Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Friday, August 29, 2008

He Showed Me Something That Was Round

I'm about to head out to Dragon*Con and then to An Evening with Crispin Glover...but before I go, I'll wrap up Crispin Glover Week with this:


Thursday, August 28, 2008

What I Sang 8-27

In anticipation of Dragon*Con, I had a theme running through my selections last night:

"Space Oddity" by David Bowie.
"Major Tom (Coming Home)" by Peter Schilling.
"In the Year 2525" by Zager & Evans.

And, in preparation for this weekend's Evening with Crispin Glover (and to continue the "Crispin Glover Week" theme):

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

VHS Vednesday: My Tutor

MY TUTOR (1983). Directed by George Bowers. Starring Matt Lattanzi, Caren Kaye, and Crispin Glover.

Given the last couple of days' posts, I might as well make a theme of it and declare this Crispin Glover week...and so, today I'm taking a look at Crispin's film debut (following a couple of made-for-TV movies).
My Tutor is a typical example of the '80s-teen-sex-comedy genre, with all that that implies. The simple premise: At the end of senior year, 18-year-old Bobby Chrystal (Matt Lattanzi) learns that he has flunked French, and will need to retake the exam in order to graduate. His overbearing wealthy father (Kevin McCarthy), seeing his dreams of his son carrying on the Yale tradition about to be dashed, hires the best tutor available--gorgeous, 29-year-old blonde Terry Green (Caren Kaye). Predictably, the teacher-student relationship eventually goes into wholly inappropriate territory, while the movie looks on and says "Way to go, Bobby!"
The B-plot concerns Bobby's nebbishy, virginal best friend Jack (Crispin Glover) and Jack's more worldly brother Billy (Clark Brandon), as Billy makes repeated failed attempts to introduce Jack and Bobby to the joys of shallow, casual, woman-objectifyin' sex. One such effort involves a trip to a brothel, where Billy has arranged "the full treatment" for Jack--unfortunately, Billy is unaware of the difference between a prostitute and a dominatrix, and we wind up with a scene of half-naked Crispin Glover in bondage (Hello, Googlers!). These scenes are made tolerable--well, less intolerable--by Glover's unique presence; his combination of nervousness and naive, boastful bravado serve as a warm-up for his subsequent characterization in Back to the Future. (Okay, I'm being over-generous, but the fact remains that Glover's performance makes the movie more watchable than it would be otherwise.)
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Apart from being a semi-embarrassing debut for Crispin Glover, My Tutor is one of Kevin McCarthy's less-proud moments, although he does play the bull-headed patriarch to a T. Familiar character actress Arlene Golonka is saddled with an even more poorly-defined character as Bobby's flighty mother. A number of familiar B-movie starlets fill the screen with the requisite gratuitous nudity, including future author Jewel Shepard (Invasion of the B-Girls), and future filmmaker Katt Shea (director of Poison Ivy and The Rage: Carrie 2) wonder they branched out and went behind the scenes!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Compare and Contrast

Crispin Glover 1987:

Crispin Glover 2007:



Monday, August 25, 2008

A Busy Week Ahead

Well, the Labor Day weekend is almost upon us, and with it a plethora of special events. Of course, the big one for me is Dragon*Con, but there's also this...

...and as if Dragon*Con and an international improv tournament weren't enough, there's also the Drive-InVasion at Starlight Six Drive-In, and most mind-blowing of all, an in-person appearance/performance/screening by Crispin Glover at the Plaza Theatre! My geek-cup runneth over...

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

What I Sang 8-20

Last night's offering:

"I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight" by Cutting Crew.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Out of Thin Air

OUT OF THIN AIR (1969). Directed by Gerry Levy. Starring George Sanders, Patrick Allen, and Neil Connery.

In this British science-fiction effort (also known by the alternate titles The Body Stealers and Invasion of the Body Stealers), the military is baffled when a group of paratroopers inexplicably vanish in mid-jump. An assortment of experts are called in, each fulfilling an archetypal stock role: The macho but intelligent military man (Patrick Allen), the "almost-as-good-but-purely-secondary-and-thus-relegated-to-sidekick-status" inventor (Neil Connery), the concerned officer-in-charge (George Sanders), the wise old scientist (Maurice Evans), and "the girl" (Hilary Dwyer). The characters don't get any deeper or more interesting than that.

The movie's low budget (most of it apparently spent on the aerial skydiving footage) falls short of its ambitions, resulting in its alien-abduction premise being more verbal than visual. While this talkiness isn't necessarily a bad thing (other low-budget efforts such as the Quatermass films and your typical '60s Doctor Who episode pulled it off successfully), director Gerry Levy was unable to sustain my interest.

Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?

Academy Award-winning actor George Sanders appears bored (as he proably was), going through the motions as the deskbound general. The most curious bit of casting is the appearance of Neil Connery (Sean's younger brother, immortalized in the MST3K fodder Operation Kid Brother a.k.a. Operation Double 007) as the intrepid aviation/parachute expert. While he shares a strong resemblance with his more famous brother and appears to have a certain amount of the Connery charisma, he falls far short of replicating Sean's talent or screen presence...though I'm unsure whether that can be blamed on Neil or on the colorless character he was called upon to play.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

What I Sang 8-13

Last night's offerings:

"Theme from Shaft" by Isaac Hayes (Rest in Peace, big guy!)
"Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Bikini Island

BIKINI ISLAND (1991). Directed by Tony Marks. Starring Holly Floria and Cyndi Pass.

No time for an actual review this week (I just got home from work, and am about to head out to Midtown Tavern for karaoke and then to The Doug Dank Project for improv), so for this week's offering, I've chosen a movie that can be summed up in four words.
Suffocation By Toilet Plunger.
That tells you everything you need to know about Bikini Island.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Again, I'll keep it short: Everybody.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Overdue Comics Commentary: Fantastic Four: True Story

I know it's been far too long since I've last written anything comics-related, but I hope this isn't too untimely...

I greatly enjoyed Fantastic Four: True Story #1; the premise, if somewhat derivative (Cornell explicitly acknowledges his debt to Jasper Fforde, though I was also reminded of Woody Allen's short story The Kugelmass Episode), is no less entertaining and intriguing. I particularly enjoyed the deconstructed Thing-Torch squabble, reminiscent of the Neo-Futurists' short play "Title," which reduces a disastrous dinner date to its raw essentials ("Suggestive proposition." "Violent denial!")...though I doubt Cornell is familiar with the Neo-Futurists' work.


There was one bit that truly bothered me: When the FF encounter Dante Alighieri, and Johnny Storm's immediate reaction to his name is a Clerks reference. I already thought Cornell was overdoing Johnny's immaturity and ignorance just a bit, but this pushed my suspension of disbelief past the breaking point. Sure, I can believe that Johnny's never read the poem, I can buy that he doesn't really know what it's about...but I cannot believe that Johnny's never heard of Dante's Inferno.

Maybe it's just me, but it always takes me right out of a story when, for the sake of a gag, a character is suddenly ignorant of something that's part of the common cultural landscape. It's bothered me ever since I was a kid, and I saw an episode of the sitcom Alice in which Alice's son Tommy was studying King Lear for school. When Mel (the diner owner, played by Vic Tayback, for those of you too young to remember the series) heard him mention this assignment, Mel asked "King Lear? That a sequel to King Kong?" Even at the tender age of whenever-it-was, I was going "Oh, come on! Even Mel's not that dumb!" (It went even further later in the episode, when Tommy recited a speech from the play, and Mel commented "Boy, that Kong was one smart ape." Geez, I think Mel's figured out by now that not everyone with "King" in front of their name is a giant ape.)

This annoyed me so much that it has stayed with me to this day, far longer than any sitcom gag should remain in one's memory. Indeed, it bugged me so much that, years after the fact, I came up with a "shoulda said" gag that I think would have worked better. Imagine if Mel had said "King Lear? That about the guy who invented the jet plane?" It would have worked as a "Ha ha, Mel is ignorant" joke...but it would have been plausibly ignorant.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Wacko

WACKO (1983). Directed by Greydon Clark. Starring Julia Duffy, Joe Don Baker, and George Kennedy.

As the plethora of slasher movies proliferated in the early '80s, they were ripe for parodizing. (They were overripe in many other ways, but we'll let that pass for now.) Sure enough, a slew of spoofs came hot on their heels, led by the cult classic Student Bodies, followed by the all-star extravaganza Pandemonium. And then there's Wacko. Not nearly as outrageous or consistently funny as its predecessors, this lampoon still has some laughs to offer.
As a child, Mary Graves (a pre-Newhart Julia Duffy) witnessed the gruesome murder of her older sister by the notorious Lawnmower Killer on prom night (which also happened to be Halloween). Now burdened with horrifying images that she'll carry for the rest of her life (as we're constantly reminded in a running gag), Mary is preparing for her own Halloween Pumpkin Prom Night, much to the concern of her parents (George Kennedy and Stella Stevens). Meanwhile, the detective obsessed with the case (Joe Don Baker, in a hilarious send-up of his usual macho-slob act) is convinced that THIS is the year that the Lawnmower Killer will strike again.
The gags are not nearly as frequent as in Airplane! (the grandfather of this genre), and there's quite a bit of "dead air" between the laughs, but overall, the hit-or-miss jokes hit more often than they miss.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
In addition to our star Julia Duffy, the cast includes a couple of screen neophytes who went on to bigger things. Elizabeth (E.G.) Daily, now a familiar face on screen (from Valley Girl to The Devil's Rejects) and a familiar voice in animation (Rugrats, The Powerpuff Girls) contributes her trademark squeaky-voiced charm as Mary's ditzy friend Bambi. The performer who'd probably most like to forget this, though, is young newcomer Andrew Clay, making his screen debut as the school's studly cool-guy Tony Schlongini (a cross between TV icons the Fonz and Vinnie Barbarino). Clay would later attain stardom and notoriety after adding the middle name "Dice"--although his stage and screen persona would hardly change from this debut role.