Sunday, May 31, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
First up is Kenneth Williams in 1986 interviewing Python's Michael Palin.
Series mainstay Charles Hawtrey left the cast due to his growing alcoholism and became something of a recluse. Here he is in 1984, however, in what is purported to be a highly edited interview as said alcoholism was allegedly affecting him at the time.
Sid James, the ultimate Cockney star, was actually South African! In spite of a troubled and sometimes controversial private life, he became a UK comedy legend! Here he is appearing on a panel show from the early 1970's.
Here's diminutive sexpot Barbara Windsor with her former co-star Kenneth Williams in 1986.
Finally, here's honorary CARRY ON member, the cheeky (but gay) Frankie Howerd, himself a UK comedy legend, appearing on a 1980's chat show.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
We take a lot of things for granted in this country. A LOT of things. On Memorial Day at least--today of all days, let us reflect on all we've lost in order to maintain those things we take for granted. How many of your ancestors died? Your relatives? How many sons and daughters never lived to see the freedoms we've come to feel are our God-given right? Well, if that's so then God didn't give them without a fight. Whether it's the gung-ho soldier out to kill the enemy or the scared, conflicted little guy who just happened to get drafted, it took the sacrifices of each and every one to lead us to where we are now. And we still aren't really where we want to be--where we NEED to be! They all blazed a path to an ideal that we still hope for, still strive for, still fight for...because we know freedom makes sense! It's just never been easy.
Whenever I find myself in a cemetary, if I see a headstone or grave marker that shows someone was a veteran, I salute them and thank them aloud. It may look odd to passers-by but I figure its the least I can do for what they did for us. Today of all days, remember...
(And yes, I've read a lot of CAPTAIN AMERICA comics over the years. Why do you ask?)
Sunday, May 24, 2009
The eighties were the last really great period in music in my opinion. Lots of different directions and co-mingling of same. Lots of different, sometimes uncategorizable sounds. The group Love and Rockets, named, of course, after the now-classic Fantagraphics comics series by Los Bros Hernandez, had one of my favorite songs and videos of 1987 with NO NEW TALE TO TELL. Love and Rockets grew out of the earlier art-rock group Bauhaus and their comics connection was extended when singer David J from the group appeared wth Alan Moore in his musical romp, THE MARCH OF THE SINISTER DUCKS. From Wikipedia-- "(Moore)has also made brief forays into music. In the 1980s he formed a band called The Sinister Ducks with Bauhaus bassist David J and Max Akropolis, and released a single, March of the Sinister Ducks (with sleeve art by Kevin O'Neill), under the pseudonym Translucia Baboon. Moore and David J also released a 12-inch single featuring a recording of "This Vicious Cabaret", from V for Vendetta, released on the Glass Records label in 1984."
For more on Love and Rockets see:
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Maybe not but reader Jennifer thinks so. She's looking for a particular book that's stuck with her all these years but she can't seem to recall exactly what it was. I've been there. You've been there. The good news is that now we have the collective hive mind memory of the Internet, Here's what Jennifer recalls:
Maybe you can help me... ? I love HB characters, especially the Shmoo. I just recalled having a large, landscape oriented, paperback children's book with Shmoo-like characters. I believe it was published by HB. It had a family of Shmoo-type characters, but they were all different colours. They made a house out of their shapes. One of the kids in the family played musical instruments and I believe the mother was purple and wore a single strand of white flowers on her head. I remember loving that book and wish I could find it to reread it. I believe the family was called the Barberarras or something like that. Are you familiar with it?
Well. I wasn't but I'm sure someone out there in TV land is. Anybody?
Ace Researcher (and jokemeister) Derek Tague (http://www.quality-schnallity.com/derek.htm) reports that this was a European cartoon entitled BARBAPAPA. Here's their official website:
http://www.barbapapa.fr/gb/catalogue/introduction.html and here they are:
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I've been watching a number of CARRY ON films here at the Library in recent months. This one is not one of them. I do, however, own a copy of the pirate comedy CARRY ON JACK and, as I recall, I enjoyed it very much. It's an atypical film in the long-running nudge-nudge, wink-wink UK series in that it not only has more of a story line than normal but it also features different stars! Oh, series regulars including Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey (famously name-checked by no less than John Lennon on the Beatles' LET IT BE album)are present but the real stars here are Juliet Mills and Bernard Cribbins. Juliet, of course, is the lovely sister of Hayley, daughter of Sir John and herself the later star of NANNY AND THE PROFESSOR, the soap PASSIONS, Mario Bava'a BEYOND THE DOOR and Billy Wilder's AVANTI! from which we previously ran nude shots. Mr. Cribbins was a reliable lead in low budget British comedies of the 1950's, a welcome second lead in bigger budgeted films of the '60's and an early DR. WHO companion when he appeared as such in the second Peter Cushing DR. WHO film. He now comes full circle by appearing as David Tennant's companion (returning as Donna Noble's grandfather)in his upcoming final appearances as the Doctor.
The third official voice of Mickey Mouse, Wayne Allwine, passed away this week also. Don't know how long this particular clip will remain available because it's from an official Disney DVD release but here's Wayne--who followed in the footsteps of Walt himself and Jimmy McDonald--chatting with Leonard Maltin. His wife, Russi Taylor--the voice of Minnie Mouse in recent years--also appears. Our condolences to his family and friends...which, as Mickey, included just about everybody in the free world.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The other day, actor Frank Aletter died. I hadn't seen him in anything in probably thirty years but as a kid he was a favorite in shows like DANGER ISLAND and the caveman/astronaut comedy, IT'S ABOUT TIME. He always presented an air of easygoing authority, even in silly sitcom situations. Married back in the day to actress Lee Meriwether, he was the father of actresses Kyle and Lesley Aletter.
It's easy to make fun of the excesses of seventies prog-rock but it's also easy to forget what a giant and experimental step prog was from "Rock Around the Clock." In less than two decades, music was opened up in ways that were quite unimaginable in the mid-1950's and, in spite of several long stagnant periods, it's still expanding today. Here's one of my favorite seventies groups, YES, from 1975 with a lovely acoustic version of LONG DISTANCE RUNAROUND.
Probably the funniest cartoons ever made, ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE (aka ROCKY AND HIS FRIENDS or THE BULLWINKLE SHOW) aired new for only a few seasons beginning 50 years ago this year but, like STAR TREK, the series has grown in popularity and influence in the decades since. June (Rocky)Foray is, of course, the single greatest of the female voice artists and is still going strong today. The late Bill Scott was not only the original voice of Bullwinkle (as well as Dudley Do-Right and George of the Jungle) but also the main writer on the series. Thus, he deserves much of the credit for the wonderful zaniness of what has become known as the Jay Ward style of humor. This clip presents one of the final times the pair appeared together, shortly before Scott's death in 1985.
I've become fairly addicted to the many Mystery Guest clips from the classic TV game show, WHAT'S MY LINE that can be found on YouTube. Here, from the later, color, syndicated version is Jonathan Frid, the superstar vampire from TV's surprise smash gothic horror soap, DARK SHADOWS. From 1970, he even has his fangs in while answering questions in a swishy voice!
From the nigh-legendary STRANGE TALES ANNUAL # 2, here's a Kirby/Ditko drawn Johnny Storm showing just how little attention he'd been paying in class when they studied about insects, let alone SPIDER-MAN. I mean, like, spider vision??!! The proportionate vision of an arachnid? Do spiders really have all that particularly good vision in the first place?
Monday, May 18, 2009
Sorry for the lack of pop posts here over the past few days. Everything's fine. The bills are paid, the batcomputer's working okay (or at least as okay as it ever seems to get)...It's just that I'm bogged down with a temp assignment that should last 'til about mid-week. Poppy goodness should resume post-haste after that. Please stay tuned and thank you for your indulgence. While you're waiting, here's a NEW cartoon featuring ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE parodying LOST!
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The first time I ever heard this song was on DR DEMENTO's radio show in 1973. It was a special all British dementia episode in which the good Doctor offered up some wonderful helpings of the Goons, Flanders and Swann, the Scaffold (featuring Mike McCartney), Cook and Moore and the great Noel Coward. Here Coward performs his signature patter song from a 1955 TV special.
This is still an incredibly scary video to me. This draft lottery was the government's completely random way of determining who would risk their lives in Viet Nam in the following year. It was run live on the networks (in this case CBS) and parents and teenagers throughout the country watched in fear. The broadcast bizarrely includes "Merry Christmas" commercials and two of the old, old men making the picks are shown congratulating each other with smiles after the first birthdate is chosen. CREEPY! I was almost 11 years old and I remember being scared out of my wits that this was happening and that young men were going to be forced to do this whether they wanted to or not! My mother--bless her--was scouting out Canadian cities when the war was still raging by the time I turned 15! For THIS they pre-empted MAYBERRY RFD??!!
Jay Ward's FRACTURED FLICKERS is remembered for making merciless fun of silent films but it's often forgotten that there were often guests. Here, FF host Hans Conried conducts a clearly scripted "interview" with TWILIGHT ZONE show-runner, Rod Serling!
When I was ten, I had a Japanese pen pal named Yoshiko Yashiro. She wrote me once that she loved movies so I asked her who her favorite star was and she told me that she adored Alain Delon. I told her he wasn't a star because (with typical Amuhrican arrogance) I had never heard of him. She countered that he was only the biggest star in the WORLD and that I was a dummy for not knowing that. Some years later I realized that, umm...she was correct. If you happen to be reading this, Yoshiko Yashiro, well...a very belated "Sorry?" This is the trailer (basically the wonderful opening few minutes) from my favorite Delon film, UN FLIC, Jean-Pierre Melville's old-fashioned caper film that also stars--no matter how unlikely it may seem--American actors Richard Crenna and Michael (HILL STREET BLUES) Conrad!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Now comes news from author and historian Martin Grams, he of the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, that I LOVE A MYSTERY will be staging a tentative comeback! Here's what Martin had to say:
I Love A Mystery is making a comeback! It's official now. Tim Knofler and a
number of talented performers will be recreating all of the I LOVE A MYSTERY
radio serials, to be released commercially on CD. Authorized through the
Carlton E. Morse estate, each serial will be complete, uncut and unedited.
The original Hollywood run of scripts will be used to recreate every word,
every sound effect and music cue.
Tim acknowledged (to my delight) that they will not be censored which means
when you hear "The Widow with the Amputation" and Jack and Doc are stranded
on the island defending the old lady by knifing enemy soldiers (yep, World
War II propaganda), there will be no censorship regarding the slang that was
prominent in the serial.
The official web-site will be www.newiloveamystery.com and while it's not up
yet, you can bookmark it for a return visit. One site you can check out in
the meantime is http://www.audiocei.com
Under contract, the very first serial commercially soon-to-be released will
be a "make it or break it" proposition. If the first release sells beyond
expectations, they will be granted permission to reproduce ALL of them. And
this is the only stipulation so when it becomes available, buy one for your
friend and for yourself.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Friday, May 08, 2009
Well, I've seen the new STAR TREK. Well...not THAT STAR TREK. I don't know how I missed it but several years ago someone made a brand new STAR TREK! No, not THE NEW VOYAGES; those are cool but this is still something different. STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN is a bizarre and unexpected blast from the past that is like aTrekkie wet dream. (TrekkER's don't have those)
Originally envisioned as a three part "episode," OF GODS AND MEN presents an intelligent script, a familiar cast, classic characters, good special effects and a goodly amount of overall exceitement. Shot in 2006 as a 40th anniversary "present" to the fans (but not release until 2007) this unofficial fan-made project (like the aforementioned NEW VOYAGES) GETS the franchise in a way that the makers of some of the official episodes often don't. It's about heroism and courage and friendship. Perhaps more than anything else, STAR TREK is really a rumination on friendship trussed up in sci-fi trappings.
Who's in it? Well, for one Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig star as Uhura and Chekhov...and their alternate world counterparts! It's a dozen years after the events of STAR TREK: GENERATIONS in which Admiral Kirk died saving the universe (again) and Charlie X returns (William Wellman. Whatever happened to Robert Walker anyway?) Charlie still has his god-like powers but now also has a massive hate-on for the man who didn't, in his eyes, help him--James Tiberius Kirk. Thus, with the use of Harlan's Guardian of Forever (don't sue, Harlan. It's just a fan thing!) Charlie creates a universe in which Kirk never existed!
Other familiar characters include, of all people, Alan Ruck from Ferris Bueller, reprising his brief role as Captain Harriman from GENERATIONS and giving the best performance in this whole project! Tim Russ, the director here, repeats as the young Tuvok (from VOYAGER). Grace Lee Whitney also appears as Janice Rand an even the actor who played Stonn in AMOK TIME returns in that role. There's a few surprises even!
Familiar TREK actors in other roles include Ethan Phillips, Garrett Wang (very good!), ALIEN NATION's Gary Graham (ENTERPRISE), Cirroc Lofton (from DS9) and Arlene Martel (Spock's betrothed, T'Pring!). In fact, the way I discovered this in the first place is when I was watching BANACEK from 1974 the other day and couldn't place an actress. I looked up the cast list and found her name (Martel) , clicked on her credits and was reminded of her TREK connection. Then I saw OF GODS AND MEN as her most recent credit.
The sets are amazing! In fact, according to what I read, they leased the same meticulously re-created sets from STAR TREK: THE NEW VOYAGES. While they were at it, they even borrowed a couple of actors there. James Cawley, who recreates Kirk in the new episodes, here plays Kirk's nephew. One of the various Spock actors from ST: TNV appears here as a crewman, also.
What's bad about it? The acting is often a little amateurish even from the pros. It's still better than some prime-time stuff, though. And best of all, it's all on YouTube! Here's the trailer! It's good! In these days of the Internet, how am I just now hearing about this. I'm betting I'm not the only one, though. Go! Enjoy! Oh, and what's this I hear about yet another new STAR TREK out today? I'm always the last to know! Live long...and prosper.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
She had begun her career as a singer with the sixties ensemble the Doodletown pipers and moved into comedy at the end of the decade. She actually appeared in the legendary cancelled in one episode TURN-ON before moving on to the show it aped, ROWAN AND MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN.
There wasn't a lot of call for sexy, funny black women on TV in those days so she eventually moved into blaxplotation films such as BLACK EYE and THAT MAN BOLT, both milder examples of the genre with Fred Williamson. She had the title role in the dreadful UK horror spoof VAMPIRA (although the US release title was changed to OLD DRACULA) opposite Hollywood legend David Niven. The only problem was that her character was pretty much the mcguffin and only appeared briefly.
Then she made the TV movie, GET CHRISTIE LOVE. It was a hipper than hip supercop flick and, like many TV movies, doubled as a pilot. It was quickly picked up and the series was begun. It was a fun, popular show but it only ran one season. According to a 2002 TV GUIDE piece, here's why: Executive producer David Wolper remembers that Graves came to his office and gave him a list of what she would no longer do as Love, including knock off bad guys or sexually entice men. "She was a' superhip policewoman. But you can't shoot anyone, kill anyone. Can't have relationships with anybody, any violence. You can't do a police show based on that." Producers tried to accommodate her, but the series was dropped after one season.
After that, Ms. Graves devoted her whole life to her role as a Jehovah's Witness and retired from show business, apparently never looking back. She died in obscurity in a 2002 fire. In 1974, however, Teresa Graves was breaking down color barriers once a week in our living rooms...Sugar!
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Between 10 PM and 1 AM, several attempts were made at herding the poor, scared thing out the front or back door. Eventually it disappeared for a couple of hours and I finally fell asleep on the downstairs couch...with the lights on (naturally).
There was no sign of der fledermaus on Monday and it was concluded that it had exited just as mysteriously as it had entered. Then, after my wife had ascended to bed, I heard something bumping against the Library doors and there "she" was again. I say "she" because my perhaps-overly sympathetic wife had by then taken to referring to her as "Baby." At rest she was the size of the tiniest mouse but in flight she had a wingspan of about 9 inches. Throughout the course of the evening--usually just as I was attempting to concentrate on something important--she would turn up and we would begin anew the attempts to herd her outside. The last time we saw her early this morning she had flown up into the highest shelves of a high, not easily accessable closet. It was nearly 4 when I fell asleep...again on the downstairs couch...again with the lights all on.
Tonight the bat came out early in the Library. I turned on the lights and it thought it was daylight and so roosted on the top of the highest windowsill. I took a collapsable laundry bag and climbed a ladder up after I knew it was asleep. With the help of my animal-friendly wife, I attempted to gently coax it in but that didn't work as planned. Soon enough it became a noisy fight in which I almost knocked over the ladder and pulled down the curtains! Eventually we succeeded, though, and the bat fell into the bag. I then collapsed the bag and took it out into the darkness of the back yard. By that point the undoubtedly confused l'il bat had attached itself to the mesh of the bag and would not let go! It took me another few minutes to convince the thing it could fly free and finally go grab some dinner! It didn't even say goodbye when it figured it out and flew away. SNIFF! And after all we'd been through these last few days...
My wife and I were just saying a week ago that Dom Deluise would probably be a wonderful person to just hang out with. He always seemed pretty humble, too. I'll bet he'd be surprised to see just how big an outpouring of affection he's getting at his passing. As I wrote before about him, the only real problem with his career is that no one ever seemed to be able to figure out exactly what type of vehicle would be best for Dom. Thus, there is no one show or movie or book or concert for which we remember him. We just remember him for being funny and making us smile by his very presence...and that's certainly not a bad thing. Here's a short student film Dom Deluise participated in that always makes me smile-THE HEALER.
Monday, May 04, 2009
One of the creepiest films ever! It's a filmed stage play and it looks it but in this case, that gives an air of claustrophobia that only adds to the ever-mounting tension. Audrey Hepburn in her last role for nearly a decade is absolutely charming and endearing as the blind woman having to use all her remaining senses to outwit several sadistic home invaders! Richard Crenna, arguably the most successful actor to come out of old-time radio, is one. Jack Weston is another (long-time readers may recall my "Jack Weston Rule"--If Jack Weston is in a film, then it's a good film...but that's in spite of Jack being in the film, never becasue of it!) The real revelation, though, is Alan Arkin in an early showcase for his diverse talents. Trained as a comedian at Second City and often in comedic films, he creates a truly terrifying presence in WAIT UNTIL DARK.
No nostalgia here. Never seen this one at all. This is the theme from CAPTAIN ULTRA which was apparently a rather obvious juvenile POWER RANGERS precursor from Japan in '67. Seems to have been sort of ULTRAMAN without the giant hero! There is a dorky robot, though!
Still in 1967, here's the trailer for what was expected to be the biggest family film of the year, the fairly disastrous DOCTOR DOLITTLE with Rex Harrison and Anthony Newley. Having read the whole sordid story of the making of this picture with its insecure (or was he insane?) star and its overblown budget, I now have a whole new respect for the fact that the producers were able to pulll any entertainment value out of it at all! The marketing didn;t hurt, either. I recall getting Honeycomb cereal for Dolittle prizes and seeing the pushmi-pullyu guest on local kids tv!
We forget sometimes that the music that defined the sixties was not just the Beatles and the emergence of more "artistic" Rock. For me, the easy listening sounds of German composer/conductor/producer Bert Kaempfert offer up as much nostalgia as anything from the Fab Four. Also from 1967, here's a medley with Bert from the second day ever of (West) German color television broadcasting.
This is a song I truly enjoyed on the radio when I was around 7 years old. It wasn't until years later that I realized the creepy implications of a father and daughter singing this love song to each other. It really doesn't help to have her brother replacing her dad in this TV version from THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS SHOW in 1967. My more learned adult ear can also hear that Junior, like dad before him, is carrying his gorgeous sister's not-particularly-good-at-harmonizing voice. Nancy Sinatra has a unique vocal skill, best served by the production and collaboration with Lee Hazlewood. Still, nostalgia being what it is, I always have a soft spot for SOMETHING STUPID.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
The Cincinnati Old-Time Radio Convention Needs Your Help!
Eddie Carroll as Jack Benny, on DVD!
by Bob Burchett, Convention Organizer
The Cincinnati North Hotel suddenly went out of business just days before this year's convention. So I had to move fast to find a new venue, and subsequently the cost was much more than anticipated.
I need your help to keep the Cincinnati Convention alive. As you know, the Cincinnati Convention is unique in its informality, with celebrity guests mingling freely with the attendees at all hours, and the easygoing atmosphere is comfortable for everybody.
Here is our idea to raise money to keep the convention alive, and at the same time to provide everyone the magical experience that took place in Cincinnati the morning of April 25, 2009.
Jack Benny Tribute Artist Eddie Carroll spoke for an hour and a half that morning to a standing-room-only crowd. Eddie has the unique gift of bringing Jack back to us in a way you can't possibly believe until you see him.
People who were there call it the greatest event they have ever seen at a convention. This mesmerizing performance was captured on DVD, and I will send you your own copy when you make a donation of at least $15.00 to the Cincinnati Old Time Radio Fund. This DVD is available nowhere else!
If you are able to send more, your contribution will be greatly appreciated. Our convention means too much to too many to end now. I thank each and every one of you for your help in saving the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention.
Please send your check to:
10280 Gunpowder Rd
Florence, Ky 41042
All help is deeply appreciated!
It should go without saying but in order to get your DVD, you have to send an actual check to Bob at the above address--NOT TO ME.
The early issues of this updated WESTERN GUNFIGHTERS run were, in fact, a real treat. The title was a grab-bag of experimental new features, well chosen reprints and, as mentioned, a direct continuation of the cancelled fan-favorite GHOST RIDER series.
Dick Ayers, arguably the best of the long-running cowboy artists, returned to the art as he had done for the Marvel title as well as its original 1950's non-Marvel version. With Gary Friedrich back on scripting and inks from relative newcomer Tom Sutton, this series played more like a continuing serial even going so far as to have an ending, after which the strip was dropped yet again.
The main attraction in issue # 1, though, was GUNHAWK, a creation of Superman's papa Jerry Siegel in one of his rare Marvel outings. Almost a JONAH HEX lite, this scarred cowboy hero claimed art by Werner Roth and Sal Buscema. This splash, however, sure looks like it's by Herb Trimpe to me. There's also some obvious Romita touches in the story and, surprisingly, a number of faces that remind me of Jack (FIRST KINGDOM) Katz!
Tom Sutton turns up on full art chores for the first appearance of THE RENEGADES. Sutton seems to be in full-on Kurtzman mode here for some fun, loose art and uniquely rendered characters. Golden Age vet Syd Shores, most recently inking Kirby's CAPTAIN AMERICA at that point, offers up some tightly rendered pencils and inks of is own on TALES OF FORT RANGO, a Gary Friedrich script that plays like a TV western.
In fact, all of the new strips in WESTERN GUNFIGHTERS # 1 read like "pilots" and a few did return in later issues. Eventually, though, WESTERN GUNFIGHTERS settled in as a strictly reprint title mixing sixties features like KID COLT, OUTLAW with Atlas reprints from the fifties. But YEEE-HAH! It shore wuz FUN while it lasted!
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009
Here's a short, pointless cover of Paul McCartney's "Good Day Sunshine" by a truly bizarre combination. Noel Harrison, from whose 1968 TV special this clip is from, starts us off. He wasn't really much of a singer but he was still enjoying his 15 minutes of fame at this point. The late African-American singer/actress Barbara McNair joins in. All the while we hear what sounds vaguely like Beach Boys harmonies in the background. This turns out to be a few seconds of the Byrds, of all people! THE FREAKIN' BYRDS!!! I see Gene Clark and Roger McGuinn but is that Chris Hillman or David Crosby on the right? I thought Crosby had flown the coop by this point.