Sunday, January 31, 2010

the new adventures of huckleberry finn-intro(full version)

Wow! I hadn't seen this full intro since like 1970! Ted Cassidy was truly scary in Injun Joe Mode!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Holy old-age Batman!

The very idea that 20 years has passed since the opening of Tim Burton's Batman movie seems like a plot cooked up the Mad Hatter. For up until this day when most people thought of Batman they thought Adam West, Neal Adams, Frank Miller or Bob Kane. No one had ever heard of Bruce Timm, Shane Glines, Paul Dini, or Dywane McDuffie-- Let alone Harley Quinn or Terry McGinnis. Hell, that dumbass Bane wouldn't be created -- or yell "I will BREAK YOU!"-- for years yet. Even Tim Burton himself was hardly a household name, having only two other feature films (Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice) under his directing belt. Still, outside of Vicki Vale, a Bat-suit that couldn't turn it's head and a weak climax there was a lot to like about the 1989 Batman. People freaked out when they heard Jack Nicholson had been cast as the Joker. Even more freaked out when they heard comedian Michael Keaton was going to be the new Batman! (- and who knew he'd be better than Clooney?)
A lot of water has gone under the ol' bat-bridge since then. The consecutive sequels to this film would eventually crash and burn then be re-invented by Chris Nolan and Bale to come back even stronger. The animated series would live and die and live and die again - then spawn it's own subsequent sequel series... which would eventually lead to the Justice League Unlimited show (for my money, the best animated superhero program ever created for television.)
So, as I sit waiting for the next Bat-chapter in the Gotham Lexicon (which I assume will be the upcoming Arkham Asylum game that will feature the return of the animated series voices of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill! ) I raise an appropriate glass of La Batts to the next twenty Bat-years!

Here's guano in yer eye, Keed!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

KFC -- WTF???

During the time that I've been doing this blog I have been conflicted at times against the notion of using it as a personal soapbox too much... But doggone it this is just too much!
As many of you are probably aware Kentucky Fried Chicken recently introduced their latest health-conscious chicken choice... Kentucky Grilled chicken. Many a time I've stormed out of our local (Buford Hwy - Clairmont rd) KFC, vowing never to return... But I had to admit - from the ads at least, the chicken looked pretty damn good - and I might just have to give 'em one more chance (yet again). So on friday we relented and picked up the 10 piece grilled meal bucket... and though one of the pieces was literally the size of a golf ball, overall it was easily the best food that I've gotten from that particular location in over a decade.
Too bad it just doesn't end there.

So here on the drive-thru menu board the price for the 10 piece grilled meal is clearly marked at 14.99. Seemed like a good deal to me. But when I checked my receipt at home I discovered I had actually paid 15.99 for the meal. But when I went inside the very same KFC - -the price on the ad board behind the counter read 15.99!! Just look...

Okay... so the people in the drive-thru are being lied to over a dollar. Is that worth blogging about? Maybe -- if you have no life whatsoever. But get this...

My wife and I go out to Smyrna (about 20 miles) on the way back I suggest we press our luck and get another 10 piece bucket of grilled chicken so we pull into the KFC on South Cobb drive and prepare to order when my brain ejects and falls out on the floor. Is that bucket 14.99? No. 15.99? Nope.

Read 'em and weep - THE SAME DAMN BUCKET IS 22.99!!
8 bucks more than the 14.99, and 7 bucks more than 15.99!!!
What's really weird is that this KFC was considerably more run-down than my local one.

When I asked the manager why - he said the price was "based on an estimate" (What it sounded like to me was that he had been in a position to make up a price out of thin air, and that 22.99 what he had come up with). It's been awhile since I worked for a a franchise store, but shouldn't the price be set in the front office, and not just left up to some price-gougin' manager? Grrrrr... This kind of shit shouldn't even be legal.

Is it??

I say being gouged is being gouged... nuff said!

OKAY so there's an update to this sad tale...

Call it curiousity - or maybe that I just tend to OD on new franchise food items ala Homer Simpson - but went I back thru my local KFC Drive Thru a couple more times... and the water gots muddier still.

April 24th - I roll up to the squawk box and tell the over-modulated voice that I want to order the "10 piece bucket" Again, on the outside board it clearly says 14.99.
As I'm driving off I note that the price I was charged looks like 18.99 with a minus 3.00 discount.

April 29th- (5 days later) Okay now dig this. When I order at the squawk box this time I say "I'll have the 14.99 meal"
there's a long pause and voice repeats "The 14.99 meal?" And I say "Yeah, the 10 piece bucket?" There's another long pause before he tells me to drive around. This time when I check the receipt it says 18.99 again - only this time with a discount of 4.00!
It's even a different code that they have to punch in!

So I guess the morale is, when ordering food from the KFC Drive-Thru, make sure you include the price when you order... or don't order at all.

Eat Well!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Say it ain't MOE!

Benicio Del Toro

"Remind me to moider my agent!"

MGM gets its 'Stooges'

From yesterday's (3.25.09) Variety _- read it an' weep!

By Michael Fleming

MGM and the Farrelly brothers are closing in on their cast for "The Three Stooges."

Sean Penn

Studio has set Sean Penn to play Larry, and negotiations are underway with Jim Carrey to play Curly, with the actor already making plans to gain 40 pounds to approximate the physical dimensions of Jerome "Curly" Howard.

The studio is zeroing in on Benicio Del Toro to play Moe.

The film is not a biopic, but rather a comedy built around the antics of the three characters that Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Howard played in the Columbia Pictures shorts.

The quest by the Peter and Bobby Farrelly to harness the project spans more than a decade and three studios. They first tried at Columbia, again at Warner Bros., and finally at MGM, where Worldwide Motion Picture Group chairman Mary Parent championed the cause and bought the WB-owned scripts and made a deal with Stooges rights holders .

Production will begin in early fall for a release sometime in 2010. The Farrellys, who wrote the script, are producing with their Conundrum partner Bradley Thomas, and Charlie Wessler.

Entertainment principals Earl and Robert Benjamin will be executive producers.

Project will get underway after Penn completes the Asger Leth-directed Universal/Imagine Entertainment drama "Cartel." He hasn't done a comedy since the 1989 laffer "We're No Angels."

The Farrellys have long had their eyes on Del Toro to play Moe. Del Toro, who's coming off "Che," showed comic chops in the Guy Ritchie-directed "Snatch."

Jim Carrey

The surprise is the emergence of Carrey to play Curly. Howard established the character as a seminal physical comedian, from the first time he appeared in the first Stooges short in 1934 until he suffered a stroke on the set in 1946.

Hoo-Lawd!! I've gotta quote Moe and say: "It's moider! It's arson! Let's get outta here!"

Later folks!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back on the Richter Scale

Andy Richter, Conan O'Brien Dana Edelson/NBC

From E online - today 2-25-09

The prodigal sidekick has returned.

Andy Richter will be playing McMahon to Conan O'Brien's Carson, as the former Late Night cohorts reteam when O'Brien takes the Tonight Show reins from Jay Leno this summer.

This time around, however, instead of serving as O'Brien's on-air wingman, Richter will take the role of full-service announcer. In addition to serving as Tonight's official voice, he will also regularly appear in comedy bits.

"Andy is one of the funniest people I know, and we've maintained a close friendship since he left Late Night," O'Brien said. "We have a proven chemistry that will be an incredible asset to The Tonight Show."

And one more thing...

"I'm looking forward to working with Andy on a daily basis again, particularly since he owes me $300," O'Brien added.

Richter served as the final nonmusical guest on Late Night With Conan O'Brien when it signed off last Friday. No word was made at the time that he would be part of the Tonight Show's regime change.

The duo first teamed up back in 1993, when an untested—and, at least by the network, untrusted—O'Brien took over David Letterman's late-night show. Richter left in 2000 to pursue an acting career, more often than not backed by O'Brien. (The host produced Richter's most high-profile, ill-fated TV outings: 2007's Andy Barker, P.I. and 2002's Andy Richter Controls the Universe.)

While the Tonight Show gig is good news for Richter fans, it's bad news for Joel Goddard die-hards.

Though O'Brien paid tribute to the Late Night announcer on his final episode, singling him out for his contributions over the show's 16-year run, the Asian boy-toy-lover will apparently not be making the trip to Los Angeles.

Richter's confirmation sets into place the final rundown of on-air talent for the O'Brien-manned Tonight Show. O'Brien announced earlier this month that Max Weinberg and the Max Weinberg 7 will transfer over to become the Tonight Show house band.

O'Brien, Richter & Co. will make their Tonight Show debut on June 1.

Btw - It's amazing to me to find out that Andy's been gone from the show longer at this point than he was part of it the first time around. Hopefully this time he'll have the good sense to stay put.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bits o' Weirdness #1

Okay, here's a weird one...
These hand-painted scenes of Disney characters once adorned a Diner wall for 20 or 30 years somewhere in the Upper mid-west. They were for sale on eBay a few years back when these photos turned up. Bootleg Disney characters are nothing new. But check out the third image below...

What you don't often see is Minnie Mouse - topless - and breast feeding young'uns (whose?)
Maybe she's just pullin' a recent Selma Hayek move and "sharing the love" (milk) with some less fortunate wee folk. Here's a better look. Who knew Minnie was so ...matronly?

Hoo-boy. More soon...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Battle of the Brothers!

Haw! I found this goofy thing the other day cleaning up. Brothers Gargantua "fly chambered" with brothers Moe and Curly Howard. This piece came out of several mid-1990s conversations I had with Dave Strandquest at Design efx that concerning the mystique surrounding Inshiro Honda's 1968 Toho monster minor-classic War of the Gargantuas! (One of Dave's all-time favorite movies, btw) While Gargantuas is generally defined as a sequel to Toho's "Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965), it actually equates to a giant-wrestling-Bigfoot movie with some wacky new technology, Kumi Minzuno (cat sound) and one of the Strangest nightclub performances in all of Asian Cinema -- featuring a song so offbeat that even Devo has covered it. But hey, don't take my word for it... See for yourself:

Everybody's a critic. (Yikes! I don't even like my cheese that sharp!)

When I investigated a little further for this posting I found War of the Gargantuas seems to be a touchstone for for all manner of pop culture intersects. The Brothers and their differences and appearance have been the subject of song and story. People making allusions and some rather unlikely comparisons to all manner of actors and personalities. While a fellow on one fan site calls the boys shabby and "looking like old winos fighting", on another a gal insists the Brown one looks just like Nicholas Cage, (*gulp* It's true, he DOES!) and on yet another a woman insists the green one is a dead-ringer for her brother-in-law.

Dave and I went through a myriad of comparisons ourselves. While I had my own favorite targets (which included Butch and Waldo from the Little Rascals, to Georgia brothers Billy and Jimmy Carter), Dave always gravitated back to referring to the Brown one as looking like "Robbie Redford - 'cause he's sorta handsome" and the green one resembling TV's Bonnie Franklin. (Yes, from the 1970s show One Day at a Time -- that Bonnie Franklin.)

All during this time weird Gargantua related material continued to burble to the pop-culture surface. Some REALLY twisted stuff too as illustrated by this disturbing vision included casually - and quite inexplicably - on some 1990 japanese model kit instructions. (They're BROTHERS, for cryin' out loud.)
But Japanese Sci-Fi imagery in general has been a subject for underground and lowbrow art practically from the beginning. Popularized by artists like Gary Panter, Charles Burns, Tim Biskup, Coop, and Glenn Barr, the original source material has by now been turned inside-out several times over.

The Gargantua Brothers are a definite favorite of artist and Lowbrow Painter David Durrett of the Dalton Agency out of Jacksonville Florida. He's featured them in several of his dynamic paintings including this one that's appropriately (and maybe somewhat obviously) titled "Bad Ass".
(image copyright David Durrett)

As well as this one called "The Brown and the Green" which takes the Battle of the Brothers concept to a whole different level.
(image copyright David Durrett)

The exploding Vinyl toy market has seen plenty of Gargantua action too...

At one point Dave wanted us to make Gargantua costumes and play in a Monster band. I suggested if we were gonna make the costumes, then we should wear 'em to some swanky Halloween Party, arrive separately and mingle awhile, but when we saw each other go crazy, start fighting and just wreck the joint. We never did either, o 'course (-- once we realized our swankier pals would realistically probably just prosecute our Monster butts). Too bad I never did the other xerox piece I had planned back then though. Maybe I still should... it'd star MY top picks from the Gargantua Brother look-alikes club namely...

What the Hell is it about the Howard genepool anyway?... Moe, Curly, These guys... Ah well...

Thanks and kudos for this post go out to Toho, Inshiro Honda, The 4 Howards, David Durrett, and Dave S.

Friday, January 02, 2009

2009 is Bustin' Loose All Over!

Happy New Year, folks!
My new Years resolution for 2009 (one of 'em) is shorter and more frequent posts.
I gotta say, waking up Jan 1 to a day of Looney Tunes on Cartoon Network was a pretty good start! (...and long overdue if you ask me.)

Especially since the closest Bugs and company have been to the airwaves in the last couple of years has been in new productions like the Duck Dodgers Show and the Tweety and Sylvester Mysteries on Boomerang (And yes, I'm forgetting the Baby Looney Tunes incarnation).

Just ten years ago The Looney Tunes characters (including and perhaps most notably Michigan J. Frog) seemed the cornerstone of the Time-Warner company. Every mall had a Warners store, and every Warners store had an "animation department" in the back that sold both limited-edition and production cels from Warners television and theatrical productions. Thanks in part to the aquisition of Cartoon Network at the end of the 1990s, for the first time in television history one channel would have the rights to show ANY cartoon from the Warner Cartoon canon (except for the dozen or so that they couldn't due to some outwageous steweotypes). Unfortunately this animation heyday was entirely too short-lived.

After 911 and the closing of the Warners stores it seemed interest in Bugs, Daffy -- and in fact, ALL "old product" characters started to wain (With the notable exception of Scooby Doo). There was a definite and conscious effort at CN to leave the past behind and develop new properties to mine.

The Looney interest level continued to diminish however, until a couple of years ago, when the theatrical shorts disappeared from the airwaves altogether -- only to be viewed online and in other high-pixal venues like YouTube. Even though MGM Tom and Jerry Cartoons (and on Boomerang a half-hour block just called "MGM Cartoons") continue to run every few hours.

Oh these? They're pitch boards from Space Jam where the Mon-stars are trashing the Looneys.
The pin-holes prove these ideas were pinned up and part of the working movie storyboard for a period of time. The fact that they exist at all only serves to illustrate nicely the ongoing love-hate relationship Warners seems to have with it's own characters. I'm sure the old Warners cartoon directors woulda had a big larf at the idea that 50 years in the future the company that Jack Warner built would only air the competition's (MGM) cartoons on their (mostly) Cartoon TV Network.

Darned ironic -- That's all I'm sayin'.

Hopefully though, the CN New Years day Looney Tunes Marathon is a good sign for the future!

'Cause as Mark Evanier said almost a decade ago:

You can't kill these films.

They've sure tried. They've cut them and hidden them and traced them and chopped them into little pieces. Over and over, business-types have given up on Bugs; over and over, they've been proven wrong. Like Lazarus, Jason or even Bill Clinton, he keeps coming back, ever stronger. And always will.

The WB cartoons may be the most lucrative things ever put on celluloid. They returned their initial investments when they were first exhibited, and all the thousands of reruns since have yielded almost pure profit. That's not even looking at the billions (with a "b") grossed from toys and comics and other merchandise featuring Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Tweety and the gang.

Hopefully 2009 is the year somebody up the ladder will "re-discover" this (yet again...).

I know the REAL Bugs and Elmer (photo circa 1987) would love to see it happen!

Big Thanks and a HAPPY NEW YEAR go out to J.D.S., Time Warner, Splash News and Mark Evanier!

Friday, December 12, 2008

R. I. P. Bettie Page

And now Bettie...

Jeez... This has been a tough week... First Forry Ackerman and now Bettie Page.

We were just wondering where to send her Christmas card this year *sigh*.

Bettie has been a part of our Christmas for many years now... Since we were "introduced" to her by Dave Stevens not long after she resurfaced in the early 1990s. It's almost unfathomable to me that they would leave us in the same year. Bettie was always super-nice and more than generous to us when she sure didn't have to be.

Here's a piece from The Times:

Bettie Page, the brunet pinup queen with a shoulder-length pageboy hairdo and kitschy bangs whose saucy photos helped usher in the sexual revolution of the 1960s, has died. She was 85.

Page, whose later life was marked by depression, violent mood swings and several years in a state mental institution, died at a Los Angeles hospital where she had been on life support since she had a heart attack on Dec. 2, according to her agent, Mark Roesler. A cult-culture figure, Page was most famous for the estimated 20,000 4-by-5-inch black-and-white glossy photographs taken by amateur shutterbugs from 1949 to 1957.

“Exactly what captures the imagination of people in terms of popular culture is something hard to define,” Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner once said of Page. “But in Bettie’s case, I’d say it’s a combination of wholesome innocence and fetish-oriented poses that is at once retro and very modern.”

Last year Bettie's health took a turn for the worst right before Christmas. It was the first year in over a decade we didn't hear from her during the Holiday season. Just the year before she had sent us this lovely cheesecake... We were honored.

I mean after all -- who wouldn't want a Bettie Page cheesecake? (She obviously still had her sense of humor). We have so many cards and letters from her over the years that it's really surreal - at least at the moment - that we'll never hear from her again. I know both my wife and I are going to be really upset once it sinks in, but for now... Hell, I'm still numb about Forry.

Wow... bad week.

Godspeed Bettie... We'll always love and miss you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Black & White in COLOR #5 : The CREATURE!

Wow, just when you think you've seen everything....

Much debate has been made over the years on the subject of our old pal, The Creature From the Black Lagoon and his true pallor pallet. Since color shots of the west coast Production
--outside of a precious few publicity stills-- don't seem to exist, it only added to the legend.

I've even read that these shots were hand-tinted by the studio!

And -- just to give the east-coast production a little equal time -- Note not only the differences in design and stature between the land and water (florida unit) costumes but also in the overall color scheme as well. The water costume (below) was painted with much more of a flat yellow pallor than the land suit was so it would photograph more clearly in the waters of Wakulla Springs.

The underwater suit for Revenge of the Creature (below) was signifigantly darker than the original's.

So just very recently these next pictures surfaced. And -- Holy Cow! They're previously unpublished photos from LIFE magazine's massive archives. Unseen by just a select few until now... Who knew he had that much gold on him?

At least one picture from this shoot -- the black-and-white (below) -- DID appear in LIFE in 1953. It identified Ben Chapman as the actor portraying him for this shoot.

(Yes... also a source of some debate)

And here's some more!

The above and below shot look to have been shot not only on the same day, but look to have been snapped just about a second apart!

So here's the Creature looking like we know him in B & W... But in color he's got the red lip thang goin' on. Hmmm...

Jack Theakston notes on the material:
Here is the B/W photo from LIFE next to the color photo ... I assume they are from the same session and the suit was the same, The lips don't look so "Tammy Faye Baker" in monochrome.

Huh! Well, seeing is believing -- red and green do photograph with much the same value.

Mystery solved?


Other sources state that "the suit was repainted for the few color publicity shots. (there are more than these, and they've been circulating for ages.) it only had the red lips there. same with the gold drybrushing. As to the eyes, there were 3 different sets. the close-up and publicity set had a transparent pupil."

Julie (Julia) Adams herself has stated in interviews (and specifically in the "making of" documentary on the Creature From The Black Lagoon dvd) that the lips on the original Creature costumes used during filming were not red:

"Well, the original Creature was this, uh, sort of a softer moss green, a very very subtle color so that it picked up shadows, and...and it had the feeling of a reality of flesh, really, being there, and most of the recreations are too bright. They're...they're much too vivid a green...and sometimes the lips are red, and's, uh...they're garish compared to the original."

Bob Burns backed this up when I visited his famous Basement in 1998. When I inquired about the true coloring of the costume he showed me a mask made off the original Land costume mold that was painted a "frog green" as he called it. "It's pretty darn close to the original color" he added. It sported no such red lips.

(Wow... what a great shot)

Tom Weaver adds on the Classic Horror forum:
Welllllllll, I think we should still think of the Creature as having red lips, because Universal put red lips on him on the poster and red lips on the costume for the publicity shots and obviously wanted the public to perceive the Creature as having red lips even if, during the actual black-and-white shooting, he didn't. If the Wolf Man was hot-pink during shooting but brown in color publicity shots and brown on the posters, fans can file the "hot-pink" away in their brains as a piece of interesting trivia but all representations of the Wolf Man oughta be brown. IMHO.

So does this really clear anything up?


But it sure is COOL!

Big Thanks and a flip of a fin to the Hobby Talk forum, Tom Weaver, The LIFE magazine archives, and everyone else responsible in part or whole for making this post possible!

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Black & White in COLOR #4: The Munsters!

Happy Halloween, everybody! That makes it just about prime time for the latest B&WnC installment; this time around showcasing Universal's favorite family of fright The MUNSTERS... in COLOR.

Yeah, sure I know Munsters Go Home was shot in color... but the makeup they used was altered for the big screen and on the green side. Considerably different than these great Frankenstein-accurate shots of Herman from the pilot film.

Curiously the first Munsters pilot (also shot in color) did not yet include Yvonne Decarlo in the cast. Instead, the test audience was treated to the e'en more Morticia-esque character Phobe (above) --played by Joan Marshall-- in place of Lily. Joan was probably best known for her dual-role (playing both sexes) in William Castle's Psychotronic soap-opera Homicial (1961). Can't say I'm sorry she didn't do the series but I can say that ol' Joan had some intense bone structure goin' on --She's really more Chas Addams looking than even Carolyn Jones was.

The first season cast including Beverly Owen as Marilyn. After 13 episodes she was replaced as by Pat Priest. (At her own request, might I add -- actually Beverly wanted to quit the show 'cause she was a-missin' her boyfriend who lived back east real REAL bad (according to Al Lewis at least). Eddie's makeup was still evolving at this point... (Butch still has his own hair!)

Another great shot of Herman and Lily. (I thought at first this was a painting by Ken Kelley... but it ain't.)

Oh man! Munster colorforms? I always hated that they only came with the one background. (No damn car either... that definitely woulda ticked me off.)
Colorforms were, for the uninitiated, sort of like the earliest form of Flash animation.
Think of it as "Flash manual".

Viva, George Barris!
The fusion of the the Monster craze and the Hot-rod craze in the show's second season gave it -- according to many fans -- a definite edge over the abc's The Addams Family.

There was only one Drag-U-La (Grandpa's coffin car,) built for the show. There have been several replicas built since 1967, but the original now hangs from the ceiling in the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Atlantic City.

Okay so this one ain't color... but it's still a fun behind the scenes shot with Fred and Yvonne.

Seems like everybody had a band back then...

1313 Mockingbird Lane

The location that the Munsters lived on was constructed largely for the 1946 film So Goes My Love. The two houses used for the film were constructed on stage 12. In 1950 the stock houses from the sound stage were reconstructed on the new Colonial Street set. The future Munster house was at that time "The Maxim House" and was featured in the movie One Desire in (1955).
Universal Studios soon found itself in the pre-fab Victorian home business. These blueprints would be mixed and matched at Universal for the next 20 years. Below is a rare shot of The Munsters house under construction in 1950.

Universal studios kicked ass in the 1960's -- here comes the tram down what is now *choke* Wisteria Lane (the Desperate Housewives set) passing both The Munsters House and the Psycho-type construct from The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. Here's some other nifty shots of of the cast and the house as it evolved over the years.

Years ago (in 1988) I caught one episode of The Munsters Today (directed by Munsters guest-star Bonnie Franklin) and wondered why the house they used was "only a model".
Either it wasn't available or the show didn't have the greenbacks to re-dress the orginal house. (From what I remember I'd have to vote for the latter... yeech! That show was like a high-school play version of the B & W show.)

1967 Universal Post Cards
The year after the Musters wrapped production Universal released a set of postcards that shows what appears to be Grandpa's TV dungeon set with a Herman/Frankenstein Monster dummy strapped to the examination table. Other shots showed a Phantom of the Opera-clone menacing both the dummy and a somewhat grabby tourista. Way too cool!

Lastly, these two pics look like tourist fotos taken of the same set, but they blow up big if you click on 'em!

Time o' yer life, eh kids?

That's about it for this year so Happy Halloween folks!
--and big thanks go out to all things Universal Studios, past and present.

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