Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Danny DeVito Is Drunk

I think celebrities should appear drunk on live television more often. It's like DeVito is channeling Oliver Reed or something.

The funniest part is perennial stick-in-the-mud Elizabeth Hasselbeck's silent disapproval.

Shatner Keeps It Gay

The funniest 23 seconds you'll see this week.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Are You A Movie Buff?

This is pretty bogus, but...

Your Movie Buff Quotient: 68%

You are a total movie buff. Classics, blockbusters, indie favorites... you've seen most of them.
Your friends know to come to you whenever they need a few good DVD rental suggestions.

Nowhere on the list were MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS or TENEBRAE, strangely enough...

Not Exactly Village Of The Damned

DEVIL TIMES FIVE is a very odd film. It's not a particularly good film, but that may be asking too much of a film with a troubled production history like this one. According to the filmmakers, the original director, Sean MacGregor, struggled for four weeks to shoot on location at Lake Arrowhead, California, and only managed to complete 38 minutes of usable footage. The producers fired MacGregor, two more directors were hired to shoot another 50 minutes or so in just one week in a rented house in Los Feliz. Continuity was a nightmare--sets, hairstyles, props, even film stock doesn't match. Each shoot had its own director of photography, and despite the filmmakers' protestations to the contrary, it's very easy to take a look at each scene and within a few seconds determine whether it was filmed at Arrowhead or Los Feliz. Shooting was so sloppy that one small role is (quite obviously) portrayed by three different actors!

DEVIL TIMES FIVE, released in 1974 as PEOPLE TOYS and later as THE HORRIBLE HOUSE ON THE HILL, is a low-budget horror movie about three bickering couples stranded for the weekend at a snowy mountain lodge. Their fighting is broken up by the appearance of some children, who claim their bus crashed and their driver is dead. They're really from a nearby mental hospital. They killed their driver, and they spend the rest of the movie knocking off the cast members in a number of imaginative ways (impaling, hanging, hatchet...).

Whatever his problems on-set were, MacGregor can take credit for assembling a pro cast. Top-billed Sorrell Booke, later to strike it rich as Boss Hogg on THE DUKES OF HAZZARD, is very good as a timid man pushed around by his wife, his boss, and even strange children. Big Gene Evans played lots of blustering loudmouths in his day, but he was good at it. Taylor Lacher, just off a regular gig as Glenn Ford's deputy on the CADE'S COUNTY TV series, is very likable in what is basically the hero's role, and it's too bad he got stuck playing heavies in episodic TV. The kid actors are genuinely creepy, and you might recognize real-life brother and sister Leif Garrett and Dawn Lyn, as well as Tierre Turner, who's now a busy Hollywood stunt coordinator.

DEVIL TIMES FIVE would never be made in today's post-Columbine atmosphere, not just because of its central conceit of children committing violent murders, but in particular for one scene in which two of them drop killer piranha into a woman's bathtub and then drag her naked corpse across a snowy yard. Although the film is not very good, it does contain an occasional scene, like this one, that makes it memorable.

John Stamos Stars In A RAISIN IN THE SUN

I know that sounds like a throwaway joke on FAMILY GUY or something, but it's actually true.

What's next? Richard Grieco in THE BIRTHDAY PARTY?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dave Cockrum R.I.P.

What you see here is one of the most famous and most valuable comic books ever produced. Hard to believe now, but THE UNCANNY X-MEN was one of the rare failures of Marvel Comics' Silver Age. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963, the X-Men never took off the way Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and other Marvel superheroes of the era did. Several other notable creators worked on the title during the 1960's, including Gary Friedrich, Werner Roth, John Buscema, Roy Thomas, Tom Palmer and Neal Adams (the Thomas/Adams/Palmer issues are particularly wonderful), but the damn thing never sold well, and the book was canceled with issue #66 in 1970.

Five years later, the X-Men were revived in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1, which combined a few characters from the Lee/Kirby era with a few newer characters, such as Wolverine, Colossus, Storm and Nightcrawler. The extra-large 36-page issue was written by Len Wein and drawn by 31-year-old Dave Cockrum, who first made a name for himself as the regular artist on DC Comics' SUPERBOY & THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, where he redesigned many of the characters' costumes to make them sleeker, hipper and sexier. He did the same with the X-Men.

Unlike the X-Men's initial run, GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 was a smash hit and rejuvenated the characters. Although Wein and Cockrum receive no credit on the recent X-MEN films as creators, the characters and storylines used in the movies bear more resemblance to their X-Men than to the Lee/Kirby X-Men. GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 is today one of the comics industry's most valuable books, and is the only GIANT-SIZE title that I don't own (and probably never will).

The talented Dave Cockrum died today from complications relating to diabetes. He was 63 years old. Anyone who read superhero comics during the 1970s and 1980s was a fan of his work, and will miss him.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

She'll Make It Alright

I'm gonna be too lazy over the next few days to post much, but I'll feed your need for entertainment with an occasional YouTube clip. You may know that I'm a fan of TV opening titles. Theme songs too, but also opening title sequences. I even put together a two-hour DVD compilation recently of TV-show openings. Yes, I realize this does not make me especially cool.

Something that is cool: the opening to THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, which is one of the few sitcoms in television history not to feature the name of the series in its titles. This clip is from the first season. Composer/singer Sonny Curtis (a former Cricket) re-recorded the theme for Season Two, changing the "you might just make it after all" to "you're gonna make it after all." After all (heh), she had just finished an entire year associate-producing the WJM news and dealing with grouchy Lou Grant. It's a wonderful song and a very well edited title sequence.

The Season Two DVD box set contains an interesting extra: a half-hour documentary produced during the 1970's on the making of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW's titles. A camera crew followed producer David Davis and his crew as they returned to Minneapolis three or four years into the show's seven-season run to update the opening titles. They, along with cast members Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper, spent a couple of days in Minneapolis shooting new footage. This led to a famous confrontation when the woman who lived in the house that doubled for the exterior of Mary's demanded money from the producers for the right to film her house. When they didn't pay her, she hung an "Impeach Nixon" banner from her windows so they couldn't shoot without her permission.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Welcome To Cliche Theater, I'm David Caruso, Your Host

If you have ever seen CSI: MIAMI, you know that it is one of the shittiest shows in television history. I think his work on NYPD BLUE is one of TV's great performances, but David Caruso is pretty awful these days as cop Horatio Caine on CSI: MIAMI. This YouTube video is hilarious stuff. It's a montage of Caruso's solemn one-liners that apparently lead into every opening title sequence. This dialogue is bad enough in the context of each episode, but cut together like this and slamming into Roger Daltrey's scream that kicks off CSI: MIAMI's opening titles...well, it's very funny. It's not just the crappy dialogue, but also the solemn manner in which Caruso speaks it, often while using his sunglasses as a prop to, I don't know, add gravitas to the situation. Well, it ain't workin', because you'll find it difficult not to laugh at this video.

I once heard Emily Procter, an even worse actor than Caruso, say on this show that she was looking at the bullet that "fatally killed" the victim. As if there were another way to kill someone?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

John Saxon Had A TV Show?

How many of these stars do you recognize?

I'm surprised no TV producer is doing anything like THE BOLD ONES today. THE BOLD ONES was actually an umbrella title used for a rotating series of three different shows: THE NEW DOCTORS, THE LAWYERS and THE PROTECTOR (THE SENATOR replaced THE PROTECTOR after one season; after its cancellation after one season, THE NEW DOCTORS and THE LAWYERS rotated, with THE NEW DOCTORS going it alone in Season Four). Every week, a different series would air in THE BOLD ONES' timeslot, giving viewers a taste of variety and allowing several name actors the freedom and time off to do feature films while still maintaining a lucrative regular series gig.

I'm not certain how much THE BOLD ONES has been rerun since the show began on NBC in the fall of 1969. I saw several NEW DOCTORS segments during its brief TV Land run in the late '90s. It was a solid enough medical drama, though the only episode I have much memory of is "In Dreams They Run," a drama about muscular dystrophy that marked one of the very few TV directing jobs by Jerry Lewis.

I'm surprised NBC hasn't brought back the umbrella concept with the LAW & ORDER franchise, rotating the three different series in a single timeslot.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Man

If you haven't yet seen this video of UCLA cops tasering the shit out of a Muslim student for no good reason, you should, because it could be you next.

Even worse is the fact that those same cops threatened to use their taser on a young woman whose only "offense" was to ask them for their names and badge numbers.

I give these students in the video credit. Some of them got right in those cops' faces and demanded accountability. In my America, cops can't use tasers on American citizens because they refuse or are unable to show ID. Just how these cops expected their victim to "stand up" after he had been immobilized by their taser weapons at least five or six times is unclear to me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

By At Least Eight Yards

1980's THE FORMULA is the only film in which the great actors Marlon Brando and George C. Scott star together. Based on a novel by producer/screenwriter Steve Shagan (SAVE THE TIGER), THE FORMULA is a maddeningly complex thriller about the murder of Tom Neely, a former Los Angeles cop, and the investigation into it led by the victim's friend, Lieutenant Barney Caine (Scott). I liked Shagan's novel, but his screenplay removes many of the book's best scenes, and as a result, the film suffers from plotholes that may well leave you scratching your head.

At first, it appears as though the victim's lifestyle is to blame. He's found tied up in bed with seven bullet holes in him and a voodoo doll filled with cocaine placed on his chest. However, when the victim's ex-wife (NETWORK's Beatrice Straight) is also found murdered, Caine digs deeper--far deeper than his superiors on the police force are comfortable with--and discovers the key to Neely's death may lie with his military service in Germany in 1945, where he captured a Nazi general (Richard Lynch) in possession of an amazing formula for synthetic fuel--gasoline that can be created using coal, of which the United States is the world's leading producer. Caine figures that the oil conglomerates may not be too thrilled to learn of such a formula, and heads to Berlin to find more answers.

Brando appears in only three scenes (and was reportedly paid $1 million per scene!), but makes the most of two of them. One is a throwaway that serves little purpose and looks as though it may have been inserted into the screenplay simply to give the film more Brando for the audience's buck. But it's bookended by two marvelously absorbing scenes which are little more than dialogues between Brando and Scott that remind one of the much admired two-man discussion between DeNiro and Pacino in HEAT.

The first is mostly shot as one long take. The two actors stroll down a dusty country road while Scott asks Brando, playing a major oil chairman named Adam Steiffel, a few background questions about Neely, who had worked as a bagman for Steiffel. Their piece de resistance comes at the end, a lengthy wrap-up session in which the two men attempt to explain the mystery's solution and leave the audience satisfied with the denouement. And while Shagan's plot is never satisfactorily pieced together, Scott and Brando aren't too blame. In fact, it hardly matters what the two men are talking about--it's simply a joy to watch these two screen greats sharing adversarial banter.

THE FORMULA was neither a hit with critics or with audiences, and I can't really say that it should have been. It's a talky, confusing thriller that wastes a solid starring turn by Scott and an eccentric performance by Brando, who wears a hearing aid, weaves his hair into a combover and speaks with an unusual mince. It's now out on DVD, and I must say that I enjoyed the film better than I did the first time I saw it, which was on a pan-and-scan VHS tape. The DVD also contains an audio commentary track by Shagan and director John G. Avildsen (ROCKY), which might be interesting, considering that the two men reportedly had a major falling-out around the time of THE FORMULA's release. Apparently, they've made up, but I'm curious to find out whether any contention remains.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Suppose...Just Suppose, Danno..."

Yesssssss. I've been waiting a long time for this to happen.

Season One of HAWAII FIVE-0 hits DVD February 27. It'll have the first 23 episodes, plus the feature-length pilot, "Cocoon," in which intrepid Five-0 head Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) does battle with Red Chinese baddie Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) for the first time. "Cocoon" is also of interest because McGarrett's number-two man, Dan "Danno" Williams, is portrayed by actor Tim O'Kelly (TARGETS), instead of James MacArthur, who took over the role in the first regular episode and stayed on as Lord's sidekick for eleven of the series' twelve seasons. HAWAII FIVE-0 remains the longest-running police/action series in TV history.

Among those 23 first-season episodes, which I expect to really pop off the screen if CBS/Paramount has done a good job of remastering them, is "Samurai," a not-great episode guest-starring Ricardo Montalban as a Japanese (!) gangster, "Yesterday Died and Tomorrow Won't Be Born," with John Larch (DIRTY HARRY) as a vengeful ex-con after McGarrett, the outstanding "King of the Hill," with Yaphet Kotto as a mentally unstable Vietnam vet who takes Danno hostage in a VA hospital because he believes he's still in combat, "The Box," in which prisoners (including a fat Gavin MacLeod as a wiseass con named Big Chicken) take McGarrett hostage, and "Six Kilos," which has long been out of syndication.

HAWAII FIVE-0 was a very good crime drama, at least for the first six or seven years it was on, and will be well worth catching up with on DVD. I grew up watching the show in syndication, when it aired at 11:00pm after M*A*S*H on the local CBS station. I stayed up 'til midnight just about every night when I was in high school to watch it, and became drawn to the clever plotting, unusual Hawaiian scenery, and, of course, Lord's intensely oddball performance as McGarrett. What's really interesting about the scenery is that it appears to be the only TV series filmed in Hawaii that went out of its way to show the seamy side of the islands as much as its beauty. Directors shot in back alleys, slums, jungles and dirty streets to give HAWAII FIVE-0 a gritty, realistic look. Certainly MAGNUM, P.I. never did this, and I think it added to FIVE-0's visual flair.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I Just Bought This On DVD

My friend John Miller used to say that ARK II was about three hippies who drove around the desert in an RV taking soil samples. And I can't say he was completely wrong.

ARK II is about three young people in the future after Earth has been decimated by war and pollution. With their pet monkey, the youths travel around the country (re: Southern California) in a super-cool ground vehicle called Ark II and help solve people's problems. Episodes included robots, time travel, rapid aging, nerve gas, slavery, a wolf boy--science fiction cliches, perhaps, but they weren't cliches to the Saturday-morning TV audience.

ARK II was produced by a company called Filmation that made several animated and live-action kids shows during the '70s. Many of them were quite good, including STAR TREK and FLASH GORDON. They produced only 15 half-hour ARK II episodes that aired on Saturday mornings on CBS off and on during the late 1970s. Many of them were directed by Ted Post, an accomplished television and film director whose credits include two Clint Eastwood films (MAGNUM FORCE and HANG 'EM HIGH).

I don't recall many specifics about ARK II, but when I noticed the Complete Series DVD box set was available at online retailers for under $20, I thought, what the heck? It contains a lot of extras, so the DVD producers obviously took some care with it. And if it sells well, other live-action Filmation shows may appear on DVD, such as JASON OF STAR COMMAND, SHAZAM and ISIS.

Friday, November 10, 2006

No One Can Crap Bigger Than Jack

Those of us who enjoy Crappy Movies are saddened by the death of the great screen legend Jack Palance, who died today of natural causes at age 85 (or 87, some sources say). I can't say it comes as a big surprise, since I read in the news about three weeks ago that Palance was auctioning off his belongings. Nobody does that unless he knows he ain't gonna be needing that stuff anymore.

Like many actors well-known for their work in exploitation movies, Jack Palance was a genuinely talented performer and a strong screen presence. He was the villain in SHANE. He was in good old pictures like THE BIG KNIFE, PANIC IN THE STREETS and ATTACK. During the 1960's, he moved to Europe to star in a bunch of westerns, war films, sword-and-sorcery adventures. If you've spent enough time at my house, you know Palance from crowd-pleasing crap like WITHOUT WARNING ("Alieeennnnnnnnn!"), ALONE IN THE DARK (again with Martin Landau), THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (with the floating Palance head and the rubber beam that inadvertently bounces off his head), the two-hour opening episode of BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY (with his cosmic hands of death), TANGO & CASH, GOR (with Oliver Reed), ONE MAN JURY (with Chris Mitchum), CYBORG 2 (with Angelina Jolie!) and more. He won an Oscar, of course, for CITY SLICKERS. He played the boxer in Rod Serling's incredible teleplay of "Requiem for a Heavyweight" on PLAYHOUSE 90. Jack was Jack, and he was great.

Here's one of Palance's less glitzy assignments: a TV commercial for anti-freeze. This likely happened around 1975, when Palance was briefly the star of a CBS cop show called BRONK. In it, which was created by actor Carroll O'Connor, Palance played a laid-back, pipe-smoking detective who solved crimes. The series didn't last long, but likely made Palance a bit of dough.

Something I didn't know about Jack Palance is that legendary comic book creator Jack Kirby used the actor as his model for Darkseid, a popular DC Comics villain who still plays a prominent role in the DC universe. Mark Evanier writes about the Palance/Kirby connection on his blog.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Why Do Americans Think Republicans Are Scumbags?

Election Day trickery infuriates homeless man

Ed Bradley, R.I.P.

60 MINUTES correspondent Ed Bradley has died of leukemia at the age of 65. Next to Mike Wallace, he was my favorite 60 MINUTES cast member--classy, fair, stylish and whip-smart. Broadcast journalism will miss him.

Open Letter

Neil Sarver's The Bleeding Tree is one of the blogs I check out every day, and his Open Letter to Democrats is reading you might find interesting. Which is not to say that I agree with all of it, but most of it.

Random Question Of The Day

Do you think Roger Daltrey is sick of interviewers asking him if he's still down with that whole "hope I die before I get old" thing?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ladies And Gentlemen...The Popsicle Twins

I was surprised to see this pop up on YouTube, since I figured this episode ran once in the 1970s and then never again. It appears as though Game Show Network aired it at least once, bless their raunchy little hearts.

What you're about to see is one of the most amazing clips in the history of network television. If you saw George Clooney's movie CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, you probably have at least a passing awareness of THE GONG SHOW, a wild parody of TV talent shows that NBC aired in its daytime lineup during the late '70s. Created by its executive producer and star, the ebullient Chuck Barris (who claimed in his autobiography that he was an assassin for the CIA), THE GONG SHOW was an intentionally tacky exercise in which amateur performers would do their acts and be judged by a panel of three celebrities. Behind the judges was a large gong, and if any of the judges thought the act was rotten enough, they would bang it, ending the performance in mid-stream.

The Popsicle Twins were THE GONG SHOW's most notorious performers. It was an act so rude, so raunchy, so tasteless, that NBC allegedly received tons of phone calls protesting the act, and the episode was quickly re-edited for telecast in the Central and Pacific time zones. That's according to Barris, although elsewhere it has been written that The Popsicle Girls' segment did air on the West Coast. It was almost certainly, however, missing from all syndicated reruns, although a few seconds managed to pop up in the long out-of-print-on-video THE GONG SHOW MOVIE that played theaters for about ten minutes in 1980.

So who or what are The Popsicle Twins? Well, at first glance, they appear to be a pair of teenage girls who...well, why don't you watch for yourself?

Chuck Barris = genius.

Let's Have A Convention
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

If any of you other Marty McKees out there find this post through Google, please leave me a comment.

There also are 56 Martin McKees in the United States.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I just listened to Chris Matthews ramble on about what a great guy ("a regular guy") and down-to-Earth fella Dennis Hastert is. Um, yeah, a crook who used his position to run a highway past his Illinois property that puts a million bucks in his pocket, yet is so out of touch/dishonest that he claimed families earning $40,000 per year pay zero taxes. His re-election just confirms Tolemite's mantra that the people of Shitty DeKalb are idiots.

Good to see bastards like Rick Santorum, Curt Weldon, Don Sherwood, Katherine Harris and Mike DeWine lose their jobs. They are not just incompetent at their jobs, but also awful human beings. It looks like fellow scumbags Conrad Burns and George "Macaca" Allen may lose their jobs too, but it's still too early to tell. Even if Allen wins, it will be at such a tight margin that his White House dreams are shattered. We already got rid of Mark Foley, Tom DeLay, Bob Ney...decrepit people all.

I should say that I'm sure not all Republicans in Washington are inept, greedy and corrupt. I don't think John McCain is, although he is spineless. In fact, he told Matthews tonight that he first realized his party was becoming corrupt "7 or 8 years ago." Well, what the hell has he been doing all that time to rectify the situation? I think Lincoln Chafee and Jack Kingston are honest and genuinely good people. Um. And I'm sure there must be a couple more.

The strangest thing I learned tonight is that former Washington Redskins quarterback Heath Shuler is now a U.S. Representative from North Carolina!

More Vacation

From the sounds of crickets I'm hearing from my Comments section, I can tell you're bored to tears with vacation stories. I spent a day at Universal Studios--the theme park and studio tour, as well as CityWalk, which is kinda like Vegas if it was an outdoor mall. The studio tour was a lot of fun, particularly the backlot where so many great films and TV shows were made. We also drove down to San Diego one afternoon to visit my brother and his mother-in-law. His wife had surgery there about a month ago and she's still recuperating. We didn't get to visit her because she still was recuperating in ICU, but it was fun to visit and to take my brother and her mom out to dinner. We went to Seau's, a restaurant owned by former Charger Junior Seau.

Holy cow, is this the greatest MOD SQUAD episode ever?

You gotta respect that guest cast. You could never assemble a group of actors like that for a TV episode nowadays.

I think I'll watch a little more election coverage. I just heard Ken Mehlman lying his ass off as usual on MSNBC (and toady Chris Matthews letting him, again, as usual). Something Mehlman and also John McCain said tonight is that they're looking forward to bipartisan cooperation and working together to make America a better place. Ha. I bet. Those guys have never been even the least bit interested in working with Democrats, and now that their asses are getting kicked, suddenly they're so cooperative. I agree that both parties working together in Washington is the best way, perhaps the only way, to get anything done, and if the Republicans hadn't spent the last decade or so fattening their pockets and making their own bigotry, paranoia and hatred into law, this country would be a much better place. If we can prudently withdraw troops from Iraq, raise the minimum wage, create better jobs, improve education and provide all Americans with reasonable health care--things the Republicans have resisted (since there ain't any graft in for them)--we would be off to a great start.

See The Light

109 Reasons To Dump The 109th Congress

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Yippee-Ki-Yay, Mother Hubbard

That's me standing in front of Fox Plaza, which is located in Century City, California. It's the headquarters of 20th Century Fox, but, more importantly, it's also Nakatomi Plaza! Yep, Fox used its own building for the exterior of the skyscraper invaded by Alan Rickman's terrorists in 1988's DIE HARD. For me, it was impossible to drive past it and not think of it as the Nakatomi building.

The third day of my California vacation, I accompanied my friend Chris to his job on the Fox lot. It's a fun place to roam around, and I saw a Fox star within about a minute of walking on to the lot. BONES star Emily Deschanel was chatting on her cell phone outside of her mobile home and right next to co-star David Boreanaz's car. BONES is one of several TV series currently filming on the Fox lot, along with SHARK, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, REBA, STANDOFF and others. In fact, in this photo taken on a separate visit, you can see me looking down at the soundstage in which SHARK is shot.

Chris and I did a bit of roaming around the lot that day, but Deschanel was the only TV star we spotted. We caught the tail end of a REBA exterior filming near the commissary, and a stroll around the executive office building found us inside one of the executive screening rooms. I think I need a sweet setup like that in my living room. It would have been nice to have seen the backlot, but BONES was using it that day for exteriors.

A bigger "brush with greatness," even bigger than Emily Deschanel, was lunch with Chris' friend Dean Cochran.

This was the first time Dean and I had met, but we had become acquainted through Chris and had shared some emails. It started when Chris told me through email that a friend of his had acted with Chuck Norris in a movie then shooting in Washington (THE CUTTER). He sent me a photo of his friend with Chuck, and he was then surprised when I told him that I recognized his friend and had, in fact, seen some of his movies. Dean had been top-billed in a handful of direct-to-DVD action movies for an independent studio called Nu Image, including AIR MARSHAL, SHARK ZONE and TARGET OF OPPORTUNITY. When he isn't acting, Dean works for New Regency and had become friendly with Chris. Over the months, Dean and I had emailed each other a few times. I think he was happy that I was familiar with his Nu Image films (which I mostly like), and he seemed like a nice guy. Awhile back, I even sent Chris my AIR MARSHAL and SHARK ZONE DVDs for Dean to autograph.

The three of us had lunch together that afternoon, which was a heckuva lot of fun. We talked a bit about his Nu Image films (he's made several others, but he's got great stories about the crazy working conditions in Bulgaria and the silliness of some of those scripts), but also about the NFL and about New Orleans, his hometown. We didn't even get around to the subject of Chuck Norris (we're both big fans). Dean's a good guy and I enjoyed making a new friend. Big thanks to Chris for getting us together.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hawaiian Beat

Here's kind of a cool clip. The Ventures were a pretty kickass surf instrumental band from Seattle that had its first Top 40 hit in 1960, "Walk, Don't Run." They managed to remain successful throughout the 1960s, and one of their biggest hits came out in 1969. It was "Hawaii Five-0," the theme to the CBS-TV series written by Morton Stevens. I don't know if this is a Scopitone or something that was created to air on THE MUSIC SCENE or another music-oriented TV show, but it's worth watching. The audio and video are a half-second out of sync, but the song is an instrumental, and probably won't bother you much.

I don't know if The Ventures had any other hit singles, but they continued to be popular. Groups like The Beatles and The Go-Gos listed them as influences, and Quentin Tarantino used at least one of their songs in PULP FICTION. The Ventures are also huge in Japan. Of course, so is Alyssa Milano.

We Really Butchered Ya

I suspect that sentence would be pretty high on the list of things you never want to hear your dentist say. I had to go in yesterday afternoon to repair a cracked tooth. I hadn't noticed anything, but during my regular 6-month appointment two weeks before, a new X-ray showed that a tooth in the back of my mouth had developed a small crack. What my dentist had to do was remove the filling, check inside the hole to make sure no decay had set in, repair the tooth, and add a new filling. Unfortunately, he slipped and nicked a nerve, causing quite a bit of bleeding to occur.

Thankfully, the (second) shot had numbed me and I was unable to feel any pain, but it's pretty stressful to lie there while two pairs of hands scramble to stop a blood flow inside your mouth. The drilling is bad enough--for me anyway, as I lie there waiting for the drill to hit a secret pocket of nerves that hasn't yet been affected by the novocaine (is that what dentists still use?).

When the shots finally wore off about five hours later (or 4 1/2 hours after I was told they would), I didn't feel any pain in the tooth. My dentist, whom I have to admit was concerned, so concerned that he called me last night to check up on me. I told him that the tooth seemed fine, but I felt a little sore up there, likely from all the prodding and poking. "Yeah, we really butchered you," was his response.

Only 5 1/2 months 'til my next checkup. Ai-yi-yi.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

On With The Story

My second full day in Southern California began with a trip to the Farmer's Market in Studio City. What's cool is that it's located across the street from CBS Studio Center on Radford Avenue, which is where a lot of great TV series were filmed, including THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, WKRP IN CINCINNATI and SEINFELD. THAT '70S SHOW recently shot on the MTM stage. The Radford facility was also the home of hundreds of Mack Sennett comedies and a ton of Republic westerns and serials.

I saw my first star of my vacation upon entering the Farmer's Market: Kyle Secor, formerly of COMMANDER IN CHIEF and HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS. He was there with his family. More surprising was Ed Begley, Jr., who presumably drove his electric car over. But he wasn't shopping, oh, no. Ed has a regular booth there where he shills his own cleaning solution: Begley's Best. You would think Ed would have better things to do every Sunday, but you gotta give him credit for walking the walk. My friend Sara actually bought a bottle from him, and damned if the stuff doesn't actually work pretty well. Very impressive.

This is the beautiful beach at Point Dume, near Malibu. If it looks somewhat familiar, it's because the climax of the original PLANET OF THE APES was shot here, the scene where Charlton Heston finds you-know-what. Here I am in front of that cliff at the end of the beach:

To be entirely accurate, I believe the APES climax was actually shot on the other side of that jutting cliff. You have to traverse the sharp rocks to get over there, and there's a small beach bookended by two cliffs. My friend Chris and I went partway over the rocks, but weren't really prepared or dressed for rockclimbing and returned. At any rate, it's a gorgeous beach, and we had perfect weather for it.

I fell in love with Malibu, in fact, though the weather surely had much to do with it. We drove past "beautiful Pepperdine University," the setting for over a dozen BATTLE OF THE NETWORK STARS competitions. Unfortunately, we couldn't see the Olympic-sized swimming pool or the track area where Bill Shatner once captained his ABC team to victory, Gabe Kaplan schooled Bob Conrad in the 100-yard dash, and Heather Thomas' gorgeous curves plunged into the baseball dunk tank. We also drove by Paradise Cove, where Jim Rockford's trailer once parked, just behind the Sandcastle restaurant, which often was a ROCKFORD FILES location itself.

Recognize it? Yep, it's the famous Vasquez Rocks, home of hundreds of TV shows and movies over the decades, but predominantly famous for the STAR TREK episode "Arena," in which Captain Kirk fought a man-sized lizard called a Gorn on and around this spectacular rock formation.

Yes, James Kirk himself once ran up to the point of that rock to battle the Gorn. Me? Well, maybe if I was a little younger or a little lighter. This is about as far as I got. Vasquez Rocks is actually a county park and is a really nice place for a picnic.

We got back to the city around sunset and stopped for supper at the Mulberry Street Pizzeria in Encino, which is owned by actress Cathy Moriarty (RAGING BULL). Cathy wasn't there, but sitting at the table next to ours was actress Amy Brenneman (JUDGING AMY) and two small children (presumably hers).

A busy day, no doubt, and one that tuckered me out. I passed out on the couch around extraordinarily early evening for me.