Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Glen Campbell 1936-2017

I was sad to hear of Glen Campbell's passing earlier today, as I've always felt a weird kinship to the man. When I was but a wee one, the family would watch his television variety show, "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour," and when I was learning to read and spell, his name was an example of 'the wrong way' to spell my name.

I grew up with Glen Campbell, his songs "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Wichita Lineman" were AM radio staples just "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Southern Nights" were the same on FM when I discovered that bandwidth. His role as Texas Ranger Le Bouef in the original True Grit was one of the things that made the flick one of my favorite movies.

As I grew older, his participation with the Beach Boys and studio work as one of the Wrecking Crew were more than impressive. He was way more than a country guy my parents liked and a movie cowboy. Much later I was struck by the tragedy of his living with Alzheimer's in the documentary I'll Be Me.

Those not familiar with the man's work should seek out three of his final albums - Adios, Ghost on the Canvas, and Meet Glen Campbell, an album of covers with guest-stars, all proof positive he was vital and vibrant toward the end, even fighting that horrible disease. May he rest in peace.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

I remember when the original show of "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters" aired, not the first episode, but the preview for NBC's new Saturday morning line-up the Friday night before it officially debuted.  I don't just miss Saturday morning kids TV, but also those preview specials, both for the kids shows and the prime time line-ups as well.  I watched the preview and I watched the first episode the next morning, along with the first version of "Super Friends" and the animated "Star Trek."

And yeah, I watched Sigmund regularly, probably mostly because everyone else did - it was popular.  Comics were twenty cents a piece, you could ride your banana seat bike just about everywhere, and "Delta Dawn" and "Brother Louie" were on the AM radio all day, why not watch Sigmund?  It was wild and vivid (I can't say colorful, we didn't have a color TV yet), and even though we weren't old enough to know about drugs yet, we knew the guys who came up with this stuff were a bit out of their heads. 

The premise of the show, developed by Sid and Marty Krofft, the then-kings of live-action Saturday morning, who swear no drugs were involved in any of their shows, was that two boys had found a sea monster at the beach and kept him in their clubhouse, hilarity ensues.  In the title role was Billy Barty in a leafy seaweed covered rubber suit, supported by Johnny and Scott, having misadventures running from Sigmund's family while the boys kept him a secret from their domineering housekeeper (the parents never seemed to be around). 

Beyond its popularity, I might have also watched because of lead actor Johnny Whittaker.  As Jody on "Family Affair," he was a kid of roughly the same age growing up just like us.  The show had its moments, especially in the all the puns of the sea monster world.  They watched shellavision, and Sigmund's father was a bit of an Archie Bunker type, good fun. 

The show had its flaws as well in the boys' absentee parents, the weird genie character Rip Taylor played in the last season, and Johnny Whittaker trying start a singing career.  I guess he thought if the Patridges and the Bradys could do it, so could he.  The show lasted three seasons then fell into the obscurity of syndication. 

Sigmund lives on in the memories of those who watched however, my wife among them.  The Bride is a huge Sid and Marty Krofft fan.  We own all of their varied TV projects, on VHS, and DVD.  I know hardcore.  The popularity beyond the 1970s and Saturday morning are probably what spurred Amazon to produce a reboot.  The first episode is available now, with more to come. 

The new series has essentially the same premise.  The kids have a Disney channel vibe, David Arquette plays a creepy sea captain who believes in sea monsters, and the monsters themselves have been given a bit of an upgrade, slightly.  Let's face it they still look like rubber suits, but with a bit more life and more abilities.  Johnny Whittaker, looking every bit of four decades wear, even makes a cameo.  And to be honest, Arquette's not looking so great either. 

Like the original, it's not bad, and it's probably doing just what Amazon hoped it would - be great for fans of the 1970s version who are now sharing it with another generation.  Even The Bride didn't mind it, wanting to see another episode before giving a final opinion.  I kinda dug it.  What did you all think who've seen it? 

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Show People

Show People ~ While for most folks who know the name, Marion Davies is the notorious mistress of William Randolph Hearst, but for me I also know her as a great silent comedic actress.  She had her flops, yes, and infamous critical failures, and was always overshadowed by her personal life, but I could watch her forever in films like Show People

Released a year after the first talkie, The Jazz Singer, this 'silent' movie has a synchronized score with music and sound effects while much of the dialogue is carded the story is told principally in visuals.  This was the end of the silent era, and Show People thoughtfully used the best of both worlds. 

Davies plays Peggy Pepper, a young Georgia girl who wants to be a movie star, so her father drives her across the country to Hollywood.  She starts her career in slapstick comedy, moving up to higher class dramas, before returning to her first love with seltzer bottles and pies to the face.  Sadly it mirrors Marion Davies' own life to a point, while she was forced into serious roles, she loved the sillier ones. 

Her hand is well visible here as she was a co-producer along with director King Vidor.  The flick is a great time capsule of Hollywood of the time and features many cameos by stars like Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, John Gilbert, Louella Parsons, and even Davies herself playing herself. 

Marion Davies is a delight here, vivacious and funny, has great chemistry with comic William Haines and her other co-stars.  She's having fun, and so are we.  So much to love about this flick, check it out, recommended. 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The New Coke Zero

Coca-Cola announced last week that it would be discontinuing Coke Zero, and replacing it with Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.  This might not sound like a big deal, but it could be, depending on what this new version actually tastes like. 

Last year I was diagnosed with diabetes, so this guy who basically lived on Coca-Cola had to make some changes.  I cut down considerably, quit completely for several months, then looked for alternatives.  I have always hated diet soda and still do, so I had turned to Coke Zero.  I couldn't stand that either, as it was even more bitter to my tastebuds than the diet variations.

There were tricks I learned however.  Let the ice melt a bit so the water diluted it.  Putting a piece of red licorice in the bottle would sweeten and fight the bitter.  For the most part however I watched my sugar, leaned toward cleaner sodas, and kept real Coca-Cola as an occasional treat. 

But that's me.  The concern in the corporate level seems to be that folks were never actually sure what Coke Zero was.  One could assume, as I did, with the black packaging and the bitter taste, it might even be some carbonated coffee variation on Coke.  It wasn't.  But it also wasn't clicking well in US markets in the last decade or so.

The replacement, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, which has been very successful in markets elsewhere in the world, is said to be closer in taste to original formula Coca-Cola, and as the name implies, with zero sugar.  Clarity in the product name was also on the company's agenda, so that's a plus. 

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, packaged in black but with considerably more red, will be coming to the States in August, so we'll see how much it tastes as hyped then.  In the meantime, if you are a fan of Coke Zero, you'd better stock up, because the plug has been pulled.  Drink up. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Podcasting This Week

Here's a quick update, I have three new podcast episodes available this week that I want folks to be aware of.

First up is The GAR! Podcast, co-hosted with friend and partner Ray Cornwall. The GAR! Podcast is the Glenn Walker and Ray Cornwall weekly podcast where they talk unrehearsed about whatever happens to come to mind. It’s an audio-zine for your mind, a nerd exploration of a nerd world, coming to you from the suburbs of New Jersey and the sunny lakes of Florida via Skype.

In the latest episode, Prince Underground, we discuss our favorite performer, the late Prince, Purple Rain Deluxe, The Revolution, Susan Rogers, fandom, bootlegs, the Prince estate, The Black Album, drugs, baseball umbrellas, high price paraphernalia, listener feedback, Keith Pollard and Ron Wilson, and AI Alexa.

Then there's The Make Mine Magic Podcast, which I co-host with The Bride. The Make Mine Magic Podcast features Jenn and Glenn Walker talking about Disney, parks, movies, travel advice, characters, Marvel, Star Wars, Studio Ghibli, etc., if it’s Disney, it’s fair game.

This week’s episode includes discussion of "The Lion Guard," including the show, the characters, the origins, the actors, the music, crocodiles, zuka zama, lion super powers, Return of the Roar, "It’s Unbungalievable," the circle of life, and being a kid again. You can hear it right here.

Finally, there is the Nerdfect Strangers podcast that I co-host with partners Bobby Fisher and Jerry Whitworth Nerdfect Strangers is hosted by Bobby Fisher, who started it in August 2014 with original co-host and all-around nice guy/rock star, Jonathan Rodriguez. Since March 2015 the show has been hosted by Bobby and cool comics blogger, Jerry Whitworth, and, as of September 2015, Glenn Walker, who is also a real class act. We talk about all things nerdy and geeky including but not limited to: comics, wrestling, video games, nerd news, movies and TV.

In the latest episode, Exploding Windup Penguins, we talk about some of the San Diego Comic Con news, Glenn's distaste for blue M&Ms, and that snake, Randy "Macho Man" Savage turning heel and joining the dastardly NOW. We also talk about the disaster that was the main event of WWE Great Balls of Fire, and promote Noah Houlihan's Game the Gamer Kickstarter.