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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Friday, May 5, 2006
It's Been A Long Day
Today I attended the funeral of a family friend, a man whose son is a close friend of my brother and me. One thing I always admired about him (who I've known since I was a kid) was his love of life. He was a true iconoclast, loved music, had a grand sense of humor, was extremely friendly, and was one of the most optimistic people I've ever known. I also have to credit him for getting me into crappy movies. He always used to bring home the absolute worst stuff from the video store, and when I was in high school or even younger, I might be out at their place, staying up late watching KING FRAT or 2000 MANIACS. It's quite possible that my life would be totally different today if not for him...though I'm not certain whether to thank him or not...

Tonight I went to the movies for only the second time since June. The 9:30 show started at 9:46 after at least 25 minutes of commercials. THE SENTINEL stars Michael Douglas as a Secret Service agent sexing up the First Lady, not that I blame him, 'cause she looks like Kim Basinger. A traitor inside the Secret Service discovers the affair and uses it to frame Douglas for an assassination plot against President Sledge Hammer (David Rasche!). Kiefer Sutherland (yeah, Jack Bauer!) is the agent investigating Douglas. He has a personal beef with Douglas, whom he believes used to bone his ex-wife. Also in the movie for no good reason is Eva Longoria, even though if I was the President, I wouldn't want a 4'11" 97-pound woman protecting me from assassins. Director Clark Johnson (Meldrick from HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET) has a small role, as does Gloria Reuben, Paul Calderon (just saw him this week on LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT) and Chuck Shamata (from DEATH WEEKEND). Also, I think the end of the movie was shot at the same Toronto location where THE KIDNAPPING OF THE PRESIDENT took place. THE SENTINEL is a typically slick but soulless PG-13 Hollywood thriller with no particularly clever, original or exciting attributes. It probably won't put you to sleep, but it ain't likely to get your heart pumping either.

Posted by Marty at 12:19 AM CDT
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Wednesday, May 3, 2006
I was asked to be a judge for tonight's 25 x 25 x 5 Short Film Contest. The idea was to allow filmmakers to put together a five-minute movie in just 25 hours--shooting, editing, everything. An intriguing idea, but not a very organized or well-publicized one. I wasn't approached to be a judge until about two weeks ago, and I never was given a list of rules or guidelines or categories on which to judge. One rule was that each filmmaker received a list of items, locations, phrases, etc. that had to appear in their films someplace, but the judges were never told what that list was. Originally I was told that there were four categories in which to judge the films, but was never told what they were. It didn't matter, because the rules changed after only three entries were received, and we ended up just picking one winner (although everyone received more or less the same prize).

Even though the entire process and presentation was pretty clumsy, I was happy to help out, because it was for a good cause. All of the proceeds went to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, so how could I say no? An old friend involved with the contest, Jill Miller, recommended me, and attending gave me the chance to catch up with her and a few other old friends whom I hadn't seen in quite awhile. All three shorts were pretty decent, but one stood out for me more than the rest, and I was able to convince the other judges of its merit. We weren't reenacting 12 ANGRY MEN, though, and it really didn't take much arm-twisting.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society hopes to have a second annual contest, and I hope they do, if only to raise more money. They sold about 30 tickets for this one, I'd say, but with more lead time and better marketing, they should be able to do better next year.

An unexpected plus was that it was held at the University YMCA, where some large group of Middle Eastern students were having some kind of meeting. I don't know what they were doing, but all the (college) girls I saw in that group were incredibly attractive. It was like being at the Playboy Mansion in Bangladesh.

Earlier this week, I managed to squeeze in a viewing of BILLY JACK for my Hub column next week. On an impulse, I ordered online the BILLY JACK 35th Anniversary box set, which contains--for the first time on home video--widescreen editions of all four BILLY JACK films in 5.1 stereo mixes. The 5.1 mix on BILLY JACK really wasn't all that hot, and I ended up switching back to regular stereo, but the widescreen image was terrific. The film still has some big faults, but seeing it in its original aspect ratio helps it, and it does still strike a chord. I still can't get that damn Coven song out of my head.

To get Cheeseburger off my back, I'll mention that she came down to spend the weekend with us. Or part of it. While she went off to hang out with a bunch of drunken bachelorettes on Saturday, the rest of us viewed nine episodes of MAGNUM, P.I. at my place. Yep, nine hours of MAGNUM. That's a lot of hairy chests, Ferrari peel-outs, hot dog shirts, bullet holes in the helicopter, Doberman chases, and self-aware stares into the camera lens. We had a good time, and I think Tom Selleck has now surpassed Mark Harmon on Chicken's man-crush list.

Coming up this summer is a trip to Cheeseburger and Shark Hunter's abode for a mini B-Fest: Cheeseburger B-Fest, I suppose. I'm working on putting together the lineup, which will definitely include ROBOT MONSTER. I'm also planning to hit Cincinnati for the Reds' weekend series in June against the World Champion White Sox, and I've already bought my 3-day ticket and booked my hotel room for Wizard World Chicago, which I'll be attending with my brother and some others the weekend after Burger Fest. If I keep busy enough, maybe it'll give John Charles a chance to catch me in movie-watching this year!

Posted by Marty at 11:07 PM CDT
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Bad Boy
Still too busy to blog this week...hopefully I'll get a chance to talk about what I've been up to lately (including the nine consecutive episodes of MAGNUM, P.I. we watched over the weekend!). But, hey, it's not like I've totally left you hanging. That Henry Silva video is worth at least five posts.

I'm adding a new link to my Recommended Friend's Blogs over on the right. My friend Steve Stewart is now online with The Bad Boy Blog. Steve is a member of the Cincinnati Reds' radio broadcast team, working in the booth alongside baseball legend and Hall of Famer Marty Brenneman, and now blogs about my favorite team. I first met Steve when he was a news anchor at WSIL-TV in beautiful (sarcasm alert) Carterville, Illinois and I was a Top 40 DJ at WCIL-FM in nearby Carbondale. It's funny that Steve now has the exact job that I wanted when I was 14 years old. He's a good guy and the world's biggest HOGAN'S HEROES fan, so if you're into Cincinnati Reds baseball, why not drop by and give his blog a look-see.

Posted by Marty at 7:40 AM CDT
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Monday, May 1, 2006
Sorry, Gang
I had a big weekend to write about, but some stuff has come up, and I'm not going to have the time to write about it tonight.

However, I realize I owe you some kickass content, and nobody is more kickass than Henry Silva. I found this video online several months ago and downloaded it to my hard drive, but now that some genius has put it on YouTube, now you can enjoy it too. Basically, someone found some awesome clips of Silva from various Italian crime dramas of the 1970's and edited them to a badass Motorhead tune. Henry Silva + Motorhead = something incredibly awesome.

NOTE: This video is definitely NSFW. Some nudity, a bit of blood, and copious use of the word "motherfucker" see to that. But it's definitely worth seeing, and if you still don't think that Henry Silva kicks tons of ass afterwards, well, there's no hope for you.

Posted by Marty at 11:24 PM CDT
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Friday, April 28, 2006
Maybe I Am Old
Sorry I haven't posted much lately, but I have not spent very much time at home this week. I'm either at work or out doing something until very late. I was barely able to sneak in this week's 24 yesterday evening...and 24 is a major priority in my life. Isn't it in yours?

Went down to the Highdive last night for the Comedians of Comedy tour. These four comedians are playing bars, rather than comedy clubs, which is an interesting idea, I suppose, but I think an ultimately unsatisfying one. For one, the audience has to stand for two hours, and for another, playing in bars where dumbass college students generally go makes for a somewhat rowdy audience. The audience has to be comfortable and relaxed to enjoy comedy, and I don't believe the Highdive is the proper venue.

For the record, the four were Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Maria Bamford and Eugene Mirman. Oswalt, the biggest "name", was the least funny, I thought, but all four were decent enough. I liked Mirman's charm the best, and when I passed by him after the show, I grabbed his shoulder and told him, "Hey, man, good job," to which he responded, "Thank you." Oooo, another brush with greatness. I mean him, not me.

They all mentioned being on the Conan O'Brien show, which I thought was interesting only because I assume that they haven't done Letterman or Leno. I suppose that tells you all you need to know about these performers: good enough for 11:30 Central, but not good enough for 10:30.

Wednesday night, the Stephenses and I went to Csiki's to watch BLADE RUNNER, which I had only seen in its initial video release in 1983 or 1984 and wasn't fond of. The Warners DVD of some years ago is of the "Director's Cut" (which isn't really one) and has been somewhat modified. I still don't like BLADE RUNNER very much. I think it moves too slowly in service of a story that's really not all that. It looks good, of course, and has some nice acting, but it all feels very pointless to me. I also played a bit of FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE on Xbox, which is a kickass James Bond game in which Sean Connery "plays" 007 again. In just the hour or so that we played, Bond got to kill a bunch of Russians, fly a jet pack, blow up a helicopter, sneak through a hedge maze, flirt with Moneypenny, and destroy Q's robots. If I had an Xbox, I'd get it.

Tuesday night was my birthday, so we had some snacks and watched crappy movies. A 1982 theme of VICE SQUAD, CLASS OF 1984 and a BATTLE OF THE NETWORK STARS was on tap. We got to see Heather Thomas in the baseball dunk tank, but also Pernell Roberts in really tiny shorts. You take the bad with the good, is what I always say.

Monday night I went out to BW3, ostensibly to watch the White Sox game, but they either couldn't or wouldn't put it on the satellite, so we came back to my place to watch it. A decent game that the Sox lost in the 9th.

Tonight is Artists Against AIDS downtown, as well as Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival. My neighbors are having a barbecue, and Cheeseburger is coming to town sometime. Busy weekend! And I haven't yet found time for PRISON BREAK.

Posted by Marty at 8:05 AM CDT
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Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Dancing Shark! Dancing Rickles! Dancing Fucking PALANCE!
I have no idea where this clip came from. I'm guessing it's from 1975 or 1976, judging from Rickles' use of the word "groovy", the JAWS reference, Larry Linville appearing as Major Frank Burns from M*A*S*H, the still-a-celebrity cachet of Otto Preminger, and just the sheer What The Fuck factor. If you've ever wondered why people say that '70s TV kicked tons of ass, you only have to see something like this to understand.

It runs 4:21.

Posted by Marty at 11:11 PM CDT
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Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Today is my birthday. Finally Jack Benny and I have something in common.

Posted by Marty at 7:53 AM CDT
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Monday, April 24, 2006
Just Stuff
I woke up at 4:12 this morning to the sound of the asshole across the street blowing his car horn. There is some dipshit family who lives over there, and they are always doing dipshit things. Their kids play in the street, and I am hoping one or more will get run over.

I'm sound asleep when I hear a very loud car horn. And another burst. And another. It blows about nine times. I crawl out of bed and out to the window where I see the neighbors carrying something out of the house and putting it in the trunk. They drove away, but the car was back when I got up three hours later. Who knows what those idiots were doing.

Today I went home for lunch. I no sooner got in the house than I heard a car alarm going off. I was pissed off, thinking it was probably those dumbass neighbors again. It kept going and going, so I started looking out the window. Hmmm, didn't sound like it was coming from the street. More like my parking lot. So I went to the back door, thinking my neighbors in my house had better get off their asses and turn that alarm off. Oops. It wasn't them. It was me. I don't have an alarm, but I have some kind of panic button on my key fob that I can press if I'm attacked by rapists or muggers by my car. I guess I must have pushed it accidentally after I put my keys in my pocket.

I got an email last week from someone who asked me to judge a local film contest. Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for a few details, namely "when," "where," and "how." Just some minor details. It sounds as though it's painfully disorganized. The deadline to submit films has been extended, and now someone with an existing film wants to enter it, even though that would violate the very point of the contest, which involves entrants making their short within the same (more or less) 25-hour period. At least I should get some amusing stories out of it.

Posted by Marty at 4:43 PM CDT
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Sunday, April 23, 2006
Whatever Happened To..?
I was listening to a few cuts from this Donna Loren compilation album recently, which got me thinking about why she never became a big star. Donna was a child star of sorts, acting and singing on television while still in grade school. As she grew into a teenager, she signed a recording contract with Capitol and began appearing in small roles in the BEACH PARTY movies cranked out in the 1960's by executive producers Samuel Arkoff and James Nicholson and director William Asher at American International Pictures. Most of the time, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello played the leading roles, but Donna, along with several other cuties, could be seen in the background and occasionally got a song of her one to perform. She also did a series of Dr. Pepper commercials, so someone was definitely grooming her for stardom.

What's evident from seeing her on-screen and listening to her music is that she was a very good performer (and cute as a button). I suppose it's hard to judge her acting from the small roles I've seen, including a guest spot as a sheik's daughter infatuated with Davy Jones on THE MONKEES, but she absolutely was a terrific singer. It may not be immediately obvious from titles like "Muscle Bustle" and "Beach Blanket Bingo," but she had a wonderful voice, and she was still just a teenager when she recorded them. I particularly like "It Only Hurts When I Cry," which she performed in the 1965 film BEACH BLANKET BINGO. Not to slight Annette Funicello, who also had a career headstart working for Walt Disney for many years before, but it's clear from watching the film that Loren had star presence that Annette, I don't think, ever did (maybe boys will be boys, but I believe Annette's notoriously prominent bustline had a lot to do with her success).

After a few more TV guest shots and a busted pilot with Aaron Spelling at ABC, Donna Loren retired from show business to get married. Not an unusual move for a budding ingenue, but she was only 21 years old, and it's a pity to think about the wonderful work she didn't allow herself to give to us. Maybe if her stardom had risen more quickly, she would have thought differently about giving it all up. At any rate, if you find yourself coming across BINGO or BIKINI BEACH or PAJAMA PARTY on cable or on DVD, Donna had solo spots in all of them, so stick with them long enough to catch her number. I think you'll be happy you did.

On a slightly related note, here's what I've been listening to on iTunes:
"Danger Man Theme"--The Red Price Combo
"Let Love Come Between Us"--James and Bobby Purify
"Batusi A Go Go"--Nelson Riddle
"Lonely Is the Summer"--The Debonairs
"Out of Tears"--Rolling Stones from VOODOO LOUNGE
"Gramaphone Man"--Spirit
"My Little Surfin' Woodie"--The Sunsets
"She's My Witch"--Kip Tyler
"Grand Ennui"--Michael Nesmith
Main Titles from DESERT OF FIRE--Franco Bixio
"The Throne Room/End Title"--John Williams from STAR WARS
"Songbird"--Fleetwood Mac
JUDD, FOR THE DEFENSE Theme--Alexander Courage
"Karma Sitar"--101 Strings
"Rockin' in the Free World"--Neil Young
"5D (Fifth Dimension)"--The Byrds
"Asshole"--Denis Leary from NO CURE FOR CANCER

Posted by Marty at 11:05 PM CDT
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Thursday, April 20, 2006
Feats Of Strength
I'm writing now, because I'm going into work a half-hour later today. It's okay--the boss knows...and I still might get there before he does. That's no slam. He was with us last night.

Last night, Chicken, Grady, Kellner, LD and I gathered at Moto's to move gigantic chunks of wood with our bare hands. It was sort of like a prison exercise, like George Kennedy made Newman do in COOL HAND LUKE. Moto had chopped down a huge tree in his back yard and cut it into pieces (well, more accurately, had it done), and we had to load the pieces into a truck and unload them out at the Kellner compound. This took two trips of lifting, carrying, dropping, etc. and involved much heaving and cursing. It really wasn't as bad as all that, I suppose. There was good teamwork, not much bitching. I have a few small scratches and scrapes on my arms; I was smart enough to wear gloves, but next time I'll do long sleeves. And the Motos grilled up a ton of burgers, dogs and brats, of which I had way too much (as was obvious when I had to leap out of bed and onto the growler at 3:15 this morning), but it was good stuff, Maynard. And, hey, I admit, it was good for me to do a bit of exercise too. Last night was fun, all things considered. I didn't get home 'til after 11:00 though. Took a shower, read a bit, and hit the hay. Had the windows open. It was good sleeping weather.

I forgot to tell you about the amazingly shitty movies Kevin (my B-Fest compadre) made me watch Sunday night. He brought over a bunch of tapes he had picked up at his local Family Video for $2 each or something like that. One was MULE FEATHERS, which is about as bad as they come. It's a PG slapstick comedy western starring Rory Calhoun as a conman who poses as a priest and carries on conversations using mental telepathy (!) with his donkey (!), who's voiced by Don Knotts. It's like a much stupider version of A BOY AND HIS DOG, but with no cannibalism. The post-synched sound makes it look really cheap, as does the fact that they only shoot the western town set from two angles. The comedy is leaden, the editing incomprehensible, and the sound effects juvenile. MULE FEATHERS was a tough 80 minutes.

After that was an episode of a Japanese TV series called SPECTREMAN, in which superhero Spectreman fought a giant flying whale. Spectreman seems like every other Japanese superhero, like Ultraman, in that he can grow to mammoth proportions, fly, shoot rays, etc. His powers are useless against the flying whale, though, and he discovers that his foe has a strange Corsican-brothers reaction to him. So to stop it, it does...nothing. Literally. He lays down on the beach and sends his homies to float over and drop a bomb down its blowhole. Unfortunately, Spectreman's arch enemies, a pair of cackling space monkeys (!) in a flying saucer, use the opportunity to literally kick the hero while he's down and can't fight back. The coolest thing about SPECTREMAN is its kickass theme song that reminded me of the SONS OF HERCULES theme.

I then pulled out CHAIN GANG WOMEN, which is the world's #1 bullshit title. There are no chain gang women, and no women at all until about 40 minutes in. It's not a bad little exploitation movie, really, but you could be forgiven for being disappointed by it.

We wrapped up with THAT WAS ROCK, a compilation of clips from the legendary THE T.A.M.I. SHOW and THE BIG TNT SHOW, neither of which are on DVD, presumably because of rights issues. Both were huge rock concerts staged in Los Angeles especially for film and featured virtually every major rock, pop and R&B act of the period, which was 1964 and 1965. Not all that performed made the THAT WAS ROCK tape, which featured new intros by Chuck Berry, but among the ones who did were the Rolling Stones, Ike and Tina Turner, a kickass James Brown, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, the Ronettes, Lesley Gore, Gerry and the Pacemakers and several others. The badassedness of these musical greats almost made up for Rory Calhoun talking to his ass. Almost.

Posted by Marty at 8:16 AM CDT
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