Hooray for Captain Spaulding

Friday, January 31, 2003

Happy National Gorilla Suit Day!

Now to ruin the joke by explaining it. National Gorilla Suit Day was a Don Martin cartoon from one of his paperback books. This Salon article gives the general gist of the cartoon (and a reminder of who Don Martin is for those who don't know). And apparently a MAD Super Special many years back came with a calendar insert which listed today as National Gorilla Suit Day.

For some damn reason, Bob Powers ignores today's important holiday for one of his own invention.

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Thursday, January 30, 2003

Want to liven up your party? Sure, we all do! Then why not hire Paul Hogan, the butler of TV's Joe Millionaire?

Sadly enough, the other Paul Hogan is probably also available to act as butler for your parties.

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An LA Times article about planned improvements for the legendary corner of Hollywood & Vine.

The story includes a timeline of the history of the corner. This timeline does not mention when the Vine Theater opened. The Vine Theater, for those not familiar with the area, is a movie theater which runs a double feature of second-run movies for $5. The target audience, as you might guess, are homeless people seeking air conditioning or central heating. If you hadn't guessed that this would be the target audience, then the availability of Ramen noodles at the concessions stand and the needle exchange program booth would maybe clue you in. (For the record, I only made up one of these two things.)

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E! is rerunning the Saturday Night Live episode with Milton Berle on Monday night at 1:00 AM (or technically Tuesday morning). I believe (and someone will correct me if I'm wrong) this was one of two episodes that were so horrendous that Lorne Michaels at one point said that he would never rerun them.

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Sunday, January 26, 2003

I don't want to say the half-time show was terrible but even the Jumbotron at Qualcomm Stadium was flipping to NBC's counter-programming.

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Saturday, January 25, 2003

Speaking of Penn & Teller, they were on Conan on Thursday night. Teller had his head encased in a block of cement as a parody of David Blaine. This exchange took place:
PENN: Since we can't afford to have Teller stand around doing nothing like Blaine does, he will now do a card trick.
CONAN: A card trick while his head is enclosed in a block of cement?!?! That's never been done before!!!
PENN: Sure it has. We did a couple of hours ago in rehearsal.
PENN: You said it was really cool.

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Mark Evanier tells how Penn & Teller call psychic fraud John Edward "the biggest douche in the universe" and says "about time someone did". Actually not only did South Park do just that a couple of months ago but they also had John Edward kidnapped by space aliens so he could receive an award for being biggest douche of the universe, beating many worthy nominees, including an anthropomorphic douche bag.

The episode was pretty good, illustrating how cold reading works (also illustrating how, unfortunately, even if you say it's a trick and explain the trick, folks will still insist it's real). The show did waver over whether John Edward is a fraud or an idiot who thinks he's a psychic.

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A reader asked me to explain my allusion before to a court ruling that Moe was not the boss of the Three Stooges. Which I was going to do anyway.

The Stooges worked with a gentleman by the name of Ted Healey in an act called, appropriately enough, Ted Healey and His Stooges. The Stooges struck out on their own without Healey in 1930. Healey sued in the case of "Ted Healey vs. Howard, Fine, and Howard" (The second Howard was Shemp, not Curly) in a US District Court. Healey's lawyer argued that the Stooges were stealing the style of the original act. (Understand that in those days, joke theft was a common practise; the understanding was that the joke would be reinterpreted in terms of the stage character. So it's OK that both Abbott & Costello and the Three Stooges do a version of the Niagara Falls sketch; each team performs it in a unique way.) Specifically Moe was a third-rate Healey impersonator swiping Healey's mannerism and nuances.

The court ruled in favor of the Stooges. While Moe delivered many a slap, he had done so when working for Healey and he was not a comedian outside the other two stooges. Moe was not the leader but simply the most violent of a trio of equals.

My source for this was the book Larry: The Stooge in the Middle by Morris Feinberg, Larry's brother. And yes, I have pulled out the book when arguing whether or not Moe was the boss of the Stooges. ("Dammit, a United States District Court said I was right! The law of the land agrees with me!")

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Thursday, January 23, 2003

The real-life inspiration of Wiley, the peg-legged caveman in the comic strip BC.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Speaking as we were of crossovers, Elvis meets Liberace. And they dress up like each other, like when Batman would dress up as Superman to fool crooks with Kryptonite.

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Obituary of Bill Maudlin, the great WWII and editorial cartoonist. If you stumble upon Up Front, Maudlin's book about his WWII experiences with accompanying cartoons, do yourself a favor and purchase a copy.

In honor of Maudlin, here, once again, is the meeting between Sad Sack and Joe.

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Eugene Volokh provides the court decision ruling that the X-Men are inhuman monsters. The difference being whether X-Men toys are classified as dolls representing human beings or the lower-tariffed "toys representing animals or non-human creatures". If you don't feel like downloading the decision, Volokh provides a relevant excerpt.

Not since a court ruled that Moe was not the boss of the Three Stooges has there been a more momentous legal decision.

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Monday, January 20, 2003

Obituary for the great caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. If you don't know the name, you know the work.

A spokesman for the Hirschfeld family said that in homage to his 99-year life, the word NINA will be hidden in 99 places at the funeral.

Meanwhile I can't believe that the best Hirschfeld pictures the AP had on file were ones for City Heat and Star Trek Voyager. Here's a better sampling.

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Saturday, January 18, 2003

A Guy Thing, National Security, and Kangaroo Jack all being released in the same weekend? It must be January, the 12th bestest month for movies of the year!!! If you ever see a trailer for a movie that looks terrible with the vague release date of "Coming Soon", then "Soon" is likely January. A movie that would have been a box office success would have been released earlier in time for X-Mas holidays; a critical success would have been released in December to be Oscar-eligible.

If you have any lingering doubt, realize that Curly Sue was the #1 box office hit during a week in January.

UPDATE: The Curly Sue Movie Fan Club!

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If you care, the "Do you have the courage" rhetoric is based upon Criswell from Plan 9 from Outer Sace. More on Criswell here.

And speaking of crazy predictions of now from the past, here's an article from 1979 predicting life in 2002.

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More on the sequel to the Bible Code (previous stuff here): My brother emailed me that Michael Drosnin has five hand-waving pages on the Moby Dick stuff. I skimmed said pages which was not easy to do as the index was poorly compiled (unless it too was coded!!!!!1!). The pages do not refer to the Moby Dick predictions but to other debunking works by the same statistician Brendon McKay. (Said debunking works can be found here; McKay's reply to the sequel is here including how The Bible Code II has an encoded prediction of the Bali bombing. (Do you have the courage to see the terrifying truth?)) The pages were however as dishonest as advertised.

Drosnin does reissue the Moby Dick challenge but he changes the rules of the game. His original challenge was
When my critics find a message about the assassination of a prime minister encrypted in Moby Dick, I'll believe them.
The challenge is now
No one has found in War and Peace or Moby Dick a correct prediction, in advance, of a world event.
Not that Drosnin has either; unless there was a global economic collapse on September 2, 2002.

UPDATE: Moby Dick predicted 9/11 and the subsequent war in Afghanistan! Can you stop trembling long enough to gaze upon these frightening facts?

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Thursday, January 16, 2003

Frank Gorshin has been playing the role of George Burns in a one-man show since October and no one had the decency to tell me?!?!? More details here.

UPDATE: And it has film clips of Burns & Allen and Jack Benny!

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Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Speaking of sequels to the TV, here's speculation about the once-rumored Harlan Ellison penned Babylon 5 episode that was to have been a sequel to the "Demon with a Glass Hand" Outer Limits episode.

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Speaking of the TV, Peter David reports that on an upcoming Twilight Zone Bill Mumy will reprise his role as the kid with spooky cornfield-sending, jack-in-the-box-turning-into powers all growed-up thirty years later.

Maybe if this episode does well in the ratings, they'll do other sequels. For example, we'll find out if Burgess Meredith was ever able to fix his reading glasses.

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A new Jon Kricfalusi cartoon on Adult Swim (late night Cartoon Network) by the name of The Ripping Friends. I heartily endorse this product or service.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2003

AMC theaters are running a trailer or a commercial for the new Dragnet show. But they don't use the DUM-DA-DUM-DUM theme!!! Why buy the rights to remake Dragnet if you're not going to use the theme?

At least use the Tom Hanks-Dan Akroyd rap song from the movie.

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Saturday, January 11, 2003

I saw Confessions of a Dangerous Mind today. Review later. An attraction for some may be that they show the footage of the thought-for-years-to-be-an-urban legend "in the butt, Bob" story. Snopes has the full story and why it was thought to be an urban legend for so long.

UPDATE: Snopes also has video footage of the incident. Confessions has it unbleeped.

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A sequel to The Bible Code is at finer book stores now. I'm sure my readers are bright enough to understand the rules of probability, particularly for an exercise that literally has no rules. It's especially easy with Hebrew since in Hebrew, vowels are under the words but Hebrew (especially in the Torah) is often printed without the vowels.

Author Michael Drosnin challenged his critics to find assasination predictions in Moby Dick. This site succeeds in the challenge. Click if you dare!

UPDATE: Bible Code author Michael Drosnin's future murder is predicted in Moby Dick. Do you dare look at the horrifying truth?

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Tuesday, January 07, 2003

The Joe Millionaire spin control began one day before the show aired. The contestant claims that they weren't told that the bachelor had fifty million simoleons until they arrived in France (I have ye to see the premiere so I can't judge that claim). Besides she didn't buy that he had the dough.

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Speaking of reality-talent shows, an upcoming one on NBC is Last Comic Standing which starts with an American Idol-esque talent show and then has the top ten comics live in a house together, a la Big Brother. Good thing I had the epiphany a few years back that just because I've chosen that crazy business called show doesn't mean I've forfeited my dignity.

This article talks of one of the cattle calls:
Fifteen minutes before the auditions started, a PA came around to hand out contestant applications and waivers[...] After reading through it, I could distill it down to this: "you in no way will be reimbursed, compensated, or receive any money for your image that may or may not be used from this audition. The images shot during the audition are the property of the producers and can be shown in whatever way they choose" Translation: If we show you 1,000 times in a commercial promoting the show, you get nothing. The image I conjure up is of the girl who sang Genie In A Bottle really bad & out of key, on the American Idol commercials. If you did really bad or have a messed up bit, they can cut the 2 seconds of footage and air it over and over and over.
After the cattle call, they whittle it down to 12-15 acts. These acts perform in Round II and the winner(s) move on to the New York finals. As this Usenet article reveals, in Round II in Atlanta, they called three names. After the three named shake hands with the other comics and reach the stage, it is then announced that they are not finalists. Real classy, this show.

I feel less bad that it's going to be drowned in the other American Idol rip-offs coming to a TV near you. The desire to be on this show would be slightly more understandable if I could find any reference to a prize the winner gets.

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I haven't seen Confessions of a Dangerous Mind yet (I have read the book) but I did catch some Gong Show reruns. Even in the context of those days, I'm not sure what the hell all the fuss was about, controversy-wise. And no, Barris is not a terribly talented host but that seems to be part of the point (A talent show so low-rent even the host is untalented).

One of the funnier parts is the legal disclaimer at the end explaining that sometimes they have professionals on the show and they're the ones not being judged. Presumably, these disclaimers were to prevent a Congressional hearing on why the Unknown Comic wasn't allowed to be judged.

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I promised a lot of movie-related posting which ended up not happening. Mainly due to a bad cold.

I still haven't seen Star Trek Nemesis which puts my geek credentials in jeopardy. I find myself in agreement with Lileks (can't find the permalink): I don't care about what the characters are up to and the folks behind the films seem to care very little about fan opinion. If it's a choice between the film (and aggravating my cold) or wathcing old Secret Agent reruns, the choice becomes clear.

The Two Towers is fan-[expletive deleted]-tastic. Great as in I-may-go-to-the-12:01-AM-opening-of-the-third-movie great. The climatic battle scene was great. As my brother succinctly put it, "Who knew that the Yoda sequence would be only the second-most crowd-pleasing scene this year?"

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"Delightful Dave" Trowbridge asks the question that has puzzled mankind for ages: "How come broads don't dig the Three Stooges?" (He phrases it a little more classier than I did.)

I'm reminded of the tale of the Marx Brothers and MGM mogul Irving Thalberg. Thalberg stated that the reason the brothers weren't as successful as they could be was because audiences didn't sympathize with them. He promised that he could make a movie that would have half as many jokes as Duck Soup (their last Paramount film) but be twice as successful. And indeed, Night of the Opera did just that, becoming their most successful film box-office-wise, with less jokes than Duck Soup but a more coherent story.

The Stooges' shorts either have no storyline (besides the boys being plumbers or whatever) or a marginal one. And they will interrupt said storyline for comic business (My favorite example is "Dutiful But Dumb": Curly is on the lam from fascist soldiers who are going to murder him. Nonetheless he stops at a cafe and does the oyster soup sketch (Curly drops crackers in advertised-fresh oyster soup only to have an oyster eat the crackers when he's not looking(a bit also masterfully performed by Lou Costello)). Men are perhaps more tolerant of comedy without story than women. Just a hypothesis.

Hypothesis #2: If the woman's first exposure to the Stooges was one of their feature films, that would be enough to put anyone off the Stooges.

Hypothesis #3: Not enough Joe Besser.

Stooge films I recommend as good samples are the aforementioned "Dutiful but Dumb" and "You Nazty Spy", the funniest WWII-era film about Hitler (yes, including Chaplin's The Great Dictator).

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Sunday, January 05, 2003

High Hat, the educational puppet that South Park's Mr. Hat was making fun of. (And Kibo rants about it here.)

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Friday, January 03, 2003

Obituary for Ian McNaughton, director of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

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