Monday, March 15, 2010

oveur and out

Tonight's planned television viewing was interrupted by 1967. While "Chuck" and "24" were still recorded by my DVR, I chose to fire up the DVD player and watch a couple of episodes from season 2 of "Mission: Impossible." My daughter gave me the discs for Christmas in 2008.

The inspiration for my retro-viewing party was the death of Peter Graves, the one, true Jim Phelps. I was too young to stay up and watch M:I when it first aired but I got hooked on the show during high school when one of the local New York stations showed reruns of it every night. The episodes from season 2 that I watched tonight are ones I don't recall seeing before.

The teamwork of the IMF and the intricate plots renewed my displeasure with the way the Tom Cruise movies abused the franchise. Martin Landau was quoted in an article about Graves' death. The original stars also smelled a rat and refused to sully their characters by appearing in Cruise's vanity project.

On "World News," Diane Sawyer reported Graves' relation to his brother, James Arness, like it was news. I think her exact words were, "here's something we didn't know..." Huh? I've known that piece of TV trivia for as long as I can remember.

Peter Graves died just outside his home as he was returning from a Sunday brunch to celebrate his upcoming birthday. Is it weird that I am incredibly curious to know which restaurant served his last meal? Get me Dearly Departed Tours on the phone!

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Friday, December 11, 2009

like you fairly well

KROQ has its annual Almost Acoustic Christmas shows this weekend. One year I was responsible for booking an unusual artist to perform at the concert. Wesley Willis had appeared on the Kevin & Bean show a few times. He was an imposing figure -- big and tall with a knot on his forehead from butting heads with everyone he met. I remember one morning when Natalie Merchant bravely accepted a head butt after her interview ended. Wesley also wrote songs about almost everyone he met, including yours truly.

A couple of recent entries on the Mental Floss blog brought Wesley to mind this week. The first one had some background on him and links to several old YouTube videos. The second had news of a new DVD documentary about the outsider musician called "Wesley Willis's Joy Rides." Here's the trailer:

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

shiver me timbers

"60 Minutes" had an interesting story on movie piracy on Sunday night. The report shows how the bad guys sneak video cameras into movie theatres, often hiding them in strollers or diaper bags and using their families to help avoid suspicion. Even here in Knoxville, a security team at advance promotional screenings prohibits audience members from bringing cell phones with cameras into the theatre.

The video pirates sit in the back row where their cameras pick up crowd noises and the silhouettes of people in front. Leslie Stahl asked why anyone would buy a DVD with such poor quality. An expert responded that buyers are not quality-conscious and that they want to pay very little for their entertainment.

In addition to bad DVDs, the pirates are distributing movies online via BitTorrent. The Internet file-sharing brings to mind the problems the music industry faced when Napster first came on the scene. Back then, they would overcharge consumers for albums on CD when the fans actually wanted singles. iTunes came along and dropped the price of a hit song to 99¢ and people gladly paid.

For a time, the movie studios got it right. While a music CD had filler songs we didn't want, DVDs were packed with fancy extras that added value. Plus, the price of a cool DVD was about the same as the price of a lame CD. Now they are trying to get us to buy the same movies we already have in a new, Blu-ray Disc format. They also jerk us around by adding or changing the extra features and releasing new "collector's editions" or "director's cuts."

I suspect that the studios and theatres will use piracy as an excuse to raise ticket prices yet again. What would happen if the studios dropped the price of admission to be the same or less than the cost of a pirated DVD? It would put the pirates out of business and have movie fans lined up at the multiplex.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

rockabilly bob

When Jeff Joslin showed us a rough cut of "Fish Bait" during a break from our reshoots in May, I was concerned about my performance. As I mentioned in one of the DVD extras, it sounded like I was using my "outside voice" during the scenes inside a car. Fortunately for me, most of those scenes were reshot.

I was relieved when I saw the movie last week. The editing and soundtrack music made a big difference. I got an email from a woman who attended the screening on Friday night at Patrick Sullivan's with her visiting sisters. They didn't buy a DVD at the bar but now want to get one. Jeff Joslin has set up a PayPal account and a page on the "Fish Bait" site where they (and you) can purchase one now, should you be so inclined.

In addition to the "Fish Bait" theme by Jeffrey Joslin, the soundtrack features two songs from Billy Bob Thornton and The Boxmasters. I first learned of Billy Bob's musical ability while I was working at KLOS. He would appear regularly on the Mark & Brian show in the late '90s to promote his movies. He was on the show one day and heard that rockabilly legend Carl Perkins would be interviewed an hour or two later. Billy Bob asked if he could stick around and see Carl. He did and ended up playing snare drum as Carl sang "Matchbox." We used the performance as a track on the "You Had to Be There!" CD, which hit stores only two months before Carl died.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

belly of a whiskered beast

The recent death of Vic Mizzy had many TV critics reminiscing about the good old days of TV theme songs. I saw one website with a list of the best current themes, which included some of my favorites, "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "The Office" and "Dexter."

At the screenings of the no-budget horror film "Fish Bait" over the weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a theme song over the closing credits. Jeffrey Joslin, son of director Jeff Joslin, is a singer-songwriter based in Murfreesboro. Jeffrey appears in the film, entertaining at a party scene. For the end credits, he composed a song called "Fish Bait" that mentions the fictional Fear Hollow Marina and the big catfish my character hopes to catch.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

scene of the crime

The audience watching "Fish Bait" at Flat Hollow Marina & Resort surprised me. They laughed at different parts of the movie than the audience at Patrick Sullivan's did the night before. The folks at the saloon responded well to the scenes where four of us from Einstein Simplified were driving and talking. They've seen us do that on stage for years. The people on the boat dock responded well to the mishaps we encountered on the water. While the Knoxville crowd said "ewww" to a quick shot of a floating dead fish, the Speedwell viewers said nothing.

The staff at Flat Hollow went all out to celebrate the movie we filmed there last year. They made some large posters and redid the menu in their restaurant to include items like Chum, Chicken Parts and Fried Fungus. The restaurant was converted into a movie theatre for the night. Enough boaters and marina regulars showed up to warrant showing the film twice.

After the screenings, the cast members in attendance were asked to autograph several DVDs at the sales counter. While the others were using the Sharpie markers, Dave Snow and I amused each other with some tea candles. When all was finished, the cast and crew raised a toast on board one of the two houseboats where we would spend the night. Coincidentally, my wife and I slept aboard the White Lightning. This morning I woke up to a lovely view of the fall foliage.

After breakfast, the remaining cast and crew posed for a photo in front of The Lady, the decrepit houseboat that we used in the movie. I was wearing my new FBI Citizens Academy hat, which we joked now stood for "Fish Bait Inspector." The Lady looks even worse than she did last year. Some family members of the man who used to own the boat came to the screening last night. They were a little chagrined that the boat their relative lost to foreclosure was used to represent all that is janky. Some of the other audience members pointed out that shots of particularly redneckish houseboats were filmed downriver in Union County, not in their nice part of Norris Lake.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

one down, two to go

The laughter from the first audience to see "Fish Bait" gave me a big sigh of relief. As the screening time approached last night, I was nervous about how it would go over. A sizable crowd filled the upper room at Patrick Sullivan's to watch the no-budget comedic horror film that features the members of Einstein Simplified.

The first thing I saw after climbing the stairs at the saloon was a table where DVDs were available for sale. I hope my kids will pretend to be surprised this Christmas. I'll need one for myself too, as a souvenir of one of the best weekends of my life. Before the screening, director Jeff Joslin asked the cast members present to come forward. During the movie, I couldn't resist taking a picture of myself on screen. You know you would have done the same thing if it were you.

Erin Donovan of WBIR gave our little project a nice publicity hit on Live at Five at Four yesterday. I was especially thrilled by the kind reaction of Russell Biven and Beth Haynes who said, "c'mon Frank Murphy!" after the report.

Tonight my wife and I will head up to Flat Hollow Marina & Resort for another screening. Flat Hollow is where we shot the movie last October and did some reshoots in May. The marina staff is thinking that they may have enough people there to show the movie twice, once around 7:00 p.m. when the Vols game ends and again around 9:00 p.m. Gary Farwick and Benny Green said so when they took to the Lafollette airwaves yesterday to promote the movie.

By the way, thanks to Frank Scott for name-checking me in Part two.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

in the brook

It's "Fish Bait" time in Tennessee. The no-budget horror movie featuring the members of Einstein Simplified will have its world premiere this weekend. We're screening it on Friday night at Patrick Sullivan's and on Saturday night at Flat Hollow Marina & Resort. Tickets are $5 at the door.

Erin Donovan from "Live at Five at Four" was kind enough to give us a little publicity for the film. She interviewed Jeff Joslin and me at Volunteer Landing for a story that should air Friday. A moment of potential karma occurred while Erin was interviewing Jeff. Larsen Jay of Doublejay Creative walked by on his way to lunch with some business associates. Erin stopped the interview so that Jeff could meet Larsen.

After I got home from the interview, Jeff emailed me a photo of the DVD cover. "Fish Bait" DVDs and soundtrack CDs will be available for sale at the screenings and eventually via The soundtrack has music from Billy Bob Thornton and Tommy Shaw.

Just got my first look at the Fish Bait DVD cover! It seems so real now.

The Lafollette Press published an article about "Fish Bait" in Thursday's paper. Earlier in the week, a showbiz blog ran a nice feature on actress Patrice Bunch. When Erin Donovan's piece is posted on, I will put a link to it here.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

focus on the family

The recognizable voice of John Waters was on NPR this afternoon when I got in my car. I knew that I knew the voice but it still took me a minute to identify it. When I tune in to the middle of an interview, I like to play "guess the guest," a game made possible because so many of us in radio are bad about identifying interviewees once the conversation has begun.

In today's case, it was a trifle more challenging because Waters was not talking about himself but about the Tate/LaBianca murders. Apparently he has befriended Leslie Van Houten, a member of the Manson family who was convicted of the murders of Mr. and Mrs. LaBianca. Waters says that Van Houten has been rehabilitated in prison and should be paroled.

The broadcast was timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the murders, which took place August 9 and 10, 1969, a mere three weeks after a much happier event. While looking online for another link, I found a blog that commemorates the murders. It has a lot of recent entries because of the anniversary but was actually started over four years ago.

I remember reading "Helter Skelter" while in grammar school. Years later when I met Vincent Bugliosi at KLOS, I told him that I still had a vivid memory of a crime scene photo in the book. In it, Leno LaBianca's body was whited out but a fork was still visible protruding from his abdomen.

My friend Lisa Burks, who writes "Adventures in Grave Hunting" among other blogs, sent me a DVD titled "The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter." It is hosted by her friend Scott Michaels of Dearly Departed Tours and Scott serves as tour guide and takes the viewer to the crime scenes, the homes of the other victims and more significant locations. The most effective parts of the film are when he retraces the steps of the murderers.

I found Scott's trip to Barker Ranch in Death Valley to be especially creepy. I was also surprised to learn that Sharon Tate and her friends ate their last meal at El Coyote, one of my favorite Mexican restaurants during the time I lived in California. It wasn't until I moved to Tennessee and started watching "The Beverly Hillbillies" reruns that I appreciated Sharon Tate's talent as an actress.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

batdisc drop

An email from my friend Bean boasted about the guests they interviewed on KROQ last week. On consecutive days they had Rhys Darby, Weird Al Yankovic and Adam West.

During the interview, which is available on Friday's Kevin & Bean podcast, Adam says that he has a newly redesigned website and is now on Twitter. Adam was calling from Comic-Con, where he debuted his new DVD.

In "Adam West Naked," the actor talks about each of the 120 episodes of my favorite television show, "Batman." If the classic program were legally available on DVD, this could be the commentary track. The disc was exclusively for sale at Comic-Con. It will soon be available at the store on, which, by the way, would be a perfect place for my relatives to do their Christmas shopping this year.

The same day that TV's Batman was on KROQ, I had a bat-encounter of my own. Check out the most recent little critter that I saved from drowning in my pool. He doesn't look that great in these pictures but he eventually dried off and flew away.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

get 'em while they're hot

Actor Kellan Lutz said that his plans for a "Twilight" viewing party last Thursday were thwarted when he couldn't get an advance copy of the disc. Like everybody else, he had to wait for the DVD to be released. I heard the story on "Access Hollywood" and would have quickly forgotten it except that Lutz said he and his guests were all going to wear Snuggies while watching the film.

The amazing popularity of the sleeved blanket was highlighted for me on a recent drive to Gatlinburg. As we passed the As Seen On TV store in Sevierville, I noticed that they have now slapped the Snuggie name on all their signage.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009


A bootleg DVD caught my daughter's eye this past weekend. As she told me about it, I was reminded of the bunch of bootlegs I saw at a well-known knife store in Sevierville about three years ago. She knew that "Song of the South" is permanently locked away in the Disney Vault and shouldn't have been on display at the Capital Home & Garden Show at the Dulles Expo Center. However it was another title that made her think of me and take a picture with her camera phone.

For years I have been futilely awaiting a DVD release of the 1960s TV classic, "Batman." As far as we can tell, there seems to be either a stalemate between Fox and Warner Bros. or there are too many guest stars and others whose estates deserve royalties. Apparently some people have given up waiting and have been making and selling their own DVDs on the circuit. My daughter saw at least three volumes of "Batman" episodes for sale at the Expo Center. While I wanted it, I would still rather wait for the real thing.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

entice you with some bacon

Film director John Hudgens is a panelist at Chattacon this weekend. I assume he's at the sci-fi convention to promote the February 17th DVD release of his "American Scary." Or maybe he would have gone there anyway just for kicks. I wrote about John's movie prior to its Hollywood Film Festival debut in 2006.

John sent me a message last night after he had sampled some Elvis-themed, sushi-looking snack cakes at the convention. Imagine peanut butter, bananas and marshmallow creme wrapped in white bread and topped with bacon. Picture Twinkies sliced like California rolls and decorated with breakfast cereal. And it was all served by an Elvis impersonator dressed as a Japanese chef.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

returning the favor

Several other bloggers have mentioned me on their sites recently. That Chick Over There was especially kind in her remarks. She says I remind her of her husband. That Chick and MDA are the most recent to say that they are coming to blogger night at the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. Earlier RSVPers included Rich Hailey, Barry Wallace, Rob Huddleston, Doug McCaughan and Byron Chesney.

More recently, Byron wrote that he was impressed with the amount of traffic that flows from my site to his entertaining Knoxville Trivia Blog. It makes sense to me. He writes about local news anchors more than I do.

Speaking of anchors, Stacy McCloud got a kick out of my post about her clown interview yesterday. But mostly out of the photo.

Cassie Kiestler was happy that I found something interesting about digital TVs in her blog. She was just as happy when I was amused by a clever comment she left on one of my posts. I hope she doesn't feel obligated to write about me mentioning her again.

Leeann Samples and her husband Don came to see Einstein Simplified at First Night Knoxville. They didn't tell me they were bloggers. My Google Alert did.

A former Knoxville deejay nicknamed The Greek writes a blog called Knoxville Radio History 101. He took my picture last week while he was in the building to be on a WKTI show called "The Voice."

In a sort of the same but different vein, my friend Rodney Lee Conover informed me that I'm briefly visible on his YouTube channel. The clip is actually one of the DVD extras for his movie "BachelorMan." The disc just came out in November and the film will turn up on HDNet Movies. I visited the set one day back in 2001. Look carefully and you can see me seated behind the director John Putch, who happens to be the son of Jean Stapleton.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

gifts received

The Christmas gift from my friend Bean is perfect for me. The book "Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America" by Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor is filled with chapter after chapter of my favorite comedians. The first random page I opened to had a picture of the Marx Brothers on it. A second flip fell open to a photo of my radio idols, Bob & Ray. My luck held when the third page I saw had Jerry Seinfeld's picture. Thanks Bean! I'll continue to enjoy this for a long time to come.

My lovely wife was thinking of my desire to listen to more podcasts when she got a good bargain on a Sony Walkman. Not only does it hold plenty of audio, video and picture files but my friend Sandy will be interested to know that it has a built-in FM radio too. I listened to a podcast of last week's "Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me" while eating dinner tonight.

My kids were thoughtful and generous with their gifts too. My son gave me Stephen Colbert's book, "I Am America (And So Can You!)," which looks like it will be a fun read. My daughter knew that the DVDs of the old "Mission: Impossible" TV series were on my wish list. She also knew that while I would probably be most interested in the episodes with Peter Graves as Jim Phelps, the completist in me would need to have season 1 with Steven Hill as Dan Briggs also. That's why she got me both the season one and season two sets. I'm watching a season two episode as I type this. I love that show. Too bad Tom Cruise defiled it with his movie version.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole

The directors of "Fish Bait" must be on the lookout for fish stories. Today Jeff Joslin sent along news of the Goonch, a giant catfish believed to be feeding on corpses in India. Sky News has fish photos. Bodies are regularly set adrift on funeral pyres in the Great Kali River. The locals now think that the Goonch have started attacking live swimmers because they are not satisfied with eating the partially burned remains.

All this sudden publicity for the Goonch comes because biologist Jeremy Wade will host a documentary called "Nature Shock: Flesh Eating River Monster" on Britain's Channel Five later this month. On this side of the ocean, an American fisherman, Larry Dahlberg, has a DVD of his adventures with giant catfish in Venezuela. Larry has given Jeff permission to use some of his footage in "Fish Bait."

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

holy hurdles!

A couple of years ago Disney and Universal traded Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to settle a dispute. Universal had the rights to the cartoon character Walt created before Mickey Mouse. Disney got the rights to Oswald by allowing Al Michaels to move from Disney-owned ABC to Universal-owned NBC.

I was reminded of Oswald when my friend Bean sent me a link to an article at the Comic Book Resources site. He knew I would be interested in a potential bargaining chip that could help resolve a lawsuit between 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. over the upcoming movie "Watchmen." So, who might save the day? TV's Batman! According to the article, Fox wants to get some rights from Warner to finally release my favorite show on DVD. They might then drop their suit to block the release of "Watchmen."

Before I get my hopes too high and bust open my piggy bank, TV Shows on DVD reports that there are still many more issues that also need to be settled before the 120 episodes of campy fun can be put on disc. At least Adam West has started working on his own version of DVD extras that could be released separately from the series.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

to the Batcave

Perhaps the best place for me to be this week is in an honest-to-goodness cave. Where else can I go to avoid the hype surrounding the new Batman movie? With all the publicity I've seen so far, until yesterday I really thought "The Dark Knight" was opening tomorrow (or tonight at midnight). There's actually another week to wait. Or more if it's sold out on opening day.

Christian Bale and Heath Ledger were on the cover of the Entertainment Weekly that came in the mail last Saturday. There's a review of the movie in the Time magazine with Mark Twain on the cover. I had to take my wife's advice and stop reading it when it started to reveal more about the film than I want to know. She knows how I can be. When I'm really looking forward to a movie, I'll watch and read too much about it. "Get Smart" was a disappointment for me because I had seen all the best jokes in the trailers.

To a certain extent, I can't help it. Batman stuff is everywhere. Today on the Knoxville Blog Network, I saw an interesting entry from The Screening Log about the Bat Signal in Manhattan. In my on-screen satellite guide I saw a listing for a show on History called "Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight." I set it up to record.

The aforementioned Entertainment Weekly had a Batman reference that didn't spoil anything. Under the heading "Even the Darkest of Knights Shines Brightly on Blu-ray" was a near-silhouette of Adam West as Batman standing on a Gotham rooftop. It was an ad for the Blu-ray edition of "Batman: The Movie." I enjoyed the connection between the old and the new. By the way, when Adam West appeared on the "Today" show recently, it was to promote that same Blu-ray disc.

It's clear that Christian Bale is the best Batman since Adam West. Oh alright, Bale is the best Batman since Kevin Conroy, who was the best Batman since Adam West.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

the bad, the good and the promising

After seeing "The Happening" this past weekend, I wasn't particularly inspired to write about it. An hour into the movie, people were laughing at parts that weren't meant to be funny. On the plus side, I think it might play better on HBO or DVD. All the hype about it being M. Night Shyamalan's first R-rated movie seemed overblown to me. One or two quick edits probably would have brought it back down to PG-13.

Another movie I saw over the weekend was a pleasant surprise on DVD. "Dan in Real Life" was much better than I expected from the marketing campaign. Neither the TV commercials nor the theatrical trailer did it justice. There's a scene at the end of the trailer that wasn't even in the movie. The part where Dan panics as his daughter pulls out into traffic turns up in the DVD extras. Forget the trailer. All you need to know is that Dan inadvertently meets and falls for his brother's new girlfriend right before she shows up at a family gathering. Except for one cliched pratfall off a roof, the jokes are original and very enjoyable. Steve Carell plays Dan. An understated Dane Cook plays his brother. Don't let your Dane Cook preconceptions get in your way. A radiant Juliette Binoche plays the woman in the middle.

Meanwhile, Steve Carell has been all over TV tonight in the commercials for "Get Smart." My wife and I are still planning to see it this weekend, probably on Sunday.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

hoping for the movie

TV Squad is showing the love to "Arrested Development" this week. I just spent 22 minutes watching one of the episodes they featured in their Retro Squad department. They started on Monday with a review of the pilot and continued with a top ten list of recurring characters and the top five GOB moments.

I can get in the mood for the Bluths pretty easily. "Arrested Development" was a frequent blog topic of mine back in 2005. I often flip over to HDNet to catch a commercial-free rerun at 12:30 p.m. in high definition. Even if I turn it on late, I can jump right back into any of the complicated plotlines.

The other day I revised my wish list. I replaced the separate entries for the DVDs of each season with the complete set. It's more cost-effective to buy all three seasons together. With the episodes available on, I may not need the DVDs but I still have an urge to collect them.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

not the pooch!

The new mini-series on the Discovery Channel has my inner child counting the minutes until the next episode. I am loving "When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions." They have lots of NASA film footage that I've never seen before. And it's all been remastered for HD. The two episodes that were on this past Sunday covered the Mercury and Gemini missions. Like most people, I am primarily interested in the Apollo flights, which will be featured next Sunday.

There seem to be relatively few commercial breaks, unless you count the whole show as an ad for the DVD set. Maybe if you buy the set, you won't be subjected to the promotional announcements on the bottom third of the screen. At least once the graphic obscured something important in the show. A military helicopter was struggling to rescue both Gus Grissom and his Liberty Bell 7 capsule. The NASA footage showed the helicopter trying to lift the water-filled capsule. Near the climactic moment, the spacecraft was behind a big blue bar promoting the Discovery Channel's mobile phone website. Lame.

If you missed the first two episodes on Sunday, you can get caught up on Saturday.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

ridin' the whip

The opening weekend crowds didn't deter us from going to see "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" yesterday. It may not be the best in the series but it is certainly not the worst either. I think it's just as good as "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." The new movie is a feel-good thrill ride that hits all the points you would expect. The plot twists didn't surprise me but they didn't disappoint me either. From big ants to atom bombs to UFOs, it is filled with nods to science fiction movies of the 1950s. Many of reviewers who had no problem with the supernatural elements of the first three movies found the plot of this fourth movie to be far-fetched. Without giving too much away, it shouldn't shock anyone that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are big believers in space aliens. They probably read "Chariots of the Gods" back in the '70s too. I thought it would have been funny if the creature in the body bag at the beginning of the film looked just like E.T.

I went to my TiVo to see what Roeper & Phillips (a/k/a Not Siskel & Not Ebert) had to say about the latest Jones saga. Unfortunately some basketball game ran late and WATE joined the show in progress. Naturally, Indiana Jones was the first movie they reviewed, so I missed it. The episode is still not on their website as I write this. For what it's worth, I think Michael Phillips should get the job as Roger Ebert's permanent on-camera replacement, even if he didn't like "IJatKotCK." There is a review of "The Last Crusade" in the Siskel & Ebert archives. I didn't expect Gene Siskel to give it a thumbs down.

After watching the new movie yesterday, I tried to think about how it compared to the first three. That's when I realized that I had absolutely no recollection of "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." The synopsis on didn't help either. Thuggees? Doesn't ring a bell. It's like I have amnesia. I'm positive that I saw "Temple of Doom" in a theatre. I'm pretty sure that it was a midnight screening on the day it first opened. Did I fall asleep? Last night after dinner we popped in the DVD of "Temple of Doom." It was really bad. No wonder I had blocked it out. Did you remember that "Temple of Doom" was a prequel to "Raiders of the Lost Ark"? I didn't.

My friend Richard Cheese sent an email plugging his version of the Indiana Jones Theme, now available on iTunes. I heard it on his MySpace page. The instrumental tune sounds like something from the soundtrack of "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

My matinée ticket cost $6.50 at West Town Mall, 25 cents cheaper than a ticket at the Pinnacle at Turkey Creek. Evening tickets cost two dollars more at each place. An article in the Kansas City Star points out that many theaters raise their ticket prices on Memorial Day weekend. An executive at the AMC Theatres chain said that their most recent ticket price increase was due to the rising cost of corn. Corn! An executive with Regal Cinemas says that movie tickets would cost $20 if not for the concessions. I don't buy popcorn and therefore I don't mind that high concession prices help keep my ticket price lower. But I don't want my ticket price to go up just to keep the popcorn price from rising. It's a double standard, I know.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

now batting, number 16...

The Washington Nationals will be in New York to play the Mets on Thursday, April 17. That morning the new Nationals Park will open its doors at 6:30 a.m. to 45,000 fans who are not expecting to see any baseball. Instead, the Pope will be in center field on the day after his 81st birthday.

Yesterday my brother-in-law sent out an email urging everyone in our extended family not to buy tickets to the Papal Mass. They're supposed to be free. He may have seen a recent Washington Post article about the event. Here's a quote from it:
Plans for distributing tickets have not been completed. In the past, tickets to major Catholic events have been distributed through parishes and Catholic organizations.

The archdiocese has been asked whether non-Catholics can attend (yes) and whether the Mass is part of the Nationals baseball ticket package (no).

The archdiocese is trying to keep the free tickets from popping up on eBay and falling into the hands of scalpers.

The Mass "is for the faithful who want to be with the Holy Father," [Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan] Gibbs said. "It shouldn't be an opportunity for people to make money."

The popemobile -- a specially designed automobile used by the pope during public appearances -- will be used to transport the pope into and around the stadium.
Although I can't make it, I've heard that some local Catholics are planning a bus trip to D.C. for the day. Back when I was in college, I went to a Papal Mass celebrated by John Paul II in Philadelphia. Afterward, we stood outside St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and waited for the Pope's motorcade to arrive so we could get a closer look at him.

My friend Bean went to the Vatican in September. While he was there, he bought me a couple of very thoughtful Christmas presents. I am now the proud owner of a Papa Benedetto XVI candle and a 14 episode DVD set titled "Discovering the Vatican," produced by Telewizja Polska. Fortunately for me, the discs have an English audio track in addition to German, Italian and Polish.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

the adventures of ottoman

Fortunately the negative review by Tom Shales didn't discourage me from watching "Pioneers of Television" on PBS the other night. The episode about sitcoms has been airing throughout this week. I took it at face value and found it to be enjoyable.

The clips from "I Love Lucy" and "The Andy Griffith Show" were okay. The scenes from "The Dick Van Dyke Show" made me want to watch more often, like I did with "The Beverly Hillbillies" a couple of years ago. According to my TiVo listings, nobody is showing the reruns at this time. The clips showed Laura Petrie to be the perfect wife, fun and flirty. By coincidence, the scenes were from two episodes that my perfect wife received on a cheapo DVD for Christmas. Those will have to do unless I want to either invest in the boxed set or download individual episodes at $1.99 each.

Next week's "Pioneers" is about late-night talk shows. I found a couple of web-only clips on YouTube featuring Dick Cavett and Betty White each reminiscing about Johnny Carson. The remaining two episodes are about variety shows and game shows. Sounds like must-see to me.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

a little mad sometimes

This is going to sound like the setup for a meme, even though it's not. What was the first DVD you ever bought? Go ahead and post your answer in the comments. About nine years ago I chose one of the all-time classics, "Psycho," as my first disc. At the time I didn't have a DVD player but I had just gotten a DVD-ROM drive for our family computer. I loved the idea that technology had progressed to the point where I could keep a permanent copy of one of my favorite movies. It wasn't on a tape that could get erased or on film that could decay. This was a digital video disc with Hitchcock's masterpiece converted to bits and bytes, preserved forever in plastic.

Last week Perry Simon posted a link to an interesting blog about the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray Discs. The author points out that consumers have resisted replacing their DVD collections and are mainly buying only new releases in the new formats. Like most people I am in no rush to buy a machine in either format. I already made that mistake years ago when I bought a Betamax VCR.

Cut to the present day. My son has to do a presentation on movie villains for his speech class. The other students in his group are covering Darth Vader and Hannibal Lecter. My son is reporting on Norman Bates. I told him a few things that I remembered about "Psycho" from the Intro to Film class I took when I was his age. My high school teacher, Mr. Naversen, took us through the famous shower scene frame by frame, being careful not to melt the film on the projector bulb.

We got my copy of the "Psycho" Collector's Edition DVD from its cool, dry place and placed it into the fancy Onkyo DVD changer that we got last year. The machine couldn't read the disc! Then we tried it in the Sony DVP-NS50P in our family room. Still nothing. As a last resort, we put the disc into a couple of laptop computers to no avail. What on earth could have happened to this nine-year-old disc that made it unreadable in all my machines? I tried cleaning it with a soft cloth but that didn't make any difference. Has the technology changed? Is my "Psycho" obsolete? Why won't it work and what can I do about it?

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

not bird nor plane nor even frog

Many great cartoons have been made into bad live-action films. You can probably think of three or more right off the top of your head. I want to hate the new "Underdog" movie, I really do. Jason Lee's voice is ideally suited for "My Name is Earl" but not for the nerdy Underdog and Shoeshine Boy. The cartoon version was perfect as it was. Since I was in the mood to hear Wally Cox again, I used my TiVo to search for some old episodes but couldn't find any.

My nose was turned up in haughty disapproval at the first trailer for the "Underdog" movie. Now my head is tilted like a curious dog when the newer trailer comes on. The reason for my increased interest is the rock cover version of the "Underdog" theme used in the trailer. I don't know if the song is by the B.H. Surfers or not (I think that's what the band was called on the old WHFS) but it is somewhat similar to their cover of the tune, which was on a 1995 CD called "Saturday Morning Cartoons' Greatest Hits." A YouTuber has taken the Surfers' song and put it with clips of the classic cartoon. While I was on YouTube, I found several episodes of the old show to satisfy my "Underdog" jones. Or I suppose I could just pre-order the DVDs.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

first day of the rest of your life

After a long day yesterday, I took today off. Completely off. It was great. I didn't have to leave home at all. Instead, I went for a swim and then read most of the new issue of Entertainment Weekly. It features the list of 100 stars they love right now. I also gave the TiVo a rest and watched a couple of DVDs that have been on my stack for a while. They both looked great on the plasma screen even though they contained footage from a time before anyone had dreamed of that technology. First I watched highlights of the New York Mets World Series victories in 1969 and 1986. Then I popped in a disc of lost episodes of "You Bet Your Life," a show that went off the air a week after I was born. I remember watching reruns of Groucho's show when I was in seventh and eighth grades. Finally, I turned on the computer to look for Mass times and to search for any Roadside America attractions along the route of a trip we are planning for later this summer. Oh and best of all, I had a slice of leftover cake with lunch.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

goes on sale today (hint, hint)

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