Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Very Bad Reality Shows on Cable TV

Sean and Davina hit a rough spot on cable TV’s reality series “Married at First Sight” last night but not to worry because noted sociologist Dr. Pepper Schwartz, University of Washington professor, was on the scene to investigate.  Suspicions instantly arose when the good doctor found the fridg bare except for a soda can and potato chips and there were no family photos on the wall.  It looked like they were only staying for the weekend. She immediately put the recently betrothed on notice and enrolled them in a cooking class so they can hopefully bond.
Such is the state of matrimony in the Big Apple that couples are resorting to cable TV where they can star in their own mini-dramas while avoiding the pesky cost of dating.  It also silences family and friends who nag them about being single.  The first time they laid eyes on each other was at the altar and then it was too late to turn back without creating a nasty scene.  In the case of Shawn, eyes are the only thing he has laid on Davina after a month, but Dr Pepper is frothy with optimism.  Davina remains unconcerned about Shawn’s disinterest.  After all she’s getting weekly exposure on cable.  The sky’s the limit.  We truly live in amazing times particularly when we have friends like Gary H. who invite me over to watch cable TV.

The Belle of the South was relaxing in bed with a coke and potato chips when the doorbell rang on the cable TV reality show “Arranged.”  Surprise; it was the mama inlaw calling to investigate her new daughter inlaw’s domesticity deficiencies.  Sadly things were amiss in the newlyweds love nest including dirt on the ceiling fan and the bride hadn’t made Beauregard’s favorite casserole.  Good news:  Mom was staying the weekend to set things straight.  You can’t top that for southern hospitality or chutzpa.
With last night’s “Arranged Marriage,” I shared the concerns of a Gypsy family’s aggressive plans to find spouse’s for their teenage sons even if the boys were disinterested.  Much to every one’s chagrin we learned that 17-year-old boys generally are poor husband material, but the parents charged ahead without changing course.  It’s tradition, don’t you know!
Some of this had to scripted and rehearsed because no one could be that stupid.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


In an attempt to cash in on the popularity of the Maria Montez Universal movies, Columbia in 1953 issued the hilariously awful “Prisoners of the Casbah” with Cesar Romero, Turhan Bey and Gloria Grahame.  The costumes are decent but the acting and sets are strictly poverty row studio shlock.  
Ms. Grahame is totally unbelievable as any kind of Arabian princess.  Bey is the butt of many jokes but he is sexy as the dashing hero.  (Bey was a co-star in the Montez movies.)  Romero, as the corrupt king, must have been rehearsing for his Joker shtick in the ‘60s campy “Batman” TV show.  Can you believe this mess?

Thursday, March 26, 2015


If you read “Drafted:  Vietnam at War and Peace” you will learn about a friend and coworker at the Idaho Statesman who turned lemons into lemonade while serving in the US Army in Saigon starting in May 1967 as a clerk.
David R. Frazier soon advanced from that lowly position into a sergeant and public information officer using photojournalist skills he learned at UPI.  He schmoozed generals and politicians with the greatest of ease.  The Tet Offensive was but an annoying sidebar to Frazier who wrote and edited a publication for the Armed Services in Vietnam.  He parlayed a dicey situation into a tropical beach party, almost.
In Vietnam, Frazier quickly concluded that the usual military confusion and stupidity could work to his advantage.  Through skillful maneuvering and luck he found a sweet spot where he was making money on the side by selling “hometown news” to newspapers in his native Michigan and not dodging bullets and land mines.  In Vietnam, he was an Einstein amongst countless Gomers.  This is not “Catch 22” or “Mash” but you get the idea.

By pushing yourself to the limits, you could earn “density points” in Vietnam, Frazier would say on the Idaho mountain fishing trips we took shortly after he was discharged from the Army.  He earned his density points but I had to read the book to find out what he did in the war.  While he was in Vietnam, I had completed active duty four years earlier with the Coast Guard Reserve and was a local government reporter for The Statesman.

Monday, January 05, 2015


I binged this weekend on Alan Freed movies — “Rock Rock Rock” and “Don’t Knock the Rock” from the mid-50s.  Freed was somewhat of a stiff but somehow he convinced Hollywood that he had box-office appeal.  In fact, he sings on a Coral label single, “Rock Boogie,” which could be a collectable if you have it.  RRR features a 16-year-old Tuesday Weld who is conniving to get $30 to buy a prom dress and then there’s an abrupt segue where Freed introduces several rock acts including Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Chuck Berry and a bunch of unknowns.   Connie Francis sings while Weld moves her lips.  RRR,  from DCA a poverty studio, is inept in several area:  acting, editing, script and directing.  But there are some good acts and others so obscure you have to watch.  The actor/singer who plays Weld's love interest looks old enough to have children in high school himself and was recruited for his biceps rather than his acting chops.  The same DVD has a documentary on Freed which is worth seeing.  
 “Don’t Knock” from Columbia is almost high art compared to RRR with crooner Alan Dale who is about 40 romancing a teenager.  Production values are quite professional and the dance numbers are the best in any '50s rock musical.  Sony gets high marks for remastering "Don't Knock the Rock" and the companion DVD, "Rock 'round the Clock."

Friday, December 26, 2014


Abandoning self interest and coming together for the common good is what advances humanity,  So this message is wrapped up in the blockbuster Sondheim musical “Into The Woods” which director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Nine) delivers with gusto, dramatic pacing and a star studded cast.
As the Wicked Witch, Meryl Streep’s character is self absorbed and makes the baker and his wife crazy getting her a magic potion to reverse the ravages of old age (and who doesn’t need that?).  Ms. Streep gets a couple of extreme makeovers in the movie.
Johnny Depp recycles some of the makeup left over from “Pirates” as the Big Bad Wolf who seduces Little Red Riding Hood.  So the “woods” are the real world after you leave fairy tale land.
If you go for the handsome prince hang onto your popcorn because you get a double dose in the campy duet “Agony” performed by Chris Pine and  Billy Magnussen.  As Prince Charming tells Cinderella, “Although I am charming, I am not faithful.”  That sums up the false promise of that fairy tale.

In a rare moment at the West End Theater, the audience applauded during the closing credits.  Although it’s a Disney release, it’s too scary for small children but then so are most fairy tales. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Horror Festival Is A Weird Universe

I could barely contain my excitement at getting a photo with the outstanding Zach Galigan, movie star known for “Gremlins” (1984) and “Waxwork.”  Zach is still stunning. What a life!  One day you’re making movies for Spielberg and 30 years later you’re getting a $5 bill from Dave Zarkin to have your photo taken by a stranger.

Felix Silla of “Return of the Jedi” was a featured celebrity at the Bloomington Crypticon.  The “exhibitors” and discussions were outstanding at my first spooky convention devoted to horror movies and related media.

Adams Family and Star Trek Next Generation actor Corel Struycken was kind enough to pose for a guy in a Spooky World t-shirt that Evon Minelli gave me in 2006.  I need to wash it.

Craig Muckler, producer of ”Microwave Massacre,”  is just one of the many crazy stories at Crypticon in Bloomington last night.  The movie is several years old and features the tag line:  “they came for dinner to find they were it!”  Comedian Jackie Vernon starred in this epic.

“Friday the 13th” star Betsy Palmer dismissed the script for this movie as a piece of bleep and did the movie because she needed $10,000 to buy a car, according to Adrienne King who played Alice in the movie.  King, who spoke at Bloomington’s Crypticon horror event Friday Oct. 24, 2014, said expectations for the movie were low, the script was written as the movie was being made and the production ran out of money twice during filming.  
King’s favorite scene in the movie involved a snake and a machete.  Palmer knocked King down in a scene where the Alice character is slapped.  Despite the rough stuff, King said that Palmer made her a better actress during the 10 days Palmer was on location in New York State with the 1979 movie.
King is a painter and operates Crystal Lake Wines (a homage to the movie) in Oregon.


Chris Costello of Forest Lake is dedicated to Halloween, classic Universal Pictures Gothic horror films and building a front yard fright scene.  He spoke with boyish enthusiasm Friday night at Bloomington’s Crypticon fright festival.  Costello is featured on YouTube in a Halloween documentary filmed by a teenage fan.  You can find him on Facebook’s Thursday Night Fright Night movies for kids.

Thursday, October 02, 2014


When I first saw the 1939 “Gone with the Wind” it was in 1967 at the historic Ada/Egyptian Theater in Boise so I hadn’t much of a clue about the story before I saw it again (in HD) for the second time yesterday in a nearby mall cineplex.  In GWTW’s four hours we see Scarlett O’Hara (played brilliantly by Vivien Leigh) go from flirty school girl to a money-grubbing capitalist.
Scarlett is the strong take charge mistress of Tara, the family estate and cotton plantation, as the men are slaughtered on the battle field and her father goes insane.  In the first two hours, we learn of the horrors of war and anti-hero and river boat gambler Rhett Butler points out the futility and stupidity of the Confederacy going against the industrialized north.  The Butler character is a free spirit beholding to no one but himself who states the obvious throughout the film:  Scarlett is a self-centered opportunist and engages in marriage as a profit-making venture.  
1930s heartthrob Clark Gable had to be Butler with his winning good looks and sex appeal, but Ms. Scarlett is not swayed but his charms and yearns for the gentile manners of aristocratic Ashley Wilkes (played by British actor Leslie Howard.)  Her obsession with Wilkes and then her realization that Butler loves her leads to her sorrow but comes too late in her story.  Butler walks out the door, proclaiming:  “Frankly, I don’t give a damn.”
A post-war melodrama is the focus of the second two hours and is somewhat of a let down given the heightened drama of the previous two hours with the burning of Atlanta.  

African American actress Hattie McDaniel received an Oscar for her performance as the slave maid “Mamie” but was not allowed to attend the premier in 1939 in an Atlanta, Ga., theater in less enlightened times.  GWTW portrays African Americans in racial stereotypes associated with the 1930s and 40s in this country.  The movie is being shown during its 75th anniversary in theaters nationwide.  A PBS documentary on the war describes in greater detail the horrors of the Civil War with corpses of dead soldiers rotting in the fields.  I found it amazing that after 75 years an audience exists for any movie, but this one is special.