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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Saturday, May 13, 2006
I Cooked
Hey, don't laugh--this was quite an accomplishment for me.

For me, "cooking" generally means popping a pork chop or a couple of hamburger patties on the Foreman, shoving some tater tots into the oven, and putting a can of corn on the stove. Or maybe just boiling pasta and browning some ground beef to stir into a pot of Ragu. I generally don't do much more than that. Partially because I can't, and partially because I'm not patient when it comes to food. I want to eat supper now, not 45 minutes from now.

But tonight, for some reason, I decided to experiment and make an extra effort. What I'm about to tell you will sound incredibly basic, I know, but it was a big deal for me.

I decided I wanted chicken with angel hair pasta. I don't know why--it just sounded good to me. Usually I would either have just the chicken--put it on the Foreman--or just pasta with some sauce. Never mixed the two before. So I went online and found a recipe (actually the one on top after I Googled), printed it out, and bought ingredients. Such as olive oil, which I have never bought before in my life.

I put some olive oil and butter in a skillet. Chopped up a couple of boneless chicken breasts...actually cut them up into small pieces. Boiled some angel hair. After I cooked the chicken, I took it out of the skillet and into a bowl. Then, into the empty skillet, I put more olive oil and butter in, mixed in some chicken broth, some parmesan cheese, a bit of garlic (I didn't smash up the cloves very well), and a can of peas. Maybe I cooked too long or didn't use enough broth (2/3 cup), but the peas/cheese/broth/etc. formed sort of a lump. Well, not really, but it was solid. I thought it might form some sort of "sauce". What it really did was give the peas a certain flavor...but a really good flavor. Maybe it works better with another vegetable (the recipe suggested carrots and broccoli, but I hate carrots and broccoli).

The result was surprisingly good, considering I made it. Some angel hair, chopped chicken on top, and some sticky peas mixed around it. I ended up making too much, although it was so good that I had to force myself to stop eating.

I hope you're done laughing now. I'm sure this is all Cooking 101. The angel hair was kinda sticky, I suppose maybe I boiled it too long. Is there a tip to avoid that? Maybe putting something in the water?

Other than the trip to the grocery store and the cooking, it's not been an eventful day. I went to the library, where I had reserved the latest Jonathan Kellerman novel, GONE. I made Cheeseburger buy it so I could eventually borrow it, 'cause I was number 74 on the list, and I figured it would be Christmas before my name came up, but maybe the library got several copies. Cheeseburger trashed the book a bit, but I've read all the Kellerman books, and he's really the only author I make a point to read when a new one comes out.

Now that Evan Hunter/Ed McBain has passed away, that is. Reading the last McBain 87TH PRECINCT novel was a sad experience for me, as I realized how much his characters meant to me and how closely I had followed the peaks and valleys and events of their lives for the past 25 years or so (McBain wrote them for 50). And it's hard knowing that my relationship with those fictional characters has come to a brick wall, that it will never advance.

After watching the extras on Fox's awesome new THE TOWERING INFERNO Special Edition DVD the other night, I searched YouTube for Steve McQueen and found this TV commercial for the Ford Puma. The makers have taken old clips from BULLITT and placed McQueen digitally into the Puma. While I have mixed feelings on the notion of digging up dead movie stars and inserting them into commercials (I highly doubt Steve McQueen would ever have shilled for the Ford Puma), the spot is a nice homage to BULLITT, even copying the opening title style and using Lalo Schifin's terrific score.

One thing that fascinates me about BULLITT is that I have seen it at least a dozen times in my life, including once at the Orpheum Theater in Champaign on a double-bill with THE GREAT ESCAPE, and I still have no idea what it's about. Has anyone ever written a detailed plot synopsis of BULLITT? Is it possible?

UPDATE: I just found a detailed synopsis on Wikipedia. Sounds plausible!

Posted by Marty at 9:29 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, May 13, 2006 9:37 PM CDT
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Thursday, May 11, 2006
Way Ahead of Sche-Dool
Wow, I got quite a bit done last night. I was able to watch two movies and write a column about them for The Hub, which means I'm now two weeks ahead of schedule. Last week's issue had my review of THE HILLS HAVE EYES (the original, of course). The new issue out today has SWAMP FIRE and CAPTIVE GIRL, the only two movies to co-star former Tarzan actors Buster Crabbe and Johnny Weissmuller. In fact, SWAMP FIRE is unique in that it's the only film in which Weissmuller ever played a character not named Tarzan or Jungle Jim. He appeared in a handful of movies playing himself, including the last three "Jungle Jim" movies, where he was really playing the same character, but the producers let the license lapse or something, and the character was renamed "Johnny Weissmuller".

The following week will be a look at two recent movies released directly to DVD (more or less). END GAME was presumably intended for theatrical release--it's a loud thriller with a good cast including Cuba Gooding, Jr., James Woods, Angie Harmon, Anne Archer, Burt Reynolds, Jack Scalia and David Selby--but Millennium/Nu Image probably lacked the funds to properly launch it, so it finally came out on DVD a couple of weeks ago.

I also wrote about LOST, which did get into a few theaters last summer and even played at a film festival or two as early as 2004. It recently came out on DVD, and is an interesting little thriller. Dean Cain, the former Superman who is all over the place these days, doing TV guest shots on LAS VEGAS and LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, doing supporting roles in big features like OUT OF TIME (he was good in it), starring in DTV fare like DRAGON FIGHTER (which sucks) and FIRETRAP, is the star of LOST and practically its only on-screen actor. The term "tour de force" is tailor-made for Cain's performance in LOST, in which he plays an arrogant bank executive who loses his way figuratively and literally in the Nevada desert and comes into contact with vicious bank robbers led by the great Danny Trejo. There are some interesting story twists and good pacing in this low-budget movie, which lives or dies on Cain's performance. He's virtually the only face we see for 80 minutes, and you might be surprised to learn that he's up to the task.

UPDATED: I think I'm getting my weeks mixed up and I'm further ahead than I thought. Today's issue of The Hub should have my BILLY JACK review. I was reminded of it, because I just happened to hear the theme, Coven's "One Tin Soldier," on the radio coming back to work from lunch. I think the song is actually marvelous. Its lyrics are, okay, kinda corny, but Jinx Dawson, Coven's lead singer, has a great voice and makes the downbeat story pay off. "One Tin Soldier" was originally performed by a Canadian band called The Original Caste, I think around 1969 (I have three versions on iTunes: this original, Coven's original single, and a Coven remake with a fuller arrangement--that one's my favorite). That version is good too, and you can see how it would have appealed to Tom Laughlin, BILLY JACK's writer/producer/director/star. I don't know why he wanted a cover version for BILLY JACK's lyrical title sequence, but it put Coven into the Top 40 for the first (and only) time, and BILLY JACK was a huge hit, so I guess it worked out for everybody.

Posted by Marty at 10:31 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, May 11, 2006 1:57 PM CDT
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Wednesday, May 10, 2006
You Sounded A Little Taller On The Radio
Ladies and gentlemen...the world's all-time greatest film:

Posted by Marty at 3:28 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 10, 2006 3:30 PM CDT
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Monday, May 8, 2006
Sweet Georgia Brown
I watched an old WHITE SHADOW tonight that guest-starred the Harlem Globetrotters, and it reminded me just how famous they were during the 1970's. Not only did they have several TV series of their own, but they also performed occasionally in taped bits on ABC's WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS and CBS' SPORTS SPECTACULAR. Players like Meadowlark Lemon, Geese Ausbie, Curley Neal, Marques Haynes and Sweet Lou Dunbar were practically household names...actually Lemon was, appearing as a solo act outside of the Globetrotters (I also thought it was cool that Meadowlark and Geese have the same birthday as me).

I really remember the guys from THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS POPCORN MACHINE, which was a Saturday-morning live-action comedy/variety series with skits, blackouts and, of course, basketball. I wish I recalled it clearer, but my memories are that it was a lot of fun, and I certainly have memories of "playing" Globetrotters under the hoop. Although we weren't exactly as good at fast dribbling or passing behind the back.

The Globetrotters also "starred" in two Saturday-morning cartoons, one in which they solved mysteries Scooby Doo-style and another in which they turned into superheroes. They also played themselves in what may possibly be the worst film ever made: THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS ON GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. I wish I were kidding, but I ain't. The castaways had turned the island into a resort by this time, and megalomaniacs Martin Landau and Barbara Bain (funny how this film doesn't come up in interviews with the Oscar-winning Landau) created basketball-playing robots to help them conquer the world or something like that. I remember Gilligan and the Skipper joining the Globetrotters on the court to school the super basketball robots. I've seen a lot of bad TV, but I can't think of anything worse off the top of my head.

Here's about 3 1/2 minutes of old-school Globetrotter highlights. I just saw some of this schtick on the WHITE SHADOW episode. Pretty cool.

Posted by Marty at 10:50 PM CDT
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Sunday, May 7, 2006
More Liars And Idiots
Word is that President Bush wants to nominate General Michael Hayden to replace outgoing CIA director Porter Goss. Hayden is the guy who, earlier this year, told a press conference that the phrase "probable cause" was not in the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. You know better, because A) you went to junior high school and B) you aren't always trying to circumvent the Constitution (which, I'm sure, could made you a bit forgetful about its contents), but for completist's sake, here it is:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Wouldn't you feel safer with Michael Hayden at the helm? I didn't think so.

(Oh, and nice of the lazy media to not report that the reason for Goss' abrupt resignation is likely due to his connection to the poker and prostitution scandals at the Watergate Hotel and not because he's a poor manager, as TIME claims. What? Never heard of the Watergate controversy? That's the "liberal media" for you!)

You may not have heard about Donald Rumsfeld lying his ass off last week, since it didn't get covered very well either. Ray McGovern, a man with 27 years experience in the CIA, asked Rumsfeld, "Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary, that has caused these kinds of casualties?"

Rummy replied, "Well, first of all, I haven’t lied. I did not lie then. Colin Powell didn’t lie. He spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence Agency people and prepared a presentation that I know he believed was accurate, and he presented that to the United Nations. The president spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence people and he went to the American people and made a presentation. I’m not in the intelligence business. They gave the world their honest opinion. It appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there.

McGovern said, "You said you knew where they were."

Rumsfeld replied, "I did not."

This is, of course, a huge lie. Rumsfeld told ABC's THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS on March 30, 2003, "We know where (the weapons of mass destruction) are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

November can't get here quickly enough.

Posted by Marty at 10:49 PM CDT
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One Car: 20 Bucks
Big day today. I sold a car, bought nearly $200 in clothes, cooked a meal, hooked up a VCR, watched four movies, and updated my blog.

Years ago, my brother handed down to me his 1992 Chevrolet Cavalier, which had a ton of miles on it, as well as a busted windshield, a faded paint job and other unsavory features. But it had an air conditioner, which my car at the time--an '84 Chevy Malibu--did not, so I took it. And drove it for a long time, even though it was hideous, uncool and not much fun.

For about a year, it's been parked in my dad's yard, looking the worse for wear. I'd been putting off getting rid of it, just because I knew it would be a major hassle. The battery is dead, it's parked 20 miles away, making it hard to show to prospective buyers. I would have paid a Junk Car Fairy to come out of the sky and put it out of my misery.

Today I'm in my dad's yard, trying to figure out if I should try to jumpstart the Cavalier, when his neighbor walks over to me.

"Are you gettin' it running?"
"Eh, I don't know. I just wanna get rid of it."
"How much you want for it?"
"PPPTTTT! I'll take 20 bucks for it, just to get it out of my sight."
"Hold on, I got 20 bucks."

The easiest--and cheapest--car sale in the history of automotives. I guess he wants to fix it up for his son when he turns 16. And here I thought I was going to have to call junkyards and probably get it towed someplace and spend a ton of dough dumping it, and I end up giving it away for $20 with no effort at all. As someone who rarely benefits from good fortune, that was a nice boost.

I needed some summer threads, so I went shopping afterward, picking up some decent casual shirts (no T-shirts this time) and two pairs of shorts. My torso is a bit, um, difficult to fit, so it was hard finding inexpensive clothing. Geez, I hope what I bought fits, come to think of it.

Today I watched SWAMP FIRE, a limp Paramount cheapie from 1946 that starred two former Tarzans, Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe, and POWERFORCE, an often hilarious Hong Kong kung fu cheapie about a crimefighting team called Dragonforce using their super-karate to fight ninjas who have stolen and brainwashed a princess.

Chicken came over tonight for goulash and to watch an interesting double feature. First was THE GUMBALL RALLY, which has the same basic plot as CANNONBALL and CANNONBALL RUN with more slapstick. Michael Sarrazin, Gary Busey, Joanne Nail (SWITCHBLADE SISTERS) and other mid-level stars run an illegal cross-country race in badass Corvettes, Rolls Royces, Cobras, Ferraris, etc. Then came HELL'S HIGHWAY, which is a documentary about the Highway Safety Foundation of Ohio, which produced dozens of gory, disturbing driver's education scare films during the '50s, '60s and '70s. Some of them are very explicit, showing actual mangled corpses at accident scenes, and it's amazing that schools would show them to teenagers. I know mine did. I bet none does today. How about yours?

Posted by Marty at 12:43 AM CDT
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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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