Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Korman Magic

From the humble beginnings of Harvey Korman's career, an instructional short on the art of turkey-carving. Unfortunately, it's preceded by an interminable "Dumpsterpiece Theatre" host segment (which makes a big deal about the short being directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis and starring "Blood Feast" co-star William Kerwin, but doesn't even mention Korman's involvement). If you can make it past that, you'll get to the meat about 4 minutes into this clip.

Yeah...even with this kind of material, Harvey Korman is at his Harvey-Kormanest.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Adieu, Gazoo

RIP Harvey Korman.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

What I Sang 5-28

From last night at Midtown Tavern:

"Georgy Girl" by The Seekers.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Moon in Scorpio

MOON IN SCORPIO (1987). Directed by Gary Graver. Starring Britt Ekland, John Phillip Law, and William Smith.

Remember when I said I might take a look at one of the embarrassments of John Phillip Law's career in the future? Well, the time is now.
Moon in Scorpio gets off to a muddled start with an unseen mental patient escaping from an asylum, killing a doctor and a hapless pharmaceutical salesman on the way out. The hospital engages a private detective (Don Scribner) to help them track down the escapee. The detective, accompanied by a couple of police officers and attendants, finally follows the trail to a boat at the dock. Entering the boat, he finds a cowering woman (Britt Ekland). As he approaches her, she immediately lashes out and stabs him in the stomach. The cops and attendants move in to subdue her, but NOBODY attends to the wounded detective. (He does turn up later in the movie, apparently none the worse for wear, so I guess it's okay.)
Once she's taken to the hospital, she tells her story to a sympathetic doctor (Robert Quarry), and that's where the story REALLY begins. In flashback, she relates how she and her new husband (John Phillip Law) went on a boating trip with a couple of her husband's army buddies and their girlfriends. The Vietnam veterans are defined in the broadest terms possible: Law is the guilt-ridden, remorseful representation of decency, William Smith is sadistic brutality, and Lewis Van Bergen has no personality whatsoever. The other women on the trip, played by Jillian Kesner (director Graver's real-life spouse) and April Wayne are even more vaguely drawn, although Wayne gets a few moments of "being spooky" with her discourses on astrology (which provide the movie with its title).
Before long, the seafaring vacationers start to get picked off one by one, though it takes several disappearances for the remaining few to catch on that something's going on. Who or what is responsible? Well, I WATCHED the movie, and your guess is as good as mine.
From the jumbled structure, it's apparent that the movie was heavily re-edited to the point of incomprehensibility. I got the impression that Graver and screenwriter Robert Aiken originally intended the movie to be a supernatural thriller, with the veterans' past literally coming back to haunt them (either through the ghosts of the villagers they massacred, or through possession of one of the boaters). However, whatever ghostly/vampiric/zombie/whatever elements there may have been, they have been completely removed. The prologue and the hospital sequences were obviously tacked on afterwards, both to provide a "rational" explanation for the murders and to pad out the running time. I'm not sure whether Graver himself helmed any of the framing-sequence footage, or whether it was handled by co-producer Fred Olen any case, the result is a mess.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
None of the cast members come off looking good in this movie. John Phillip Law, having no opportunity to demonstrate the charisma of his more memorable roles (Pygar, Diabolik, Sinbad), is simply bland. William Smith's usual gruff, growly voice is exaggerated to the point of inaudible mumbles, sounding almost like the teachers in a Peanuts cartoon. Most of the other performances are too vague to leave ANY impression, good or bad...but Britt Ekland's hysterics are simply embarrassing, particularly when she over-emotes to the doctor while telling her story. Sorry, everybody...

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Countdown to Mystery

I have to say, I like the way DC handled the conclusion of Steve Gerber's Doctor Fate. In the past, any attempts to resolve Gerber's unfinished stories (the "Elf with a Gun" subplot, the explanation of Omega the Unknown) have been terrible offering four different conclusions, DC is acknowledging that the only definitive conclusion would be Gerber's own, which will forever be unknowable. Rather than commit to an ending that might not fit Gerber's vision and setting it in stone as THE ending, they offer a variety of possibilities for our consideration.

Of the four, I found Adam Beechen's the least effective...I'm sure he meant well by bringing in the Elf-with-a-Gun as a deus ex machina and name-dropping Gerber's other creations, but the effect is that he "paid tribute" to the writer by betraying his story, and that's no tribute at all.

Mark Evanier's conclusion, with its "ideas can never die" speechmaking and Negal's abrupt departure, was both a disappointing resolution and too "conventional" to capture the spirit of Gerber. (It pains me to say that, as I usually love Evanier's work, but this just fell flat.)

Mark Waid fared better with his offering, which mimicked Gerber's occasional experiments in form (the text-and-image page) but did so at a point which suited the story. I also appreciate that Waid resisted the urge to name the patient/vision after Steve Gerber...even the anagrammatic "Everbest" would have been too blatant, and would have drawn me right out of the story. It's possible that the name "Mardillo" has some inside significance...but it didn't distract me as an obvious in-joke would have.

Gail Simone's ending was the most satisfying for me...the references to Gerber's other creations were not nearly as jarring as they were in Beechen's tale (perhaps because they were a passing mention in delirium, rather than the be-all, end-all of the story), and more importantly, the resolution of Fate's dilemma not only came across as true to Gerber's spirit (I can see Gerber coming up with the idea of the demon becoming the doctor's patient), but was a satisfying conclusion in its own right. Another highlight which struck me as truly "Gerberesque"...unlike the other writers, Simone didn't restore Inza to humanity...Inza just makes the best of her new existence. And that, to me, seems like a development Steve Gerber would have approved.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Say Goodnight, Dick

RIP Dick Martin.

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This Was Kind of Cool...

Today, while I was driving, I wound up behind a car with this personalized plate:



Saturday, May 24, 2008

Who Is It?

This has stuck in my head since my childhood, and now I've found it once again.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The End of SCANDAL! and the Start of...

I just finished posting the final SCANDAL! episode summary of the season over at the It's SCANDAL! blog...but that doesn't mean an end to that blog. In the weeks to come, I plan on going through my archive of synopses and posting the past seasons' escapades as well.

And, of course, the fun doesn't end at Dad's Garage either. Starting May 23, our new Friday Night thing is...well, this.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

What I Sang 5-21

My offerings for the evening:

"Dammit" by Blink-182.
"Situation" by Yaz.
"Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

VHS Vednesday: The Golden Voyage of Sinbad

THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1974). Directed by Gordon Hessler. Starring John Phillip Law, Caroline Munro, and Tom Baker.

Generally, I've been focusing my "VHS Vednesday" reviews on pictures that are not (to my knowledge) available on DVD yet...but this week, I'll make an exception in honor of John Phillip Law, by looking back at my favorite movie of his. (I may take a look at one of the embarrassments of his career in the future, but right now, I'll celebrate one of his triumphs.)
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, a follow-up to the classic 1958 swashbuckling fantasy The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, stars the handsome, charismatic Law as the legendary sailor of the title. His adventure begins when one of his crewmen shoots at an odd flying creature, causing it to drop a mysterious golden tablet...a "trinket" coveted by the wicked sorcerer Koura (Tom Baker). Arriving in the land of Marabia, Sinbad is entrusted by the masked, disfigured Grand Vizier (Douglas Wilmer) with the task of protecting the amulet and finding its counterparts, which together will form a map to the legendary Fountain of Destiny. Joined in his quest by the Vizier's callow son (Kurt Christian) and a beautiful slave girl (Caroline Munro) with a strange tattoo of an eye on the palm of her hand, Sinbad sets out to complete the map, while battling the supernatural forces set upon him by Koura.
With no disrespect towards the talented cast, the true stars of the movie are the stop-motion creations of the legendary special-effects artist Ray Harryhausen (who also co-produced the film). The creatures, ranging from cyclopean centaur to a living figurehead to the multi-armed statue of Kali, are all visually stunning as only Harryhausen's animations can be.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
While all of the cast members acquit themselves admirably (particularly Tom Baker, who plays his villainous role with sinister glee) and have no reason to be embarrassed by this project, there is one great actor who literally did leave this off his resume: Robert Shaw makes an uncredited cameo as the Oracle of All Knowledge, a spectral disembodied head delivering vital yet cryptic information in rhyming couplets. With his face concealed beneath grotesque make-up and his voice distorted, the unrecognizable Shaw accepted this role as a consolation for not being cast as Sinbad.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

An Angel Has No Memory

RIP John Phillip Law.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

What I Sang 5-14

It was a very slow night tonight, which meant that I managed to fit in a LOT of songs...

"Streets of Laredo" by Eddy Arnold. (Rest in peace, big guy!) (YouTube doesn't have Eddy Arnold's version, but here's Marty Robbins singing it.)
"Play the Game" by Queen.
"Blockbuster" by The Sweet.
"Never Say Never" by Romeo Void.
"Sex & Candy" by Marcy Playground.
"AIEOU Sometimes Y" by Ebn Ozn.
"Walking in My Blue Jeans" by Sophie B. Hawkins. (Surprisingly, this song doesn't appear to be on YouTube, so no link.)
"Land of Confusion" by Genesis.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

VHS Vednesday: The Night Walker

THE NIGHT WALKER (1964). Directed by William Castle. Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Taylor, and Lloyd Bochner.

Well, last week, I covered a movie by Bert I. Gordon, so this time around, I'll salute another grand master of the '50s/'60s B-move: William Castle. Best known for the promotional gimmicks surrounding his horror movies ("Percepto," "Emergo," "Illusion-O"), Castle's reputation for ballyhoo often overshadows the fact that he was a skilled craftsman of suspense.
The Night Walker is one of Castle's most straightforward vibrating theatre seats or inflatable skeletons lowered from the ceiling. Instead, we've got the mysterious tale of bitter blind millionaire Howard Trent (Hayden Rorke), who suspects his long-suffering wife Irene (Barbara Stanwyck) of infidelity, based on remarks she made while talking in her sleep. He is unswayed by her insistence that the "other man" is only a dream, and enlists his attorney (Robert Taylor) to find out her lover's identity. Further complications arise when Trent is killed in an explosion, and Irene begins seeing her dream lover (Lloyd Bochner) in the waking world. Is she losing her mind, or is there a more sinister explanation?
Robert Bloch's screenplay is effectively twisted (in the "convoluted" rather than "sick" sense), walking a fine line between reality and the supernatural and keeping us guessing as to which realm the movie falls under. If it falls a little flat once it settles on one side of the fence, at least it was a fun teeter-totter ride.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
This was the final theatrical film for the legendary Barbara Stanwyck, who turned to the small screen after this (going on to the popular series The Big Valley, and a number of TV-movies and mini-series over the next 20 years). Sad but true, Hollywood (particularly the Hollywood of the '60s) is not kind to leading ladies as time goes by, generally relegating them to "mother" roles at best. A leading role with a romantic interest was a rare opportunity, and Stanwyck siezes it with gusto. Shame on Hollywood for not giving her more chances like this.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Why Didn't I Know This Sooner?

Sometimes, it really hits me hard to find out just how far out of the loop I've been. Last night, I picked up this week's comics...and there, on the back page of the DC titles, was a memorial notice for Jim Mooney. This was the first I had heard about his passing. I'm sure it's been noted on several blogs, but somehow I missed the news until now.

Jim Mooney has long been one of my favorite artists. There was a great, wholesome charm to his art...apart from his definitive Supergirl stories, I've always been especially fond of his 1970s collaborations with Steve Gerber (both Man-Thing and Omega the Unknown). You wouldn't think that Mooney's "old-fashioned" feel would mesh with Gerber's out-there madness, but it worked beautifully.

One of the prizes of my original art collection (back when I could afford to buy them) is a Jim Mooney Omega page, which I purchased through one of his own eBay auctions. It's a beautiful page, and he was a pleasure to deal with.

Rest in peace, Mr. Mooney.

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What I Sang 5-7

From last night at Midtown Tavern:

"Gloria" by Laura Branigan.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Picture Mommy Dead

PICTURE MOMMY DEAD (1966). Directed by Bert I. Gordon. Starring Don Ameche, Martha Hyer, Susan Gordon, and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Okay, I admit it, I've got a sick sense of humor. Why else would I be reviewing this movie the week before Mother's Day? (It was either this or Paul Leder's I Dismember Mama, but Versatile Video didn't have that one--besides, I'm pretty sure the sick title is all that one has going for it.)
Picture Mommy Dead, on the other hand, is a pretty decent (if somewhat silly) little thriller. Directed by Bert I. Gordon (best known for his giant-monster movies that provided so much MST3K fodder), it stars his daughter Susan as an emotionally disturbed teen, returning home after several years in an institution following the death of her mother (Zsa Zsa Gabor) in a house fire. Her father (Don Ameche) and stepmother (Martha Hyer) attempt to get her settled in and re-adjusted...but who knows when her memory of that fateful night might come back? And then there's the matter of the inheritance, which will go entirely to the daughter on her 25th birthday...if she lives that long.
While the plot frequently gets bogged down in its own convolutions, overall the movie is an enjoyable time-passer with a number of memorable moments and impressive visuals, ranging from the chilling (the fire sequence, a "bleeding" portrait) to the campy (the girl playing with a talking "beatnik" doll).
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
All of the major players turn in strong performances, with Martha Hyer in particular playing it to the hilt as the ruthless gold-digging stepmother. Wendell Corey has an amusing cameo as a grumpy (verging on verbally abusive) lawyer going over the terms of the inheritance. In her surprisingly brief screen time, Zsa Zsa Gabor steals the show simply by BEING Zsa Zsa Gabor...the role is so close to her famous public persona, it leaves you wondering whether or not it could truly be called a "performance."


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Hey! Actual Comics Content!

I know it's been a long time since I've actually written about anything comics-related...sorry about that.

Anyway, this is just something I've had kicking around in my head for a while, but I'm only just now getting around to putting it down in words.

Ever since the 1970s, when a new generation of comics writers began dealing with more cerebral and politically aware ideas than had previously been seen in comics, couching their commentary in spacefaring sagas or mystical realms, there's been a tendency to lump all the "cosmic" writers together, as if they were interchangeable. ("Oh, he's a cosmic writer, let's put him on this title.") But it's just not so. Steve Englehart Cosmic is different from Don McGregor Cosmic, Doug Moench Cosmic is different from Jim Starlin Cosmic, and Steve Gerber Cosmic is different from everybody else. (Indeed, Gerber's "Space Turnip" story from Howard the Duck #2 is a pretty scathing attack on McGregor and Starlin.)

And, as Death of the New Gods has demonstrated, Starlin Cosmic is diametrically opposed to Kirby Kosmic.


Thursday, May 01, 2008

What I Sang 4-30

From tonight's session at Midtown Tavern:

"Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall" by Simon & Garfunkel.
"88 Lines About 44 Women" by The Nails.
"Hold Tight" by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich.