Hooray for Captain Spaulding

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A new book suggests that Houdini worked undercover for Scotland Yard and the Secret Service. Article here. Teller of "Penn and" fame supports the hypothesis:
Law enforcement is about bureaucracy and cronyism. So they're going to let some entertainer walk in and escape from their jail cells? That suggests to me that (the authors) are on the right track.

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The Rat Pack in a new series starting with Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime solves mysteries. Or helps a guy solve mysteries ("Hey, here's a clue, pally"). Or are in the general vicinity of mysteries. Future titles in the series include:
  • Guys and Dolls...and Murder
  • Yes, I Can...Murder
  • When the Moon Hits Your Eye...With Murder
  • I've Got You Under My Murder
  • The Birth of the Blues...and Murder

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

A conversation between myself and a friend*:

ME: Hello, I am Borat. I am from foreign land. I am wild and crazy guy. America, what a country! Watch my movie; in my country, movie watchs you! We do dance of joy!
FRIEND: There's a little more to the movie than that.
ME: Don't be ridi-cool-us.

*Adding some stuff I thought of later and omitting the part where I tell my friend to repeat his setup line because I had just thought of something.

UPDATE: In my country, 2000-screen opening scales YOU back to 800 screens. Maybe they should increase awareness by giving away cabbage rolls and coffee.

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The good news is that they're releasing a DVD of old Sesame Street stuff (from our generation or so). The odd news is that the set has a warning that the shows aren't for kids. The terrific news is that Whoopi Goldberg isn't the one delivering the warning.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

An interesting subtext in an early episode of Perry Mason ("Earl Stanley Gardner's The Case of the Crimson Kiss"): Paul Drake, reviewing how bad things look for Perry's client, says that she's going to the gas chamber "as sure as Hamilton Burger wants to be governor". Does Hamilton Burger have higher political aspirations that have perhaps been thwarted by constantly losing to Perry?

William Talman's bio
including his (apparently unjustified) arrest at a "nude party" which got him fired from Perry Masonand his pioneering work as one of the first actors to do an anti-smoking commercial.

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The shock over the plagirism in tonight's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip would be more believable if there weren't several dozen comedians with an "ADD? In my day, you were just stupid" bit.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Reader LC Seekins was nice enough to tell me that the song "Hooray for Captain Spaulding" is available on iTunes. Alas this version is not by Groucho but by Big Lou's Polka Casserole. Also alas they changed lyrics and, as one would guess, the new lyrics are inferior to the original.

While I was at iTunes, I also bought "Alfie the Christmas Tree" which was the portion of the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas Special where Denver wonders about those who've "never heard of the Son of God" and thus traumatized every Jewish child between the ages of 5 and 9. This web page discusses the special, that portion and the special's subtext:
John Denver the evangelical Christian battling Jim Henson the hippie Christian. Kermit's saying it's okay even if you're not Christian, and John is saying, no, but if we just tell them about Jesus... And Jim is saying, no, no, that's okay... if they're just groovy relaxed people, it's okay... That's the whole special, right there.

Speaking of iTunes, Tower Records was bought by a liquidator who're going to be doing a going-out-of-business sale for the next few weeks. Right now, it's 10%-off-everything thus following Tower's unofficial motto of "It's cheaper at Amazon". Presumably they'll get cheaper in the next couple of weeks. Look for various nostalgic "whither Tower" articles, some by the same folk who condemned Tower Records as an evil chain driving the little record store out of business.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

I've been watching the Perry Mason Season 1. One interesting element: You know how in Perry Mason, Hamilton Burger would say about a piece of evidence, "I ask that it be marked People's Exhibit C"? In the first season, they'd actually show the clerk stamp the piece of the evidence.

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Lego has a new robot system (warning obnoxious music), another exciting hobby I don't have time for! You can control the robot from your Bluetooth enabled cell! Toys R Us has a 10%-off-one-item coupon so I'm tempted plus there's the whole "Buy Legos! For Freedom!" factor. On the other hand, it uses Technic Legos rather than the classic Legos you and I grew up with.

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An interesting development in last night's SNL: I still managed to watch the show through Tivo in 20 minutes but they had the following two skits:
  1. One sketch ended with one character telling the other that they could sell what just happened to his friend who writes for Saturday Night Live.
  2. Another sketch featuring Amy Poehler as Farrah Fawcett ended with Fawcett wandered the SNL stage area until she spots another sketch set in a bar and decides to stay there. They then proceed to do a sketch set in a bar and Poehler stays in character as Fawcett.
Both of these are basic Python 101 but SNL has been fairly uninfluenced by Python in its 30-plus-year history. I'll grant that doing the Python tricks is difficult on SNL with commercial interruptions and forty sketches written so that 10-15 can be performed (and sketches can get cut as late as post-dress rehearsal).

There are also isolated counter-examples one can give but I don't think I've ever seen two in one show. What struck me about the second sketch was I vividly remember a Tom Hanks sketch where he plays a doctor who criticizes the sketch he's in and encourages his patient to flee it, saying "I'm in another sketch over there; it's much, much better than this one." But they didn't follow through. We should have seen Hanks walk to the next sketch or something. As a 15-year-old Python nerd, I was metaphorically shouting "When are they going to get to the fireworks factory?"

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