Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Okay now, here's the story (and that's the title!) of Maureen McCormick, forevermore known as Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Of all of the autobiographies I've read in the past few months, this is the only one where I felt the protagonist actually learned something and became a better person along the way.
For boys of a certain generation, THE BRADY BUNCH's Marcia Brady was IT! She was gorgeous, hot, funny and she could sing, too! Right off the bat in this book, you find out that Maureen McCormick was NOT Marcia Brady! While the whole book is an anecdotal journey of coming to acceptance of one's self, there is, of necessity, an underlying theme here of coming to acceptance of one's public persona, also--in this case, her Brady doppelganger.
I'm beginning to think that my family, growing up, was one of the few functional (as
opposed to dysfunctional) families around. Certainly Maureen's family was not like the Brady's. She does a relatively quick job of detailing her Brady years and then we go into her long, slow downward spiral into drugs.
Ususally one hears rumors about celebs one likes but I somehow missed any talk of Maureen and cocaine. It's all here, though. There are even references to other celebs about whom I DID hear stories (Michael Brandon, Gregory Harrison and Lauren Tewes for example) that now make sense in a larger context.
Perhaps more interesting was her unexpected relationship with the late cult exploitation star Claudia Jennings (about which I can't help but feel there's more to be told).
Throughout the book, one constant is the fact that the other BRADY BUNCH cast members keep turning up in one way or another, cementing the fact that this show, perhaps more than any other, really did seem to create a family of sorts...even though not the perfect, mythical family of its premise.
The man she eventually marries sticks with her through all of the nightmarish moments (and there are many--not just from the drugs)and eventually Maureen finds empowerment from the unlikely corner of CELEBRITY FIT CLUB!
By the time we catch up with her in the present, I felt I had really gotten to know someone I THOUGHT I had known for nearly 40 years...and I liked her.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Today is my son's 12th birthday! It seems like only yesterday! For his special day, he got the computer game SPORE (and its game book), the 2 disc set of Tim Burton's NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and a nifty new graphic novel version of THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION! We're baking brownies (he hates cake!) so check back tomorrow for more pop cultury goodness!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
First of all, I've never been a huge fan of Mr. Wagner but I have enjoyed his work over the years. Some readers will recall that only just recently I was watching IT TAKES A THIEF episodes for the first time on the 'Net. No, what convinced me to read it was the remarkable photo seen here. This is the very young RJ in a studio ballet class in the late 1940's. Note that also in the class was his future wife, Natalie Wood at far left in the pic! As if that weren't interesting enough, the young lady behind his hand is his OTHER future (and current) wife, Jill St. John! But wait, there's more!! That sad looking young thing on the end next to Jill happens to be none other that RJ's future TV wife, tiny Stefania Federciwicz (soon to be Stefanie Powers)!!!
You definitely develop an insight into the man in this book and he does have some admiravble qualities. I have to say, however, that I believe I like him a bit less having read this. The book is filled with interesting anecdotes about Hollywood touching on Errol Flynn, David Niven and Tony Curtis up through Christopher Walken and Mike Myers. My problem is that Wagner's morality seems a bit askew. It's not as if he's immoral but his morals are questionable. For instance, he talks about his long affair with Barbara Stanwyck and how he remained utterly faithful to her...except, of course, when he was away from her on location. Ummm...Bob? That's NOT being utterly faithful. In fact, that's not faithful at all!
Strangely, I think I'd respect him more if he were cheerfuly amoral (as was Flynn). The problem seems to be that he was raised with one way of thinking about things and that way is different from the way most people think about things. In spite of a surprisingly dysfunctional beginning, he seems to feel entitled to money, success and privilige.
The expected centerpiece of the book comes when he deals with the tragic death of Natalie Wood and he does an excellent job detailing what happened that night. In fact, he does an excellent job throughout with the various stories he tells. By the end, though, even though he's aged remarkably well and seems very happy, I felt sorry for him. I was sadly more impressed with the man's stories than with the man.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Ringo Starr can't act. There. I've said it. If you're a Beatles fan, surely that counts as heresy. Don't get me wrong! I adore Ringo! He is very high on the list of celebs that I hope might one day wander into my store. He is wonderful in many, many ways but he is NOT an actor! What brought this on was that in recent days, I've caught A HARD DAYS NIGHT on TV and then come into possession of long-sought copies of Ringo's movies CANDY and BLINDMAN. Ringo simply cannot act.
CANDY is a mess, pure and simple. A legendary failure, it must have seemed like a good idea at the time but this sexy update on Voltaire is just a series of smarmy Buck Henry comedy sketches with A-list stars. That's where Ringo comes in. Richard Burton, James Coburn, Walter Matthau and Marlon Brando--Ringo, in 1968, was actually a bigger star than any of them BUT in a very different field and (dare I say it) with a little help from his friends. In CANDY, where several major stars give embarrassing performances, Ringo's accent and delivery shine through as pointless stunt-casting.
1971's BLINDMAN (in which Mr. Starkey coincidentally plays a character named Candy) is, surprisingly, a better film. It's a bizarre spaghetti western with "Tony Anthony" as a blind cowboy trying to get back the 50 brides-to-be he had been hired to deliver to Texas (after they were kidnapped by Mexican bandits). Produced by controversial Beatles and Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein--which kind of explains Ringo's involvement--it's got sex, violence and comedy that all fits together as needed...except for Ringo. Once again cast as a Mexican, his Liverpudlian accent shows through from time to time and while he certainly looks the part of the evil bandit he plays, his line delivery is still amateurish. In spite of the fact that BLINDMAN goes seemingly out of its way NOT to cater to the fact of Ringo's stunt-casting (again here), his performance can't help but take you out of the moment.
And seriously, have you ever seen CAVEMAN?
The lesson learned here, I suppose, is that Richard Lester really is a brilliant director. In A HARD DAYS NIGHT, Ringo really does give an affecting performance and the comparisons to Chaplin are not unwarrented. He shows heart and soul that the rest of the romp doesn't allow for John, Paul or George. In retrospect, however, I can't help but conclude that this was due mostly to Lester's direction and the effective editing of his solo scenes to the "Ringo's Theme" music.
Ringo Starr is one of my absolute favorite celebrities and an international treasure...but he really can't act.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
So the other day I went with my wife to pick up son bookdave at the Public Library where he hangs out after school and what did I stumble on but a Library book sale! Always a good place to find some bargains! Even at prices ranging from 25 cents to a dollar, however, pickings were slim. The wife found three history hardcovers, the boy found some scary teen books and I found nothing...until...this!
SECRETS OF MAGIC is a 1973 paperback edition of a 1967 book by THE SHADOW'S creator, Walter B. Gibson! Behind this weird, quasi-psychedelic cover is page after page that does the unthinkable--explaining every major stage and traditional magician illusion up to that point in simple, easy to understand terms. Nothing about this book says it's a kids book but it has that look of all those magazine-sized educational kids books one always used to find in department stores in the sixties. Gibson, as I recall, was an illusionist himself along with being a pulp writer so he probably didn't even have to do much research for a book like this one. In fact, Wikipedia points out that the prolific author wrote more than a hundred books on magic! Here at my Library, we now have...one.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Well, I made it to Mid-Ohio Con! Finally! That's the good news. The bad news is that the car was having increasing issues (it wasn't just paranoia after all!) on the return trip so we won't be driving back up on Sunday. Sigh.
First of all, the drive up was fine, though. We left Kentucky about 8:30 AM and arrived in Columbus around 10:30. The directions from the website were short and easy to understand and we lucked right into easily accessible parking right down the block.
I must say that overall, I felt somewhat disappointed but I can't really say why. Maybe it's the simple reality that after all these years of being unable to attend due to the fact that I was in retail management and it was always held on the biggest shopping weekend of the year it couldn't possibly have lived up to my expectations. Don't get me wrong! Wasn't bad (except for the food prices!) just not as great as I was expecting.
I got to see but not meet Lou Ferrigno (looking amazingly good and a little lonely at his table), Jason Mewes, Len Wein, Chris Claremont, Joe Kubert and the Batmobile (and not the velvet covered one I saw with Adam West at a car show in the eighties)!
I spoke with Bob Layton who was a guest at the only other con I ever attended in Columbus back in 1980 along with Mike Nasser (now Netzer) and he said the two hadn't seen each other since. I also spoke with unsung artist Keith Pollard who said he really enjoyed hearing that his name is a popular search term on my blog.
I found Mark Evanier and Tony Isabella hanging out at Mark's table and spent an enjoyable few moments there (didn't stay longer because we accidentally cut in line), then my wife and I spoke with Tony a bit longer and promised to see him later. Sorry, Tony.
As stated yesterday, I was able to meet FACEBOOK friends Kenn Minter (aka Percy Trout) and Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of BOYS OF STEEL,. In fact, we not only enjoyed Marc's presentation on SUPERMAN but son bookdave amazed us all! Marc projected an image of 6 issues of SUPERMAN from different eras and asked if anyone would like to try to place them in chronological order. My son raised his hand and proceeded to pretty much do just that, mixing up only the two that I wasn't even sure of myself. I'm raising a clone.
Son bookdave also purchased a print of Link from LEGEND OF ZELDA by an artist named Jeremy Dale and had it signed. Mr. Dale was enjoyable to speak with and his art is just a delight. I'm definitely watching for his stuff going forward.
I finally got to meet David Mack...or re-meet him. I'm told I used to have long discussions with him at Comic Book World in Florence, Kentucky (who were also represented there. Hi, Paul!) when he was much younger and unknown. When I told him this, he actually recognized me from when I managed the Waldenbooks where he hung out in the eighties. We spoke briefly and he was gracious enough to give me several recent issue of his great KABUKI and sign them! Thanks, David!
The "gorgeous" model and pinup girls who were supposed to be there representing fanboy wetdreams seemed somehow a tad too...well...slutty to me. Every single one I saw. Sorry, ladies. I'm sure you're perfectly nice folks but...bookdave felt the need to avert his eyes as one passed. The cosplay folks were cool, though, with an excellent Colossus, Beast, 2 good Batmen and one guy dressed as Spidey wearing the shoeless FF costume and paper bag mask from one seventies story! Obscure but wonderful! My favorite, though, was a two year old Flash...who evidently felt the need to run everywhere to live up to his costume.
As for the dealers, I never thought I'd say this but I left a comic book convention without buying one single comic or book and I hated that! There were tons of bargain boxes but mostly with eighties stuff and up. There was one major exception who offered lots of poor to fair condition silver age for three bucks but I still didn't find anything. What I was really looking for were comic strip reprint trades. Found one guy with a good selection but ridiculous prices. I tried to quiz him on a few unmarked L'IL ABNERS but in spite of my best efforts couldn't get him to give up the political discussion he was having with someone. Oh, well.
We did spend far too much money on grey market dvds of old TV shows that I have no question will never be legitimately released. Despite my rationalization in buying them, it would take my family at least a year of that spare time we never seem to get in order to watch them all!
After that, my wife's once-broken back became an issue and so we decided to head out a tad early. That's when the car transmission became problematic. Then we ran into a thirty mile or so single lane highway on the way back that lengthened our trip in a questionable vehicle by an hour. My wife had to pry my hands from the steering wheel when we finally arrived home. Back to the shop for the car...again.
I feel in a way as though I've accomplished a goal I set out to achieve many years ago. I wish things had gone smoother but all in all it was an enjoyable afternoon with family and friends old and new. And with all the shows we got, it doesn't matter if there's a single good thing on TV this season. It'll be next season before we're out of things to watch now. Who knows. Maybe by then, we'll have a different car.
Friday, October 03, 2008
And whether you go or not, don't forget tomorrow evening's special 8 PM updated rerun of THE LAST TAKE on CBS 48 HOURS MYSTERY. The Christa Helm case that we've championed here for a couple of years now continues to move forward and CBS producer Anthony Vindetti promises new information in this second showing. Here's a preview.
Watch CBS Videos Online
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
The fun in these kind of pictures, of course, appears in the character roles and here a bizarre assortment of them are played by an equally bizarre assortment of wonderful actors:
Eileen Brennan-She had appeared opposite Falk in MURDER BY DEATH and was headed toward a career high of her own.
Stockard Channing-Not longer after making her initial TV splash.
Dom Deluise-I think there's some kind of law that he's in all of these all-star thingies.
John Houseman-Orson Welles' former Mercury Theater partner had begun acting late in life and taken an Oscar for THE PAPER CHASE (a role he would later comtinue on television).
Fernando Lamas- Argentinian actor with a marvelous voice made famous when spoofed on SNL by Billy Crystal in the early eighties.
Paul Williams-Talented songwriter but untalented and, in fact, grating as an actor.
Sid Caeser-I believe this was in Sid's self-proclaimed "forgotten" era (due to prescription addictions) but he's still funny!
Louise Fletcher-Nurse Ratched could be funny!
James Coco-Another holdover from MURDER BY DEATH, Coco was a brilliant actor who rarely had a chance to do anything but Dom Deluise impressions.
Madeline Kahn-Always amusing ( particularly with Mel Brooks and/or Gene Wilder) but never the favorite to me that she is to many.
Ann-Margret-Always beautiful and fun, she was here coasting on the downslide of her acting career after her acclaimed performance in TOMMY.
Phil Silvers-He always looked "wrong" to me without his glasses!
Nicol Williamson-Legendarily quirky actor, memorable here as the "head of the Cincinnati Gestapo." Imagine that line in a packed free preview audience in the middle of Cincinnati!
Marsha Mason-Described in the ad as Simon's favorite actress, she was, at the time, also his wife!
Abe Vigoda-Ok. I'll go for it-Still alive as of today's date.
So what's not to love here? And yet if it's on DVD, it's certainly not a big seller and I haven't seen it on cable or TV in more than twenty-five years.