Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

What I Sang 2-27

From tonight's visit to Midtown Tavern:

"Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac.
"Words" by The Monkees.
"Celebrity Skin" by Hole.
"Reasons to Be Cheerful Part 3" by Ian Dury.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Scene of the Crime

SCENE OF THE CRIME (1984/85). Directed by Walter Grauman and Harry Falk. Starring Orson Welles, Kim Hunter, Markie Post, Dennis Franz, Alan Thicke, and Ben Piazza.

This week's not-on-DVD rental is an interesting little time capsule. It's not a movie, but a collection of three segments from the short-lived television series Scene of the Crime. From the background information I can gather from the IMDB, the series had a most unusual format: Each episode consisted of two stories, the first a play-fair mystery that challenged the audience to identify the murderer, and the second a straightforward suspense narrative in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It's not unreasonable to suppose that this split-personality format contributed to the series' brief run; it might have lasted longer if it had stuck with one or the other.
The VHS compilation features two of the interactive mysteries and one standard story, all introduced by Orson Welles' dry, bemused narration. In the first segment, a manipulative gold-digging bride (Night Court's Markie Post) is found murdered on her wedding day, drowned without any sign of water nearby; in the second, a backstabbing politician (Edward Winter) is bludgeoned to death in his campaign headquarters. The cast of suspects in the two cases include such familiar and diverse faces as Kim Hunter, Henry Jones, Bibi Besch, Dennis Franz, and Alan Thicke. Yes, Alan Thicke.
One interesting feature of the first episode which had apparently been abandoned by the time of the second: After we've heard from all the suspects and have seen all the clues, we hear from a panel of celebrity "guest detectives" offering their deductions. In the newlywed murder case, David Hasselhoff and Merv Griffin share their guesses, while Angela Lansbury (holding one of her J.B. Fletcher books from Murder, She Wrote) declines to reveal who she suspects (on the grounds that it might be embarrassing if she were wrong). Hasselhoff's rambling, nigh-incoherent explanation of the case is perhaps the highlight of the episode.
The final segment, "The Medium Is the Murder" is a more conventional tale, starring Ben Piazza as an advertising executive driven to the brink of madness by his suspicions of his wife's (Playboy Playmate Kathy Shower) infidelity. A decently directed and acted story, but nothing too remarkable.
I much preferred the viewer-challenge mysteries, and wish the series had focused exclusively on them. Perhaps they should have gone even further and made it an actual game show, bringing in contestants (and not just celebrity guests) to try solving the mystery. (Indeed, there had been a reasonably successful '70s British game show along those lines called Whodunnit, although the American version was even more short-lived than Scene of the Crime.)
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Alan Thicke. ALAN-freaking-THICKE!


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Kids' Jokes for Foolio, 2-23

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

"I have a dinosaur named Roast Beef."

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"
"Because he went to the other side and he got some flowers."

"Why couldn't the pirate go to the movie?"
"It was rated Arrr!"

"Why did Jive Turkey cross the road?"
"To get away from Foolio!"

"What do you get when you cross a Jedi Knight with a toad?"
"Star Warts!"

"How did the Firebird get to the movie?"
"Cause he had a broken arm!"

"Why did Ivan go the the movie?"
"Because he wanted to see a song!"

"A rocket went to a planet and then the aliens ate the rocket."

"Why did the scooter go into the woods by itself?"
"Because it had no people on it, and something something water."

"Why did the bee have sticky hair?"
"Because he used a honeycomb!"

"Why did the chicken go to the movies?"
"He wanted to see the singing cow!"

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

What I Sang 2-20

Went to a new karaoke spot tonight: Midtown Tavern. My selections for the evening:

"Come Together" by The Beatles.
"Self Control" by Laura Branigan.
"Hazy Shade of Winter" by Simon & Garfunkel.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Too Scared to Scream

This week's not-on-DVD rental:

TOO SCARED TO SCREAM (1985). Directed by Tony Lo Bianco. Starring Mike Connors, Anne Archer, Ian McShane, and Maureen O'Sullivan.

When a fashionable, expensive apartment building is plagued by a series of brutal murders, Lt. Alex Dinardo (Mike Connors) is on the case. A young undercover officer (Anne Archer) is assigned to act as a decoy, moving into the building and keeping an eye out for any suspicious characters. Who could the killer be? Is it the refined, ever-so-helpful night-shift doorman (Ian McShane)? Or perhaps the doorman's mute, paraplegic mother (Maureen O'Sullivan) isn't quite as helpless as she appears? Or is it...well, actually, the movie doesn't really give us any other suspects. Oh sure, we're introduced to a number of other characters, but they're not given enough activity even to become red herrings. Of course, I'm not giving too much away when I say that the most obvious suspect is not the killer (in fact, the back of the video box gives THAT away), but when the actual murderer is revealed, it comes completely out of left does the killer's motive: Frustrated Homosexual Desire. It's a flashback to a different social milieu, and not in a good way.
Apart from the stereotypes, Too Scared to Scream is an odd little's not really a slasher flick (most of the violence occurs discreetly off-screen, although there are some bloody bodies on display after the fact), but could pass for a feature-length episode of a TV cop show (apart from the aforementioned blood and a couple of gratuitous nude scenes). Overall, it's not a bad's the sort of picture where everybody involved took what they were given and gamely gave it their best (while wondering whether it's worth their best).
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Most of the principals acquit themselves admirably; Mike Connors and Anne Archer make an appealing cop-buddy duo, and Ian McShane is effectively creepy as the too-soft-spoken, mother-obsessed doorman (a long way off from Deadwood). Maureen O'Sullivan, stuck in a role which requires her to be both mute and immobile, works her facial muscles for all they're worth and manages to bring some expressiveness to a character that the film treats more like a prop than a person.
The supporting cast features a number of familiar faces, none of whom are given much to do. (It's only been a few days since I watched the movie, and already I've completely forgotten how Murray Hamilton figures into it.) Leon Isaac Kennedy, playing Connors' partner, becomes a third wheel when Archer joins the investigation. Prolific character actor Val Avery has a cameo as a blase coroner, making pleasant chit-chat with the queasy Archer while he sifts through the remains (a situation which was pretty much covered in the opening credits of Quincy). Perhaps the most thankless role goes to John Heard as a lab technician delivering some test results; at least Val Avery had something besides straight exposition to work with.
Charles Aznavour's probably not including the theme song "I'll Be There" in his repertoire of greatest hits, either.


Monday, February 18, 2008

I Want to Read This Guy's Story

Got to thinking about obscure Golden Age characters, and I decided that there was one hero in particular whom I'd like to see:
That's right, 711 (the crimefighter most often confused with a convenience store). It's not just the wonderfully implausible premise (wrongfully jailed due to absurdly contrived circumstances, he escapes his cell each night to fight crime but dutifully returns to prison by morning)'s the fact that he was the first established Quality Comics hero (and thus, the first DC Universe hero) to be killed off. (Though not the very first Golden Age hero to meet his maker...I believe that "honor" goes to MLJ/Archie Comics' original version of The Comet.)
It's the fact that 711 belongs (albeit only retroactively) to a wide shared universe that makes this distinction so interesting to me. I'd like to think that, even taking into account the heroes who were killed off retroactively (Red Bee, anyone?), 711 still holds a place in DC Universe history as the first costumed crimefighter to die in the line of duty. Wouldn't it be great to read a story showing the news of his death getting around the mystery-men community, showing all the other heroes' reactions, and the realization that putting on a mask and cape doesn't make you immortal? I know I'd buy that.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Kids' Jokes for Foolio: 2-16

Today's assortment of jokes from the kids to Foolio:

"What is it time for when the elephant sits on the fence?"
"Time to get a new fence!"

"What's a chicken's favorite composer?"

"Why did the giraffe cross the road?"
"Because he was in love with the elephant!"

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"
"To get more fattening!"

"What has four wheels and flies?"
"A garbage truck!"

"Why did the cowboy wear the cowboy hat?"
"So he could wrestle the cows!"

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Juicy who?"
"D'you see when I saw Lucy?"

"Where did the fish go to the doctor?"
"To the dock!"

"Why did the dinosaur cross the road?"
"Because the chicken was off-duty!"

"Why did Foolio cross the road?"
"To get his 99-cent jokebook!"

"Why did the dinosaur cross the road?"
"Because he was full!"

"Why did the cookie go to the doctor?"
"It was feeling crumby!"

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Night Game

As I considered in last night's post, my discovery of Versatile Video's huge selection of VHS tapes has inspired me to try starting a series of posts reviewing some of the obscure tapes I find there (as well as an occasional movie from my own collection). I'll try to focus on movies that are not available on DVD (to the best of my knowledge), hence "VHS Vednesday."

For my first offering, the tape I rented this past weekend:

NIGHT GAME (1989). Directed by Peter Masterson. Starring Roy Scheider, Karen Young, Lane Smith, and Rex Linn.

In an unsettling morbid coincidence, I rented this Roy Scheider thriller on Saturday, the day before Scheider's passing. While it's not his best film by any means, the always-reliable Scheider turns in an appealing performance as a former baseball player turned police detective, investigating a string of murders linked to the home team's performance on each night's game. The big subplot focuses on Scheider's upcoming wedding to Karen Young, and his prickly relationship with his fiancee's mother (Carlin Glynn). Predictably, by the end of the movie, Karen has caught the killer's eye, and it's up to Roy to save her. All in all, it's a decent but unremarkable thriller, with some effective (but unfortunately, few and far between) action sequences and set pieces. I would have liked to have seen more done with Scheider's character's background...his past as a baseball player is mentioned at several points, but it never really comes into play (so to speak).

Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Fans of Xena: Warrior Princess might enjoy playing "Spot Gabrielle" and seeing one of Renee O'Connor's earliest screen appearances. She's on screen for about two or three minutes before meeting a gruesome fate in a carnival hall of mirrors.

Tooting One's Own Horn
In one scene, Roy and Karen are shown walking out of a movie theater on a date. One of the titles on the marquee: Full Moon in Blue Water, an earlier film by director Peter Masterson. (Yes, he's Mary Stuart's dad.)

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I had just finished writing my last post when I decided to take a look around some of the other comics blogs (as I hadn't had much time to read them over the past couple of days). So, it was only just now that I read the news that Steve Gerber had passed away. I am stunned and deeply saddened.

Steve Gerber has long been one of my favorite comics writers, from Man-Thing and Howard the Duck all the way up to his Doctor Fate stories in Countdown to Mystery...and everything in between. Defenders, Daredevil, Omega the Unknown, Destroyer Duck, Foolkiller, Hard Time, his early-'90s She-Hulk run, even the obscure "Poison" storyline (featuring Mop Man) from Marvel Comics Presents...the list goes on and on.

As noted in Mark Evanier's obituary for Gerber (in the above link), once, at a time when Gerber was persona non grata with Marvel's higher-ups, he had a story published under the anagrammatical pseudonym Reg Everbest.


I've never seen a more fitting alias.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008


This weekend, I was out in the Dunwoody Village shopping center (an area I hadn't been to in a long time), and I was surprised to find that one of my childhood haunts, Versatile Video (where my parents rented tapes before Blockbuster was around), is still in business. I went inside, and was overwhelmed by the shelves chock-full of VHS tapes, some of which even I had never heard of (and if you know me, you know that means it's really obscure). I couldn't believe some of the tapes I saw, and some of the people in them. Orson Welles and Markie Post in the same show? I'm getting that. Detective Vera from Cold Case as a chainsaw-wielding psycho? I'm there. Leif Garrett as a serial killer? I am even more there. It was like going back in time to the '80s. I am definitely going to be giving them my business...and I might even start doing write-ups of some of my discoveries there. (Yeah, like I can keep to a regular posting schedule...)

For those of you outside Atlanta who can't go to Versatile Video, here's a page that might bring back that same rush of nostalgia. Ah, those lurid covers...

Oh, and here's some comics content from one of the tapes at VV. Who's that dead guy?

Why, it's Paul Chadwick! No, the acclaimed creator of Concrete had nothing to do with this movie...the artist who painted the box art was a friend of Paul's, and used Paul as the model. (I remember him mentioning this in an old Comics Journal or Amazing Heroes interview.)


What I Sang 2-11

Well, just after I found the karaoke at Tin Roof Cantina, they stopped doing it. Luckily, there's still the Star Bar on Monday nights (even if it does start really late).

So, my offering from last night:

"The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" by The Beatles.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Kids' Jokes for Foolio: The Jokening

Today marked the return of "Uncle Grampa's Hoo-Dilly Storytime" at Dad's Garage, and with it, the return of Foolio! So, let's get straight to the kids' jokes!

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Chickenhead who?"

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Snake who?"
"Snake on you!"

"Why did the green car take out the light?"
"None! He could see in the dark!"

"Where do the bees go to the bathroom?"
"To the BP station!"

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Boo who?"
"Foolio's crying 'cause his jokes are so terrible!"

"Why do goats have bells?"
"Because their horns don't work!"

"How was spaghetti invented?"
"Someone used their noodle!"

"Why did the turtle cross the road?"
"To get to the Shell station!"

"Why did the elephant cross the road?"
"It was the chicken's day off!"

"Why didn't the skeleton cross the road?"
"He didn't have the guts!"

"What's a pig's favorite karate move?"
"A pork chop!"

"Why does Fritz cross the road?"
"Because they have glasses!"

"If there's a car called the Taurus, why isn't there a car called the Hare?"

"Would you remember me in a year?"
"Would you remember me in five years?"
"Would you remember me in ten years?"
"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"See, you forgot me already!"

"What loses its head in the morning and gets it back at night?"
"A pillow!"

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"
"Because he fell on top of the schoolhouse!"

"Why did the pigeon cross the road?"
"Because he wanted to see a snake!"

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A Gentleman and a Palindrome

After several years' residency in Prague, the legendary Marc Cram has returned to Atlanta for a spell, and is making his mark once again with a slew of activity. At Dad's Garage, he's the director of the just-opened play "Poker Night at the White House" (and he'll also be making a return appearance as Jive Turkey when "Uncle Grampa's Hoo-Dilly Storytime" returns). And tonight, he'll be the guest monologist at The Doug Dank Project.

See them all if you can. You'll be in for some awe.

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