Thursday, May 31, 2012

LOOK, up on the screen...

Christopher Reeve was a great pick for Superman.  I enjoyed the first two movies of the franchise.  I watched the second with my nine year old daughter last night.  We both had a good time.  She's big into super heroes, Superman is at the top of her list.  My favorite of all the Super Man movies made in the '70's and '80's is Superman II.  Terence Stamp played the evil General Zod.  Stamp stole the show with his villainous presence and dirty deeds .  Superman II was Christopher Reeve's favorite of the series too.

The first two Superman movies still hold up after all these years.  The third and forth installment are terrible.  Christopher Reeve contributed to the fourth installment, having the theme focused on nuclear disarmament.  The show bombed at the box office and Reagan ended up saving the day.  Superman IV was an embarrassment for Reeve.  He didn't want to talk about it.  After IV he was through with the role and ready to move on.  No need to fear though, he did a great job as the Man of Steel in the first two flicks.  He was fortunate not to be typecast playing Superman as his predecessor George Reeves had been.

Out of all of Reeve's work, it isn't his role as Superman, it was his time traveling romantic  role in Somewhere In Time that he really shined.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

He put the K in custom.

Geroge Barris started out with a hobby of tricking out his model car kits.  He (and his brother Sam) were given a 1925 Buick for helping at the family restaurant.  They both took the heap and got her running and commenced to trick it out.  Eventually they were asked to customize other cars which led him to customizing/designing cars for television and the movies.

Every boy from Boomerville, USA might not know the name George Barris, but they clearly remember his creations for television which include The Batmobile, The Black Beauty (Green Hornet), The Munster Mobile and so many more.  Almost every custom car seen on television then and since are designed/tricked out by Barris Kustom Industries.  Back in my day, you couldn't turn on the television without seeing a Barris creation. 

When we were serving time at R.A. Mitchell Elementary in the '60's, my pal Jim Young would constantly ask me to draw pictures of a hot rods.  I'd usually try to draw him something weird and wild with a Barris influence.  Either like Barris like a Rat Fink car art.  Kid's from Boomerville, USA saw George Barris works on television, on t-shirts, bubble gum cards and yes - plastic model kits.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Oh to have riden with John Wayne

In 1971 I was twelve years old.  I clearly remember being in a classroom (during a break) looking over a spread in LIFE magazine about John Wayne's up and coming movie.  The article had lots of pictures about a movie that was in the works.  I had heard that the people who were producing the new movie were looking for some boys to be cowboys in Wayne's next venture entitled The Cowboys!  I really wanted to be in that movie.  I remember filling out little form to apply for the part.  I don't remember where I got the form.   I'm sure millions of boys did the same.  The world seems much smaller to me at the time and so I guess I thought I had a chance.  I never told anyone about it, but I could just see myself riding along side THE DUKE himself.  I remember that the call from John Wayne never came.   I was very disappointed when the movie came out without me.

As it turned out, the boys that were cast were either bona-fide actors or bona-fide reall  little cowboys.  The young actors helped coach the young cowboys how to act and the young cowboys helped teach the young actors how to ride horses and do other cowboy stuff.  I could do neither and I know that John Wayne probably looked over my name and figured I was just a city kid that he'd have to spend extra time teaching how to act and ride horses and shoot a gun. Shucks. I wouldn't have minded in the least.

I was thinking as I watched this movie again a few nights ago, about how this script would've been the better story for John Wayne's last film rather than The Shootist.  In The Cowboys, John Wayne's character, Wil Anderson, lost his seasoned cattle drivers due to a gold rush.  They left him short handed.  Wil had a limited time to move the cattle and had to rely on young boys to drive herd across 400 miles of territory before Winter.  The boys had to quickly and literally be shown the ropes before saddling up for the venture.  John Wayne became a father figure to the boys and taught them to be men along the way.

Who could forget Bruce Dern in this movie?  Bruce Dern played a cold-blooded character 'Long Hair' who shot John Wayne in the back.  The story I heard was that John had told Bruce before production that
"America will hate you for this."  Dern wryly replied, "Yeah, but they'll love me in Berkeley."I guess the reason this would've made a better final film for Wayne is because he was a father figure for so many of us boys.  We all looked up to him.  He was more than a screen legend.  He was a role model. He was the giant good guy that we all grew up watching. My heart sank when I saw that giant fall after Dern shot'm in the back.  Those boys though, those young cowboys, they buried that old man and went about to finish the job they promised to finished.  They had become men along the way.

Cimarron: They didn't even dig him a decent grave.
Wil Anderson: Well, it's not how you're buried, it's how you're remembered.

This is not Wayne's best, but it's good.  I've got to close for now - "We're burning daylight!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What an actor!

George C. Scott was a great actor.  There are two movies that reveal the versatility of his acting abilities.  In the movie Dr. Strangelove or How I Stopped Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Scott is the glue that holds Stanley Kubrick's dark comedy together.  The movie is chock full of great talent, but Scott is simply genius when he's acting and when he's across the room reacting.

George C. Scott could deliver very funny as well as very serious. The other movie that immediate comes to mind is Patton (1970), where George C. plays General George S.  I've talked to veterans who served under General Patton, and each one of them stated that George's Patton was very close to the real deal.

There is another movie that comes to mind.  The List of Adrian Messenger (1963) starred Scott and was directed by the renown John Huston. The first time I watched this movie it took me in completely.  It's a clever murder mystery with a surprise ending.  In the List of Adrian Messenger, not is all what it appears to be.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hey you wanna go for a ride?

There were some great movies that were released in the eighties.  Sure Lucas and Spielberg entertained us, but there were some unusual little masterpieces that were born during that decade.  David Lynch brought us the very surreal film-noir Blue Velvet (1986).  Dennis Hopper did a lot of incredible during his lifetime.  His portrayal of a very creepy and very disturbing Frank Booth gave all viewers the willies.  Dennis was a little to real in this flick.

The movie pealed back a facade of what seemed a normal life to an nightmarish underworld experience - like maggots eating away beneath flesh - termites inside a wood.  I didn't just watch this movie when it was first released.  I was drawn into it. It was hypnotic to watch it.  It was like a wicked carnival ride that I couldn't get off until it was over.  I had to know how it ended.

It's been a couple of decades since I saw Blue Velvet.  I remember foul language poured from Booths mouth that would make a sailor blush.  I remember it was noir as noir could get.  The tone was so creepy that I don't know if I ever want to go back there and watch it again.  It was that good.

Friday, May 18, 2012

funny show from long ago

 My brother in-law Dan Noojin and I used to hang out a good bit in the early eighties.  If we were in front of the television on a weekend night, it was for Night Flight and Second City Television Network.  SCTV was a little bit of Saturday Night Live and Monty Python's Flying Circus rolled into one.  SCTV introduced us to the talent of John Candy, Dave Thomas, Rick Moranis, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Joe Flaherty, Andrea Martin and Martin Short.  I enjoyed much of the early SNL days, but low budgeted SCTV blew the doors of SNL during the early eighties.It was SCTV that inspired me to start doing my own Floyd the Barber impersonation.  I make a lot of humorous references to the show that no one these days seem to get.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

it started as a bet

Issue #1 / May 1963
During the Silver Age of Comicdom, Marvel Comics was publishing solely superhero stories.  Until Nick Fury came along, WWII was fought by Captain America, Sub-Mariner etc.  In the early sixties, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (both WWII vets themselves) decided to launch a different kind of war mag - Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos!

It all started with a bet. Stan Lee has described the series Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos as having come about due to a bet with his publisher that the Lee-Kirby style could make a book sell even with the worst title. Stan Lee said at the time Marvel didn't have a title that were six words.  'howling' is a long word, and 'commandos' was a really long word.  Lee went with the name Howling Commandos because their really was a group called 'Screaming Eagles'.

I was just a little guy in '63.  It was big brother Brooky that brought home the early issues and would read them hot off the press.  Brook had the early copies, but mom tossed a box of them during one of her blitzkrieg clean-ups. 

Brook is the one that got me into doing voices.  It all started with him reading Sgt. Fury to me.  He had a voice for all the Howling Commandos as well as the evil Nazis.  I loved it when Hitler was foiled by the Howling Commandos.  Brook seemed to have a great time reading and sounding like a very furious f├╝hrer.  To this day whenever I read to my kids, I read with all the dialects/accents/voices within my vocal arsenal.  I can also attribute my enjoyment for reading to my brother and this particular comic book.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

the face of 1966

I never understood the Twiggy thing.  She was this skinny young Brit chic.  Twiggy always seemed to me something of a fashion cartoon.  I don't have much to say on the subject, just that while thinking back, she's still living in the funky past, next door to Peter Max.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mayberry Daily News: Goober Pyle Obituary

Goober Pyle (83) a native of  Mayberry, North Carolina", died Sunday, May 6th due to a brief illness. Goober was born in Mayberry at the home of Jedediah & Mable Pyle September 17, 1928.  He was a graduate of Mayberry High School.

Goober started working on cars with his father and later taught his cousin Gomer Pyle to work on cars as a hobby. His cousin Gomer said, "Goober never got his education from schooling, but learned how to fix cars because he loved fix'n cars. He sure was pleased when the Fayetteville Technical College awarded him an honorary Automotive Master Mechanic degree in 1994. He sure was proud of that!"  

Goober was a shade tree mechanic until he was hired by Wally's Garage and Gas Station in 1964.  Goober managed the business for his owner until Randall 'Wally' Wolford offered to sell the business to him. Goober Pyle left the name Wally's Garage until his cousin (Maj) Gomer Pyle retired from the United States Marine Corps. Gomer offered his cousin part ownership and changed the name to G and G Garage.  They always jokingly argued about whose initial was first.

"Everyone in Mayberry knew and loved Goober." stated his old friend and former Mayberry Sheriff Andrew Taylor. "
I am happy to say that as we found ourselves in our eighties, we were not afraid to say, 'I love you.' That was the last thing Goober and I had to say to each other. 'I love you.'"

Read more here:

A special memorial service will be held Saturday, May 13th at the Mayberry Town Hall followed by a marching band parade to the old town Gazebo where everyone is invited for music and a covered dish picnic. Gomer Pyle wanted to sing favorite songs of Goobers, and share stories of his cousin he knew and loved as a brother.

Both Goober and Gomer Pyle attended the First United Methodist Church of Mayberry. Both stood next to each other when singing in the choir and always involved in every charity outreach of the church. "Goober loved Mayberry and served the community in every way he knew how." stated Gomer.
"He's going to be missed by everybody around here - especially me."

Visitation will be held at First United Methodist Church of Mayberry on Wednesday, May 9th. Grave side service will follow at church cemetery with Rev. Opie A. Taylor, Jr officiating.

Funeral arrangements by Ernest T. Bass and Son's Funeral

Friday, May 4, 2012

dark shadows

I wasn't a big fan of the show, but my geek friends in school couldn't wait to get home to watch it.  If you don't recall, Dark Shadows was a goth soap opera that starred a vampire named Barnabas Collins.  I rarely watched the show because I didn't care for soap operas even if it had vampires and werewolves.  Even though I didn't see it much, that Barnabas Collins was a haunting fellow.  He was played by Canadian actor Johnathan Frid who just  recently passed away on Friday, April 13th.

Gina and I went to the movies last weekend and I saw a large cardboard standup in the lobby of Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins.  I had read where Depp had been a huge fan of the show when he was a kid - wanted to be Barnabas.  Well, here's his chance.  Director Tim Burton was also a fan of Dark Shadows as a kid (figures) and I'm sure it will be an interesting show.  Tim and Johnny always make a great team.

I'm sure the movie will go over well.  There's a lot of kids out there that are drawn to creepy goth motif like a moths are to a flame.  Tim Burton is really talented when it comes to creepy goth.  I remember Tim's early work Frankenweenie.  I have always enjoyed Burton's twisted world.  Dark Shadow's is right up his dark alley.  I hope though that the movie steers from being the soap opera and more of a macabre comedy.  I'll go without expectations and let him surprise me.

Here's to Frid though, may you finally rest in peace. Just seeing this image of him replays the opening theme of Dark Shadows in my mind!!!  If anything, the movie has to open with the sea crashing against the shore and the silhouette of a castle against the night.  That music, that whistle bleeding through the sound of the crashing waves.  It must start like that.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

your Father knows best

A lot of folks have criticized old family television shows like Father Knows Best.  Personally, I enjoy watching it.  Though most of the actors had their personal flaws - the family unit portrayed in these shows reflected a lot of love and adoration for each other.  I guess you could say that the show reflected a high standard of sorts for fathers and families everywhere.

Jim Anderson was a wise and commonsensical father that everyone in his household could count upon.  He was the kind of dad that once took on the paper route on a rainy day when Bud was ill.  So Jim Anderson not only offered advice in a loving manner - but he illustrated his love with daily sacrifice. 

I sat at the breakfast table this morning and found myself calling my daughter 'Kitten' - like Jim used to call his youngest TV daughter.  Kelsey smiled and nestled into my shoulder for a hug.  Kelsey liked the reference, but had never seen the show.

As a father I know I am not perfect or as wise as that TV dad of long ago, but I'd like to be.  I want my kids to always feel as if they can come to me when there's trouble or in need a hug.  I know no dad is perfect - but we should do our very best to be.

I believe that we as fathers are training wheels for our ever wise and truly perfect Heavenly Father.  I hope that when I am gone, my children will always run to Him in times of trouble - and when they need some loving attention.  As men, we are flawed, but this doesn't mean that it's impossible to pursue wisdom and goodness with our lives.  We too have a Father who knows best and who can help us be good dads.