Friday, September 29, 2006

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This time the Dynamic Duo is a pair I know: Ern Whatshisname & Daddy Pax! I first met Ern when he was my boss. I was lucky enough then to count him as one of my closest friends. He has been there for me when I was dealing with a lot of nasty stuff (read: psycho bitch ex-girlfriend) and always provided a shoulder to cry on. Later I finally met his "better half" Daddy Pax when the gang all started showing up on their doorstep every Sunday night. Then I got me another great friend who welcomed me and made me feel right at home. Not being the most outgoing person in the world, I find meeting new people and entering new surroundings difficult so this has meant a great deal to me. Even though they're an old married couple now, Whatshisname and Daddy Pax have STILL not become fuddy-duddies like many other married couples I could mention. You guys are the coolest and I know I speak for all us misfits, strays and knuckleheads (yours truly) you have welcomed into your home every Sunday night. I, for one, am extremely grateful to call you both my friends.

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Radio comedians Jack Benny and Fred Allen were the best of friends but they instituted a comedic feud which lasted a couple decades. Legend has it that it all started when Jack Benny (a notoriously bad violin player) heard a quip made by Fred Allen on his radio show. Allen had a young boy violinist play "The Flight of the Bumblebee" and he was phenomenal. Allen joked: "After hearing this young boy play, Jack Benny ought to be ashamed of himself." A harmless, throwaway line. But Jack Benny responded to it on his own radio show and got a big laugh. Then Allen responded to Benny's response and got a bigger laugh. The feud was up and running for a couple months before Benny and Allen even discussed it with each other. Then, throughout the 30's, 40's and 50's (until Fred Allen's untimely death) the two comedians ran with it; guest starring on each other's programs as well as making several films together in which they extended their feud (Love Thy Neighbor, It's In the Bag, etc.)

On one occasion, Allen made a particularly hilarious put-down at Benny's expense; Jack paused for a moment and ad-libbed "Hmmmm. You wouldn't have said that if my writers were here!" Another famous instance occurred when Fred Allen was doing a comedy sketch called "King For A Day" in which he was hosting a fake game show. Jack Benny, being so cheap, decided to sneak on under an assumed name (Myron Proudfoot) so he could win some prizes for nothing (even tho Allen had previously warned Benny that professionals couldn't participate). By the end of the broadcast, while demonstrated a prize called the Hoffman Pressing Machine, Allen actually managed to removed Jack Benny's pants live onstage (with the help of some burly stagehands) and the uproarious laughter of the audience was deafening. Jack Benny was a comedy giant and Fred Allen was called the wittiest man in the country. But together they made comedy heaven!

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Friday, September 22, 2006

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Nuff said.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

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Well, it's late afternoon as we approach the small house halfway up on the next block: the residence of Radio's homefolks Vic and Sade (arguably the most brilliantly-written comedy in the history of old-time radio). Vic & Sade was written by Paul Rhymer and for most of it's run consisted of 15 minute weekday programs sandwiched in between the regular soap operas. But Vic & Sade ain't no soap opera; it's simply the most amazing thing ever heard on old-time radio during the 30's and 40's. The scripts are actually comic literature. Victor R. Gook is the normally perplexed patriarch of the family while his wife Sade tries to keep order between Vic and their precocious son Rush. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThis is an almost impossible task (especially when Uncle Fletcher stops by to ramble on about something or other -- usually a hankerin' for those peanuts with the chocolate smeared on the outside).

Vic & Sade was actually the first show about nothing -- DECADES before Seinfeld. Entire episodes would literally revolve around a broken seat at the Bijou (pronounced Bye-Joe) Theater or Rush's attempt to collect a fruit jar filled with dirt from every state in the union. One show had the entire town traipsing thru the Gook home because they closed off the alley. Another found Vic inundated with bowls of chicken soup because somehow the rumour got started that Vic was getting sick (he wasn't). The show didn't feature jokes; the humour arose from the absurdist (almost surreal) writing. While swinging on a porch swing one August afternoon, Rush discusses with Sade his new business scheme selling bacon sandwiches: he'll have a pig tied up out back and when a customer orders a bacon sandwich Rush anesthetizes the pig, slices off some bacon, nurses the pig back to health then starts all over again. This saves the expense of having to keep buying pigs. Sade's response? The usual exclamation she makes when someone is talking nonsense: "Oh, ish!"

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Rhymer's scripts have actually been published in book form and have been preserved as historic literature. While Vic & Sade takes place in stereotypical small-town America, things are actually quite bizarre. The show was set is such a place in order to turn such notions of smalltown normalcy upside down and reveal that people are just plain nuts -- all over -- in big cities OR small towns. As an obsessive member of the Sacred Stars of the Milky Way (Vic's lodge . . . Vic belongs to the "Drowsy Venus" chapter of the lodge), I am the proud owner of quite a huge chunk of Vic & Sade radio broadcasts with which to assault you at a moments notice. So be warned. And always know that whenever you get home from work, dinner will not be ready because the beef punkles aren't cooked enough.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Another casualty of the current economic climate as the venerable Oceanic Airlines suspends all flight service after 25 years due to "financial difficulties in the wake of the Flight 815 tragedy".

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Namaste and good luck.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

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There once was a time when everyone...but everyone...was watching General Hospital. I would have to jump off the school bus (which dropped me off at about a quarter to 3) to run to my house and turn on Channel 6 just in time to see the latest escapades of Luke Spencer and Laura Baldwin. Me and every other schmuck on the planet. I was there for the Disco rape, for the punch-out on the yacht, for the Ice Princess, for Frank Smith, for Elizabeth Taylor...heck, I even remember Sally (who was a man who wore a dress). And then, the next morning on the school bus everyone was buzzing: "Did you see it? Did you see it?" GH's mastermind Gloria Monty (who died this year) knew how to get those butts in their seats in front of the television. Soon enough, things would get really silly. But oh, that first summer on the run was a pistol! Well, I don't know about you but I now have an uncontrollable urge to put on Herb Alpert's "Rise". And so do you, I'll wager. Go on. You know you want to.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

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The titanic explosion that was Marvel Comics was basically the work of two men: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Stan the Man and Jack the King. The list is endless: The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, The Mighty Thor, The Uncanny X-Men -- and yes, even Spider-Man -- Marvel Comics shook up the comic book world by depicting personal problems and foibles of the heroes behind the masks. The work of Stan and Jack is still being felt today and is the yardstick by which we still measure great comic art. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingBut why are they called Dynamic Duo 9a??? Well, that's because there was ANOTHER genius who partnered with Stan Lee in those early days of Marvel and that causes me to have a Duo of Dynamic Duos with:


Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWhile Stan and Jack were providing us with the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, Stan and Steve were producing the CLASSIC initial run of Spider-Man (Jack Kirby drew Spidey's first appearance only) as well as a classic psychedelic run of Dr. Strange Master of the Mystic Arts. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe reclusive, camera-shy Ditko let his pencils speak for him. There ain't nuthin' better than the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko run of the Amazing Spider-Man, folks. These three men make up a pair of Dynamic Duos for the ages.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

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What's all this Lethal Weapon malarchy? Hollywood's first integrated buddy team was the unheralded and forgotten pairing of Mantan Moreland and Frankie Darro. In a series of films beginning with "Irish Luck", Mantan & Frankie were amateur sleuths fighting crooks in hotels, radio stations and trucking companies. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe strange thing for the time was that both men were genuine friends and treated each other as equals. Both men were on equal economic and social footing; in "The Gang's All Here" Frankie and Mantan were both truck drivers, in "Up In the Air" both men worked in a hotel, etc. Unlike all other Hollywood product of the era (and even long after), these films depicted a white guy who treated a black guy as an equal partner and that, I think, makes these films remarkable. Any person of color in forties films was ALWAYS a servant/employee of the white establishment figure; Mantan and Frankie was co-workers, good friends and equal partners. The white authority figures in this series of films would still look down on Mantan as a menial but Frankie got the same treatment. And each time it happened, Mantan was ready with a barbed gag line to make the audience laugh. Mantan Moreland would later be crucified in the 60's by the NAACP for so-called "demeaning" roles but this was completely unfair and hurt the actor deeply. Unlike such actors as Stepin Fetchit, Moreland didn't bow and scrape but usually had a witty remark to make to "the man". The whole point of these movies was that Mantan and Frankie were the underdogs; working class stiffs who were just trying to get by but always got mixed up in some comical caper. At the end of these films, our two poor laborers always ended up on top as they watched the bad guys get carted away to justice. Along the way, Frankie and Mantan managed to demonstrate that an integrated equal partnership had prevailed. All this during the hopelessly segregated forties. Not bad for a bunch of poverty row quickie B-pictures. Not bad for Mantan Moreland and Frankie Darro.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

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It's the most beloved movie of all time. Hands down. It's also the place where two star-crossed lovers meet once again after one of those messy breakups.

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The wild finish. A guy standing on the station platform in the rain, with a comical look on his face because his insides had been kicked out. No matter. That would not be the end of the story.

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Even if they don't end up together. Even if they never see each other again after the final reel ends. It's OK.

RICK: If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

ILSA: But what about us?

RICK: We'll always have Paris. We didn't have, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.

ILSA: When I said I would never leave you...

Rick: And you never will.

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Do you want to play questions?

How do you play that?

You have to ask a question.

Statement. One - Love.



I haven't started yet.

Statement. Two - Love.

Are you counting that?


Are you counting that?

Foul. No repetition. Three - Love and game.

I'm not going to play if you're going to be like that.

Who's serve?


Hesitation. Love - One.

Who's go?


Why not?

What for?

HA. No synonyms. One all.

What in God's name is going on?

Foul. No rhetoric. Two - One.

What does it all add up to?

Can't you guess?

Are you addressing me?

Is there anyone else?


How would I know?

Why do you ask?

Are you serious?

Was that rhetoric?

No. Statement. Two all. Game point.

What's the matter with you today?



Are you deaf?

Am I dead?

Yes or no?

Is there a choice?

Is there a God?

Foul. No non-sequiturs. Three - Two. One game all.

What's your name?

What's yours?

You first.

Statement. One - Love.

What's your name when you're at home?

What's yours?

When I'm at home?

Is it different at home?

What home?

Haven't you got one?

Why do you ask?

What are you driving at?

What's your name?

Repetition. Two - Love. Match point.

Who do you think you are?

Rhetoric. Game and match!

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

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Yummy Yummy Yummy. I love licorice! My favourite is the basic, he-man Australian licorice (pictured above) but I like it in any form pretty much. Licorice goes way back to early history and is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean region. The pharoahs in Egypt were lucky enough to get it. Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar liked a nice piece of licorice now and then. In the Middle Ages, crusaders brought licorice back to England with them. The English love licorice; they be particularly fond of licorice allsorts.

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The first licorice produced in England came from a monastery in Pontefract where it became a major industry; a licorice festival is held their every year. In the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote of people using licorice to sweeten their breath. Then, early settlers brought licorice with them to the new world. In Paris in the late 18th century, a drink made from powdered licorice root was called "coco" because it was usually served in a coconut half. It became all the rage and was served all over Paris in their famous cafes. Today, April 12th is National Licorice Day.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingLicorice comes from a plant called Glycyrrhiza which means "sweet root" in Greek. Licorice is sometimes referred to as "Sweet Wood" or "Spanish Juice". Besides being used for food, licorice was also used in medicine. It was thought to relieve coughs and quench thirst and is also anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic besides being a mild diuretic (as everyone knows when they eat too much of it). Licorice is also used to flavour tobacco (so all you smokers who hate licorice better apologize to me right now!) As a kiddy-winkie, my favourite gum was Black Jack (it still is); Happy Harry chewed it as well in the movie "Pump Up the Volume" (but I'm sure he got the idea from me!). When I was a kid, BlackJack had a pirate on the package (as can be seen here) Photobucket - Video and Image Hostingbut nowadays it looks like that there on the left. Sadly, BlackJack gum is only produced certain times of the year and sells out pretty fast. Well, I'm gonna chaw me some licorice right now. Join me in my happy little licorice dance!

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She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah
She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah
And with a love like that
You know you should be glad.
With a love like that
You know you should be glad.
With a love like that,
You know you sho-o-ould
Be Glaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Yeah, yeah, yeah Yeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

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"If I could just say a few words about our dear friend Neon. He was a loving, strong, compassionate friend who was always there for his three brothers. He would never hurt anyone and always played with the other kids in the school yard. It is a terrible tragedy to swim into a filter. Why such a thing could happen? We don�t know. All we know is that he had an impact on everyone around him. He will be truly missed by all. Farewell little fella!!

Funeral services will be held tonight at 6:00pm.

I need help. . ."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


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Salt Peter. Pins. Salt Peter. Pins.

The spectacular partnership of John and Abigail Adams went from Colonial America through the Revolutionary War and the establishment of the United States. John Adams was one of the primary, most important revolutionary leaders of the time. He was completed by Abigail. Their letters to each other (all of which I have actually read, for goodness sake) are some of the most intelligent and entertaining correspondences ever written. While Abigail was single-handedly running their farm, John was usually stuck in Philadelphia trying to convince the Continental Congress that we should separate from Great Britain. His letters home to Abigail eagerly sought out her advice and opinions. Later, when John became the second president of the United States and the first to reside in the newly-built White House, Abigail hung her washing up to dry in the huge ballroom. And through it all, there was a deep, abiding love between them which never faltered. The greatest tribute to each other I can think of is how they chose to end their letters; they would each sign there name and address each other as "My Dearest Friend". A true partnership in every sense of the word; and one of great historical significance.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingDYNAMIC DUOS PART 1/2:  Ummm, These guys probably mean something to somebody but I can't for the life of me remember who or why. . .

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In the over 500,000 movies they made together, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were often pitted against each other as deadly enemies. But as soon as the cameras stopped rolling, they would be making each other giggle (believe it or not) by doing impressions of cartoon characters. Whether Peter was the mad scientist and Christopher was his creation or Lee was the Lord of Vampires and Cushing was the vampire hunter, each actor gave a full performance. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingYou can see them traipsing the moors of the Baskerville estate, riding the Orient Express with Telly Savalas and a missing link discovered in the ice of Manchuria and struggling over the skeleton of an "Old One" which grows flesh when rained upon.

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In Horror Express, a murderous alien life form is loose on a train. A police inspector is being helped by characters played by Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. The Inspector says to them:

INSPECTOR: The two of you together? That's fine. But what if one of YOU is the monster?

CUSHING: Monster?!? We're British, you know!

Even when Cushing was shoving an arrow through Lee's chest (granted, Lee WAS a Mummy at the time), their friendship was legendary. Their performances built Hammer's House of Horror. Whether monsters or monster hunters, Cushing and Lee were the strongest pillars on which to rest a movie. The true Gentleman of Horror and the Master of Menace. There ain't NUTHIN' more enjoyable.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

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Katharine Hepburn & Spencer Tracy. 9 Films. Over a quarter of a century. The embodiment of the war between the sexes and their ultimate love and cooperation. The no-nonsense grumbling street-tough Irish Catholic and the headstrong independant-thinking Connecticut Yankee. Their first meeting on the studio lot; introduced by director Joseph Mankiewicz.

KATE: I'm afraid I may be a little too tall for you, Mr. Tracy.

JOE: Don't worry, Kate. He'll cut you down to size.

Newspaper sports writer feuds with intellectual feminist newspaper columnist. On the same newspaper. Never met. Spar with each other back and forth in their columns. Tess Harding and Sam Craig. One of the greatest on screen meetings in movie history. Sam is summoned to the editor's office. He rolls in like a tank, opens the door and stops dead in his tracks. There's that leg! Lovely, long and shapely. One of the best legs the screen has ever seen. Adjusting her stocking. They both lock eyes. Fireworks! Sparks! Embers!

EDITOR: Have you met Miss Harding?

SAM: Yes, yes. In a belligerent sort of way.

TESS: He hit me first. Hello.

They shake hands. AS the boss blathers on, the two size each other up, standing their ground, not giving an inch. But smoldering with obvious attraction. One of the greatest moments of non-verbal communication in movie history, in fact. That's a lotta mosts on 5 minutes. They shake hands and call a truce. Tess leaves the office. Sam hurries to catch up with her. She turns a corner and stops on the staircase to light a cigarette. He accelerates and turns the corner coming nose to nose with her. His one leg raised on the step above; encircling hers. Sheepishly, he moves past her up the stairs.

TESS: Isn't the sports department downstairs?

SAM: Uh . . . why yes, yes, I guess it is . . . but I . . .

TESS: Then aren't you going in the wrong direction?

SAM: Maybe I am. I - uh - - - are you always much too busy?

TESS: What for?

SAM: I was wondering about this afternoon.

TESS: Sorry.

SAM: Tomorrow afternoon, maybe?

TESS: What's on your mind?

SAM: I'd like to take you to a baseball game!


9 films. A quarter of a century. Screen magic. Cherce!

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

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DYNAMIC DUOS: The first in an occasional series which highlights phenomenal team-ups. Part One: MURDER SOMETIMES SMELLS LIKE HONEYSUCKLE. This time around it's Walter and Phyllis. Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck. Prize chump and femme fatale. That wig! That anklet! Those venetian blind shadows! All that cracking wise! And no visible scars . . . until now, that is.

Walter: 8:30 tomorrow evening, then?

Phyllis: That's what I suggested.

Walter: Will you be here too?

Phyllis: I guess so. I usually am.

Walter: Same chair? Same perfume? Same anklet?

Phyllis: I wonder if I know what you mean.

Walter: I wonder if you wonder.

I wonder if he'll ever get the sour taste of her iced tea out of his mouth? Probably not. There's a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. That tears it! He did it all for the money and the woman. He didn't get the money and he didn't get the woman. Pretty, isn't it?

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