Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy some helpful hints from Harvey Korman and company...

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

VHS Vednesday (Sorta): Robot Monster

Unfortunately, I don't have time to write up a full review this week due to Thanksgiving preparations, but here's an image from a nice juicy turkey:

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kids' Jokes for Foolio, Delayed Edition

I forgot to post the kids' jokes from last week's edition of Uncle Grampa's Hoo-Dilly Storytime (and I wasn't able to make it to today's show), but better late than never...

"How can a chichken get across the road when cars are coming?"
"Wait until its turn!"

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Who who?"
"Are you an owl, Foolio?"

"Why did nobody cross the road?"
"Because nobody was in the town!"

"What do you call Foolio and Fritz surfing?"
"A hot dog with sauerkraut!"

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Chicken who?"
"Chicken ran away!"

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
[dead silence]

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

"Why is velociraptor the fastest dinosaur?"
"Because it's the smallest!"

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

"Why did the pencil roll down the road?"
"To get to Pennsylvania!"

"Who stole the soap out of the bathroom?"
"Robber ducky!"

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"
"So it could get run over by a car!"

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What I Sang 11-19

Last night's selections:

"Walk Away Renee" by The Left Banke.
"Sandman" by America.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Uninvited

UNINVITED (1988). Directed by Greydon Clark. Starring Alex Cord, George Kennedy, and Clu Gulager.

Dear lord, there's more than one George-Kennedy-on-a-boat horror movie!
Unlike Death Ship, Uninvited begins far away from the sea, opening with the escape of an experimental test animal--an adorable fluffy tabby cat--from a laboratory. Whatever was done to this kitty, it's hard to imagine any practical use for the result of the procedure: When provoked, Fluffy pukes up not a hairball, but some kind of parasitic/symbiotic second cat. After the mutated creature (which varies in size from scene to scene, frequently appearing even larger than its host body) wreaks its havoc, we're left with the cute widdle kitty, looking harmless as ever. We never get to see how it returns to normal--does the mutant go back into the cat? Is it actually a series of creatures, with the host generating one mutant after another, and the creatures disintegrating some time being expelled? The mere fact that I'm asking these questions suggests that I've put more thought into it than writer/director Greydon Clark did.
After the cat's escape, we meet crooked businessman Walter Graham (Alex Cord) and his associates Mike (George Kennedy) and Albert (Clu Gulager). Absconding with a fortune in cash (after eliminating a potential blackmailer/squealer), Walter decides that his fleeing the country would look less suspicious if he appears to be taking a pleasure cruise, so he invites two young women (Clare Carey and Shari Shattuck) he had met earlier that day. However, the girls arrive with some guests of their own--a jock (Beau Dremann), a preppie (Rob Estes), and a handsome brainy guy who has "I'm the hero" stamped all over him (Eric Larson). Oh, and this cute fluffy kitty that one of the girls found. You can see where this is heading...
While the premise of a killer cat has some potential for a horror movie--what happens to the cliche fake scare of "Oh, it's only the cat" when the cat IS the monster?--the execution is hilariously botched. With its one-dimensional characters and ludicrous mutant puppets (and occasionally visible puppeteers), Uninvited is a true bad-movie treat.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
While most of the cast members have established their talent elsewhere, none of that talent shows through in this movie. Alex Cord hams it up shamelessly, Clu Gulager's drunk act is absurdly over-the-top, and George Kennedy simply looks uncomfortable and embarrassed. Perhaps the most shameful performance, though, is the script's one attempt at an actual character arc, as Suzanne (Shari Shattuck) degenerates from bubbly party-girl to raving paranoid...I've liked Shattuck in the few other roles I've seen her in (particularly her guest appearance on Babylon 5), but her histrionics here are almost painful to watch.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

What I Sang 11-12

From last night:

"Hush" by Deep na na na na na na na na na!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Death Ship

DEATH SHIP (1980). Directed by Alvin Rakoff. Starring George Kennedy, Richard Crenna, and Nick Mancuso.

I didn't really intend for "VHS Vednesday" to be a mostly-horror review site (and I've tried to strike a balance among genres), but let's face it, that's where most of the crazy stuff can be found. Case in point, the 1980 Canadian horror flick Death Ship.
George Kennedy stars as Captain Ashland, a career sailor bitter at being reduced to the head of a cruise ship, and further enraged by his imminent forced retirement from even that post. Accompanying him on his last voyage is his soon-to-be replacement Trevor Marshall (Richard Crenna), Marshall's wife (Sally Ann Howes) and children (Danny Higham and Jennifer McKinney). The personal conflict between Ashland and Marshall is soon displaced by a bigger problem: A mysterious derelict vessel that appears out of nowhere and rams the ship. Only a handful of survivors make it onto a single lifeboat (despite all of them having been scattered throughout different areas of the ship at the time of the crash): Besides Ashland and the Marshall family, there's a young crewman (Nick Mancuso), his girlfriend (Victoria Burgoyne), a kindly middle-aged widow (Kate Reid), and the ship's stand-up comic (Saul Rubinek).
After drifting for a while, the castaways finally find a ray of hope when they come across another ship...unfortunately, it's the came craft that sank them. (Though they don't realize this...and why should they, when it's reappeared so far away from the crash?) Exploring the ship, they keep finding evidence of activity (noises in the distance, a running movie projector, etc.) yet no sign of any crew. When the injured Captain Ashland regains consciousness, he begins hearing strange voices speaking to him in German...and then the deaths begin.
As the movie progresses, any semblance of realism is abandoned in favor of atmospheric dream-logic imagery (Captain Ashland's sudden appearances out of nowhere, a movie screen being torn through to reveal more screens behind it, etc.)...and I found that a good thing. It's cheaply made and exploitive (as in the gratuitous shower scene that turns into a literal bloodbath), yet nonetheless effectively chilling.
A small aside: While I'm willing to accept many of the movie's inconsistencies as part of the nightmarish milieu, there is one extremely minor quibble that nagged at me...why, on an abandoned Nazi ship, are there Betty Grable pin-ups pasted on the walls? I guess horniness knows no national boundaries (at least among the rank-and-file sailors).
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Death Ship boasts quite a number of talented stars who would no doubt like this forgotten; all the performances are quite effective (even when George Kennedy goes way over the top, it's entirely appropriate to the movie), with the exceptions of Victoria Burgoyne (whose shrill anguished cry of "IT'S BLOOD!" during the shower scene comes across as laughable) and the too-cutesy kids. Sally Ann Howes (star of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) ended her screen career with this, turning her attentions to more rewarding stage work (and a couple of TV appearances). The distinguished stage and screen actress Kate Reid, in the same year as Death Ship, won a Genie Award (the "Canadian Oscar," so to speak) as Best Supporting Actress in Louis Malle's Atlantic City (a clear-cut case of "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times"). However, perhaps the most embarrassed performer is Saul Rubinek, whose brief screen time consists almost entirely of a few lame jokes and an undignified death. It was nowhere to go but up from there...


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

VHS Vednesday, Presidential Edition: I Go Pogo

I GO POGO (1980). Directed by Marc Paul Chinoy. Starring the voices of Skip Hinnant, Jonathan Winters, and Vincent Price.

This is a bit of a departure, since I don't have a copy of this movie to watch right now; instead, I'm going by long-gone memory. Still, given the special Presidential occasion, this is the movie I had to review.
I Go Pogo (also titled Pogo for President) is a surprisingly faithful stop-motion adaptation of Walt Kelly's brilliant comic strip, taking much of its dialogue verbatim from Kelly's storylines in which Pogo Possum (voiced by Skip Hinnant) is reluctantly recruited into running for President. Pogo, too nice to say no, winds up caught between the machinations of the sinister Deacon Mushrat (Vincent Price) and Mole (Jonathan Winters), and the friendlier but no less manipulative campaign of Albert Alligator (Stan Freberg) and Churchy La Femme (Arnold Stang). Only the morose Porky Pine (also voiced by Winters) stands by Pogo as a true friend and not as a meal ticket.
The movie is peppered with musical numbers, many of them performed by Dr. Hook--the peppy "None of the Above" and the gentle "Hard to Be a Friend" are particularly memorable.
While the film adaptation does tone down Kelly's more pointed political satire (Kelly's Joseph McCarthy caricature, Semple J. Malarkey, is absent, and the ostensible villains--Deacon, Mole, and Wiley Katt--are nowhere near as malevolent as their original versions), it still captures the dual levels of Kelly's creation: Funny animals for the kids, winking commentary for the adults. It's a testimony to the strength of Kelly's writing that even a watered-down version of Pogo maintains its integrity.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
All of the voice actors do a fine job of bringing Kelly's characters to life, while maintaining their own distinctive vocal patterns. With Vincent Price's melliflous tones, you can practically see the elaborate typeface Kelly used for the Deacon's word balloons. No, no "leaving it off the resume" here...


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Kids' Jokes for Foolio, 11-01

Today's assortment of jokes from the kids attending Uncle Grampa's Hoo-Dilly Storytime. (Foolio was wearing a Santa cap...because if Christmas decorations the day after Halloween are good enough for the stores, they're good enough for Foolio. This explains the abundance of Christmas-themed jokes in today's show.)

"How do you explode a dinosaur?"
"With dino-mite!"

"Why did Foolio eat Christmas?"
"Because Christmas is yummy!"

"Why do sharks only swim in salt water?"
"Because pepper water makes them sneeze!"

"Why did the nightmare go out before Christmas?"
"Because it was the Nightmare Before Christmas!"

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Banana who?"
"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Banana who?"
"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Orange who?"
"Orange you glad I didn't say banana?"

"What did the insect say at Christmas?"
"Bah, humbug!"

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Turnip who?"
"Turnip the heat, I'm freezing!"

Labels: , , ,