Hooray for Captain Spaulding

Friday, May 31, 2002


A quick reminder of my special offer regarding my performance tomorrow. I'm getting increased supplies of The World of Bob Hope so you too could go home with one. Fifteen dollar value!!

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The all-great and powerful Kibo sent my brother this link to an Entertainment Tonight Online article about the "baby wrangler" of Baby Geniuses II.

My brother noticed that the IMDB listing dates the movie 2002 but gives a January 2003 release date. He speculates that it may play a few NY and LA theaters December 2002 for Oscar eligibility.

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Martin Devon of PatioPundit has a nice little obituary of Dave Berg. Interestingly, he knew him as a resident of Marina Del Rey. (Something I wished I had taken advantage of.)

Mr Devon also says Superman would beat the Hulk. When Supes fought the Hulk in 1981, it was basically a draw. The Hulk basically threw a punch which sent Superman (who was looking the other way) flying. Once Supes was prepared, he just stood still while Hulk hit him, making the Hulk near exhausted. Supes then found a doo-hickey that was irritating the Hulk and crushed it, thus calming the Hulk down. This is the Superman who could juggle planets. The modern depowered Superman would have more difficulty.

Now as to Devon's other claim of Spiderman beating the Hulk, I say, in Manhatten, sure. Spidey can avoid the Hulk's punchs and essentially rope-a-dope him to exhaustion. In the desert where there's no walls to crawl on, he'd have more trouble.

One of the more shameful moments of my life was a Friday evening when a booking that I had was cancelled so I ended up at a fine comic book shop here in LA. I joined in a discussion about the merits of some funny book or another. The discussion degenerated, as many a comic book discussion will, into a "Ho'od Win" debate. The one I remember was Doctor Doom vs Batman. The answer, of course, was that Doctor Doom would use his time machine to save the lives of Thomas and Martha Wayne thus keeping Batman from existing.

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Thursday, May 30, 2002


If I'm getting lots o' hits, it must mean that Vodkapundit has linked to me. "Stunning Stephen" Green wants me to do something for Dana Gould's career. Dana Gould is doing fine. He writes for the Simpsons and wrote the episode that aired Wednesday of last week. How about Dana Gould doing something for my career?

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I just got an email from deepdiscountdvd.com that they shipped my pre-ordered Mr Show DVD. So it is definitely coming out June 4th. Here's Bob and David's site.

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"Jolly Jim" Treacher complains about how come Kevin Costner keeps getting to make movies. When The Postman came out two years after Waterworld, I suggested that Costner's next film should be a six-hour post-apocalyptic future where everyone lives in zeppelins and the world is ruled by a Cookie Monster beanie baby (The society falls apart when they discover a K-Mart with 20 of those beanie babies in stock). I'm available for the pitch meeting if needed.

The same article mentions Scott Baio. A theory I've heard about why we don't see much of Baio is that all the 12-year-old girls he was mean to when he was a star are now the people doing the hiring. The theory falls apart when you see that he will be in the sequel to Baby Geniuses.

And finally, what are Bibleman's thoughts about the matter of how most Christians are not celebrating the real Sabbath as indicated in the Bible?

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Wednesday, May 29, 2002


Max Power talks about evolution vs intelligent design here and gives the definitive Stephen Jay Gould quote on evolution as fact here. The shame of all this is that humanity is so amazingly close to answering the questions of why Man is here, how the universe came to be, how the mind works and other questions that have haunted mankind for ages and none of this is taught at schools beacuse it contradicts a 2000-year-old best guess.

The last time I got into an argument on this, the creationist/intelligent design said he wouldn't be satisfied until there was an explanation of where molecules come from. As it happened, I knew the answer (thanks to this book). He then demanded to know where the subatomic particles came from. There's sort of a partial explanation (it's the m in E=mc^2) but even without it, do we really need a Creator for subatomic particles? I don't understand how the way to satisfy the problem that a Universe so complex as ours couldn't just happen is to handwave in the existence of something a gajillion times more complex than the Universe. If everything needs a creator, then who created the Creator of the Universe?

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A chapel was named after Bob Hope today. Wonder what the sermons there are like:
Hi, this is Bob "I don't wanna go to hell" Hope here. How 'bout that Jesus, boy? Ain't that cat something else? I don't know if that water into wine trick was a good idea. Now Dean Martin follows him everywhere. That Jesus is wild. How 'bout his golf game? I don't want to say Jesus is a lousy golfer but the only hole in one he sees is his stigmata.

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Speaking of Bob Hope 99th-birthday souvenirs, because of my marginal connections in this business we call show, I have managed to snag a couple of extra copies of the World of Bob Hope. So here's what I'm gonna do: If you see my show Saturday and approach me after the show, I will give you a copy. Supplies are limited (to 2, to be exact).

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I got my Bob Hope 99th-birthday souvenir! Despite coming in at noon for it. Woo-hoo!

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The New York Times is selling flying saucer photos. Details by Timothy Noah here. Even better, they're selling public domain photos of flying saucers at 25 times the price the government will charge for the same photo. And they offer the photo autographed by the photographer at additional cost even though they never contacted the original photographer.

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How Godzilla Saved America. And they said Hollywood's tendency to make big action blockbusters for the international market was a bad thing.

UPDATE: I just realized something the article doesn't indicate one way or the other. Did Al Qaeda choose their targets because they were in big blockbusters like Godzilla?

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To any LA folk who read this and are free Saturday, I will be playing the Comedy Underground this Saturday at 9:30. Cover is, I believe, $5. It's located at 320 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002


An additional couple of notes on Birds of Prey: TV Guide had a rumor that Adam West and Julie Newmar would eventually play the elder Batman and Catwoman. Also Mark Hamill will be providing a flashback-related voice of the Joker which is a point in the show's favor. Hamill's portrayal of the Joker is the best Joker ever and, yes, I am including Jack Nicholson's when I say that.

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"Billionaire Bill" Sherman talks about the upcoming Birds of Prey show here. He apparently doesn't realize a key part of the show's premise which is (unlike the comic book of the same name) it is set in the Gotham City of the future. Batman has disappeared from Gotham City (possibly due to a fight to the death with the Joker). The Huntress (the daughter of Batman and Catwoman) teams up with Oracle(a paralyzed-by-the-Joker Barbara Gordon) and Black Canary to, I assume, fight crime. Here's the WB's official site and an unofficial site.

The show potentially has the same problem that I had with Batman Beyond which is that a dystopian future for a superhero universe implies that the work of the superhero was in vain. However I do like that they're using an interpretation of the Huntress that hasn't been used in years. It's produced by the same folks who did Smallville, a show that grew on me. Who am I kidding? It's Batman; I'll watch.

I make the same offer I made about another Batman-related project: I am available to play the role of the Riddler. Or Riddler Jr since it's set in the future. I will lose weight for the part. Or you can incorporate my weight problem into the character. "Gee, Riddler, you've really let yourself go!"

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FINALLY! News on the 99-Cent Only Stores plans for Bob Hope's 99th birthday! (Said plans were mentioned here.) They offer a "World of Bob Hope" souvenir program (a $15 value!). Here's the text of the ad:
Tomorrow is Bob Hope's 99th Birthday. Bob would love for you to have his souvenir program for just 99 cents to the first 99 customers - Limit 1 per customer - All proceeds from the sale of the programs will be donated to the Bob Hope Hollywood USO. Over $9999.99 will be donated. 99 thanks for the memories, Bob!
I presume that the first 99 customers means "the first 99 customers that want one." In addition to tomorrow being Bob Hope's 99th brithday, apparently, according to the ad, yesterday was Dolores Hope's 93rd birthday.

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Monday, May 27, 2002


Speaking of the 99-Cent Only Store, no news yet on their plans for Bob Hope's 99th birthday.

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At the 99-Cent Only Store, I found an attempt by the good folks of Pez to expand the product line. From the folks who bring you the finest in chalky-tasting candy in licensed dispensers comes Pez popcorn, availabale in grape. lemon, orange and strawberry. Since I've never thought "I love popcorn and I love artificial fruit flavoring --- Hey, let's combine the two!", I did not actually sample the product. Here's a link to a website with a picture (scroll towards the bottom) so you'll know I didn't hallucinate the whole thing.

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I just got back from seeing The Komediant, a terrific documentary about the old Yiddish theater scene. If it plays in your area (and judging from the sparse attendance at the showing I was at, it might not), go see it. Again, judging from the attendance when I went, you may want to see it the first week in case there's no week two.

The documentary is about the Burstein family who were apparently the first family of Yiddish theater. The career of the family goes from Europe to Broadway to touring Europe and the world (and narrowly escaping the invasion of Poland) to Israel (where the govenment's determination to make Hebrew, not Yiddish, the national language drove them out) to the Catskills back to Israel and finally back to America. The film does not sugarcoat the family's history as we see the daughter who did not want to be part of show business and married young to get out. The mother makes excuses for her as she can not fathom that her daughter did not want any part of this.

Some other interesting notes:

  • The "Yeah, they're Jews" Department: After both kids complain how hard it was to come home from school and then have to perform that evening, the mother says "No, we didn't have them perform every night until they were 17. Who said they performed evey night? They did? They're crazy!" The seven Jews in the audience all laughed in recognition.
  • The film had clips of Israeli propaganda encouraging people to learn Hebrew. A man nearly dies because his wife can not read the medicine instructions in a scene remniscent of the "Hello, I'm Doctor Stupid" sequence in a Simpsons episode.
  • Mike Burstein, the son, becomes a star in his own right after starring in Shnei Kuni Leml. He talks of trying to break away from the Yiddish theater niche. They show a clip from a TV special he starred in. He's dressed in 19th-century European Jewish garb. He sings a Yiddish song. He then breaks into "Good Morning, Starshine". After a verse, he is transformed into hippie garb. I can picture the meeting where this concept is discussed. "First, we start with you like everyone knows you. Then you start singing one of those tunes the kids like. Then you're dressed in modern, hep clothes. It's can't-fail!"
  • Mike's form of rebellion (kind of) was to not perform with his parents after making it big. This essentially shut down their career as audiences expected the kids.
  • Fyvush Finkel tells the badly performed Anne Frank UL about an anonymous Yiddish actress who he doesn't want to embarass by telling her name.

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Sunday, May 26, 2002


Another letter about the real-life Basil Fawlty. (My original post about the real-life Basil Fawlty here and some other letters here.)

UPDATE: I accidentally posted a link to the wrong letter because I'm an idiot. This has been corrected (the link, not my idiocy).

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An article which debunks the often-cited "porn is a $10-billion-a-year industry" figure. (Thanks to Instapundit.)

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Here I discussed how Edward G. Robinson was to Jewish gangsters what Robert DeNiro was to Italian gangsters. Like DeNiro, Robinson performed in comedies where he spoofed the gangster character he frequently played. A particularly good one is The Little Giant where Robinson is a retired gangster who moves to Palm Springs to mingle with the upper-class and discovers they're bigger crooks than he is.

The beginning is particularly interesting to those who favor some legalizing of drugs. The reason Robinson's character retires is prohibition is about to end. Even policemen taunt him that the government is ruining his racket. Apparently in 1933 (when the movie was released and when Prohibition ended), there was no question in anybody's mind that prohibition of alcohol was responsible for the rise of organized crime.

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I have no idea who Al Pastor is but may the Good Lord bless him.

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Saturday, May 25, 2002


Jim Treacher responds to my not being interested in seeing X-Files ever. Again, I understand the concept of fiction. I'm just not interested in seeing the kook view of paranormal phenomenom and UFOs in my fiction especially since it ain't exactly under-represented on television. One token episode where the stuff has mundane explanations doesn't disprove the point (especially since it worked because it contrasts to the normal episode).

A question Jim leaves unanswered is the faux skepticism of Gillian Anderson's character. How many years was she "skeptical" of UFOs and paranormalism? Skepticism is not the automatic denial of the unusual. It's the demanding of better proof. An FBI agent who faces the unusual and paranormal every assignment and who was kidnapped by aliens has that proof. Look, someone who doesn't believe in our world in UFOs is a good skeptic. Someone who doesn't belive in UFOs who lives in Metropolis and has Superman and Brainiac fighting outside his window is an idiot.

Considering that Jim's endorsement of these episodes is "Here's some that don't suck", it ain't exactly a ringing endorsement. I'll stick with my prejudgement based on the commercials Fox ran before the show premiered.

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Preston Sturges wrote and directed some of the funniest film comedies made. On May 28th, TCM will be running a double feature of The Lady Eve and Sullivan's Travels.

Sullivan's Travels is the film often cited when a comedian wants to make serious films. Oddly enough, for a movie against making preachy films, I remember it as a fairly preachy movie. I may re-tune to it to see if my memory is flawed. I saw it in a double feature with Miracle of Morgan's Creek and any movie would probably pale against Miracle .In Miracle, one horrible thing after another befalls poor Eddie Bracken. Near the end, he seems destined to spend the rest of his life in jail and there seems to be no way around it. Sturges's ending to this movie is one of the top 5 funniest, if not the funniest, ending to a movie ever.

If I had checked the TV listings more carefully, I would have noticed that The Palm Beach Story directed by Preston Sturges was playing this morning and suggested that you folks watch it. In it, a wife of an inventor leaves him, convinced that he'd be better off without her. She hooks with a gazillionaire who she tries to get to fund the inventor's project. Now a common problem with love-triangle comedies is that the other guy is made so unlikeable that you wonder what the woman saw in him in the first place. The gazillionaire, played in a great comic turn by Rudy Vallee, is extremely likeable. This, of course, presents the other potential problem of love triangle comedies (which the first problem is a horrible solution for): the audience feels sorry for the other guy when the couple inevitably get back together. Sturges's solution to this problem is hilarious. I'll notify you on this blog when it's on. Until then, catch these other two pictures.

UPDATE: I'm an idiot. Palm Beach Story is on tomorrow (5/26) at 12:30 pm EST. So there's still time to watch it.

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The LA Times ran an obituary for Dave Berg. I'd link to that obituary but you have to register and I don't wish to inconvenience you, the gentle reader. Amongst the things I learned:

1) Dave Berg was currently living in the Marina del Rey area which isn't that far from where I live. I checked the phone book and he was listed. So were four other Dave Bergs (albeit only one in Marina del Rey). Here's an essay by Mark Evanier about missing out on an opportunity to meet Stan Laurel . Not that Laurel isn't tons more talented than Berg). It's just weird that someone I grew up reading was a stone's throw away from me.
2) He included caricatures of his family in the "Lighter Side of..." No big secret but now I could put names to some of the faces that always appeared in the cartoons.
3) His last "Lighter Side of..." will be published in September in what's also the 50th anniversary issue.

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"Jolly Jim" Treacher recommends episodes of an FX marathon of X-Files that people who haven't seen an episode (like me as I mentioned here) should watch.

Jim, Jim, Jim. If a Charles Nelson Reilly appearance on X-Files didn't get me to watch that show, your list ain't gonna do it either. I prefer being able to say I've never seen the show.

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Friday, May 24, 2002


From my brother and Slate, here's a link to a segment of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog visiting Star Wars fans waiting on line. It's ten minutes but very funny.

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Another marathon is this coming weekend, ABC Family (formerly Fox Family) is running a Spider-man marathon. They are running episodes from all incarnations from the classic 1967 show to the Spiderman and His Amazing Friends to the uneven mid-nineties show to Spiderman Unlimited (a weird incarnation that had Spidey in a Reed Richards-created futuristic suit fighting on Counter-Earth). They run a few episodes each morning this Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Yeah, yeah, I know. The veterans we're memorializing are the real heros.

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As I mentioned last week, Dave Berg recently died. At the funeral, a reporter asked Al Jaffee, "Mr. Jaffee, are you here for the funeral of MAD artist Dave Berg?"

Al Jaffee replied, "No, I'm here for the funeral of plumber Dave Berg."
OR
"Funeral? I thought this was the Automat!"
OR
"No, I'm here to answer idiotic questions by schmucks like you."
OR
THIS ONE LEFT BLANK FOR THE READER TO FILL OUT

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Thanks to the site Dreaded Purple Master run by "Dreaded Daniel" Taylor for the plug and permalink and thanks to "Joshing Jody" Wheeler also for the plug and promised permalink. Although with Instapundit linking to him, he doesn't need my dopey plug.

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I was going to plug the Silent Movie Theater showing this weekend of Harold Lloyd's Safety Last!. And I still do. But while looking for this picture of the famous shot of Harold Lloyd hanging from a big clock, I discovered that Turner Classic Movies is doing a Harold Lloyd marathon Tuesday May 28th. So now all my readers across the nation can enjoy his work. Included in the marathon is the movie Speedy featuring Babe Ruth.

Harold Lloyd, it seems to me, has gotten the short shift these days compared to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, even though he's just as funny as they are if not funnier. His slapstick is a beautiful thing to watch. You can see some short clips of it here.

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Thursday, May 23, 2002


Group Captain Lionel Mandrake got email confirmation from the Israeli embassy in London that the IDF pizzas are being stopped. Thanks to Vodkapundit for finding a fellow fictional captain.

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Thinking of how real science is much more fascinating than UFO's or psychic phenomenom reminded me that I had not posted about Stephen Jay Gould's death. His work opened my eyes to how interesting evolution could be, especially compared to the watered-down half-a-chapter that was in my Honors Biology textbook. The Panda's Thumb argument is still one of the best I've heard for evolution (basically the way the Panda holds on to eucalyptus leaves is so badly designed that it must have been a kluge using what was available rather than the panda being built from scratch by an intelligent designer).

An honor I can give Gould is his books were so good that I sought out other books on the subject (Richard Dawkins is especially recommended) and those other books convinced me that Gould's theory of punctuated equilibria is wrongity-wrong-wrong. And that's what science is about. Science is practically the only human endeavor whose history is filled of incidents where people say "I have examined your evidence and reached the conclusion that you're right and I'm wrong."

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Jolly Jim" Treacher talks about the X-Files finale and links to Lilek also busting on how bad the X-Files had gotten.

I never saw an episode of X-Files, not even the one with Charles Nelson Reilly. I find somewhat offensive the idea of a show with the basic premise that everything that has been disproved by James Randi or the Skeptical Inquirer is actually true. It's not like UFO-niks and psychics don't already get enough exposure on the TV disproportionate to the evidence of their claims.

Later, I heard that for a time Gillian Anderson's character still didn't believe in aliens even though she had been kidnapped by aliens. The X-File's use of the typical Hollywood, cartoonish portrayal of skepticism as ideal employees of Monty Python's Argument Clinic only confirmed my decision to not watch.

And, yes, I know about suspension of disbelief and I heard how good the writing and acting was. But consider that if there was a show about two FBI agents who were chasing evidence that the Holocaust was a hoax and fighting the Zionist cover-up within the FBI, I probably wouldn't want to watch that either. (Yes, I know Godwin's Law too.)

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Captain Kirk's chair is up for sale. And yes, were I a much wealthier man, I'd put a bid on it. I'd keep it in my underground lair. The one that's accessible only via the Batpoles hidden behind sliding bookshelves in my library (and an elevator for the servants).

Speaking of the Batcave, for a mere $295, you can get a Shakespeare bust just like Bruce Wayne's which actually works. Although if you shop around, I think you can find one for $195.

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An article about how scientists have created a malaria-resistant mosquito.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2002


From the "Terrorist Bastards Ruin Everyone's Fun" Department: Last week, I plugged the send-a-pizza-to-the-IDF site. Now, the IDF is worried that terrorists will take advantage of the situation. (Thanks to "Marvelous Max" Power.)

Update: Now "Marvelous Max" Power thinks that it might be OK to send pizza pie.

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I once took my mother to Mann's Chinese Theater with its hand and foot prints. After a while, she had enough and we were walking elsewhere. Then she saw the mural on the side of the theater of John Wayne's creating the prints. Mom immediately wanted to find Wayne's prints as they had been featured in an episode of I Love Lucy . This page has a picture from the episode, a picture of the prints, and a picture of the mural.

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Speaking of great, old sitcoms, I always used to take I Love Lucy for granted until I read a marvelous book by Jess Oppenheimer, a writer-producer-creator of the show. In one chapter, he outlines the hard work that goes into a show, including figuring out how to make the big punchline of that episode (Lucy walks out of a freezer covered in icicles) a logical result of the plot. (How does the Internet not have a picture of that?) He also provides the description of the show sent to the copyright office. This description made the underlying sexism of Ricky never letting Lucy audition for stuff almost palatable.(Although I still grow uncomfortable remembering the last episode of them in Hollywood where Lucy is offered a movie contract and Ricky says if she takes the contract, he and little Ricky will still move back to New York. ('Cause there are no jobs for crooners in Hollywood.))

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All this talk of Fawlty Towers reminds me of what a wonderful show it was. Not that it needs my help. I'm surprised it's never cited as an influence on Seinfeld as what was perfect about both shows was the way all the disparate elements of an episode would gell together at the end. Even my having seen the god-awful Bea Arthur knock-off first couldn't ruin Fawlty Towers.

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The British public speaks out on Donald Sinclair, the real-life Basil Fawlty! Letter #1 and Letter #2 from disgruntled customers. A one-two punch of a letter from Mr. David Allingham, a British inn owner, and a letter from a friend of his.

Special thanks to my brother Ted for passing these on to me. Ted correctly notes that the British have better letter pages than the U.S.

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The wife of the real-life Basil Fawlty and her campaign to set the record straight. And here is an employee's rebuttal.

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Speaking of nice people who link to me, "Jolly Jim" Treacher is back. And he has a picture of the new Daredevil.

Of course, I'm still bitter that I was robbed of the Foggy Nelson role.

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My apologies to the nice people who've linked to me and who I haven't given the promised Stan Lee-esque nickname. When I made the offer, I didn't really think people would link to me. I will take care of the backlog. This I swear!

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I was a little sporadic with the posting yesterday. The day job got a little hectic and then I had to work on the act.

I had one of those semi-frustrating experiences where you have a punchline but no plausible set-up. I figured one out while walking to my car from the Open Mic. This is copyright ME and is not for stealing.

Premise: Jesus Christ if he performed at a Friar's Roast: "How about that last guy's set? You know I died for mankind's sins; what's his excuse?"

Not only do I have a plausible reason to do the punchline but I can expand the bit now.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2002


More advice to fix your broken blog.

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If your blog just says "Page not found", Blogger is telling people to republish. I did and it worked.

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Monday, May 20, 2002


Although you wouldn't know it from any schedule, Tuesday night at 11:00 pm EST, Cartoon Network will rerun the pilot episode of Welcome to Eltingville. From Dork Comics by Evan Dorkin, creator of Milk & Cheese and writer of Space Ghost. I heartily endorse this product or service.

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The sketch comedy group Ooze in 1999 protested The Phantom Menace at Mann's Chinese Theater complaining that Lucas was setting up a false religion. The prank got some national coverage. Here is the website of the fictional ministry.

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I was reading the MAD magazine article "Star Wars Logs" on my Complete MAD CD-ROMS. The premise of the article was that they had obtained George Lucas's secret plans for the next Star Wars movies (then thought to be a twelve-movie saga). Since it was written after Empire Strikes Back, there were two basic jokes: 1) The films were going to be released in a random order and 2) everybody was related to everybody else (Han Solo's grandfather was the neighbor of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett's aunt, etc.). So the big punchline was that Episode XII would reveal that Luke's real father was the Force. A revelation so ludicrous that it was saved to the end of the article was an actual plot point of Episode I.

How did Episode I escape protests for the blasphemy of Darth Vader having a virgin birth?

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I saw an episode of Murder, She Wrote featuring Patrick McGoohan (TV's The Prisoner) and Simon Jones (TV's Arthur Dent). At one point, Jessica Fletcher is called to testify in court. McGoohan as attorney for the other side calls her credibility into question by pointing out how many of her relatives were arrested for murder.

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I find myself caring less and less for Episode II the more time passes since I've seen it. I could care less about any of the characters, either that the protagonists win or that the antagonists get their come-uppance. Remember how excited everyone was when Chewbacca won the MTV Movie Awards' Lifetime Achievement Award? I don't see any of these characters inspiring a similar loyalty twenty years later.

I'm think part of the reason Episodes I and II are weaker than Episodes IV-VI is that Lucas is treating Episodes I and II as part of the same movie whereas the other moving pictures each had a full story. I'm not convinced that Episodes I and II will be that much better when we get III and can watch it all as one story. I almost wish these movies were the story of Walrus Man.

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What did bloggers think of Episode II? Find out. The point Mat Honan is trying to make by doing this is an interesting one.

Some inter-blog discussion on Episode II would be interesting. Let me try to get the ball rolling. In my review, I had asked a few plothole questions and made the snarky remark that they should have been answered in the film and not in the movie in your head. Anyone have answers for any of the questions? Answer on your blog and/or email me.

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Here's the fall 2002 television schedule. It brings up a point I always mention when people call for the end of the Simpsons because of its alleged decline: Do you really think Fox has something better in the wings? No, really? If I thought the Simpsons was the only reason Fox didn't pick up Heat Vision and Jack three years ago or Next! this year, I'd go along with you. But somehow I doubt it.

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For those wondering what's wrong with Jim Treacher's blog, here's part of the story.

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Sunday, May 19, 2002


Something I forgot to mention regarding Episode II is that there is much, much less Jar-Jar Binks. However the Japanese stereotypes and the Jewish stereotype alien are back. Even better, the Jewish stereotype alien now has a beard and a Chasidic-style hat.

UPDATE: It turns out that the same thing was noticed in the review on the Fluxblog site which I hadn't read until now.

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I saw Episode II at Mann's Chinese Theater. Let me recommend that when you go, try to go to a theater with digital projection. This may have been why Ebert didn't care for the picture.

Outside the theater was a guy dressed as Spider-man and a guy dressed as Superman to take pictures with tourists or plug the wax museum or something. Spidey had a wedding ring so I guess it's comic book continuity Spider-man. Superman had the small curled forelock which was a nice touch.

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Let me just say this about the lousy pizza I had for lunch yesterday (at Richie's Neighborhood Pizzeria, the pizza joint of the Hollywood and Highland shopping center). If that were the pizza of my neighborhood, I'd move. It's the type of "NY-style pizza" reminds me of what my father once said about a particularly horrible NY-style pizzeria, "If he served that pizza in New York, he's here because they ran him out of town."

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Review of Star Wars Episode II:Attack of the Clones: Spoiler-free part: The special effects, battles, chase scenes, and action-adventure stuff which are 60-75% of what you watch Star Wars for were excellent. However the romantic scenes were dopey and badly written. I can't tell if Hayden Christensen is merely a bad actor or just a good actor who isn't quite able to transcend the bad dialogue he's been given to say (I keep waiting for him to say "They'll pay! You'll all pay!!!"). I was able to work out the main plot but I could see how others would find it confusing (My brother called me and asked me to explain it) and it still has Mack-truck-sized holes.

I left the theater with a mostly-positive attitude. I'll even go as far to say this is the level of quality that I was expecting from Episode I and didn't get. However, at the end of the day, I was more emotionally involved about the lousy pizza I had for lunch.

SPOILERS:
The audience laughed at the dialogue of "The sand is coarse. Here everything is soft...like you."

The deal with Count Dooku which my brother asked about was this: Dooku was setting up an alliance of rebelling planets, the Trade Federation and others. The real reason he was doing this was to give Palpatine an excuse both to get absolute emergency powers and to start an army. However numerous questions still exist:
1) Why did the Dooku alliance want Amidala dead when she's the leader of the opposition against a standing army? I understand that Dooku-Sidious want her out of the way so Jar-Jar will do what they want but why would the rebelling planets want her gone?
2) Why does Jango Fett go to that planet the Dooku alliance was at?
3) Why isn't he suspicious that the other side has his clone army?
4) Why isn't anyone in the Republic suspicious that an army that normally takes ten years to create is ready immediately after the vote (Even if it weren't a mess o' clones, it would still take a while to set up a damn army).

I'm sure after thinking about it, I could come up with explanations for all these things. However, if the movie in your head is better than the one on screen, why go see the flick?

I liked the chase across Coruscant, the background with constant flying cars, the fights with Fett, and the Yoda vs Dooku scene. I like the idea that Yoda has that capability in reserve even if he doesn't do it everyday.

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I'll be writing my promised review in a minute. Sorry for the gaps in posts. I apologize that the charity work I was doing got in the way of my duty of providing you free entertainment.

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Saturday, May 18, 2002


Other quick note: I found one of the trombone sounds I was looking for. Specifically the wah-wah-wah-waaaaaah.

Thanks to "Delightful Dave" Trowbridge who pointed me to this site which led me to this site which had what I needed and some other good stuff.

I promise not to overuse this sound effect and to only use it for good, not evil

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Speaking of Star Wars, "Educating Ed" Driscoll complains here that I've ruined Star Wars for him (because of this post). Ha ha!

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I saw Clones this morning. I'll post a review eventually.

I will say this. The film does solve one mystery that has been plaguing Star Wars for years: How come if Uncle Owen is Luke's uncle, Uncle Owen doesn't have Jedi powers?

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Friday, May 17, 2002


Speaking of MAD, do you think their parody of Episode II will be called "Attack of the Clods"? The MAD of my youth would have done it that way but who knows what the crazy, hip MAD of today will do? I'm already disappointed that they didn't call Episode I "the Phantom Men-ecch". The title they did use wasn't too bad though. Here's a paper by a Finnish John Hopkins student about translating that article for the Finnish version of MAD.

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Mark Evanier is reporting that Dave Berg died. There's no "Lighter Side" of this news. Evanier has a brief bio (including the interesting info that the great Wally Wood considered Berg an influence) but disappointingly he does not have the Berg self-caricature that frequently went under the name of Roger Kaputnik. This bio does.

I can't say Dave Berg would have made my top five favorite MAD artists but he did have one small bit of influence in my life. I occassionally respond to insults or surprises by staring at the insulter/surprise in shock with mouth agape. I refer to this as my Dave Berg take after the reaction the straight person would often have in "Lighter Side of..." to a punchline.

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The scenario listed below is much more credible when you realize that the moral of Jedi is that it's OK that Darth Vader blew up a planet because he rescued his son. This point and others about the idiotic "moral lessons" of Star Wars was made in a 1999 essay by scientific fiction writer David Brin.

A special thanks to "Delightful Dave" Trowbridge of Redwood Dragon for saving me the trouble of finding that essay in Google and for the permalink. Here he has a picture of Mt. Stoogemore. I hope he ain't going to be talking no smack about my homeboy Shemp.

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In 1999, somebody (I don't recollect who) put this idea in my head which I'm convinced maybe would have made a better trilogy than Episodes I-III.

Here's the pitch: How do we know that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father? Who's testimony do we have? Darth Vader, a man who murdered an entire planet's population and has other evil stuff on his resume? Obi-wan Kenobi? He either lied in Star Wars when he told Luke that Darth Vader "betrayed and murdered" his father or he's lying in Return of the Jedi about Darth Vader being the father. Yoda? Who knows Yoda's motivations? Hell, he got mad at Luke for interrupting his training to save his friends.

Wouldn't an "everything you know is wrong" story have been interesting? Sure we'd still know that Darth Vader triumphed but how would be less certain.

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"Billionaire Bill" Sherman gave us a super-nice plug in Pop Culture Gadabout here. Here he celebrates comic book writer Kurt Busiek's decision to not have footnotes in the comic books but rather have notes in the letter page.

He reminisces about Stan Lee's "chatty footnotes" in the great old Marvel comics. My personal favorites were the ones where he'd say stuff like "This happened last issue. If you didn't read it, what the hell's wrong with you?" I also saw ones in an old Doctor Strange where he said "Happened some time ago. I don't remember what issue".

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Speaking of my old man's site, here he tells you how new copy-protected CDs which won't play on your computer are arguably not CDs. And here he tells you how to get around that.

He also sent me a site which seemed to have the two trombone sound effects I asked for. The problem is you have to subscribe to get access to them. I have no idea what to put in a google search for what I need.

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I've been getting more plugs! I'm sure at some point I'll stop caring but probably not. The reason I won't stop caring is the same reason I sign with my real name rather than the nom de plume "Captain Spaulding", I am a vain, vain man.

So anyhoo, thanks for the plugs from "Stunning Stephen" Green of Vodkapundit and "Cunning Ken" Goldstein of The Illuminated Donkey. I've also been permalinked (Is that the term for the static links on a blog? Or are they just called "static links"?) by "Fantastic Fluxblog" and "Brilliant Bill" Frank of Terablog (coincidentaly my father).

New Hooray for Captain Spaulding policy: If you link to me, you too will get a
Stan Lee-esque nickname. Hurry before all the good ones are taken.

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CBS is reuniting Adam West and Burt Ward in a made-for-TV movie. In the movie, they discover a plot to steal the Batmobile; as they try to foil this theft, they reminisce about the making of the show. Then it turns out Egghead was behind it or something (what, you think death would stop Vincent Price?).

Assumably, like the Gilligan's Island movie last year, other actors will play the young Adam West and Burt Ward. If the producers need someone to play Frank Gorshin, I'm certainly available. Or Milton Berle if there's a Louie the Lilac segment.

There might be some juicy gossip from Milton Berle's appearance. In Burt Ward's autobiography, he claims to (how to keep this PG?) share a certain infamous trait of Milton Berle's and I don't mean joke-stealing.

While searching for Ward's autobiography, I learned that Yvonne Craig (TV's Batgirl) also has a book.

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Thursday, May 16, 2002


Interesting but probably-ain't-gonna-happen scenario:
People avoid Episode II on the old Yogi Berra principle of "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded." Those that haven't seen Spider-man yet because of the crowds figure it'll be less crowded what with a new Star Wars movie and all. Spidey hovers close to or even beats Ep II in the weekend totals.

I don't buy it either.

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OBLIGATORY "WACKY GOOGLE HIT" Section:
One of the benefits of the relatively obscure is that you're fairly early in somebody's search results. Someone looking for Star Wars is going to get a gajillion sites.* If they're looking for Ruth Buzzi or Al Boasberg, I'm on page 2 of the hit results

*I did get one hit from someone clearly looking for one of those free downloads of Episode II that the entertainment industry told Congress was all over the Internet. (And the entertainment industry wouldn't tell a lie to the United States Congress, would they?) I also got a hit for someone of search parameters "Star Wars vagina" which I don't want to think about.

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A humorous Court of Appeals decision by an overworked judge. (Courtesy of Max Power).

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The blog of a certain Daily Bugle photographer. (Thanks to Jim Treacher.)

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A review of The Sunshine Boys starring Frank Gorshin and Dick Van Patten. Frank Gorshin's official site.

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Marvel Comics is taking submissions. Woo-hoo! Now I can finally pitch my concept for a seven-part Razorback miniseries.

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Stan Lee Mode ON
Soon all the world will be discovering me, "Captivating Captain" Spaulding. We just got plugs from "Jolly Jim" Treacher and "Marvelous Max" Power. That's in addition to the link from "Beautiful Bob" Powers. So a lot of people will be learning what you true believers already know, Hooray for Captain Spaulding is the place to be. Now hold on to your hats for more exciting adventures. Excelsior!
Stan Lee Mode OFF

I was going to use fake HTML tags for the Stan Lee wackiness above rather than Mode ON but blogger confused the fake tags with real tags. The how-to-do-HTML blog must really suck.

I'm getting google hits now. I'll do the obligatory "wacky hits from google" post later.

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Back in 1999, when it seemed that Lucas was going to ignore any word of criticism about Episode I, there was a rumor making the rounds that to totally annoy fans, Lucas would reveal in a future prequel that Jar Jar Binks was Boba Fett. This site may or may not have been the source of that.

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Two similar images that always stand with me revolve around the horrific comedic moments of Episode I. Joe Wagner paints a picture of a theater filled with movie-goers. Yet another moment of wackiness is greeted with silence. Suddenly big loud guffaws echo from the back of the theater. Everyone turns around to see George Lucas writhing on the floor in laughter.

Similarly, Matt Weinhold (a very funny comedian) theorized that Lucas edited a reel of only Jar Jar Binks moments which he then screens for every visitor to Skywalker Ranch, nudging said visitor in the ribs, saying "Huh? C'mon! Huh?"

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Regarding the "wah wah" in the post below, if anyone knows where I can find a trombone sound file, tell me. I need either the comedic wah-wah or the wah-wah-wah-waaaaaah. It would help me out and would improve this blog which helps you the gentle reader out.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2002


Well, a few more shopping minutes until Episode II. I'm sure I'll be corrected by someone if I'm wrong but I don't think I know one person who's genuinely excited about this movie. Even from people who say they enjoyed Episode I. You'd think the fact that we get a guy in a Boba Fett suit would pump up some excitement.

Three years ago when Phantom Menace debuted, I attended the second screening of the day at 3:00 AM at Mann's Chinese theater with friends. I avoided the midnight screening because I didn't want to be around all the nerds (wah wah). I figured, what the hell, I was unemployed, living in LA, I could buy the tickets in advance, why not take advantage of stuff like this.

The evening started at an Open Mic that was coincidentally across the street from Mann's Westwood Village, another theater where fans had been lining up months in advance. Many comics had been making fun of these guys. I had been pointing out the hypocrisy in that:
Comic 1: Man, these fans should get a life. Waiting so long for a movie.
Comic 2: What are your plans for tonight?
Comic 1: I'm going to hang out for four hours to get a two-minute work-in spot.
A few people showed up in Star Trek uniforms to the anger of the folks lined up. I was slightly disappointed to find out that they were not spontaneous fans but there to pass out fliers to the Trekkies documentary.

At Mann's Chinese while on line, we saw people leaving from the 12:01 AM show. A bad sign was that they were mostly silent. The theory amongst our group was if they had enjoyed the movie, they'd be talking about all the great things they had seen in the film. At the same time, a homeless guy was arrested. Joe Wagner (from TV's Late World with Zach) suggested that he was arrested for saying "I didn't really like the movie."

When we left the movie, we were the only ones remotely happy. We giggled about the train wreck we had just seen.

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Boondocks gives its view on the new Star Wars.

And here's another African-American cartoonist talkin' Star Wars. PARENTAL WARNING: Contains a cartoon character giving the bird.

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Good LA Times article on Woody Allen. At the beginning of the article, Woody discusses whether there's another film comedian who kept connecting with audiences as he grew older. I essentially agree with his thoughts about the folk listed (Hell, I said the same thing about Bob Hope here.) I just worry that in thirty years, Woody Allen will be on the list of film comedians who declined at the end of their career.

In the article, Allen says that he writes his scripts in "a couple of weeks." This may be the problem. A couple of rewrites maybe could have saved the movie.

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Speaking of my birthday, Jerry Lewis is holding a Learning Annex class on that day. I may have to schedule my birthday party or whatever I do the day after because I'm not sure some of my friends aren't going to that. Grrr.

I'll deconstruct the ad later when I have time.

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Xbox is now dropped in price to $199 as is the Playstation 2. I may have to buy one of those things. Playstation 2 has the advantage of the backlist of Playstation titles. Xbox is pretty nifty piece of hardware, basically the equivalent of a good gaming PC that has the same specs for everyone (as enthused by this guy here). I don't know which I should get. If you have a thought, drop me a line.

Of course, I do have a birthday coming up in three months.

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Of course, Ted couldn't have left well enough alone so he tries to tell me that the new Star Wars opened today. Now I don't claim to know everything. But I do know when a damn Star Wars movie opens. Maybe if you don't believe me, you'll believe the horse's mouth.

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Here's a Quark fanpage, courtesy of my brother Ted. I'd link to Ted's website but I don't think he wants me to. It's really lame.

Instead here's Ted's solution to the Mideast problem.

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Speaking of Spider-man vs Clones, here's a timeline of the Spiderman Clone Saga which nearly destroyed the character comic-book-wise.

Thumbnail: In 1975, Spider-man fought a clone of himself who died in an explosion. In 1994, it was revealed that the Spider-man funny book readers had been following for twenty years was actually the clone from the story. The "real" Spider-man appeared and took up the mantle. This was apparently intended to be permanent until enough of a fan uproar brought things back to the status quo. The whole mess took two years.

This dopey storyline may or may not have been the basis of the Simpsons episode where the real Seymour Skinner shows up in Springfield.

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Stars Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones opens tomorrow (arguably tonight since it's running at 12:01 AM here). I'm not as enthusiastic as I would expect to be due to a certain menace of the phantom variety. Here's hoping the clone is one of George Lucas from 1977 so we get a good movie.

A friend of mine said he was going to wait until the middle of next week 'cause he didn't want Clones beating Spider-man's record. I sympathize. However, that ain't gonna happen so I'll probably go this weekend.

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Speaking of the Museum of Television and Radio, I'd like to throw out a plug to that organization (NY or LA branch). They usually have some interesting exhibits (nothing now) and they have a screening area where you can ask for almost any episode of any TV show and then watch it in a cubicle. I'm under the impression the stuff they don't have they can set up for you to watch another day. Through the screening area, I saw the pilot of Quark (a Buck Henry sci-fi parody show from 1978), Letterman's HBO special (so obscure it's not part of his imdb listing), Groucho Marx guest-starring on the Jack Benny show, and a Steve Allen special where he introduces the shows of 1956 (featuring a Bob Hope monologue with a couple of jokes about how westerns have taken over television).

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The lovely as she is talented Elizabeth Beckwith (who if ABC had put a show starring her on the air rather than one of 12 hours of Millionaire, they wouldn't be in the mess they are now) reminded me of another fairly obnoxious moment in Hollywood Ending (which happened near the end so I kind of blanked out at it). One of the possible reasons Woody Allen's character went blind is that the movie he's filming reminds him of the bad relationship he has with his son, a punk rocker who eats rats on stage. Near the end of the movie, he patches things up with his son. In this scene, we learn two things: That the son really did eat rats on stage (it wasn't just exaggeration) and that he has changed his name to Scumbag X. Elizabeth correctly describes Scumbag X as a "Catskills idea of what a 'punk rocker' would name himself."

Interestingly, this sort of thing is not without precedent in Woody's career. When the Museum of Television and Radio ran a TV retrospective on Woody Allen, it included a sketch from whichever Sid Caesar show he was involved in (not Your Show of Shows, I know that much). The sketch was a parody of American Bandstand and essentially a "how 'bout them crazy kids with their kooky music and nutty dances." It did end on an Allen-esque twist of the teenager gushing over the host saying he buys the records and watchs the show and goes to the concerts. He then says "Is this all there is to my life?" and starts sobbing.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2002


Hey, this is Captain "Why Am I Posting More about Bob Hope?" Spaulding here. Check out the Library of Congrees exhibit of Bob Hope stuff.

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In today's paper, the 99-Cent Only Store ad tells us to "Look for Specials for Bob Hope's 99th Birthday Coming May 29th". If I find a link to an equivalent ad, I'll post it. I wonder if one of those specials is a 99-cent copy of Boy, Did I Get the Wrong Number.

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The Vagina Monologues closed in LA Sunday. The cast listed on the site is fairly typical. Another week had Jillian Barberie, Ellen Cleghorne and McKenzie Phillips. The play had devolved into giving street cred to B-list stars, sort of like playing Rizzo in Grease ten years ago.

I always hoped they'd go all the way with the B-list folk and do theme casts. An all-drag version with Tony Curtis, Peter Scolari, and Dave Foley. Or an all-Laugh-In version with Judy Carne, Jo Anne Worley and Ruth Buzzi.
JO ANNE: Hey Ruth, I just bought a vagina urn.
RUTH:What's a vagina urn?
JO ANNE: Twenty dollars, same as in town.

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Roger Ebert who liked Star Wars:Episode I doesn't care for Episode II. I can't decide if that means Episode II is so bad that even people who liked Episode I hate it or if it means I'll like it because our views on Episode I are polar opposites. Our views on Hollywood Ending and Spider-man don't mesh either so maybe there is hope for Episode II.

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Monday, May 13, 2002


I've been watching a whole mess of Edward G Robinson movies on TCM this month. The interesting thing that I didn't know about Eddie is that the character he was playing (that we see caricatured on Looney Tunes cartoons and by impressionists) was an archetypal Jewish gangster (Learn more about Jewish gansters in the book Tough Jews). Just like gangsters are usually Italian in movies today, in the thirties, gangsters were portrayed as Jewish or Irish. Cagney played the Irish gangster. In Public Enemy, the Jewish gang fueds with and murders Cagney's character (or so I interpreted the vaguely Jewish surname and the Semitic-looking gangsters).

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Speaking of Monkey Boy, here's Beppo the Super Monkey.

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Monkey Boy also sent a link of kooks who say the moon landing didn't happen. I really shouldn't encourage him to send me every half-baked link but enjoy. In case it's necessary, this site covers the arguments of that site and others.

Monkey Boy once came up with my favorite moon-landing hoax conspiracy theory: OJ Simpson was framed because he got too close to the truth in Capricorn One.

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Monkey Boy of AD&D Productions sends this link of Chomsky's 1981 defense about Holocaust denial. As a fair man, I give it to you, the gentle reader. It doesn't mention the Holocaust denial does not imply anti-Semitism quote which, to me, is the most damning part. Besides which Dershowitz's article contains plenty of other examples of intellectual dishonesty on Chomsky's part.

I genuinely think Israel is held to a double standard that no other nation (maybe the US, sometimes) is held to. And I can't think of a reason that doesn't end in the word "Jew".


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Blogger dropped the ad banner. Woo hoo! Realize that I paid the twelve dollars because I love each and every one of you.

Again, my main suspect for it taking so long is the fact that most of Christianity is blindly following the Catholic Church's edict regarding Sunday being the Sabbath.

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Alan Dershowitz lists the reasons why Noam Chomsky has no credibility in the area of the Mideast(from Instapundit):
My next encounter with Chomsky revolved around his writing an introduction to a book by an anti-Semite named Robert Faurisson who denied that the Holocaust took place, that Hitler’s gas chambers existed, that the diary of Anne Frank was authentic, and that there were death camps in Nazi occupied Europe. He claimed that the “massive lie” about genocide was a deliberate concoction initiated by “American Zionists” “and that “the Jews” were responsible for World War II. Chomsky described these and other conclusions as “findings” and said that they were based on “extensive historical research.” He also wrote that “I see no anti-Semitic implication in the denial of the existence in gas chambers or even in the denial of the Holocaust.” He said he saw “no hint of anti-Semitic implications in Faurisson’s work,” including his claim that “the Jews” were responsible for World War II. He wrote an introduction to one of Faurisson’s book which was used to market his anti-Semitic lies.
You know how when show-business types give their views on issues, people sometimes say "What does he/she know about this? Just because he's famous." Noam Chomsky is the academic version of that. He's the far-left equivalent of the mechanical engineer who gives creationists quotes on how evolution is impossible so they can claim they have science on their side.

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Elsewhere on the same page as below, Evanier does a top-ten list of overdone things on late-night shows. Number 2 complains about someone doing something spectacular and obviously being replaced by a stunt double. On Friday, Letterman did a funny variation of that. During Viewer Mail, Letter #2, Paul was replaced by a stunt double who did back flips. After the back flips, the stunt double goes to Paul's position. For the rest of the segment, it's the stunt double at the keyboard. Occassionally, Dave would grumble that "Paul" didn't help out with music.

I wonder if the guy who wrote that bit wanted the stunt double there for the entire show.

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At some point, I was going to a brilliant essay about how comparisons between Johnny Carson's star-making of comics and Leno or Letterman's not doing the same were unfair. But then Mark Evanier beat me to it. He'll pay! You'll all pay!!

Evanier came up with some points I wouldn't have. Most of Carson's showcases date from when his show was 90 minutes. Comics can get national showcases elsewhere without late night TV. Carson had an elder statesman vibe that Leno or Letterman don't (which, when he introduces a hot new comic, compels the audience to pay attention).

He left out, what to me, is an obvious difference which is when, say, David Brenner debuted on the Tonight Show, half of America was watching. It's plausible that Jack Benny recognized him. (Yes, I read Brenner's autobiography.) An equivalent show doesn't exist today (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).

Plus I think we're still paying for the eighties boom. The audience for stand-up isn't as great as it once was. Chris Rock can't even sell a comedy album. I'm sure someone will correct me here but I can't think of anyone in the last ten-to-fifteen years who became famous solely as a stand-up. It's always something else that makes a stand-up famous.

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Hello to all my friends and family checking out this blog. I swear I paid to have the ad removed. Maybe it was because I paid on a Sunday. Even though Sunday isn't the real Sabbath.

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So, in the Star Wars saga, Luke was being hidden from the Emperor and his father Darth Vader aka Anakin Skywalker. Why then does Luke keep the last name Skywalker? Isn't that kind of a giveaway?

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Sunday, May 12, 2002


Back to Woody Allen, if you watch his earlier movies with an eye towards the fact that he was a Bob Hope fan, you can see Hope's influence. I was at a screening of Love and Death and many of the jokes had the same style and tempo of jokes in Bob Hope movies. (Understand that I refer to Bob Hope at his peak in the forties and fifties and not to the horrific specials of my youth.) Hell, Hope's persona of the cowardly shnook is not that different from Woody's.

The screening of Love and Death I refer to is the same one which featured the joke of a man plotting Napoleon's death saying "From now on, the world will remember my name: Sidney Applebaum!" When the audience did not give the joke the laughter it deserved, I shouted "Oh, come on!" Some of my so-called "friends" claim that I stood up and gestured angrily at the audience. These friends are liars.

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After Hollywood Ending, I had an extra hour of parking so I went to FAO Schwarz (I was shopping for some toys for disadvantaged kids, OK? If that makes me uncool, then I guess I'm uncool.) Amongst the Spider-man action figures were five Spider-man figures(not including the Peter Parker figure) and two Green Goblin figures (not including the Norman Osborn figure). [I'm presuming that I'm not ruining the movie for anyone by revealing that Peter Parker is Spider-man.] Only one J. Jonah Jameson figure though (with "Desk-Banging Action!").

I remember as a lad when the second series of Star Wars action figures came out and included a "Luke Skywalker in X-Wing Fighter Suit" figure. The 6-to-12-year-old set were horrified that they'd made two Lukes. When I told my brother that the Luke in Tie Fighter suit was a seperate action figure and not a costume for the existing Luke action figure, he called me a liar.

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As indicated below, I saw Hollywood Ending yesterday. I think this is going to be the last Woody Allen movie I feel compelled to see regardless of word of mouth. Becasue Woody Allen has brought me so much joy in my life, I've felt a misplaced loyalty and an obligation to him (Similar reasoning led me to see Dracula, Dead and Loving It in the theater; that and it was the only movie playing on Christmas).

I had originally planned to see it(Hollywood Ending that is, not Dracula, Dead and Loving It) last weekend with my friend Chip Pope but other obligations prevented it. I called Chip to cancel and told him to feel free to see it without me. He replied, "I'm not in that big of a hurry to see it."

The movie has funny moments but these are few and far between. There were several moments where a scene ends and Chip and I said to each other "A punchline here would have been nice." The jokes at Los Angeles's expense just reminded me of how funny Annie Hall was. The film closes with Woody Allen asking if his Dramamine was packed.

There is one scene where Woody's character, a director who is trying to mask the fact that he has gone blind, is learning the layout of a hotel suite where he will have to meet with an executive alone. The scene was an endless one of bumping into furniture that would have made Leslie Nielsen say "Enough already!" At one point, I whisper to Chip, "The joke here is that he can't see anything." Chip suggested that the furniture was about to walk out in disgust.

Now there's nothing wrong, per se, of a long scene based on a single joke or endless repitition of a joke. Hell, how many times did Sleeper do the weapons blow up on the secret police gag? The difference between this movie and Sleeper is that when making Sleeper, Woody Allen didn't think slapstick or even comedy was beneath him.

To end on a positive note, the Grove at Farmer's Market is really nice.

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I'm officially sold on reserved seating at the movies, especially for big-time blockbusters. I saw Spider-man at the Cinerama Dome on its opening day at the second show. Despite the theater being packed, I didn't have to worry about waiting on a long line to get a decent seat. If they had run the Hulk teaser, it would have been perfect.

Oddly enough, long lines weren't a problem when I saw Hollywood Ending yesterday.

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Send pizza to IDF soldiers.

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Last weekend, a comic book shop in Manhattan was robbed, including an issue of Amazing Spider-Man worth $6500. Tom Tomorrow complains about the patronizing coverage in the New York Times here:
Sure, it's a lot of money for a comic book--people also spend a lot of money on old baseball cards and antique radios and first edition beanie babies and tin robot toys and bottle caps and lunch pails and all kinds of goddamn things. This is hardly a revelation. Except to the New York Times, whose writers are apparently required by the official Times stylebook to adopt a condescending tone whenever comic books are mentioned.

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An article about how Star Wars does not tap into Joseph Campbell-esque classical myth archetypes but rather swipes from mid-twentieth century science fiction. The link of Star Wars to Campbell benefitted both parties as Lucas got gravitas and Campbell got his work associated with one of the most successful series of movies ever.

Here the author dissects Campbell's claim that the trash compactor scene in Star Wars is "a variant of the death and resurrection theme, in which the hero begins to discover his power":
All of this would make sense if Luke used the Force to hold back the crushing walls. But nothing of the sort happens in this scene: Luke and his friends escape only through the timely help of the dithering robot C3PO. Innumerable action-adventure heroes have had to fight their way out of rooms in which the walls or ceiling slowly close in. Campbell is taking a standard cliffhanger plot device -- one as hoary as having a mustachioed villain tie the heroine to a railroad track, or send her trundling toward a sawmill blade -- and trying to pump it full of significance, with predictably flatulent results.

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One "controversary" among the comedy community is the appropriateness of bringing a notebook on stage. The main argument against it is that it destroys the illusion of spontaneity in stand-up (the idea that it's all made up on the spot) and is thus unprofessional.

In this article, Mark Evanier discusses how when Jack Benny started crediting his writers, comedians were mad at him for destroying the illusion that comics made up their own stuff.

The article Evanier links to about comedy writer Al Boasberg is good too. Boasberg helped create the personas of Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, and Bob Hope and contributed to the Marx Brothers' Night at the Opera and Day at the Races.

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PLUG #2: If you're not familiar with the songs of Rachel Arieff or if you are and want to hear them again, why not download some for free here? All of the songs are funny and as for Rachel herself, hubba-hubba (meant respectfully, of course).

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PLUG #1: Check out the blog of funnyman Bob Powers. Hilarious stuff and it's updated everyday. For your convenience!

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The definition of optimism? I've set this blogger to weekly archives rather than monthly archives because I'll have so many brilliant things to say that a weekly file will be needed to hold them.

The second defintion of optimism? I keep seeing multiplexes that have Hollywood Ending on two screens.

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If you enjoyed the movie Spider-man (and if you didn't, what are you? Some sort of damn Communist?!?!), you might enjoy the Spiderman rock opera.

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I just paid to have the ad removed from this blogger. If it's still there now, I apologize. Please don't think I'm so cheap that I'd let a lousy twelve bucks inconvenience you.

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Here's a press clipping about me. The prediction that I'll have a development deal in "only a matter of time" is about a year-and-a-half-old. The show bidness is a cruel, cruel mistress.

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I thought I'd try this blogger craziness that's so popular with the kids, the young people.

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