Friday, December 31, 2010

TIME TO ANNOUNCE THE WINNERS OF THE 2010 PENGUIN AWARDS. While this year has been the most difficult due to the extreme mediocrity of the music scene at the moment, I have managed to scrape together several winners.
GONE TO SHILOH by Elton John & Leon Russell featuring Neil Young

GENUINE NEGRO JIG by Carolina Chocolate Drops 

BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER by Mary J. Blige & Andrea Boccelli

The song of the year GONE TO SHILOH was indeed a very haunting one and received a couple reader votes. However, the simple fact is that it won because there really wasn't anything good enough to top it. The album of the year was a different story as Carolina Chocolate Drops' GENUINE NEGRO JIG was far and away the most listened to album in my player owing to the rich variety of song choices and virtuoso performances.  Runner-up was probably Broken Bells then V.V. Brown followed closely by Melody Gardot and Sade. Duet of the Year BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER won by virtue of a goosebump-raising vocal performance. However, the cover song of the year winner WHOLE LOTTA LOVE was truly the surprise. Mary's "Stairway To Heaven" was the one she performed all over the place and the one which got all the press. However the "b-side" of the single was this version of WHOLE LOTTA LOVE which fulfills one of my cardinal rules concerning covers: it should bring something new to the table. . .and this one did. Now, I love Led Zeppelin and always have -- but WHOLE LOTTA LOVE has never been one of my favourites. In fact, I usually skip past it if it's on the radio and I don't even have it in my ipod. Mary J. Blige's version whips it up into a whole new groove which brings the grossly overplayed song new life. It's quite a feat when you make a cover version which is better than the original -- and this one frankly is in my opinion. This is the only version I'll be listening to. So there youse has it: the somewhat underwhelming 2010 Penguin Awards. Click this link to hear a sampling of them. Let's hope next year we find some artists getting off their duffs and concocting some REALLY GOOD MUSIC! I can't take another year like this one!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

FIRST NEW BLOG FEATURE OF THE NEW YEAR: A FAVOURITE COMIC BOOK COVER OF THE DAY. That's right, I have added another feature over there on the right hand column (below the dead people and my Library Thing). What I will be posting there is a favourite comic book cover of the past. Sometimes it will be shown because it is one of my favourite issues and sometimes it will just be pictured because it's boss cover art I've always loved regardless of what's in the actual issue. For instance, this cover is not featured because it's a particularly great cover but because it's probably the first real superhero comic book I ever bought new off the newstand. Before that I had picked up older comic books with their covers torn off at the Pennsauken Mart but had never (for some reason) bought a new issue hot off the presses. So when I was a kid, I used to spend a lot of weekends at my grandparents' huge old Victorian house on Westfield Avenue in Pennsauken (I've written about this before). Often my grandmother and I would walk all the way up Westfield Avenue to Thor's Drug Store where I would usually pick up my favourite Black Jack gum, some "You'll Die Laughing" bubble gum cards, a paperback book of Charles Shultz's Peanuts, an issue of Cracked or Mad Magazine and some comic books which were usually of the Gold Key, Harvey or Archie variety (i.e. Madhouse Glads, Boris Karloff's Tales of Mystery, The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor, Donald Duck or Richie Rich & Jackie Jokers). However, the first superhero comic I can remember picking up is this one: Justice League of America #120 which I read and re-read millions of times outside on the hammock in my grandparents' backyard. The story was continued in the next issue and I was actually diligent enough to pick up the story's conclusion the next month when it came out. So this cover is posted because of the issue itself. I'll try to choose my next one because of the spectacular cover art. One final note: if you click on the cover photo, you will be able to see it in a larger image. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

THE BUTCHER'S BILL 2010. As usual at this time of year, I look back at those notable celebrities who have stepped on a rainbow this year. Please visit our sister audio blog BATHED IN THE LIGHT FROM ANDROMEDA to hear those recording artists who have died in 2010.
  • WILLIE MITCHELL, songwriter/producer "Let's Stay Together", "Call Me (Come Back Home)
  • ART CLOKEY, creator of Gumby
  • MIEP GIES, helped hide Anne Frank
  • ERIC ROHMER, writer/director
  • ELIZABETH MOODY, actress "Dead Alive"
  • ERICH SEGAL, screenwriter "Love Story"
  • BOBBY CHARLES, songwriter "See You Later, Alligator", "I Don't Know Why But I Do"
  • ROBERT "SQUIRREL" LESTER, singer "The Chi-Lites"
  • KATE MCGARRIGLE, musician
  • JEAN SIMMONS, actress "Hamlet", "Black Narcissus", "Guys and Dolls"
  • PERNELL ROBERTS, actor "Bonanza", "Trapper John M.D."
  • LOUIS AUCHINCLOSS, author/historian "Queen Victoria & Her Circle"
  • ZELDA RUBINSTEIN, actress "Poltergeist"
  • J.D. SALINGER, author "Franny and Zooey", "Catcher in the Rye"
  • HOWARD ZINN, historian "A People's History of the United States"
  • TOM BROOKSHIER, TV sportscaster
  • IAN CARMICHAEL, actor "I'm All Right, Jack"
  • PHIL HARRIS, fisherman "The Deadliest Catch"
  • CHARLIE WILSON, politician "Charlie Wilson's War"
  • ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, director "Bjork: Volumen"
  • DOUG FIEGER, singer "The Knack"
  • ART VAN DAMME, jazz musician
  • DICK FRANCIS, author
  • DALE HAWKINS, singer "Susie Q"
  • KATHRYN GRAYSON, singer/actress "Ziegfeld Follies"
  • LIONEL JEFFRIES, actor/director "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"
  • ALEXANDER HAIG, former U.S. Secretary of State
  • CAROLINE MCWILLIAMS, actress "Soap", "Benson"
  • ANDREW KOENIG, actor "Batman: Dead End", "Growing Pains"
  • JIM HARMON, screenwriter "The Lemon Grove Kids Vs. the Monsters"
  • RON BANKS, singer "The Dramatics"
  • CAROL MARSH, actress "Horror of Dracula"
  • COREY HAIM, actor "The Lost Boys"
  • MERLIN OLSON, actor "Little House on the Prairie"
  • PETER GRAVES, actor "Killers From Space", "Night of the Hunter", "Airplane"
  • LESLEY DUNCAN, singer "Love Song", "If I Could Change Your Mind"
  • HERB COHEN, record executive/manager "Frank Zappa"
  • SID FLEISCHMAN, author "The Ghost on Saturday Night"
  • ALEX CHILTON, singer "The Box Tops", "Big Star"
  • FESS PARKER, actor "Daniel Boone", "Davy Crockett"
  • JOHNNY MAESTRO, singer "The Crests"
  • ROBERT CULP, actor "I Spy", "Spectre"
  • DICK GIORDANO, comic book artist "Batman", "Green Lantern"
  • JUNE HAVOC, actress "Gentleman's Agreement"
  • SHIRLEY MILLS, actress "The Grapes of Wrath"
  • BUDDY GORMAN, actor "The Bowery Boys", "The Dead End Kids"
  • JOHN FORSYTHE, actor "The Trouble With Harry", "Dynasty", "Bachelor Father"
  • HENRY SCARPELLI, comic book artist "Archie"
  • CHRISTOPHER CAZENOVE, actor "The Duchess of Duke Street", "Dynasty"
  • MALCOLM MCLAREN, manager "The Sex Pistols"
  • MEINHARDT RAABE, actor "The Wizard of Oz"
  • DIXIE CARTER, actress "Designing Women"
  • MISSISSIPPI SLIM, blues singer
  • DARYL GATES, former L.A. police chief
  • DEDE ALLEN, film editor "Bonnie and Clyde"
  • LYNN REDGRAVE, actress "Gods and Monsters", "Smashing Time"
  • PETER O'DONNELL, author "Modesty Blaise"
  • ROBERT J. SERLING, author/brother of Rod Serling
  • LENA HORNE, singer
  • FRANK FRAZETTA, artist
  • ROSA RIO, organist "The Shadow"
  • RUTH CHEW, author "What the Witch Left"
  • RONNIE JAMES DIO, singer "Black Sabbath", "Dio"
  • MARTIN GARDNER, mathematician/author "Perplexing Puzzles and Tantalyzing Teasers"
  • GARY COLEMAN, actor "Diff'rent Strokes"
  • DENNIS HOPPER, actor/director "Easy Rider", "Night Tide", "Speed"
  • RUE MCCLANAHAN, actress "Maude", "The Golden Girls"
  • HIMAN BROWN, radio producer "Inner Sanctum", "CBS Radio Mystery Theater"
  • MARVIN ISLEY, bassist "The Isley Brothers"
  • CRISPIAN ST. PETERS, singer "The Pied Piper"
  • AL WILLIAMSON, comic book artist "E.C. Comics", "Flash Gordon"
  • JIMMY DEAN, singer "Big Bad John"
  • JIM PUGLIANO, drummer "The Jaggerz"
  • PHIL GORDON, actor "The Beverly Hillbillies", "Green Acres"
  • GARRY SHIDER, guitarist "Parliament -- known as Diaper Man"
  • RONALD NEAME, director "The Poseidon Adventure"
  • JOJO BILLINGSLEY, singer "Lynyrd Skynyrd"
  • COREY ALLEN, actor "Rebel Without A Cause"
  • VONETTA MCGEE, actress "Blacula"
  • SUGAR MINNOTT, singer "Hang On Natty"
  • HARVEY PEKAR, comic book writer "American Splendor"
  • GEORGE STEINBRENNER, baseball team owner "N.Y. Yankees"
  • ALAN HUME, cinematographer "Return of the Jedi"
  • LARRY KEITH, actor "The Raven & Other Favorite Poems"
  • ANDY HUMMEL, bassist "Big Star"
  • MAURY CHAYKIN, actor "Nero Wolfe", "Dances With Wolves"
  • MITCH MILLER, record executive/TV host "Sing Along With Mitch"
  • BOBBY HEBB, singer "Sunny"
  • CATFISH COLLINS, guitarist "Parliament", "The J.B.'s"
  • PATRICIA NEAL, actress "Hud", "The Fountainhead"
  • TED KOWALKSI, singer "The Diamonds"
  • GEORGE DICENZO, actor "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "The Ninth Configuration"
  • DAVID L. WOLPER, producer "Roots", "The Thorn Birds"
  • EDWIN NEWMAN, newscaster "NBC News"
  • ABBEY LINCOLN, singer
  • ROBERT WILSON, musician "The Gap Band"
  • BOBBY THOMSON, baseball player "The Shot Heard 'Round the World"
  • MICHAEL BEEN, musician "The Call"
  • JACK HORKHEIMER, TV astronomer "Star Hustler"
  • ROBERT SCHIMMEL, comedian
  • MIKE EDWARDS, cellist "Electric Light Orchestra"
  • CLIVE DONNER, director "Spectre"
  • GLENN SHADIX, actor "Beetlejuice"
  • BILLIE MAE RICHARDS, voice actor "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
  • KEVIN MCCARTHY, actor "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"
  • HAROLD GOULD, actor "Rhoda"
  • CLAUDE CHABROL, director
  • BILL LITTLEJOHN, animator "Tom & Jerry", "Peanuts"
  • LEONARD SKINNER, teacher "namesake for Lynyrd Skynyrd"
  • EDDIE FISHER, singer
  • GLORIA STUART, actress "The Old Dark House", "The Invisible Man", "Titanic"
  • BUDDY MORROW, band leader "Poe For Moderns"
  • SALLY MENKE, film editor "Reservoir Dogs", "Pulp Fiction", "Jackie Brown"
  • ARTHUR PENN, director "Bonnie and Clyde"
  • JOE MANTELL, actor "Chinatown"
  • TONY CURTIS, actor "Sweet Smell of Success", "Some Like It Hot"
  • STEPHEN J. CANNELL, producer "The Rockford Files", "Wiseguy"
  • MARSHALL FLAUM, director "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau"
  • SIR NORMAN WISDOM, actor/comedian "On the Beat"
  • ROY WARD BAKER, director "A Night To Remember", "Quatermass & the Pit"
  • SOLOMON BURKE, singer "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love", "Cry To Me"
  • SIMON MACCORKINDALE, actor "Death on the Nile"
  • JOHNNY SHEFFIELD, actor "Tarzan's New York Adventure", "Bomba the Jungle Boy"
  • BARBARA BILLINGSLEY, actress "Leave It To Beaver", "Airplane"
  • GRAHAM CROWDEN, actor "Doctor Who: The Horns of Nimon", "Waiting For God"
  • TOM BOSLEY, actor "Happy Days"
  • ROBERT PAYNTER, cinematographer "An American Werewolf in London"
  • BOB GUCCIONE, publisher "Penthouse"
  • MIKE ESPOSITO, comic book artist "Wonder Woman", "The Amazing Spider-Man"
  • GREGORY ISAACS, singer "Night Nurse"
  • TED SORENSON, JFK's White House Counsel
  • CHARLIE O'DONNELL, TV announcer "Wheel of Fortune"
  • JILL CLAYBURGH, actress "An Unmarried Woman"
  • TONY WEST, musician "The Searchers"
  • DINO DELAURENTIIS, producer "Europa '51", "Barbarella", "La Strada"
  • HENRYK GORECKI, composer
  • IRVIN KERSHNER, director "The Empire Strikes Back"
  • INGRID PITT, actress "The Vampire Lovers", "Countess Dracula"
  • LESLIE NIELSEN, actor "Forbidden Planet", "Airplane", "Police Squad"
  • MARIO MONICELLI, director
  • DON MEREDITH, football player/TV announcer "Monday Night Football"
  • JAMES MOODY, jazz saxophonist "Moody's Mood For Love"
  • BLAKE EDWARDS, producer/director "The Pink Panther"
  • JEAN ROLLIN, director
  • DON VAN VLIET, musician "Captain Beefheart"
  • STEVE LANDESBURG, actor "Barney Miller"
  • FRED FOY, radio announcer
  • DOROTHY JONES, singer "The Cookies"
  • BERNARD WILSON, singer "Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes"
  • TEENA MARIE, singer
  • NICK SANTO, singer "The Capris"

Sunday, December 26, 2010

THE YEAR IN MOVIES 2010! It has been my habit to list my favourite movies which I saw for the first time this year. Not movies MADE in 2010 but those I'd never seen before and watched in 2010. I saw many great films for the first time this year but I've whittled it down to only 50. ONLY he says!
  1. AUTUMN SONATA (1978) - Ingmar Bergman finally works with Ingrid Bergman. Masterful performances from Ingrid and Liv Ullman in the harrowing portrait of a mother who never connected with her daughters.
  2. THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1970) - Dario Argento's early thriller concerning a writer stalked by a serial killer after witnessing an attempted murder.
  3. THE BUDDHA (2010) - Beautiful TV documentary helmed by David Grubin relating the life and teachings of the Buddha with ubiquitous Richard Gere narrating and readings by Blair Brown. Lovely animation as well.
  4. CHUSHINGURA (1962) - Director Hiroshi Inagaki's lush retelling of the Japanese national epic of a conflict of obligations also known as THE 47 LOYAL RONIN
  5. DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (1971) - Dreamlike and queasy "Carmilla-like" film with Delphine Seyrig as the vampire preying on married couple John (DARK SHADOWS) Karlen and (more specifically) Danielle Ouimet.
  6. DEEP RED (1975) - Superb Dario Argento horror-thriller starring David Hemmings in the middle of the knife-slashing mania.
  7. DISTRICT 9 (2009) - Oscar-nominated science fiction phenomenon with prawns.
  8. DORIAN GRAY (2009) - The best filmic adaptation of Oscar Wilde's hoary old tale of debauchery with Ben Barnes as the angelic-faced reprobate and Colin Firth leading him astray. Did I say ashtray?!?
  9. THE 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER (1984) - masterful kung fu director Lau Kar-Leung's revenge film starring Gordon Liu and Alexander Fu Sheng (who died during filming).
  10. THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL (1962) - Luis Bunuel's deliriously odd (that's nothing new) tale of a group of guests at a formal dinner party who find themselves unable to leave. Ever.
  11. THE FACE OF ANOTHER (1966) - Director Hiroshi Teshigahara's strange mixing of EYES WITHOUT A FACE and DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE as a hideously scarred man has a new face sculpted by a plastic surgeon. Does the person wear the mask or the mask wear the person?
  12. FELLOWSHIP OF THE FROG (1959) - One of the wonderfully daffy German krimi films based on the writings of Edgar Wallace. A master criminal by the name of "The Frog" torments Joachim Fuchsberger et. al.
  13. FIST OF LEGEND (1994) - As much as it seemed like a dopey idea to remake Bruce Lee's classic FISTS OF FURY, they actually did a really nice job of it with Jet Li fighting like a whirlwind.
  14. THE FIVE DEADLY VENOMS (1978) - Director Chang Cheh's hugely popular kung fu epic of a dying martial arts master tasking a student with checking on five masked former students named Centipede, Snake, Toad, Lizard and Scorpion. So influential the actors in the film forever after were known as "The Venoms".
  15. FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS (1982) - Another Chang Cheh kung fu classic this time with more of a "fairy tale" feel to it. A student seeks revenge over the ninja who killed his brothers & father; he must run the gauntlet of the Five Element Ninja Challenge of Earth, Wood, Fire, Gold and Water.
  16. FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH (1972) - Also known as KING BOXER, this is the film which actually kicked off the kung fu craze in the early 70's. This is yet another revenge tale with Lo Lieh playing the hero this time.
  17. THE GOOD DIE YOUNG (1954) - Three decent men are led astray by an amoral "gentleman" who involved them in a plot to rob a postal van. Great cast includes Laurence Harvey, Stanley Baker, Richard Basehart, Gloria Grahame, John Ireland, Joan Collins, Margaret Leighton etc.
  18. HEROES OF THE EAST (1979) - Kung fu classic helmed by Lau Kar-Leung starring Gordon Liu as the Chinese martial arts master who married a Japanese woman; he accidentally offends all of Japan's martial arts and must accept the challenge to fight 10 ninjas each specializing in a particular fighting style. One of the best.
  19. IN THE LOOP (2009) - The closest thing so far to getting the exceptional British comedy THE THICK OF IT into a film. Hilarious political comedy with the spectacular Peter Capaldi as Malcolm.
  20. IN WHICH WE SERVE (1942) - Story of World War II British destroyer H.M.S. Torrin told in flashbacks as its crew clings to a life raft. Directed by David Lean & Noel Coward. Cast includes Coward, Michael Wilding and John Mills.
  21. IP MAN (2008) - Director Wilson Yip's sorta-biography of Bruce Lee's martial arts master Ip Man takes place before and after the Japanese occupation of China leading up to World War II. Donnie Yen has probably his finest role here. The wonderful Simon Yam also stars and legendary Sammo Hung does the action directing. One of the best films of the year.
  22. IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY (1947) - Director Robert Hamer's rather bleakly realistic film of an escaped convict's attempt to hide out in his former (married) lover's house. The wonderful Googie Withers heads a superb cast.
  23. JUDEX (1963) - Georges Franju's fever-dream updating of the classic French serial.
  24. JULIE & JULIA (2009) - Nora Ephron's lovely intertwining of the life of iconic TV chef Julia Child with a blogger's attempt to cook every recipe in Child's cookbook in a year. Based on a true story starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci.
  25. KILLZONE (2005) - Director Wilson Yip's police story/martial arts blockbuster also known as SPL. Stars Donnie Yen as a new police detective taking over retiring Simon Yam's beat and getting entwined in an ongoing revenge vendetta against crimelord Sammo Hung. Great story and great fight scenes including a spectacular alley fight between Yen and psychotic Jing Wu.
  26. LA RONDE (1950) - Max Ophuls' delightful film about . . . well, sex, actually. Beautiful as a jewel. Superb cast includes Anton Walbrook, Simone Signoret, Simone Simon, Danielle Darrieux and more.
  27. LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (1961) - Director Alain Resnais' bewildering but rivetting film concerning a man and a woman who may or may not have met last year at Marienbad. Delphine Seyrig enigmatically stars.
  28. THE MAD EXECUTIONERS (1963) - Another wildly fun German krimi based on the writing of Bryan Edgar Wallace in which a hooded society passes judgment on criminals who "got away with it" and kills them. This could be my favourite krimi, I think.
  29. ME AND ORSON WELLES (2008) - Lovely Richard Linklater film which (fictionally) takes us back to the famous Mercury Theater production of Julius Caesar. Christian McKay is stunning in his Orson Welles impersonation. The cast is rounded out by Zac Efron (you should pardon the expression), Claire Danes and Ben Chaplin.
  30. MY BEST FIEND (1999) - Werner Herzog's startling and hilarious documentary of his relationship with mad actor Klaus Kinski.
  31. MYSTERY OF CHESS BOXING (1979) - Mark Long stars as the Ghost Face Killer in this classic "martial arts training" film.
  32. OIL CITY CONFIDENTIAL (2009) - Superb Julien Temple rockumentary following the history of classic British rockers Dr. Feelgood.
  33. ONG BAK (2003) - One of the most highly touted martial arts flicks in recent memory. Tony Jaa is breathtaking in his fighting scenes as the young man charged with the task of returning his hometown's stolen Buddha statue by using his astonishing Muay Thai fighting technique.
  34. OPEN CITY (1945) - Roberto Rossellini's neo-realist trend-setter concerning the final days of Italy's Nazi occupation and the freedom fighters who try to undermine them. Aldo Fabrizi and Anna Magnani head the cast.
  35. PASSPORT TO PIMLICO (1949) - Terrific British comedy in which the residence of an area of London secede from Great Britain and proclaim themselves an independent country. Great cast of British character actors includes Stanley Holloway and Hermione Baddeley.
  36. PERSONA (1966) - Stunning Ingmar Bergman film in which an actress suddenly stops speaking and the nurse assigned to her care slowly finds herself losing her own personality. Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullman both give startling performances.
  37. RICHARD III (1955) - Laurence Olivier directs and stars in this Shakespearean adaptation of the "pantomime villain" which also stars acting heavyweights Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Sir Ralph Richardson, Sir John Gielgud, Pamela Brown and Claire Bloom. But not a horse.
  38. RUSH: BEYOND THE LIGHTED STAGE (2010) - Absolutely spectacular documentary on the Canadian rock institution Rush which covers their history and their music in equal depth.
  39. THE SARAGOSSA MANUSCRIPT (1965) - Director Wojciech Has' film adaptation of the thought-to-be unfilmable Polish epic.
  40. SCARFACE (1932) - Howard Hawks and Richard Rosson co-directed this 30's gangster classic with Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, George Raft and Boris Karloff.
  41. SNATCH (2000) - This is actually the only Guy Ritchie film I've ever seen but I thought it was hilarious. I can't speak to the "mockney" quality of his other films but this is like the British Three Stooges do a caper film. Brad Pitt, Benicio Del Toro, Jason Stathan and Mike "Frank Butcher" Reid are among the cast.
  42. TARZAN AND HIS MATE (1934) - The second of the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films. It doesn't really matter what the plot of this cult film is; it's just a lot of fun and features the pre-code nudey swimming scene with Maureen O'Sullivan.
  43. TESTAMENT OF ORPHEUS (1960) - Jean Cocteau directs and stars in this film in which he looks back on his life and his obsessions.
  44. THE 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN (1978) - One of the greatest kung fu films ever. Lau Kar-Leung directs and Gordon Liu stars in this ultimate "martial arts training" film of the famous Shaolin Temple.
  45. THRILL OF A ROMANCE (1945) - Another of those Esther Williams swimming musicals. However, this one stands out because of Esther's rather salty and sarcastic acting role which departs from her usual sugar and light cheeriness. Esther marries a rich businessman but, when he leaves their honeymoon for some business duties, she begins flirting with a war hero. Van Johnson is back again as her co-star.
  46. TOKYO STORY (1953) - Yasujiro Ozu's masterpiece of of devastating loneliness as an old couple visit their children and grandchildren who basically ignore them. Heartbreaking.
  47. THE WAY AHEAD (1944) - Director Carol Reed helms this World War II tale of a group of infantry conscripts who morph from a hopeless group of amateurs to a seasoned fighting unit. David Niven, Stanley Holloway and William (DOCTOR WHO) Hartnell head a nice cast.
  48. WENT THE DAY WELL (1942) - It's startling to realize this film was made deep in the midst of World War II when the outcome wasn't at all decided. Nazi paratroopers take over a sleepy English town and it's up to the residents to fight against them. Surprisingly brutal in spots. Cast includes Leslie Banks, David Farrar and Mervyn Johns.
  49. YOU, THE LIVING (2007) - Director Roy Andersson's genuinely funny film of seemingly unrelated scenes which demonstrate the utter "humanness" of us all.
  50. ZOMBIELAND (2009) - Ruben Fleischer directs this combination zombie horror film and comedy which surprised me by working on both levels. Cast includes Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and a magnificent Bill Murray cameo.

Friday, December 17, 2010

TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOYOUS. And I can think of nothing more joyous at the moment than the video for JUNGLE ANIMAL. So I posted it. Have fun. And jumping up and down on the couch is encouraged!

Pomplamoose with Allee Willis - Jungle Animal

Thursday, December 02, 2010

"And when your children's children think themselves alone in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent, and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. You will never be alone."
-- Chief Seattle

Monday, November 29, 2010

IT IS MOST UNCOMMON FOR ME TO WRITE ABOUT A SPECIAL FEATURE DOCUMENTARY HERE BUT I FELT COMPELLED TO BRING IT TO YOUR ATTENTION. I recently bought the DOCTOR WHO: REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN dvd. Now while the Doctor Who adventure itself is fairly mediocre and not one of the best, there is a documentary on there which cannot be missed -- even if one isn't a DOCTOR WHO fan! The half-hour documentary is entitled "CHEQUES, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE" and I only wish some poozer would post it on youtube so I could show it to you. This documentary seems to be getting rave reviews; the dvdactive site going so far as to say "This might well be our favourite extra ever to grace a Doctor Who DVD" and blogtorwho calling it the "highlight" of the dvd. And as for myself, I have to admit that I've watched CHEQUES 4 times in a row! The premise of the doco is bring to life Doctor Who fandom video collecting way back in the deep, dark late 1970's and 1980's. The film features interviews with grown-up fans who were kids back then and really gives a feel for what things were like before VCR's were a common household item and DVDs and the internet didn't exist. CHEQUES opens with a scene from 1983 in which three pre-teen boys are surreptitiously approaching a house on what looks like a drugs buy; they ask each other how much money they've got and discuss the man they're going to see hoping he "has the stuff". The knock on the door and a man appears beckoning them to enter. It is then revealed, as the scene shifts to the boys' home, that they have just purchased a pirate Doctor Who video.
CHEQUES, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE can be appreciated by everyone of a certain age who grew up in the 60's, 70's or early '80's. And yes, even if you're not a DOCTOR WHO fan because those of us who were also into the horror genre or science fiction or whatever can equally relate to the difficulty we had just FINDING anything concerning our favourite genre. Books on horror films, for example, were very few and far between and fanzines were difficult to get. An issue of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND or STARLOG on the newstand was pretty much it. Fan conventions were usually distant dreams unattainable. And we had to scan the TV Guide every week to find a rare showing of a beloved horror movie. Because that's the only way we could see it; there was no such thing as home video recording so we were at the mercy of the local TV programmers. VCRs were extremely expensive when they first came out and beyond the reach of most families. The first VCR I ever got was purchased in 1982 and I believe it was something in the neighbourhood of $300 - $400; I had earned the money for it by keeping a ledger of chores such as painting the back porch or backyard fence etc. Each chore was given a "point value" which would then be applied to the price of a VCR. When I had reach the halfway point, my parents sprung for the other half of the price. Also good to remember is that back then a blank videotape was also horribly expensive: a 2 hour tape cost $20 in 1982! So this meant one had to choose long and hard what one would record and what one would tape over because it would be a while before one could save up to buy another blank videotape at those prices.
DOCTOR WHO fans in England had a similar (and possibly more difficult) problem. The BBC never repeated older DOCTOR WHO programmes so once they aired they were gone seemingly forever. CHEQUES, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE does a very good job portraying the angst of kids reading their Target novelizations of past Dr. Who stories and knowing they would never EVER get to see the original programmes. Combine this dilemna with the fact that it became known that the BBC had erased many of the older DOCTOR WHO programmes and they were truly gone forever! The various now-adult interviewees relate their glum resignation to this fate and then their slow inkling in the underground world of DOCTOR WHO fandom that maybe. . .just maybe. . .they could get to see these old shows after all. News began circulating that people were trading videotapes of previously unattainable DOCTOR WHO adventures. Where could they possibly have come from? The BBC certainly weren't rerunning them to be taped off the telly. But no, it was Australia to the rescue; Australian television had been rerunning Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker DOCTOR WHO episodes which had trickled into England among collectors. An hilarious but all-to-familiar example is given as to what a videotape looks like when it has been copied from a copy of a copy sometimes 11 generations or more; the picture shown in CHEQUES is all but unwatchable. And I myself can remember watching videos almost that bad! The documentary further goes on to reveal how some people knew somebody with access to the BBC Archives and then some of the older black & white William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton stories began to venture forth into the pirate video community. Finally, after the Doctor Who 20th anniversary celebration woke the BBC up to the fact that home video might make them some money, they released the first home videotape of DOCTOR WHO -- wouldn't you know it. . .it was REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN. Auntie Beeb also broke down and finally aired older episodes when they announced the year-end airing of "THE FIVE FACES OF DOCTOR WHO" which would feature a story from each of the (then) five actors who played the Doctor starting with the very first story from 1963 starring William Hartnell. The race to buy home video recorders was then on!
CHEQUES, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE is a wonderful half-hour documentary which really brings alive the spirit and experience of these former childhood DOCTOR WHO nuts and the exquisite pain of searching and waiting for some precious find. The point is made, of course, how easy today's fans have it -- the usual "old folks" grumble -- with the ready availability of practically everything on DVD and the internet. However, these older fans do not begrudge the kids of today and, in fact, assert that they would've much preferred to have the same embarrassment of riches available to them when they were growing up. Of course, they also make the point that there is something to be said for the exquisite yearning and waiting for the publication of the Christmas Doctor Who Annual or the keen anticipation of that underground pirate video arriving through the mail slot. I too would've loved to have today's easy access to all media when I was a kid. But one does feel that perhaps it's now too easy and fans today are missing something which made each find so very, very rare and special. If you have even the slightest interest in DOCTOR WHO, or science fiction, horror or any other fantasy genre then you have just gotta see this documentary on the DOCTOR WHO: REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN dvd. Put it in your video queue. But not right away. Make yourself wait a little first so you can savour the anticipation!

Monday, November 22, 2010

THE FOLLOWING IS A SMALL SAMPLING OF A FEW OF THE 2010 PENGUIN AWARD NOMINEES in video form. Scroll down past the videos and you will find the complete list of nominees.

Broken Bells - The Ghost Inside

Sade - Soldier Of Love

Mary J. Blige - I Am

Melody Gardot - Baby I'm A Fool

Broken Bells - The High Road

The New Pornographers - "Your Hands (Together)" Official Video

Gone To Shiloh-Elton John & Leon Russell (Live-Roundhouse 2010)

"Summer Fly" - Cheryl Wheeler - Stone Mountain LIVE - July 4, 2009

Mary J. Blige performs Stairway to Heaven - HD

THE NOMINEES FOR THE 2010 PENGUIN AWARDS. Happy Thanksgiving Yanks and welcome to the noms. Without further ado I'd like to present in no particular order:

HEY AHAB - Elton John & Leon Russell
CRASH YEARS - The New Pornographers
THE HIGH ROAD - Broken Bells
UNDERBRUSH - Cheryl Wheeler
QUICK FIX - V.V. Brown
KISSIN' AND CUSSIN'  -  Carolina Chocolate Drops
I AM - Mary J. Blige
BABY, I'M A FOOL - Melody Gardot
GONE TO SHILOH - Elton John & Leon Russell featuring Neil Young
YOUR HANDS (TOGETHER) - The New Pornographers
SUMMER FLY - Cheryl Wheeler

You can listen to the nominees for Song of the Year if you click right here.



POINTING AT THE SUN - Cheryl Wheeler
GENUINE NEGRO JIG  -  Carolina Chocolate Drops
THE UNION - Elton John & Leon Russell
BROKEN BELLS - Broken Bells
TOGETHER - The New Pornographers
THE LIVE ANTHOLOGY - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers


LUCY - James Scott Cook & Julian Lennon
I SHOULD HAVE SENT ROSES - Elton John & Leon Russell
WE GOT HOOD LOVE - Mary J. Blige & Trey Songz
SPEECHLESS/YOUR SONG (LIVE) - Lady Gaga & Elton John
BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER - Mary J. Blige & Andrea Bocelli
GONE TO SHILOH - Elton John & Leon Russell featuring Neil Young

You can listen to the nominees for Duet of the Year by clicking here.


OVER THE RAINBOW - Melody Gardot
HIT 'EM UP STYLE  -  Carolina Chocolate Drops
GREEN ONIONS (LIVE) - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER - Mary J. Blige & Andrea Bocelli
TRAMPLED ROSE  -  Carolina Chocolate Drops
GOLDFINGER (LIVE) - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
YOUR BABY AIN'T SWEET LIKE MINE  -  Carolina Chocolate Drops

You can hear the nominees for Cover Song of the Year if you click here.


Well, that's it. The winners of the 2010 Penguin Awards will be announced sometime after Christmas and before New Year's. Thanks for listening.

Cheryl Wheeler - Estate Sale

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'D LIKE TO TALK ABOUT JACKIE BROWN; a movie I've always loved and a movie which seems to be finally finding the correct appreciation among movie fans. When it first came out, JACKIE BROWN was viewed as something of a letdown after QT had set the world on fire with his Oscar-winning (and Oscar-nominated for Best Picture) PULP FICTION. Personally, I always viewed RESERVOIR DOGS as the better film and the true "ground-breaker" with PULP FICTION merely more of the same. Be that as it may, Tarantino's knowing pop culture references and "homages", his use of sudden, horrific violence, his masterly choice of soundtrack music and his deft dialogue were the talk of the (tinsel)town. Inevitably, very soon after Hollywood bows at your feet, the backlash sets in and the knives come out; Hollywood "insiders" waited with Ides of March-like daggers to see what QT would do next. Seriously, it was a no-win situation. Critics and audiences constantly moan that they want something different but, when they get it, usually trash it because it's "not what they expected from so-and-so". But if Tarantino had given us all PULP FICTION 2 (in spirit if not in name), he would have been pilloried and would've long since disappeared from the movie-making scene. So first, Quentin took a pause -- a good couple years -- and wisely, I think, did give us something different -- and better. David Del Valle, in his recent excellent article on JACKIE BROWN at the Films In Review website, makes the (to some) startling statement that "Every film Critic has had to come to terms with the fact that JACKIE BROWN may be his greatest film. . ." Now, while that statement is debatable, when you come to think of it there is actually a pretty darn good case to be made for it. Over the years, I have always listed RESERVOIR DOGS as number one with JACKIE BROWN a close number two in my personal rankings (for those who are interested, I'll provide a complete list of where I place each film at the end of this article). However, I don't find myself revisiting DOGS very often; whereas I seem to rewatch JACKIE BROWN a hell of a lot. In fact, that's the impetus for this post: this week I happened to come across JACKIE while channel-surfing. It was just starting -- you known, the spectacular opening scene with Pam Grier floating along an airport causeway to the strains of "Across 110th Street". Well, I thought "Oh cool, Jackie Brown's on" and continued channel-surfing. But by the time I zipped through the rest of the 300+ cable channels, I ended up back on JACKIE BROWN and watched it to its conclusion. I can't say the same would happen if I'd come across RESERVOIR DOGS or PULP FICTION.
It is quite wrong to think of JACKIE BROWN as Tarantino's homage to blaxploitation films -- unless you've never seen blaxploitation films. If you had, you'd know right away that JACKIE BROWN is nothing like all the blaxploitation films we know and love. No, this film is Tarantino's homage to Pam Grier herself. He presented this film to her like a supplicant at the altar of Athena. In fact, Grier famously auditioned for PULP FICTION and was turned down by Quentin because he had bigger plans for her and told her to wait -- in much the same (if upside down) way Fritz Lang told Peter Lorre not to make a movie until Lang had something "truly big" for him; Lorre waited patiently and Lang presented him with the world-shaking "M". Grier waited as well -- one doesn't know exactly how patiently, though -- and retreated to Colorado from an unappreciative Hollywood -- and after a couple years was presented with the script for JACKIE BROWN. She quite correctly saw it as Quentin's appreciative love letter to her and signed on. Thank God, because it simply couldn't have been made without her. No, this is no blaxploitation pastiche. Far from it. The general boneheaded comments from the critics accused JACKIE BROWN of being too slow or too long and lacking all the gross-out screen violence QT was known for. However, everyone I ever talked to in "real life" said they really liked the film. The typical disconnect of movie critics as well as a total missing of the point: I never saw "gross-out violence" as a particular trademark of Tarantino. Sure, he used it but it was a lesser consideration and I never thought of it as one of the major reasons why he wanted to make films. The script of JACKIE BROWN (adapted from the Elmore Leonard novel RUM PUNCH) didn't call for it so it would've been stupid for it to be there. THEN it would've been gratuitous whereas in RESERVOIR DOGS and PULP FICTION is was required and was not gratuitous. Once again, we have critics judging a movie for what it's not instead of for what is IS! And that really gets up my nose! No, quite simply JACKIE BROWN is exquisitely timed and plays like a beautifully composed piece of music (aided and abetted by the equally exquisite use of song on the soundtrack). But no, I'm talking here about perfect timing; every moment of the film is perfectly judged as far as the proper "beats" on the screen. Take for example the killing of Beaumont. From the long discussion in which Samuel L. Jackson's Ordell Robbie talks Chris Tucker's Beaumont into the trunk of the car, we know what's going to happen to him (or at least have a strong suspicion). As Hitchcock once explained, it's telling the audience there is a bomb under the chair and then making them sit there and wait for it to go off. However, there's more here than that. Once Beaumont is in the trunk, the camera pulls back to a far shot and the rest of the scene plays out from a distance (to the strains of "Strawberry Letter 23"). Now, I don't know if Jackson himself was in the car driving but the use of time, of pauses and non-pauses, is jewel-like. Jackson shuts the trunk and climbs back into the driver's seat. He turns the key in the ignition, the tape of "Strawberry Letter 23" starts up and the camera pulls away to a "safe distance". The car is driven, not in a straight line, but in a curving arc. Robbie is not nervous, not rushed. He's taking his good old time. The brakes are hit; we see them from our position now behind the car. The "overheard" music from inside the distant car fades out as the car turns. Then the car comes back into our field of view and the music fades back in too. The car turns in and parks now somewhere over there. Robbie emerges (still from a great distance, now), walks around to the back of the car, opens the trunk and fires the gun at the hapless Beaumont. Trunk closes, Robbie gets back in the car and drives off. Really, the scene plays like a song itself. That's just one instance of the multitude of deft touches Tarantino brings to the film. And JACKIE BROWN is full to overflowing of such scenes.
I first fell in love with Pam Grier sometime in the mid-70's, I guess. Or maybe a tad bit earlier. Probably summertime when I had the run of the neighbourhood. I went to the movie theatre that was in the local mall and got a ticket for whatever was playing. However, I soon lost interest and snuck out of that movie and into the one next door. Lucky me, there was a Pam Grier movie playing. I have no recollection now which one it was (especially since I snuck in after the main titles and missed them) but I'm sure it was probably something like FRIDAY FOSTER or SHEBA, BABY or maybe even the beloved FOXY BROWN. These were the more relaxed 1970's so nobody came along and chucked me out of the theatre for being a 10 year old in a movie which probably featured Pam Grier getting her kit off. But from that moment to this, I've regarded Pam Grier as the bee's knees in the cat's pajamas! So, I was naturally pre-disposed to appreciate exactly what Quentin Tarantino appreciated in Pam Grier and why he wanted to make this movie for her. She was a strong role model who didn't take no stuff but she was also extremely feminine and stunningly beautiful; she had a sense of humour and she had a brain and a conscience. Dream Woman 101. So now, here she was in JACKIE BROWN but she was certainly not COFFY and would not have razor blades in her afro. No, Jackie Brown was a 44 year old flight attendant working for the lowest of the low cheapo airline; she was tired, she was jaded, she had seen life. However, when pushed or cornered the fire in her eye would be revealed -- maybe dimmer from age but still kindled. No, there were not a lot of gunfights and gore in JACKIE BROWN but instead there was a lot of what Tarantino is really known for: dialogue and characterisation. As Dave Sim once said, David Byrne was right when he called his group the Talking Heads because there is very little that is more interesting or involving that two people talking to each other. Car chases and fight scenes can get samey and actually dull; the real meat is when characters reveal themselves through dialogue. LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT has nary an explosion but it's much more gripping than, say, IRON MAN 2! No, JACKIE BROWN is certainly not too slow or too long; in fact I'd say it's the perfect length without a single second that drags. And as I've said it's not an homage to blaxploitation films; in fact, it's an exploration of the humanity of the characters in all their faults and foibles, deceits and kindnesses. And it is also, in the performances of Pam Grier and Robert Forster (both giving the best performances of their lives), a very damn well effective meditation on what it's like getting older -- but still harbouring that younger you somewhere deep inside. I always loved the film but perhaps, now that I am the same age as Jackie Brown in the film, I'm beginning to see that angle much more clearly now than when I first saw the film in the late-90's. As for that cast, it's sheer magic. Robert Forster gives an incredibly nuanced, moving performance and Pam Grier is almost as great. Samuel L. Jackson plays Robbie as a dandy, yes, but he also has a genuine frightening menace which he did not display in PULP FICTION. Robert DeNiro plays the role of a loser wonderfully and its probably the last actual acting he's done in his career. Bridget Fonda immerses herself in the self-absorbed, petty surfer girl; her constant badgering of DeNiro during and after the "caper" are stunningly annoying and one can almost understand why DeNiro does what he does. In these three roles, Jackson, DeNiro and Fonda are not afraid to play unlikeable. To their credit. Of course, Ordell Robbie being the most evil character requires Jackson to also bring that immense charm that's needed for the role as well. Michael Keaton is also surprisingly effective as the twitchy but amiable cop. There's really not a dud performance in the film anywhere in the extensive supporting cast from Tiny Lister's bail-bonds "enforcer" to Sid Haig's cameo as a judge (brought in nicely from his many co-starring roles in Pam Grier's 70's films).
As David Del Valle also points out, JACKIE BROWN is a movie than can be watched over and over and the viewer will get more out of it each time -- sometimes new things one missed the first time around. That's happened with me and that's happened with most others I've talked to about the film (including Pam's old blaxploitation co-star Sid Haig with whom I spoke briefly about the film in 2003 and who felt it was underappreciated). And David Del Valle says that's the very definition of a classic. Who am I to argue? Thankfully, it seems the critics are now finally coming around to our point of view. Thanks, folks. What took you so long?!? And if you, gentle reader, have never seen JACKIE BROWN. . .you owe it to yourself to watch it. And if you haven't seen it for quite some time, you owe it to yourself to watch it again. Go ahead, gang. You're good people. You deserve a treat. As for my ranking of QT's films, here goes:
  3. KILL BILL (Sorry, it's one movie, folks)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

THE FIVE SONGS: TWELFTH INSTANCE. It's been almost two and a half years since I did the last "Five Songs" post; some of you long time readers with longer memories might remember such a thing. But I thought that it's about time to revive the tradition. So here I am with five songs. And this time you'll be able to hear them all by clicking on this link right here! So this time around I have chosen for my theme: "Epistolary Songs".
  1. A DEAR JOHN LETTER by Ferlin Husky & Jean Shepard. We're starting off honky-tonkin' with this country duet from 1953 which no doubt graced quite a few juke boxes. Getting a "Dear John" letter is bad enough; but when your gal is leaving you to marry your brother!?! Ferlin Husky was never a particular favourite; he's most famous for his pseudo-gospel "Wings of a Dove" which I never liked. However, here he's teamed up with the bona fide honky tonkin' Jean Shepard and this was her first and only chart topper.
  2. I CAN'T HOLD YOUR LETTERS (IN MY ARMS) by Jack Scott. Still deep amidst the dark fifties, Rockin' Jack Scott brings us this half-country/half-rock n roll 45. "Your sweet love letters will help me dream of what the mailman cannot bring."
  3. THE LETTER by The Nirvana Sitar & String Group. We all remember the hit single by Alex Chilton's The Box Tops. However, in 1968 wackiness reached new heights with the Indian sitar craze produced an instrumental sitar cover that is enough to permanently damage your sanity!
  4. I'M GONNA PAPER ALL MY WALLS WITH YOUR LOVE LETTERS by Dean Martin. It's now time to swing with the coolness of Dino in this 1955 ditty. Is this devotion or blackmail?!?
  5. I'M GONNA SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE MYSELF A LETTER (LIVE) by Sarah Vaughan. And there's no better way to end than with the Divine One. This Fats Waller standard was recorded live at Mr. Kelly's nightclub in Chicago on the night of August 6, 1957 and it's probably my favourite rendition of the song. So hang your hat and stay a spell.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Rent: Too Damn High! Song.

IN A DEPARTURE FROM THIS BLOG, I'D LIKE TO TELL YOU ABOUT A TRUE STORY. (Truuuuuuuue, Stooooreeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhh!). A job applicant comes in for an interview as a houseman (it's for a hotel, dammit). Things go fine until we come to the question: "Have you ever been convicted of a felony crime". "Well, yes I have," says the applicant whom we will call Herman because that's not his name. "Oh, well thank you for being so honest." Herman says he'll write down on a piece of paper the name of his conviction and explains that he was arrested for being drunk while riding a bicycle. As Herman hands the paper over, this is the crime which he wrote down: "Mister Meaners".
Seriously, you just can't make this up!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


AS A FAN OF THE HOARY OLD URBAN LEGEND, I JUST HAD TO GET ME A COPY OF THE NEW DVD "PAUL MCCARTNEY REALLY IS DEAD: THE LAST TESTAMENT OF GEORGE HARRISON". Now, I'm sure I don't need to explain to you about the old rumour in the mid-to-late 1960s that said Paul McCartney was actually killed in a car crash and replaced by a lookalike. I just love this stuff and it's always been a lot of fun spotting the clues in the song lyrics and album covers. So, of course, when I heard about this new "documentary" coming out on DVD I naturally had to see what new angles were being brought to this old, old urban legend. For those who don't know, the story goes that an unsolicited package arrived at the Hollywood offices of filmmaker Joel Gilbert's Highway 61 Entertainment in the summer of 2005. Inside the package was a mini-cassette recorder and two mini-cassettes dated December 30, 1999 and labelled in block-letters "The Last Testament of George Harrision". On the tapes was a voice claiming to be George Harrison explaining that the "Paul Is Dead" urban legend was actually true and that the British MI-5 organization had threatened to kill any Beatle who exposed the plot to replace Paul McCartney. The reason given at the time was that the Queen's government determined that, if the death of Paul McCartney was announced, countless frenzied Beatles fans would commit suicide. It is also alleged that John Lennon was killed after he made it known he was about to reveal the truth -- and that the near-fatal knife attack on George Harrison in the late 1990s was also an attempt to silence Harrison after he made rumblings of spilling the beans as well!
OK, a wonderfully silly but interesting addition to the myth. But now, on to the documentary. Sadly, sadly, sadly, the voice of George Harrison is so obviously NOT him that it fatally undermines any willing suspension of disbelief. I have personally seen countless interviews and documentaries featuring George Harrison; I'm fairly familiar with his voice and this just ain't him. The person doing the George Harrison "impression" is fairly good, I suppose, but he betrays himself by not only speaking in a Liverpudlian accent which waveringly comes and goes but also by using one or two Americanisms that no Englishman would use. Also, I happen to own a mini-cassette recorder almost identical to the one shown in the photo as having arrived in the package. The sound is, well, fairly atrocious and the recorder is only meant for dictation purposes. However, the sound of "George Harrison's voice" on the documentary (which provides narration for the entire movie) is clearly recorded on professional-sounding audio equipment; no amount of "sonic tweaking" could've made the micro-cassette recording sound THIS good! All this really pushes the "documentary" from the realm of "conspiracy theory" clear over the cliff into satire; are we really meant to take this documentary seriously?!? I can't imagine anyone but the most gullible person buying the truth of what's being said. At the very least, the voice of George Harrison could've been made to sound like it had actually been recorded on the little micro-cassette instead of sounding like it had been recorded in a high tech recording studio! Ah well, the REAL reason I got the dvd was because I was hoping it would go over all the "clues" in the traditional "Paul Is Dead" urban legend; and this it thankfully does. It is by no means a complete listing of all the "clues" but I have not seen any other documentary on the "Paul Is Dead" myth so this will have to do until a better one comes along. Another extremely odd facet of "George Harrison's" voice is that he occasionally uses extremely odd pronounciation not typical of a Liverpudlian accent: the most distracting is the way he constantly refers to the MI-5 threatening representative Maxwell as "Moxwell". Even stranger is the fact that, with all this mention of MI-5's Maxwell threatening the Beatles with death, the "documentary" never once refers to the song "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" -- the obvious source of the name "Maxwell" for this character. So there you have it, as a silly conspiracy theory movie on the "Paul Is Dead" urban legend, this DVD leaves a lot to be desired -- even if you are like me and never for a moment bought the "package from George Harrison" addition to the myth. One was rather hoping, however, for some shyster movie-makers with a little more finesse. But hell, at least this DVD is a lot more plausable than Patricia Cornwell's laughable so-called "solution" to the Jack the Ripper case!
  • CERPTS: I would like to thank you Mr. Zacherle for granting me this interview.
  • ZACHERLE: Speak up, boy. I can't hear you.
  • CERPTS: Well, sir, if you'd turn off that cement mixer, maybe . . .
  • ZACHERLE: Oh, forgive me, but I'm having quite a large gathering here tonight and I must finish the monster mash hash!
  • CERPTS: You're making dinner in a cement mixer?
  • ZACHERLE: Oh, yes, my guests have ravenous appetites. H'mmm, delicious -- possibly just a touch more of Black Widow Spiders.
  • CERPTS: According to my records, Mr. Zacherle, you were born 150 years ago in . . .
  • ZACHERLE: No, it was 200 years ago -- and I wasn't born -- let's say, I was belched forth from the graveyard.
  • CERPTS: All right, you were belched forth 200 years ago in Transylvania. In school you excelled in all the "Black Arts" . . .
  • ZACHERLE: Yes, I made my Phi Beta Draca in my 3rd year at "Ghoulage". Would you hand me that jar of gravestone chippings. H'mm, and hand me that hand, it looks delicious.
  • CERPTS: Sir, that's my hand! Can we please get on with the interview?
  • ZACHERLE: After I received my "monsters degree", I made my way into the mortal world.
  • CERPTS: Is that when show biz beckoned you?
  • ZACHERLE: Yes, I had my own TV shows and also made many network appearances.
  • CERPTS: And soon you became America's number one "spook" spokesman. Now, about this new "Monster Mash" smash record album of yours . . . how did that come about?
  • ZACHERLE: Well, the "twist" may be new to mortals, but it's old to ghouls. My fiendish friends have been doing a pretty wild twist since time began. Great Goblins, I'm running short of blood. Count Dracula will burst a blood vessel. I hope it isn't mine.
  • CERPTS: Gee, what a natural or should I say supernatural, to have Zacherle , himself, record the weird versions of the big hits made famous by the real live teenage artists of our day. Well, Mr. Zacherle, thank you very much for this interview.
  • ZACHERLE: Going so soon, I was planning on you for dinner.
  • CERPTS: No thanks, I've eaten already.
  • ZACHERLE: But my friends haven't eaten yet.
  • CERPTS: Please sir, put me down. No, no -- don't throw me into that cement mix . . .
  • ZACHERLE: That's show biz!

AND NOW . . . THE MONSTER MASH by the master of monsters -- ZACHERLE in monaural and SCAREO over at our sister audio blog BATHED IN THE LIGHT FROM ANDROMEDA. Don't go alone!!!

(Interview originally appeared on the back cover liner notes of the 1962 LP written by Don Rosenblit)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Well, I'm back from my trip to Massachusetts so I thought I'd post a few photos of my favourite place on earth:
Naturally we start with Motif # 1
A view of the Point off Bearskin Neck
Looking back into Rockport from the Point
The Old Stone Fort on Bearskin Neck - looking quite a bit refurbished since the last time I was here
A couple views of the shops on Bearskin Neck
Looking back into town from Bearskin Neck avec shops
The beautiful 200 year old Tuck's Inn where we stayed - my room is the top window - Room # 2 otherwise known as the Peach Room - obviously named after me cuz I'm such a
Tuna Wharf avec Motif # 1 and boatsies
The stone gazebo off Front Beach
The view off the far end of Front Beach
Another view looking back into town with the church steeple