Hooray for Captain Spaulding

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Last weekend, I called a friend of mine pretending to be Steve Carell. The premise was that Mr. Carell's contract for The Forty-Year-Old Virgin had an option for a sequel, Universal was going ahead (The picture was to be called The Forty-Two-Year-Old Virgin), and he needed my friend's help with the story problems. This project sounds worse (even given that I threw in that Bill Saluga was signed up for a 1.5-million play-or-pay deal and the movie was contractually required to feature "You can call me Ray..." three times).

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Michael Sheard who played Hitler four times died today. Bobby Watson who's played Hitler in at least ten roles is also dead. Moe Howard and Charlie Chaplin both played Hitler analogues and they're both dead. Mel Blanc voiced Hitler in several cartoons and he's dead. Dick Shawn from The Producers, dead.

It's the Hitler curse!

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

LA Times article on Hawaii's attempt to cap gas prices and the possibility of California following them. Thankfully owning a Prius means I'll only have to deal with the inevitable gas lines once every two weeks rather than weekly.

One thing omitted in the article is how come if the gas refinery business is so profitable in Hawaii ("far more profitable than similar facilities on the mainland"), how come there are only two refineries? I half suspect there's some government regulations involved here.

Buried in the back of the article is that many state regulations (including California) don't allow selling gas at below-cost prices. So if a station wants to lose a few cents on gasoline (under the theory that they'd make it up with Coke and Twinkie puchases (which is where the real money is in gas stations)), they can't do it.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Readers of this site who are SCTV fans may be interested in the DVD release of The David Steinberg Show which features five stars of SCTV before they were on SCTV. The show also features the titular David Steinberg, a funny comedian who recorded funny album "Booga Booga", and Bill Saluga aka Raymond J. Johnson, Jr.

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

So talking of old radio shows, I was listening to the September 9th, 1951 episode of The Jack Benny Show which you can listen to here. They did a parody of Horatio Hornblower. At the beginning of the parody, Jack is described as very brave and Dennis Day deadpans "Naturally". After that, other jokes that used "Naturally" as a punchline had an odd subtext:
Phil Harris: The men haven't touched land in a year. They're going crazy for the sight of a woman.
Jack: Why?
Phil: You wouldn't understand.
Jack: I wouldn't?
Dennis Day: Naturally.

Phil: I have the captain of the French ship. And they had a woman passenger aboard so I brought her too.
Jack: A woman, eh? Well, bring in the captain. I want to question him first.
Dennis: Naturally.
Jack: You stay out of it.

Phil: Captain, you better get her Ladyship below deck. The men are becoming unruly.
Jack: All right. Don't worry, your Ladyship. You're safe with me.
Mary: Naturally.
To my modern ears, that originally sounded like they were saying that Jack Benny is gay. I'm fairly sure that if this was part of the show, it wouldn't be the first I'm hearing of it. Now, I'm guessing that they're implying that Jack is so old that he has no libido. Or maybe my first interpretation was right.

UPDATE: I'm now sold on the idea that these were "Jack is gay" jokes. I dropped a comment on the Radio Memories site to get their opinion.

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My brother (that crazy kid) was generous enough to give me an iPod for my birthday.
So what have I been doing with this amazing 21st century device? Dowloading old radio shows! Podcasts of old-time radio shows are available through Radio Memories, OTR and this podcast of what looks like the complete run of The Great Gildersleeve (cartoon fans "know" the show from any Warner Brothers character who giggles "Yes" and its catchphrase "Well, now I wouldn't say that" (swiped by "that dope from the draft board")).

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Reader Jim Woster forwards this LA Weekly blog entry on a Today Show segment about a gent who padded his resume by saying he was an Oompa Loompa and was outed as a fraud. I did further research and found this BBC story on this fella by the name of Ezzy Dame. Surprisingly, I could not find an IMDB entry for him but did find one for Rusty Goffe, the real Oompa Loompa who outed him. Also the IMDB entry for Marcus Powell who was an Oompa Loompa and played the role of the Little German* in the underrated Top Secret

*As in Val Kilmer says that he doesn't know any German and the female lead says "I know a little German...he's sitting over there" and the camera pans to a German little person who waves.

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Why I'm Not Unsympathetic to the Idea that Maybe John Bolton is what the UN Needs/Deserves Part 587:
The United Nations bankrolled the production of thousands of banners, bumper stickers, mugs, and T-shirts bearing the slogan "Today Gaza and Tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem"
No, that's not going to encourage more violence. Article here.

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When Radley Balko saw the Aristocrats, he had the same experience I did in that the only time the audience didn't laugh was when T. Sean Shannon dropped the N-bomb and the C-bomb.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I've been watching the Muppets First Season DVD set and I officially take back my Muppet Show-doesn't-hold-up pronouncement from last November. It's as entertaining as I remember. Some notes:
  • To see the relative primitiveness of this first season, you just have to look at the "This is what we call the Muppet Shooooow" part. It has about ten Muppets and three of them aren't moving. Compare that to later seasons with dozens of Muppets, all of which (as I recollect) sang along.
  • A concept in the two pilot episodes was that the guest star would be presented with a Muppet likeness of her-or-himself at the end of the show. This concept was, of course, quickly abandoned. ("Hey, ya know that thing we do where we bust our asses for three days to make a Muppet for a thirty-second appearance. Let's not do that.")
  • The Muppet morsels trivia is entertaining at times, like when it points out that you can see the puppeteer's head. It was also useful to me because I'd say "Hey, that was on the Muppet Show album" and a few seconds it would say that the number was on the Muppet Show album. It hasn't confirmed anything that was in the Muppet Show book yet.
  • The set features one of the prototype pilots when the Muppets were trying to get a network show, "Sex and Violence". I haven't rewatched it yet but one thing I vividly remember was that Kermit's only appearance was in a Ballroom sketch and his line was something to the effect of "How would you like a job in educational television?" Kermit using his Sesame Street position to get laid. Har.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

MAD Magazine announces the launch of MADKIDS, a magazine aimed at 6-11 year olds. I don't know if my family's experience was unique but that's about the age range my brother and I were when we read MAD; we definitely stopped reading MAD around the time MAD seems to think we should have started. The new magazine will feature Spy vs Spy Jr. I picture traps on skateboards ("The kids love skateboarding!") and the Spys wearing propeller beanie ("The kids still wear those, right?")caps instead of their usual floppy hats.

UPDATE: Tom Spurgeon makes the same "don't most folk give up reading MAD around age 11?" point I did.

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Monday, August 08, 2005

If you know anything about me, you know that when my parents decided to go for a trip to Niagara Falls, that I would yell "NIAGARA FALLS!" anytime they mentioned the name of said falls. I asked my parents that if souvenirs existed which alluded to the Niagara Falls sketch to buy them for me. Not a damn thing exists. They have souvenirs for the Marilyn Monroe movie but not for a classic piece of comedy. Grumble.

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Something I noticed in the King Kong trailer:
Jack Black: I've come into possession of a map; an uncharted island.
Me: If you have a map, it's not an uncharted island.
I noticed this when I saw the Bad News Bears remake. The alternate title for that movie should have been "The Kids Today Like That, Right?".

One funny playing-on-our-expectations bit was a montage of Buttermaker trying to get a sponsor which ended with his entering Chico's Bail Bonds. However, it later turns that Chico is not the sponsor of the Bears.

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Monday, August 01, 2005

COOP reminds me in the comments to the post below that there was some question (back in January) whether the Aristocrats joke was a hoax. The movie shows someone looking up the joke in G. Legman's No Laughing Matter: Rationale of the Dirty joke (Second Series). I only have the first series/volume but the first series does reference the Aristocrats joke (indeed the reference implies that the Aristocrats got its own chapter in the second volume). And since Legman was cataloguing old jokes, that implies that the Aristocrats is much, much older than Legman's 1975 volume.

Now, I have to get the second volume.

UPDATE:The Slumbering Lungfish gets proof of the joke's prior existence after asking about it. I, of course, stupidly answered the question for proof before checking that someone else had answered him.

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Thoughts on The Aristocrats:
  1. Chris Rock makes an interesting point, which wasn't really expanded on, that black comedy doesn't have the no-profanity tradition of white comedy; Rock's claim being that they weren't going to get on TV or go beyond what they were doing anyway. Seems to me that this makes Bill Cosby even more revolutionary than I realized.
  2. Probably due to it being a Paul Prevenza film, the movie was kind of eighties-comedy heavy.
  3. Interesting variations include the act being performed vs just being described and the pitch being made to an agent from the act vs the pitch being made by an agent to a booker (one version of the latter implies that "The Aristocrats" name is a reaction to a "we're too high-class for that" reaction). There's also the obvious 180-version where the act is genteel and the name is dirty.
  4. At one point, it's suggested that the sex acts and scatalogy described aren't nearly as taboo and that "race is the new sex." Anecdotal proof is that the only point of dead silence (besides that for a comic that I'll leave unnamed who was just not funny) for an audience that was enjoying the film was when comedian/writer T.Sean Shannon dropped the n-bomb.

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