgences," opening this weekend at Dad's Garage!)


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Lunch Wagon

Well, last week I went highbrow, so today I'll take the low, low road, by remembering those bygone days of cheerful drive-in sexploitation. (Also, since I've been told that tonight's karaoke theme will be "80s Movie Night," I'll mark the occasion with a vintage '80s soundtrack.)

LUNCH WAGON (1981). Directed by Ernest Pintoff. Starring Pamela Jean Bryant, Rosanne Katon, Candy Moore, and Dale Bozzio.

Throughout the '70s and '80s (and even continuing in small doses today), one of the standby exploitation storylines went as follows: Small group of beautiful women, fed up with their financial situation and/or lecherous bosses, go into business for themselves and prove they're not just brainless bimbos. Hilarity ensues...along with gratuitous nudity to undercut the supposed message of female empowerment. Lunch Wagon is a typical example of this format, in which our intrepid trio of Marcy (Playboy Playmate Pamela Jean Bryant), Shannon (Playboy Playmate Rosanne Katon), and Diedre (non-Playmate Candy Moore) acquire a fast-food van and set up business by a construction site...much to the dismay of competitor Al Schmeckler (Rick Podell), who had planned on using his own lunch wagon as a cover for a convoluted heist. Oh, the wacky hijinks! Actually, it's not as bad as all that...the three leads are appealing, and the humor is too corny to take offense at. In the words of Douglas Adams, it's mostly harmless.
The most interesting element of the movie (apart from the dated attitude towards "health nut" Diedre...she actually thinks people will buy soyburgers, can you imagine?) is the rockin' soundtrack by few-hits-wonder band Missing Persons, who appear in the film not as themselves, but as "Teddy & the Rough Riders." Perhaps their best-known tune, "Destination Unknown," is unfortunately absent from the movie, but "Mental Hopscotch" is repeated three times throughout the picture, and "I Like Boys" gets a play as well. My sympathies go to lead singer Dale Bozzio, who (despite being given a different name) is basically called upon to play herself as a queen bitch. (Again, the female-empowerment theme is diminished by the fact that the one woman who's already successful is portrayed so unpleasantly.)
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Poor Rose Marie (making a brief appearance as Schmeckler's mother, who takes matters into her own hands when his schemes go awry)...from The Dick Van Dyke Show to this.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A song of Irish beauty...sung by, um, a Scotsman.

Yeah, I know I used this song last year, but that was a different clip from the end of the movie.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Show Was a Mass of Incandescent Gas

A great big nuclear furnace!


Like a Hospital for People Who Are Well

Heading out to see They Might Be Giants at Variety Playhouse this evening! Whoo-hoo!


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Caravaggio

Okay, I know that so far, my "VHS Vednesday" reviews have focused mostly on low-budget thrillers of varying degrees of quality...but you know, just because a movie hasn't gotten a DVD release yet doesn't mean it's schlocky. So, this week, I'm going highbrow.

CARAVAGGIO (1986). Directed by Derek Jarman. Starring Nigel Terry, Sean Bean, Tilda Swinton, Robbie Coltrane, and Michael Gough.

The late British director Derek Jarman was known for his striking visual style--he was a painter and poet as well as a filmmaker. With his background in the arts, it's unsurprising that perhaps his most widely-known film would be about a great artist. Caravaggio stars Nigel Terry (an acclaimed British stage actor, most familiar to US audiences as King Arthur from John Boorman's Excalibur) as the famed Italian Baroque artist Michelangelo Caravaggio, in a predominantly fictionalized, symbolic account of the painter's life, from his childhood to his rise to fame to his exile and death. A young Sean Bean co-stars as Ranuccio Tomassoni; while there is little historic evidence for Caravaggio knowing Tomassoni before the 1606 brawl in which Caravaggio killed the younger man, Jarman presents a complex love-hate relationship between Caravaggio (the passionate artist) and Ranuccio (the streetwise, manipulative hustler). Recent Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton makes her film debut as the fictitious Lena, a gypsy prostitute who becomes Caravaggio's muse and Ranuccio's lover. In smaller roles, the familiar screen veteran Michael Gough brings his trademark gravitas to his portrayal of Caravaggio's patron Cardinal, and Robbie Coltrane is wonderfully slimy as the Pope's lecherous nephew.

While many of Jarman's films completely disregard conventional narrative (including such completely abstract works as The Last of England and The Garden), Caravaggio is one of his most straightforward pictures. However, several of Jarman's trademarks are still on display...deliberate anachronism, striking tableaux (sometimes both at once, as in a scene where one of Caravaggio's critics pounds out a scathing review on a typewriter, before settling back in his bath in a re-creation of Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Marat), and eloquent (occasionally sexually explicit) monologues. It's not for all tastes, perhaps, but I found it an engrossing viewing experience.

Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?

No one. None of the people involved in this production have any reason not to be proud of it.


SCANDAL! Episode 2

The latest SCANDAL! episode synopsis is up:

Be warned, this episode takes a turn into very crude territory...but it probably wouldn't be SCANDAL! if it didn't.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Rakete Bee Bee? Rakete Bee Zee.

Tonight at Dad's Garage, I plan on attending a special midnight-show performance of Kurt Schwitters' legendary dada sound-poem "Die Ursonate." A small sampling:


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Thursday, March 06, 2008

What I Sang 3-6

A new week, a new venue (El Azteca):

"She's Like the Wind" by Patrick Swayze (sending my best wishes his way)
"Love Is Strange" by Mickey & Sylvia (a duet with Jessica the Destroyer--and check out the link to see young Ewan McGregor!)
"Invincible" by Pat Benatar
"Lightning Strikes" by Lou Christie. (Though I'm more fond of the version below...)

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Party Line

PARTY LINE (1988). Starring Richard Hatch, Shawn Weatherley, Leif Garrett, and Greta Blackburn.
It's a fact of life (and Hollywood) that any new fad or advancement in technology will serve as the basis of a thriller or horror movie (with the movie usually being released just as the fad's time has passed). Case in point: Party Line, an "erotic thriller" inspired by the advent of the 976 chat line.

Despite the impression given by the salacious video box cover above, the killers in this movie are actually preying on men (which makes for a refreshing change from most slasher fare). The killers in question are Seth (Leif Garrett) and Angelica (Greta Blackburn), a supremely dysfunctional brother-sister pair who take out their anger at their dead abusive father by striking at unfaithful husbands like him. Angelica lures the suckers into bed, and Seth makes short work of them with Daddy's straight razor.

Maverick cop Dan Bridges (Richard Hatch--the Battlestar Galactica guy, not the Survivor guy) gets pulled into the case when the psycho siblings claim a victim at the nightclub where he's keeping tabs on a pimp. The case gets personal when Dan's girlfriend, a motorcycle cop nicknamed "Butch" (Marty Dudek), has the misfortune of pulling Seth over for speeding and becoming collateral damage. Now, it's no more Mr. Nice Guy. Well, kind of. I like Richard Hatch, but if there's one thing he's not, it's a bad-ass. It's fun watching him try, though.

Of course, the movie tries to play up Dan's supposed bad-assery by hammering home the old trope of "maverick = good, by-the-book = bad." Even when it's pointed out that Dan's disregard of procedure and civil liberties ruined the D.A.'s case against a killer (and freed him to kill again), we're supposed to think that it's the D.A. who's the asshole. It's that kind of movie.

The high point of the movie is the twisted relationship of Seth and Angelina. Leif Garrett and Greta Blackburn play their scenes with gusto, with Garrett convincingly portraying Seth's cold menace...which dissipates into weak snivelling when his dominant sister confronts him. Plus, he's in drag for the final showdown. That's right, Leif Garrett as a psycho killer in a wedding dress. What more could you want? (Okay, you could want a better script, tighter direction, and a lot of other things...but you're getting Leif Garrett in a dress and you're liking it!)

Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?

In addition to the aforementioned stars, the cast also includes Richard (Shaft) Roundtree as the traditional hard-ass police captain. It's a thankless role, but every cop movie's got to have one, if only to shout "You're off the case!" It's also interesting to see some performers more familiar for their voice work: Angela Gibbs (Sealab 2021) as a desk cop; Patricia Patts (the voice of Peppermint Patty in a couple of Peanuts specials) as a teenage party-line user who becomes a vital witness; and Terence McGovern (DuckTales) as one of Seth & Angelina's victims.



This past weekend, Dad's Garage Theatre Company began the new season of their improvised soap-opera SCANDAL! This time around, it's set against the backdrop of the American Revolution (which doesn't stop them from using characters from different eras, such as an immortal Spanish conquistador and a time-traveling high school student). As in past seasons, I've been taking notes and assembling the crazy goings-on into a weekly synopsis (given to the patrons to bring them up to speed on what happened last week). But NOW, I'm also putting them up on a blog, so even people who don't go to Dad's Garage can vicariously experience the madness that is SCANDAL!

(And hey, Blockade Boy! We even managed to work the phrase "killer biker 'stache" into an 18th-century story!)

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Kids' Jokes for Foolio, 3-1

Today's jokes from the kids at "Uncle Grampa's Hoo-Dilly Storytime":

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"
"Because it wants to jump way up high!"

"What do you call a snail on a boat?"
"A snailor!"

"What goes 100 miles an hour, is ugly and green and red?"
"Foolio on a windshield!"

"What do you call a bear eating sharks?"
"A shark-eater!"

"How many cheapskates does it take to change a light bulb?"
"None! They sit in the dark!"

"What did one hedgehog say to the other hedgehog?"
"Bawk bawk!"

"Why did the turkey cross the road?"
"To get to the other side!"

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Boo who?"
"Don't cry!"

"Why did the cookie go to the doctor?"
"Because it was sick!"

"What did one quarter say to the other quarter?"
"I love you goo-goo!"

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