Hooray for Captain Spaulding

Saturday, November 30, 2002

NOW IT CAN BE TOLD: Sad Sack meets Joe (from Bill Maudlin's Up Front).

(And for equal time plugwise (as is required in these crossovers), the Sad Sack website.)

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Friday, November 29, 2002

A Yahoo news article about Gillian Anderson is accompanied by a slide show of Pamela Anderson.

(Folks, these are actual headlines found in actual newspapers. We do not make these things up.)

UPDATE: Slide show has since been removed with no substitute.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2002

I had the privilege of meeting Fred Willard Sunday. A friend of mine is in an informal sketch troupe of his (which also features Lou Wagner and Richard Horvitz) (I'm not name-dropping, just telling a story) which meets at Willard's house to go over sketchs and then they, on occassion, perform them.

Fred Willard might think I'm an idiot. He was complaining that there was no place in the area (Hollywood and Vine) to get dinner. I asked as a joke "Is the Brown Derby open?" He says, "No, the Derby closed years ago." I'm left mumbling " I know; I was kidding."

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Thursday, November 21, 2002

The American Cinematheque is running It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World on December 4th. Details here.
Discussion following with actors Jonathan Winters, Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, Edie Adams, Don Knotts, Madlyn Rhue, Marvin Kaplan and Stan Freberg, editor Robert Jones, casting director Lynn Stalmaster, stunt man Loren James and Karen and Kat Kramer, wife and daughter of Stanley Kramer
I am reminded of when I went to see The Happiest Millionaire at the Cinematheque. One of those musical movies that played to roadshows complete with intermission and the last live-action movie overseen by Walt Disney. It's a pleasant enough film but it dragged on and on. Discussion with various folk took place during the intermission. At one point, I told the friend I was with that I had to go to work the next day and if the film didn't start up again in four minutes, I was leaving. It started in three.

One hoot was newsreels predicting big things for Tommy Steele. I, the next day, phoned my friend pretending to be Tommy Steele now working as a polltaker for the Cinematheque
After hearing the song "Fortuosity", would you say fortuosity is
a) your by-word
b) your apple-in-your-eye word
c) your own word
or d) your never feel alone word?

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As you recall, I had a theory that comedies, particularly ones with big name comedy stars, set in circuses never work and the possibility that You Can't Cheat an Honest Man, starring WC Fields and Edgar Bergen, contradicted said theory. Thanks with a little help from my brother, we use the seeming contradiction to refine the theory.

NEW THEORY: Comedies in circuses starring wacky people never work. WC Fields is not wacky; he's a combination cynic/bad con man. A sleazy guy running a circus and/or a world-weary guy working at a circus (in this case, Charlie McCarthy) might work.

Another consideration is that, as I recollect, the circus setting was secondary; the movie being mostly about Fields's daughter marrying a rich guy she doesn't love and his son being ashamed of him. He could have just as easily been a snake-oil peddler with the same effect (other than the fact that he probably wouldn't have a ventriloquist working for him (although arguably not that many circuses have an on-staff ventriloquist either)).

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Wednesday, November 20, 2002

MAD's Onion satire illustrated the Onion's tendecny to do jokes about inappropriate activities of corporate icons with the Pilsbury Doughboy; this week's Onion features a wacky picture of said Doughboy.

Accident or winking nod at the satire?

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002

A coalition of religious group will run ads encouraging drivers to stop driving SUV's with the slogan "What would Jesus drive?" Details here.

I'm not convinced Jesus wouldn't drive an SUV; after all, he does need to transport twelve other passengers.

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Mark Evanier debunks the notion that Paul Reubens's 1991 arrest destroyed his career. At one point he suggests that the failure of Big Top Pee-Wee had more to do with the end of Pee-Wee Herman than the arrest did. This is as good an excuse as any for me to expound my theory about Circus Comedies. To wit: comedies, particularly ones with big name comedy stars, set in circuses never work.

Comedy is frequently about contrasts. Pee-Wee Herman at a biker bar is funny. The Marx Brothers at a high society ball or an opera or running a country is funny. They don't belong there and chaos results. Wacky people at a circus is not so unusual and so the contrast isn't there.

UPDATE: You Can't Cheat an Honest Man potentially contradicts this theory.

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Sunday, November 17, 2002

Talking of SNL, I can't believe that the first post-monologue sketch they did closed with the a variation on the old "Doc says you're gonne die" joke.

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The Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle shorts were delightful. They showed ones where he was giveing Buster Keaton his start. I would have been curious to see some pre-Keaton ones as Arbuckle was a big star when he gave Keaton his start but apparently Buster's more of a draw at the Silent Movie Theater. Arbuckle's comedy is the usual "fat guy fall down" comedy but is skillfully done "fat guy fall down" comedy which is not universal to the genre (Exhibit A).

The short "The Bellboy" has what is the earliest-that-I've-seen poof joke in movies. Specifically Fatty and Buster are scared of a long-haired, fully-bearded, mean-looking gentleman. Buster thinks he's Satan and Fatty thinks he's Rasputin. The gentleman then walks in a fey manner and both are relieved. Arbuckle then imitates the walk.

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All the actors who portrayed James Bond talk about the role. An interesting factoid is that George Lazenby was not fired, but quit.

Also for you trivia buffs, Patrick McGoohan turned down the role of James Bond (proof here).

I've always found that a fun and easy way to get Bond fans unreasonably mad is to say that I liked Roger Moore the best. I actually have a soft spot in my heart for Moore's portrayal mostly due to the fact that he played Bond when I was 8.

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Friday, November 15, 2002

The Silent Movie Theater is running old Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle shorts. Their calendar, for some reason, refers to him only as Roscoe Arbuckle; perhaps because as this site notes "His friends never called him Fatty". Reminds me of when I followed a comic who did a bit about how unPC the name Fatty Arbuckle was. I suggested that "Fatty" Arbuckle was a better nickname than one based on his alleged Coke bottle activities.

I'm interested to see his work as I only know of him through the scandal that led to the third or fourth Trial of the Century (in which the jury went to the trouble of writing a statement declaring his innocence).

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The Jesus inscription ossuary is going on display even though the "brother of Jesus" part is a proven forgery.

Every visitor gets a free piece of the True Cross.

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Mad magazine goofs on the Onion in the funniest thing they've done in years and one of the funnier humor-magazine-on-humor-magazine things since National Lampoon goofed on MAD.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2002

A DVD set of the first season of South Park is coming out. However Warner Brothers wanted to edit Stone and Parker's commentary for content. Stone's spin on it here. The commentary will be available on CD. One can purcahse the DVD from Comedy Central and get the commentary CDs here or one can purcahse the DVD elsewhere and send in proof of purcahse to get the commentary CDs (Details here).

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Another LA Times article; this one about potential British imports coming to a TV near you. One show described is The Kumars at No 42, a talk show which is filmed in a studio that is part of the house that the host shares with his "family". The guests must endure questions from the family.

I have low hopes for the American version called The Ortegas as it has been announced that Cheech Marin will be playing the father of the family. Nothing aginast Cheech but it's going to be hard to suspend disbelief in the show when the Dad is Cheech. It sounds like NBC wanted a different show but was afraid of it being too different so they hired a celebrity to hedge their bets.

I'm reminded of how Sports Night was saddled with a laugh track at the beginning, guaranteeing the alienation of people who might like a one-camera, non-traditional comedy and then the show's low ratings being blamed on it being different. Unfortunately the DVD set does not remove the laugh track according to customer reviews nor offer the option of removing it like the MASH DVD set does. Seriously that laugh track was very annoying; imagine Moonlighting or West Wing with a laugh track.

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A fascinating story in the LA Times (Login as cptspaulding with password cptspaulding) about the attempts to find out the truth about Pavlik Morozov. Pavlik Morozov was a young boy who informed on his father to the authorities. He was then found murdered in the woods and his grandfather, grandmother, cousin and godfather were convicted of the murder. The story of Morozov was to the Soviet Union what the Washington cherry tree story was to America as children were encouraged to follow his example.

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Sunday, November 10, 2002

Every year on Halloween, a national tragedy occurs as millions of children are deprived of trick-or-treating and free candy due to scaremongering.

Max Power links to this article on how there has not been a single case of anonymous Halloween poisoning ever; all poisonings have either been hoaxes or targeting the children. Snopes was on the case years ago; even the incident that has promoted the legend from "false" to "undetermined" did not take place during trick-or-treating but during a school Halloween event.

Even today, this myth is repeated like in this Jump Start comic strip. And this one. I bring this up based on personal bitterness: even when we lived in what was essentially a gated community without a gate, my parents wouldn't let me trick-or-treat. Of course, they also wouldn't let me use the Cracker Jack tattoos because they might be laced with LSD.

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Thursday, November 07, 2002

Mark Evanier lists things you see in every episode of Hawaii 5-0 including:
11. Some innocent remark gives McGarrett the answer.

This one was actually seen in about half the TV detective shows ever done. Someone makes a stray comment like, "Well, let's get your mind off the case for a while. How about a cup of coffee?" And then Mannix, Barnaby Jones, Cannon, McCloud, McMillan or McGarrett says, "Wait a minute...coffee. Coffee is made of beans. That's it! The killer is hiding in the old abandoned bean warehouse, just outside of town!" And, of course, he is.
What he doesn't mention is that the other 50% of detective shows (the type where the detective gathers all the suspects in a room) would have this dialogue:
DETECTIVE: Beans, yes, that's it.
FRIEND: That's what?
DETECTIVE: No time to explain. (Runs off to confront murderer.)
Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel wrote a great pilot called Lookwell where Adam West played a washed-up Adam-West-esque actor who used to play a detective on a TV show. A running joke was that every three minutes he'd pull a "Yes, that's it" and be totally wrong.

Conan has once or twice alluded to the show being "the second lowest-rated television show of all time" (like in his Harvard commencement address). What he doesn't say is that the show was run on a Sunday against the second half of 60 Minutes with absolutely zero publicity (except for an Adam West appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien the second or third week Conan was on the air (which is how I found out about it)).

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Many people (like "Delightful Dave" Trowbridge) confuse Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet with Robot or B9 from Lost in Space. In this picture, Robby is the one on the left.

Here, B9 and Robby perform in a little skit.

You can buy your very own Robby the Robot (or it makes a great Hanukah gift, wink, wink, nudge, nudge) or build your own B9 robot with the aid of this site to answer any questions you might have.

UPDATE: Robby the Robot appeared in two episodes of Lost in Space, this one and this one.

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The ossuary that said "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" is a crude forgery (or at least the "brother of Jesus" part) is. Details here (thanks to Meryl Yourish). Some scholars were reportedly skeptical because of an additional sentence which said "And by Jesus, we mean that guy from Christianity Jesus".

Of course, proof of fraud hasn't stopped people from claiming the Shroud of Turin is real.

In other news, I found a headstone that read "Thomas Wayne, father of Bruce".

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Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Bill Mumy (TV's Will Robinson) eulogizes Johnathan Harris (TV's Dr Smith). Also a Dr Smith Insult Library.

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Monday, November 04, 2002

Jimmy Kimmel tells Bill Carter his plans for his ABC late night show and Carter goes behind the scenes on how ABC chose Kimmel.

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