Hooray for Captain Spaulding

Thursday, February 27, 2003

If your travels take you to Idlewild Park, PA, you can visit the Neighborhood of Make Believe.

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King Friday XIII just ordered the Neighborhood of Make-Believe flags to be flown at half mast.

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So, according to the obituary I posted, David Newell who played Mr. McFeeley was the family spokesperson who released the news. I just wish that he hadn't, before delivering the news, said "Speedy Delivery! Speedy Delivery!"

ABC has Mr. Rogers trivia which includes the interesting fact that Fred's maternal grandfather (last name McFeeley) came up with the phrase "like you just the way you are." A Bonus Question was "Who did the voice of Daniel Tiger?" That's a bonus question? Fred Rogers did all the voices! Even when I was five, I knew that.

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This PBS site lets you meet the main Mr. Rogers "Land of Make Believe" characters. Apparently it's spelled "Boomerang Toomerang Soomerang" and not "Zoomerang" like I thought.

Here you can buy Mr. Rogers brand puppets and other merchandise.

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A Not-So Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Fred "Mr." Rogers died today. Henrietta Pussycat was quoted as saying "Meow meow meow sad".

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Monday, February 24, 2003

Posted for the benefit of my family, an LA Times article (login: cptspaulding/cptspaulding) about the financial heath of the Shakey's pizza chain.

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Thursday, February 20, 2003

The "Hot or Not" folk are sueing the ABC TV show Are You Hot? claiming trademark infringement. Story here. This ain't proof but I had just assumed that the show was a licensed TV version of the website.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2003

STAR TREK SINGS! Leonard Nimoy's video for "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" (courtesy of Mark Evanier who manages to trace the video's origin) and William Shatner sings "Rocket Man" (referenced in Beck's "Where It's At" video and performed gesture for gesture by Chris Elliot in '92).

The Shatner video comes from this site which has a mess o' It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World trivia. (I discuss said movie in a bunch of posts on this page.)

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The ABC show I'm a Celebrity! Get Me out of Here! premieres tonight. I've heard that if this show is successful, ABC will then do a celebrity edition.

I've seen the participants listed as C-list celebrities. They're more like dalet-list; you have to leave the Roman alphabet to indicate their level of celebrity. How much was ABC scraping the bottom of the barrel for these celebrities? I turned them down.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2003

I may or may not get around to reviewing Daredevil eventually. (I'm still angry about not getting the Foggy Nelson role. He did a spit take for crying out loud; how was I not even considered for that part?!?!?) I do have a suggestion for a villain for the sequel.

They showed the trailer for The League of Extraordinary Gentleman which made the same mistake the first teaser trailer for Daredevil made: assuming the audience is familiar with the concept. It shows a lot of action but they're not smart enough to say "Hey, it's all your favorite 19th century adventure characters teamed-up." However great the Alan Moore comic it's based on is, probably less than a couple of million folk are familiar with it. They should have clearly captioned each character: "Invisible Man!", "Jekyll & Hyde!" and so forth. As it was, it seemed the only reason people paid attention was that they thought it was the X-Men 2 trailer.

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Friday, February 14, 2003

My new excuse for not having plans on Valentine's Days: Jews don't need to set aside special days to say they love people.

The beauty of that excuse is that makes it a cultural thing and the person bothering me about it is now repressing me.

Seriously, how much do I dislike Valentine's Day? Last night, I was visited by three ghosts.

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A couple of months back, I wrote to the Smithsonian about their Baby Ruth part of the First Ladies exhibit (Discussed here. Basic Summary: The Smithsonian fabricated proof that Baby Ruth was named after President Cleveland's daughter). And yes, it's hard not to sign such a letter "P.S. I am not a crackpot."

I got a basic "we're forwarding this to the proper people". I asked recently as to progress on the matter: Their reply:
The exhibition "First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image" has been in place since 1992. The previous "First Ladies Hall" was disestablished in 1987 and the current exhibition was in the planning for almost five years. Neither the exhibition curator nor the designer are still with the Smithsonian Institution. Current staff is searching the curator's research notes for the exhibition and you will receive a response when the facts are known. The American History Museum receives many public inquiries and responds to all of them, but the research can take some time. Your correspondence has already been moved up past others of earlier receipt, for action, and your patience in this matter is appreciated.
So allegedly someone is looking into this.

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Comedian, the documentary about Jerry Seinfeld (my review here), has action figures available in gumball machines. This page has pictures and an mpeg of a Reader's Digest reenactment of the film using said figures.

My friend who told me about them said it included Orny Adams on his cell phone. I excitedly thought he meant Adams using a bar stool and a mike stand as wacky props in a cellphone bit. Apparently he meant a real cell phone. The Wacky Props Orny Adams is apparently being saved for Series II.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Paul Attanasio author of Academy Award-nominated his screenplays for Quiz Show and Donnie Brasco says that I'm right:
Again, the reality is that the number of films each year in which (in David Lean's famous formulation) the director conceives the idea, acquires the property, hires the writer, develops the script, chooses and hires the cast, shoots the film, edits the film with final cut, and supervises the promotion and release, is at best five and quite possibly zero. (I have never worked on such a film.) The more typical film would involve the director being hired to shoot a script that was developed by someone else, because a movie star is already attached who has a window of availability in April, which movie star turns the 12 weeks of production into a gauntlet of humiliation for said director, for a studio that has greenlit the film only because it desperately needs a Christmas release, and which gets recut by the producer after the director's first cut tests poorly before a focus group.

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Mark Evanier was asked how it's possible for a Best Picture nominee to not get a Best Director nomination. A similar question frequently pops up when the Best Movie Oscar and the Best Director Oscar go to different films. It is based on a false premise: that the director is the "author" of a movie.

Film is a collaborative process involving the input of many. If you think the director has the final say on a movie, consider this: If Julia Roberts had an argument on the interpretation of a movie she was starring in with that film's director, who do you think will win that fight? Would such a movie then be "A Film By Julia Roberts". Check out the third disc of the Criterion Brazil boxed set with the edited-to-make-more-"commercial" version of Brazil to see what can happen to a film without a director's input.

The alleged authorship of a director reached ridiculous heights when commercials for Kangaroo Jack kept ending with the announcer saying "directed by David McNally" as if that were the big selling point. Again, who do you think won in any fights between director McNally and producer Jerry Bruckheimer?

Author Joe Queenan took the wind out of the directors' sails in an essay in this book by conducting an unscientific survey where he asks moviegoers who the director was of the film they just saw. Practically no one knew the answer even when they were standing in front of a poster that says "A film by Mario Van Peebles" or were at a showing of an artsy foreign film screening at the Museum of Modern Art. For the second stage, Queenan goes to ticket booths and asks for "One ticket to the Nora Ephron film" with similar results.

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Monday, February 10, 2003

The Laugh-In seminar I mentioned below is sold out so I won't be asking anyone about Turn-On. However I did take advantage of the Museum of Television and Radio's screening area to catch not only the episode which got the show cancelled but a second episode that I assume never aired. (If it comes up in a trivia question, said unaired episode was hosted by Robert Culp and France Nuyen (the then Mrs. Robert Culp)).

Even as one raised by the quick cuts of Monty Python, Sesame Street and that MTV the kids are always watching, I got whiplash from the fast pacing of the jokes. The jokes were good. The show (the premise being that it's created by a super computer) was punctuated by annoying beeps which were especially headache-inducing when you're listening to the show on headphones. The show also sprinkled credits throughout, well before Python screwed around with the credits.

Not only did Albert Brooks write for the show (as we learned earlier) but Bill Melendez did the animation.

Highlights: An African-American gentleman to a white gentleman: "Mom always liked you best."

MAN 1: You wanna take home some pornagraphic literature?
MAN 2: Nahhhh, I don't own a pornograph.

ATTRACTIVE YOUNG LADY: I just got a job at the circus as the Fat Lady.
LADY 2: How did you get a job as a fat lady?
AYL: I lied about my age.

Lowlights: A picture of a Mogen David talking to a monk, "We'll forget about Auschwitz if you reduce the charges to manslaughter."

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Friday, February 07, 2003

Toonarific has an information page and some pictures from The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians, the Rankin-Bass special mentioned below. According to the info, Paul Frees provided the voices of any comedians not alive to participate in the special. The Paul Frees site which calls him the "one of the most prolific voice actors of all time" doesn't know the half of it; he apparently provided the voice of Harpo.

Other intriguing specials listed on Toonarific are the never-shown produced-in-1974 MAD Magazine TV Special with pictures (available on bootleg video on the 'Net) and the 1994 Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side (also with pictures). I can't believe that I was so wrapped in my university studies that I missed that one but that's apparently what happened.

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There was a Rankin/Bass special featuring the voice work of Jack Benny, Groucho Marx, George Burns, Henny Youngman, The Smothers Brothers, Flip Wilson, Phyllis Diller, Jack E. Leonard, and George Jessel and nobody had the decency to tell me?!?!?!?!
Why do I have to stumble on these things in imdb.com?

UPDATE: According to the imdb listing, linked above, Harpo also did voice work on the special.

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Another event in LA is the Nike Run-Hit Wonder race on February 16th where one-hit wonder bands (including Missing Persons and Flock of Seagulls) peform at every mile. Details here and here.

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The William S. Paley Television Festival is in LA the end of February and the beginning of March. One of the features is a seminar about Laugh-In. An interesting thing to note about said seminar is that two of the gentlemen participating (Tim Conway and George Schlatter) were involved with Turn-On, the show cancelled after one episode (I discuss it here). I'm tempted to go just to question them about the show.

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Thursday, February 06, 2003

Conversation between myself and friend, Chip Pope:
ME [doing bad Jon Lovitz impression]: Hello, this is Jon Lovitz.
CHIP: Hi, Mr. Lovitz.
ME: Just a reminder I'll being appearing on tonight's episode of Friends! I'm calling all my fans...I'll be calling the other one in five minutes. Wah-wah-wah-waaaaaah.
CHIP: Jon Lovitz is on Friends?
ME: Yeah.
CHIP: So, is this NBC's strategy to make sure everybody's watching the Michael Jackson special on ABC?
NOTE: Chip and I are entitled to make fun of Jon Lovitz, being fans and all.

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Want healthy teeth and gums? Sure, we all do! Why not use hypnosis "to direct your body’s energy to heal your gums and teeth"? (Besides the fact that it won't work.)

Disclaimer: Not responsible for users' thinking they're chickens.

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Tuesday, February 04, 2003

I saw the Milton Berle episode of Saturday Night Live I mentioned previously. Reports of its awfulness seem exaggerated but whoever edited the show down to 60 minutes may have taken the coward's way out and cut out anything particularly awful. They didn't include his singing of "September Song", an allegedly particularly awful moment. But claims that Berle's humor is too broad for SNL seem ridiculous when that episode reminds you that that show did several sketchs with the Widettes.*

In Tom Shales's book, two people (including Lorne Michaels) compain about his behavior during rehearsal in a sketch where Gilda Radner feeds Berle in a nursing home. They complain that his dribbling of food upstaged Gilda's speech. Whatever instructions they gave to Berle apparently took as there was nary a dribble in the performed version. And to be perfectly honest, that sketch could have used a few dribble-takes as it was pretty lifeless. Why have Milton Berle dress as an old man and feed him soup if you don't want him to dribble said soup?

*The joke about the Widettes is that they have large asses. [Item #759 Missing from the 'Net: A picture of the Widettes]

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Lou Ferigno weighs in on the Hulk's "new look." I put new look in quotes as he looks almost exactly like the original Jack Kirby design.

Here's a tale (which may require a few grains of salt) about the movie Hulk's evolution:
Joe Quesada and Bill Jemas[Marvel's editor-in-chief and President, respectively] go to visit the beleaguered CGI division for the film, whose designs for the Hulk character (which will be completely computer generated) have been generating a lot of concern amongst the brass. The designers proudly proclaim that at long last, "they've got it." They walk Joe and Bill down a huge hallway covered with designs and sketches, pointing out the evolution of the Hulk design, arranged chronologically, along the way. "Here he's morphing into a sort of gorilla-like creature...here we used a West African war mask...this is more of a samurai effect...we took a look at Australian crocodiles for this one...this was based on mental patients in Berlin" and so forth (I'm not quoting exactly). Finally, after much of this, they get to the end of the hall and proclaim: "And here he is!"
According to Quesada, "he" looks just like Kirby's first Hulk drawing.

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Happy Chinese New Year! By the Chinese calendar, it is the Year of the Ram. I'm such a dope that I'm still writing 5762 on my checks.

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Sunday, February 02, 2003

You too can send email to Homer Simpson. Here's how.

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Saturday, February 01, 2003

Kaddish for Columbia
Here once again is the picture by Auschwitz victim Petr Ginz that first Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon took with him. And an article in The Times of India about first Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla.
UPDATE: LA Times article on Ilan Ramon.
UPDATE 2: According to the press release I linked to above, the Petr Ginz picture was a copy.

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