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.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

RIP June Foray

After a sad and morbidly misleading fake death by internet rumor, June Foray, voice actress extraordinaire, has passed away for real, last night, at the amazing age of 99. A voice from my childhood is gone.

Having grown up with the Warner Bros cartoons, my early Saturday mornings built around them, the loss of June Foray is a major blow to my childhood. Even back in the day, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, everyone knew that Mel Blanc was the wonder voice behind all those cartoon characters, but then, even I was canny enough to realize that there were some female voices (Granny, Witch Hazel, and others) that couldn't possibly be Blanc. Asking adults, I learned that this was June Foray. The late Chuck Jones has been quoted as saying that June wasn't the female Mel Blanc, but Mel was the male June Foray. She was that good.

More than the Looney Tunes, the cartoon that really brings June Foray to mind for me is the "Rocky and Bullwinkle Show." In this series, Foray was the voice of not only Rocky the Flying Squirrel, but also Natasha, Dudley Do-Right's romantic interest Nell, and a number of voices in Fractured Fairy Tales. I remember vividly Sunday mornings with my big brother, pancakes, and Bullwinkle and Rocky, and June Foray.

Over the years Foray did voices in a variety of projects, including "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and "Horton Hears a Who," to name just a few. She worked in radio, television, film, even videogames, and did voice work for nearly all the animation companies and franchises. We have lost a legend, June Foray will be missed.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Not My President, Again

Not My President, again. You know, I really really wanted to post my Spider-Man: Homecoming review today, or talk about the cool Valerian or Captain Canuck animations I found online, or even the new Coke Zero, but then something happened that simply enraged me. You guessed it, it has to do with the Orange Hobgoblin.

The monster Trump, who cannot be stopped from Tweeting just as a liar cannot stop lying, Tweeted some horrific stuff this morning. And as many in the media fear, his Tweets are soon to become policy. His target this morning was the transgender community, despite his Tweets before the election (which he still whines about winning, eight months later) that indicated he would support the LGBTQ community and fight for them.

His Tweets this morning indicate 'a military decision' despite 15,000 transgender individuals already serving in the US military, and calls them a burden. That doesn't sound like supporting or fighting for them, that sounds like targeting them and discriminating against them. And while this stinks of a diversionary tactic to steal focus from the Russian investigations, and discord within his administration and even his own family, he's still doing it, and it's very real.

Already former allies are turning against Trump, like Caitlyn Jenner, and transgendered soldiers are speaking up as well, like Navy SEAL hero Kristin Beck. Questions at a White House Press Conference earlier today were casually deflected as if unimportant, like will the transgendered currently in the military be pulled from their positions, their jobs, their combat operations. There is no plan, only Trump's discrimination, betrayal, and Tweets.

Later, Trump addressed the American Legion Boys Nation and Auxiliary Girls Nation at the White House. He spoke of loyalty, something he betrayed some Americans earlier, and while he didn't tell any salacious stories as he did yesterday with the Boy Scouts, he did tell the children they should pursue their dreams, and all I could think was as long as they're not transgender and want to serve their country. I imagined transgender children in that audience crying silently.

At the end of his speech a reporter yelled out a question about Trump's policy on transgenders in the military, to which he called her "rude." A chill ran down my spine as he spurred the children to start chanting "USA USA." Surely I'm not the only one who wondered about the youth there and what they would be like as adults. I also wondered what happened to the 'rude' reporter. Was she roughly escorted out like the dissenters verbally threatened at his election rallies? I can only fear that today's 'rude' is tomorrow's criminal. Freedom of speech? What's that?

Back on topic, to a point. My friends in the LGBQT community are among the bravest and strongest people I know, and if they want to serve in the military, they should be able to. Strength is important for that gig. I don't have it. Those targeted today do.

For most of the first two decades of my life I was bullied, from roughly fourth grade right through to senior year, and for most of that time the epithet of choice was 'faggot.' I'm not gay, but it didn't stop the constant verbal abuse, getting beaten up almost every day, and whenever I hear someone say that anything other than heterosexuality is a lifestyle choice, I get angry. No one would choose that. I still have emotional and physical scars to prove it. And it comes back to strength. To be LGBTQ and out is the bravest choice of all, and only the strong can do it, and there is no one else I'd rather have defending me and my country.

Now we have a bully president, just like the monsters I encountered in school, and he has to be stopped. Today he stabbed his transgender supporters in the back, will you be next?

Please join and/or donate to ACLU, vote, or register to vote if you haven't already, support People for the American Way, Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, Lambda Legal, and Public Television.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Quickies 7-25-2017

Zoolander 2 ~ I hated Zoolander or at least I remember hating Zoolander.  Now I think I might want to give it a serious re-watch.  My mind on the subject has been changed.  Seeing the sequel, Zoolander 2, I understood what was being gone for. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the stupidity. While before I thought I was looking at a bad "Saturday Night Live" sketch that had gone on far too long, this time, I got the camp, and I saw the superhero parallels, at least in the sequel, and kinda loved it. And if nothing else, the opening gave me new respect for Justin Bieber, and that's saying a lot.

The BFG ~ This film adaptation of a Roald Dahl story is fun, but not as interesting as his other stuff, until they get to the giant meeting the Queen of England, and then it's great. Great fantasy that becomes great funny on a Monty Python scale. The kids will like it more than you will, but they won't get half the jokes. Fun for a rental.

The Wedding Planner ~ One of the terrible things about being in the hospital is that you will watch anything, because sometimes you either can't move or can't find the TV remote to change the channel. When this simple rom-com came on one night, I thought I was in for two hours of hell, but it wasn't half-bad. Predictable from start to finish, but I have to say I quite enjoyed this one… or maybe the IV was just full of good drugs.

Frankenhooker ~ I loved this movie when it first came out, thought it was hilarious, and bought the videotape when it came out. When I worked in a video store, I would push the button on the movie box when I walked by, and it would say, "Wanna date?" and "Got any money?" Hilarious. I saw it recently, the story of a deranged young man who brings his girlfriend back to life using body parts from dead chopped up prostitutes, and I'm sad to say – either I've grown up, or it doesn't hold up at all. I still think the talking box is funny though.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets ~ I have been waiting for this flick since my brother-in-law hipped me to it several months back.  We're both, as are millions of others, fans of another Luc Bessom film, The Fifth Element, a movie which thematically and visually Valerian resembles.  Based on that, we were psyched, as well we should have been.  This is a stunning film, with two major problems that spoiled it for me.  Still, by all means, you should see this movie.  It's a popcorn blockbuster and a treat for the eyes, and yes, 3-D is recommended if available, I don't say this often, but it’s worth it.

Based on the French/Belgian comic series Valerian and Laureline, and therein lies one of my problems with this flick.  There are two lead protagonists in this film, and yet only the male one gets title billing.  Laureline is just as much a lead and a hero, in some cases a better hero than Valerian, and yet, where is her name in the title?  Besson, and whoever else might be responsible, should have kept to the source material on this one point. 

What aggravates this seemingly small point is that this is Luc Besson, a man who in previous films like Lucy, The Messenger, La Femme Nikita, The Professional, Kiss of the Dragon, and especially The Fifth Element, has presented strong female protagonists in empowered roles. Laureline is still a strong female protagonist, yet relegated to a back seat and no billing in the movie version of the comic in which she at least gets second. Disappointing.

The other problem I have with Valerian is the actor in the titular lead role of this flick, Dane DeHaan.  He is at best a Reggie in a movie that requires an Archie.  And anyone who has seen him in Chronicle or the painful The Amazing Spider-Man 2, knows that his mischievous eyes and sneering grin are far more applicable to villainous roles than heroic.  Often here he comes off as disingenuous or hiding something.  It's just in his face and his manner - I was never able to fully trust him as the hero.  Couple this with the character's less than stellar romantic streak, and he's definitely not your usual white hat. 

And while DeHaan tries earnestly to be the hero he was cast as, Cara Delevingne pulls it off easily as Laureline, despite her previous roles.  She was in the critically acclaimed Paper Towns, and also recently and more notably played the creepy Enchantress from Suicide Squad - or was she just Junie Moon, I forget, either way, both roles were creepy.  And yet, I believe her more as the hero that DeHaan should have been. Also in the mix are Herbie Hancock, Ethan Hawke, and Rihanna shining as a shapeshifting pole dancer.

Don't get me wrong and bunch me in with the other critics who inexplicably didn't like this flick, because I loved it despite the problems I had with it. Valerian is fast-paced, exciting, fun, and visually stunning. The aliens are a spectacular special effects triumph blending Besson's Fifth Element sensibilities with Avatar caliber realism. The story of two federal agents in the future uncovering the mystery of a lost civilization in the future is as refreshing as it is simplistic, and highly watchable.

I had problems, yes, but they didn't affect the wonder and amazement I felt watching this movie. This is top of the line science fiction adventure, and if I'm being honest, I wish recent Star Wars flicks had a bit more of this and were less powered by nostalgia. Valerian is a great flick, recommended.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Mist

Of late, the work of Stephen King has had a size problem.  The Dark Tower, much anticipated and based on a multi-book series of thousands of pages is being squeezed into a 95-minute film next month.  As bad as that sounds, I'll be the first to admit that it looks very cool and very promising.  And then there's The Mist, one of King's shortest novels or longest short stories (depending on the format in which you originally read it), now a ten-hour mini-series.

"The Mist" premiered on Spike several weeks back, vaguely based on King's novella, if only in concept.  The town is still Bridgeton, there's still a mysterious mist with monstrous creatures within, a mall fills in for the supermarket, and there are still two military suicides from Arrowhead, and a religious zealot old lady doomsayer.  The rest is different. 

New characters, new situations, new interactions, same paranoia, but with an updated sensibility.  The original story is nearly forty years old after all.  The new situations are very CW and pedestrian when all you really want are the monsters in the mist.  I suppose the soap is needed to stretch it into ten hours though. 

Frances Conroy, best known for "Six Feet Under" and "American Horror Story," is the stand out here as the old hippie whose belief in God is shattered by the mist.  Alyssa Sutherland, the supermodel who played one of my favorite characters in "Vikings," Princess Aslaug, sadly proves to be an acting black hole in this contemporary suburban environment. 

The quality and suspense varies from episode to episode.  Now at the mid-point, it has slowed to a crawl.  It does have its moments though.  This series might be better viewed as a binge with your finger on the fast forward button.  Or just read the story and skip the series. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

RIP Chester Bennington

I had just come out of a movie with my phone off. It's amazing how much one can miss in a mere two hours. I'm not pardoning people who use their cellphones in movies, no way, I think those folks should be jailed, but I'm just saying that sometimes it is stunning how the world can change in two hours. In the two hours today, the news broke that Chester Bennington, lead vocalist of Linkin Park, had taken his own life. As I sat in the car, having just turned my phone on, I was devastated.

I had only just been listening to the band a day or so ago. Linkin Park is one of those acts who may fade from one's memory, but all it takes is a few seconds of any song, and one remembers and realizes what an amazing construct they are. I had heard just a clip of "In the End" the other day, and was soon listening to Hybrid Theory on my laptop on continuous for a bit. They were amazing.

I am old, waaay old, but the emergence of Linkin Park reenergized me in a way that is hard to describe. I've mentioned it here before, but in high school I was the kid who always carried a radio around with me, I was always on top of what was new and 'cool' in music. I had made a promise to myself way back when, that if I got old, I would never lose that. Ah, to be young and naïve.

Sometime in the 1990s however, I did get old, and my interest in new music waned. I figured, oh well, it came with the thinning hair and the crow's feet, just deal with it. Then came a music channel called MTVX. I immediately gravitated toward it, and in its heavy hard rock rotation I found new bands that I connected with - like Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit, Korn, System of a Down, Disturbed, and Linkin Park.

For someone like me who had always liked the hard rock aspects of some rap, Linkin Park's blending of metal with hip hop was a dream come true. I became a big fan. Chester Bennington's melodic howls and lead vocals contrasted with Mike Shinoda's crisp casual raps over a metal tapestry of sound. Yeah, I dug these guys. "Faint," "In the End," and "Bleed It Out" remain my all-time favorites.

Over the years Chester has also worked on side projects such as fronting Dead by Sunrise, and attempting to fill the late Scott Weiland's shoes in Stone Temple Pilots for a couple years, and left shortly before Weiland himself passed. Chester apparently died by his own hand, hanging himself, but details are still forthcoming. He was only 41.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Spellbound ~ This one is a failing for me in many areas of my film watching and commentary career.  First and foremost, I've never seen Spellbound.  I know, for shame, a Hitchcock flick I've never seen, especially with the reputation this one has, and that legendary dream sequence designed by the great Salvador Dali.  To make matters worse, I've also never seen Mel Brooks' High Anxiety, mostly because I wanted to see Spellbound first. 

Wait, did you catch that vibe? If you know your Hitch, you definitely did. The above is the original opening I wrote for this review two years back, when I thought Spellbound was Vertigo - yeah, I know, I'm an idiot. I was confused, thought this movie was Vertigo not Spellbound, and therefore multiplied my disappointment. I know now, Vertigo is brilliant, Spellbound not so much. Back to my original review…

Hopefully, seeing Spellbound in a big beautiful old fashioned movie palace like the Walt Disney Theatre on the TCM Classic Cruise will make up for the long wait in viewing this one.  Seriously, it's the only way to see any film, classic or not.  And as I settled in to watch on an early Wednesday morning on board, the theater was packed, and a live introduction by the late Robert Osborne didn't hurt either. 

The story revolves around psychoanalysis, which at the time was new, but now is a bit old hat, if now completely outdated. That's where my suspension of disbelief fails. I just didn't buy the premise, and while the story doesn't hold together, and the performances are less than stellar, I did respect the direction and cinematography. Hitch has mad skills even in his least work.

All that said, obviously I didn't really dig the flick.  I realize it's a product of its time, but the sexism and clinical aspects of psychotherapy really angered and simultaneously bored me.  Besides that, I also didn't think this was Ingrid Bergman at her best, and this very young Gregory Peck didn't seem to have his chops yet.  Bill Goodwin (best known from Burns and Allen) as the hotel detective was one of the few bright spots for me.  Things livened up when he was on screen. 

And then there was that dream sequence.  I would have dug more of that but producer David Zanuck cut it from twenty-two minutes to two with narrative.  Knowing that before seeing it, and also knowing the full cut wasn't included, was a bit of a letdown within a film that was already a bit of a letdown.

Perhaps someday I sit down and try to watch this one again, give it a second chance. I just couldn't really get into it, and if I couldn't get into it in the best of all circumstances to see such a film, I don't hold out for much hope. I guess I just didn't like it. Your mileage may vary.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The New Doctor

The announcement has been made, the shots have been fired, and finally after two days, one might hope the smoke has cleared. The new Doctor, who we will not see officially until Christmas evening, several months away, will be a woman. The new Doctor Who (if that is, indeed, his/her name, hmmm, I wonder if The Doctor will need to choose new pronouns…) will be played by Jodie Whittaker.

Now, first things first, the fact that The Doctor will be a woman doesn't bother me one bit. It's been known in fandom circles for decades that Time Lords/Ladies can change gender, race, even species, when they regenerate. Such a gender switch was verified as canon on the television series itself in the episode "Hell Bent" as a white male Time Lord regenerated into a black female Time Lady. Since then, we have seen, and loved, Michelle Gomez as missy, the female regeneration of The Master. It happens, it's canon, and that's how it's going to be.

If anything, my disappointment in the choice of new Doctor was more about it not being Hayley Atwill ("Agent Carter") or Kris Marshall (Love, Actually) than it being a woman. My only doubt is in the fact I have never seen Jodie Whittaker's work, so I'm not even sure what kind of Doctor she'll be - but then again, finding out is half the fun with any new Doctor. I just hope she'll have good stories. Bad stories can ruin even the best Doctors, as in the cases of both Sylvester McCoy and Peter Capaldi, in my opinion.

And now a word about fandom, and this is where it will get ugly. There have been a few distinct factions at war on social media regarding the announcement of the new "Doctor Who" as a woman. There are those true fans of the show who know it is canon, and know it has been hinted at and telegraphed over the span of seasons that eventually The Doctor would regenerate into a woman, and they were cool with it - granted, hesitant as they would be with any new Doctor, but not over gender.

Then there were those who were only casual fans or who only knew the show by reputation and had no idea how regeneration works, let alone what it is. Typically these folks probably voted for Brexit or Trump and wouldn't know a TARDIS from a police box. They were outraged that another male icon was being stolen from them. They were also typically the same folks who spell it 'Dr. Who' as opposed to 'Doctor Who.' For the record, this is Dr. Who, and this is Doctor Who, get it right. Not true Whovians and not worth my time.

Also not worth my time are the folks who have never seen the program and yet still have an opinion. You know what you can do with your opinion. If you don't watch, you don't get one. Just my opinion. And this includes all those folks trying to use the idea of an iconic male role becoming female for your own agendas. You don't get to do that if you know nothing about the mythos.

I welcome Jodie Whittaker to the Who family, and cannot wait for her adventures to begin. I think she's going to rock.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Beauty and the Beast 2017

Beauty and the Beast ~ This is yet another of Disney's unnecessary live action remakes.  I don't see the point of these honestly, unless of course they are told from a different point of view entirely like Maleficent, or completely different as in the Tim Burton Alice films.  While Cinderella did answer some questions from the animated feature (as does this one), I found it ultimately dismal, and what could have been the best part of The Jungle Book was left on the cutting room floor (Scarlet Johansson's "Trust in Me").

I was very wary of the new Beauty and the Beast.  Not only was the original an Oscar nominated and winning classic of Disney's new animation age, it could have been decidedly difficult to animate.  In fact, the scenes I had seen in previews of the castle objects come to life, like Lumiere and Cogsworth, did not impress me. 

The casting worried me as well.  Hermione Granger? I'm not saying that Emma Watson is typecast but she would have to go a long way to make me believe she is anyone but Hermione, and as hard as she tries here, Emma never comes off as anything but playacting as Belle.  Honestly all of the roles are very solidly in most of our minds from the animated feature, it's hard to envision anyone else in those spots. 

The animated objects in the original are charming cartoons but here the CGI versions come off as a bit creepy, just to the left of Tim Burton.  We love those cartoon characters but the new ones are impressive yet cold and inhuman.  Similarly the music is also impersonal and feels very much like artificial or karaoke covers. 

Don't get me wrong, the live action Beauty and the Beast is a good movie, heck, it might even be a great movie for those who have never seen the classic original, but for me, the best it will ever be is a pale and ill wrought imitation.  Worth seeing only for the curious and the hardcore Disney fan only.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

National French Fry Day

Not just the day before Bastille Day or two days after Free Slurpee Day, but July 13 is also National French Fry Day. Those who know me well know that this is a big thing for me as French fries are not just my favorite food, I also maintain a long-standing blog about French fries as well - French Fry Diary.

When I started this blog, French Fry Diary, found here and here, it was because of the premise of 'write what you know.' I know French fries, and I love French fries, so I write about French fries.

French Fry Diary is one man's journey into everything you wanted to know about French fries, and more - potato chips, recipes, onion rings, fast food, and good food - all aspects of the potato and fried food, and especially where the two meet. Whether it's a French fry restaurant review to pictures of fries from around the net, to odd facts to fries in pop culture, I try to feature it there.

French Fry Diary can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and sometimes on Instagram as well, and fries are frequently a topic on my podcasts - The GAR! Podcast and The Make Mine Magic Podcast, and even sometimes Nerdfect Strangers. Here's hoping, that on National French Fry Day, you'll join me on my journey. Mmmm… fries…

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies ~ The Bride and I got to see this one on one of our Disney Cruises a year or so back, a sneak preview the night we saw it, but I've been busy, haven't had time to post it, and quite frankly after a while forgot I had written it. Bridge of Spies is the story, based on true events, of the spy exchange of Rudolf Abel and Francis Gary Powers in 1960, as told from the point of view of James B. Donovan, the attorney who brokered the deal. At the height of the Cold War and during the building of the Berlin Wall, this was no easy trick.

There are good solid performances here, and there should definitely have been more Oscar wins for this one than just Supporting Actor for Mark Rylance's Abel. He was stunning, and Tom Hanks has matured some and gives us his best whimsical and serious at once.

I was surprised to see the Coen brothers as screenwriters, while most of the writing and dialogue is brilliant, there's a fair amount that is equally weak and sloppy. And that 'inspired by true events' tag, that always gets me. I am always suspect of that phrase. If you know your history, this may be boring and monotonous like Titanic or Apollo 13, because let's face it, you already know how it ends. There's no suspense, nevertheless Bridge of Spies a good movie.

An amusing side note, I could not sit through the first showing, so finished watching the flick at an early morning viewing. There were a handful of patrons, along with a grandfather and several grade school age boys. He was overheard saying to them before the film started that there might be some bad words in it and they shouldn't tell their parents.

Bridge of Spies had some bad language, mostly B words, and every time one popped up the boys would all chime "oooo" and count them. Soon everyone in the audience was counting and oooo-ing as well. It was a hoot. I wonder if they told their parents…

Friday, July 07, 2017

Rediscovering Dick Cavett

Recently, one of the nostalgia channels we get started showing old Dick Cavett shows, and when I say old shows, I mean all of them. Not every episode, to be clear, but selected episodes from each of Dick Cavett's talk and interview shows, as he's had one or more in several decades, from the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. I myself recall seeing Dick on TV before I could read.

Dick Cavett had also recently started a radio tour pushing his two latest books and was telling great stories on the air, and he was booked on the most recent TCM Classic Cruise. So the man has come back into my life in a big way. I bought the books and was reading them, watching the shows (which were unfortunately minus live musical performances per rights), and anticipating his appearance on the Cruise. I was buried in Cavett.

On the Cruise, he introduced several movies including The Third Man, a couple Marx Brothers flicks, where he discussed his friendship with Groucho Marx, and he sat down with TCM interviewers a few times during the trip to answer questions from them and the audience, always telling the most wonderful stories. The Bride even rode an elevator with him one day on the ship.

One of the highlights of the Cruise however was the showing of a few episodes of his original 1960s show, specifically one where Dick interviewed Orson Welles. In this 1970 interview with the man who rarely gave interviews, Welles turns the tables on Cavett, interviewing him and casting some not so nice aspersions on Jerry Lewis, also a guest on that Cruise. Welles was amazing, owning the show, having fun, and making Cavett good naturedly squirm.  Good stuff. 

I have a newborn interest and respect in Dick Cavett - the man and his career. I can't recommend his shows or his books enough, check them out.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

The Revelation of the Satanic Bible

When I was younger, as now, I was a big horror fan. Back in high school, thanks to books like The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, and Hostage to the Devil, I was into the Devil, at least as a fictional monster.  I said fictional, folks, let's get that straight, I didn't believe this stuff.  It was in that spirit I picked up Anton LaVey's so-called Satanic Bible.

I can still remember the look of alarm I got from the elderly lady clerk at B. Dalton when I plopped the book on the counter to purchase it. She would always give me the evil eye after that whenever I entered her mall store. On the contrary however, when I was in college, and working at that mall, a girlfriend who worked at WaldenBooks told me they sold lots of copies of the book all the time. Maybe more folks bought their Satanic Bibles at Walden than Dalton?

Anyway, I couldn't wait to dive into this evil plain black book and learn all about the Devil.  Then I started reading, then skipping and browsing, then slowly putting it down. Man, what a disappointment.  The Necronomicon it was not.  No horns, no possession, no Biblical evil, not even a pitchfork.  What I got was a boring new age book about doing whatever you want.  Do what you will or some such crap.  This was philosophy, a self-help book, where was the evil? Where was the Devil??

Now I remember tossing that thing into the paperback trader pile, and began spending a lifetime correcting people who think Satanists are Devil worshippers.  I went back to Stephen King, Robert McCammon, and James Herbert pretty quickly.  What a misleading piece of crap. 

Wednesday, July 05, 2017


Thunderball ~ This is probably the second James Bond movie I ever saw, after Goldfinger, from back in the day when ABC would show Bond like every couple weeks on their movie of the week.  I remember thinking the ads the week preceding of Bond in a jet pack were pretty cool.  And Thunderball was the first Bond book I actually read (despite the librarian's disapproving frown), realizing that Ian Fleming's James Bond and his cinematic cousin were decisively two different people. 

Last year's TCM Classic Cruise showed a trio of early Bond films - this one, From Russia with Love, and one of my all-time favorites, Goldfinger - but rearranging schedules to see other events, dinner reservations, etc., made it impossible to see all three, even when they repeated them.  They just need to make the Cruise longer if (let's hope they do) they continue it.  I made it to Thunderball though, because priorities, you know.

This one, taking place partially in the Bahamas, seemed appropriate for a cruise traveling the Caribbean.  It is known as the film that sparked the legal dispute that fractured the franchise for decades, but it's also the biggest money maker, adjusting for inflation, and one of the best of the series. The humor is brief and sharp, this is mostly an action flick, but a fun action flick that is also deadly serious. I like it. This is Bond.

Thunderball, directed by Terrence Young, who also did Goldfinger, has James Bond uncovering a plot to steal atomic bombs and ransom them back to NATO.  The culprit?  Of course, it's SPECTRE.  Like I said, classic Bond, classic espionage.  Our villain this time out is Largo as played by Adolfo Celi (later dubbed), with Bond girl Domino played by Luciana Paluzzi. 

Sean Connery is, as always, on mark. Although I had to laugh, he runs through most of this film in bathing trunks the way the late Roger Moore sleepwalked through his last three or four in a tux.  M (Bernard Lee), Q (Desmond Llewelyn), and Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) are perfect maintaining their roles, and we get one of my favorite and most fun Felix Leiters in Rip Van Nutter.  I also loved the sense of a Team Bond in this installment, that he has support, just like a CW superhero.

The problem, as with many Bond films, is the dated sexism.  Sometimes you can get past it by seeing it as a product of its times, and sometimes, as is often the case with Thunderball, it just makes one cringe.  It's just really bad in this one.

In this viewing, especially after seeing how underwater filming was done on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on this cruise a decade before, I really marveled at the underwater combat scenes in Thunderball.  It's shameful that the same scenes years later are done so badly in the pseudo-remake Never Say Never Again.  You'd think the technology would have improved.  I was also stunned that there was almost no dialogue during the final fight at the end of the film, odd, but well done. 

I have to say I enjoyed this one more as an adult than as a kid, and infinitely more on the big screen.  One of the best, just like the theme by the great Tom Jones.  Recommended.