Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mary Worth - The Dramatic Reenactment

I'm years late with this but here it is anyway in all its brilliance: a panel-by-panel reenactment of actual Mary Worth comics that ran from May 17th to June 13th, 1998. Formerly part of a series featured on the now defunct Zero TV site, someone with a kind and giving heart has edited all the segments together in one glorious filmed comic strip.

According to King Features Syndicate, Mary Worth is a well-spoken gentlewoman with a knack for quoting proverbs and surrounding herself with interesting people whose lives reflect the daily concerns of society. Mary Worth stories are not about Mary. They are about a continuing parade of people who enter Mary's life. If you look closely, you may recognize one of your neighbors — or even yourself.

Ponder the ongoing mystery.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad - 1974

Back in the 70s, our household was a test market for a new cable channel called HBO, which specialized in playing the same movies over and over again for weeks on end. They were testing the soon-to-be cult-film market, I guess. Since we were kids, our tolerance for repetition, especially for titles such as "Blazing Saddles," "What's Up Doc?," and "Phantom of the Opera" was very high. In particular, this film, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, which we had seen on the big screen prior to its HBO release, made us very, very happy.

Remember: no VCRs or home computers at this point in time. Just seven or eight network or local affiliate channels, and whatever minimal cable was available in your area. In our case, we could get no TV without cable, and because a house without TV was unthinkable, we had as much cable as humanly possible.

I don't know how many times we watched this but it never got old. This was the second of Ray Harryhausen's "Sinbad" trilogy. The first was the very popular 7th Voyage of Sinbad, which was made in 1958, and so didn't have such an impact on us. We saw it once in a rep theater (thanks mom) and it was great, but everyone had 50s haircuts and 50s ideas of adventure (dragons, tiny princesses, lack of facial hair). The Golden Voyage was definitely a 70s production that didn't take itself too seriously, yet was extremely atmospheric and had very high production values, despite its astounding under-one-million-dollar budget. Kudos to a crack set-design team and director Gordon Bessler, who would go on to an illustrious TV career, including another cult favorite, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. Besides the wonderful creatures and animated combat scenes by Ray Harryhausen (think: DYNARAMA), this film had three other things going for it:

Hellooo (and R.I.P.) John Philip Law (1937-2008). One of the most beautiful men in cinema, he made an affable blue-eyed Sinbad. You may remember him as Pygar the angel in Barbarella.

John Phillip Law as Sinbad
A former monk, Tom Baker quit the monastery to become an actor and went on to play Dr. Who. Here as Koura, he makes an intense and equally blue-eyed villain, who ages every time he uses his black magic to thwart Sinbad. By film's end he's such a depleted wreck he has to crawl to complete his evil tasks. A fun role with a slew of muttered nonsense words for each evil spell.

Tom Baker as Koura
Also starring: Caroline Munro's chest. As Margiana, Munro was required to cower, faint and heave breathlessly, which she accomplished aptly. I admire her extreme composure while wearing such skimpy costumes. It's to the credit of her fellow actors that everyone was able to act around her cleavage without too much fanfare.

Caroline Munro as Margiana Caroline Munro's chest
I mean, c'mon. At this point in the film, there must have been a full-time crew member just to spritz Ms. Munro with baby oil before all her scenes. Nice job, spritzer, whoever you were. Ignoring the exploitation factor of the sexy, half-dressed slave girl (who Sinbad is quite chivalrous around, to his credit, or to his questionable sexuality), let us move on.

If you want to be enchanted anew by this film, avoid the rest of this post, due to spoilers. I couldn't help but feature a lot of Harryhausen's creatures. This film is crammed full of world mythology with Arabic, Hindu, Pagan, and Greek references aplenty. An excellent and emotive Miklos Rosza score adds to the action and adventure (and sweat-drenched chests) that await! And now:

As Sinbad sails into the dusk (toward an inferior sequel), enjoy these Sinbad links:

Kali dance scene. Harryhausen always gives his creatures a reality within their motion. Kali definitely moves like she's made of very heavy metal.

Here's a link to an interesting comparison of the CGI fight between Obi Wan Kenobi and General Grievous (stupid names!) in "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith" and the stop-motion animated fight between Sinbad and Kali. I think you will agree: stop-motion has more visual "weight" to it--an alternate sense of reality, when it's done by a master such as Harryhausen.

A fan-made trailer with great clips throughout.

Read about it: Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Lifeand The Art of Ray Harryhausen

Matbergman's Ray Harryhausen Creature List - every Harryhausen creature in chronological order, set to Mon Ti by Tito Puente. ¡Excelente!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What Kind of Ol' Fashioned Candy Are You?

I've never had one of those "What Are You" quizes on here before, so I thought I'd forge ahead and help us all lead lives of self actualization. Say it like the ol' narrator on those Pepperidge Farm commercials: What kind of ol' fashioned candy are you? Take this quiz and find out!

1.) Which original cast-member of Charlie's Angels do you identify with most?
A.) I never watched the show because I don't own a TV and if I were at someone's house during the 70s and they had a TV, I would only watch Masterpiece Theatre.
B.) Sabrina--she's so smart!
C.) Kelly--she's so sophisticated!
D.) Jill--she's so sexy!
E.) Bosley. He's funny.

2.) The future of satellite radio has broken everything down into neat little musical genres. What station do you listen to?
A.) NPR, morning, noon and night.
B.) I'll take Eclectic Selections, hoping to hear a bit of everything through the ages. Doubtful, though.
C.) Jazz would be nice, but no Kenny G., please.
D.) Adult Urban Contemporary and/or Trance.
E.) Classic rock that rocks.

3.) It's midnight and you've been on the road for 12 hours straight. The only food available is fast food. Where do you eat?
A.) I will starve. Oh wait, there's crackers in the glove compartment. Oh no!--they have trans fats! I will starve.
B.) Uh, Wendy's has baked potatoes. That's pretty healthy.
C.) Arby's Roast Beef. I know I shouldn't but it's my guilty pleasure.
D.) Taco Bell--the Chalupas rule.
E.) It's all good! Just point me to the curly fries.

4.) Commodores in the after-life for all eternity--pick it:
A.) Shoot me now. No, wait, now I have to live as long as possible.
B.) "Brick House" still moves me.
C.) "Sail On"--not too bad.
D.) Is "Brick House" already taken? OK, "Too Hot Ta Trot."
E.) "Three Times A Lady." What? It's nice.

5.) What is your favorite crazy celebrity baby name?
A.) Apple.
B.) Fifi Trixibelle.
C.) Kal-El.
D.) Pilot Inspektor.
E.) Jermajesty.

6.) Which Golden Girl are you?
A.) The hell? I TOLD you I don't have a TV!
B.) Dorothy--she's so butch and put upon!
C.) Rose--she's so mindless and sweet!
D.) Blanche--she's so sultry and slutty!
E.) Sophia. She was rude and funny.

Now for the math. For every A.) answer, give yourself 1 point. B.) = 2 points; C.) = 3 points; D.) = 4 points; and E.) = 5 pointereenos. Add up your personality points to reveal what kind of ol' fashioned candy you are.

Charleston Chew6-10 points: You're any flavor of Charleston Chew; brown, beige, or pink. You thought you'd be a praline, didn't you? Admit it. Or at least marzipan. Nope. You're so busy setting yourself apart from the modern world, that you're completely DEFINED by the modern world. And back in the day, the modern world went crazy for The Charleston. You're sweet, chewy, long-lasting, and even tastier when frozen. Jazzy!

Licorice Bridge Mix11-15 points: You're licorice bridge mix; consistently anise-flavored--an acquired taste yet one that cannot be replicated by any other flavor. Whether a pastel, button, drop, or a jellybean, people know they can count on you for a distinct taste-sensation, and you're good for the digestion too. Addictive!

Necco Wafers 16-20 points: Hello Necco Wafers. You're a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Depending on your mood and the way your day is going you could be a little sweet, a little spicy, maybe a little chocolatey. Your good ol' citrus, clove, cinnamon, wintergreen, and even licorice flavors make you a well-rounded, all-around friend to all. And in a pinch, your wafers can be used as game pieces or works of art too. Versatile!

Wax Bottles21-25 points: Why, you're wax bottles. Chewy with a surprise fruity liquid center--you're certainly a sensuous experience to behold. Unique, unclassifiable, somewhat indigestible--there's nothing quite like you, but in the middle of the dark night, sometimes only you will do. Tip the scales into decadence and you're well on your way to becoming wax lips. Alluring!

Zotz26-30 points: Right on, Zotz! You crazy kid. There's no predicting what kind of reaction you'll cause with your sweet, hard exterior and explosive fizzy central core. Nirvana or canker sores? Whatever--you're an unforgettable experience in cherry, apple, or watermelon. Unique!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

PDX Pop Now! 2008

PDX Pop Now! - inside and outside music! Starts Friday, the 25th and runs through this Sunday the 27th! And it's free! (free!) Is this a great place, or what? C'mon! Howza-bout-it!?


The Builders and The Butchers, here playing with The Portland Cello Project - Bottom of the Lake

New Bloods - Doubles (Wow, New Bloods, you are a sound from my distant past, only right here, today.)

World's Greatest Ghosts

Experimental Dental School - Meyowch

Starfucker (58 seconds of shaky-cam--whoo! Whoa! Hurrrl!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Toys to Terrify You

talking bbq toyMy mother-in-law has a Playskool talking barbeque toy that has no "off" switch and is given to saying "Hey, fire me up!!!" in the middle of the night. With its deep voice, chattering teeth, rolling eyes, and big meaty condiment-holding hands, it has all the charm of a battery-operated child molester. It's just one of many terrifying toys I've encountered over the years.

They hide under the bed, are smooshed into the backs of closets, and are packed away in boxes marked 'For Garage Sale." Terrifying toys are among us. Donate yours to the Goodwill today so they can live to terrify some more.

Blythe, Blythe, changeable Blythe! Blythe was originally introduced by Kenner in 1972 and has since been reborn as a Japanese reissue and hipster fashion icon. When we were eight, my best friend Polly and I SWORE we would get Blythes for Christmas. This was number one on our lists and we talked about the doll endlessly for weeks before December had even started. Why, I wondered, did her eyes change color when you pulled her string? Was she an international spy with four eye-coloring disguises (including purple)? Whatever her back-story was, she was destined to be ours.

Until Polly had a horrible nightmare involving Blythe. She couldn't even describe it to me without her eyes filling with tears, it was so awful. From then on--she was not having anything to do with the big-headed, tiny-bodied, multi-eyed thing. Out of loyalty, I asked Santa to cross her off my list as well. Thanks to Polly and to her unspeakable nightmare I'm out hundreds of potential e-bay dollars from gullible would-be collectors. Now I'll never cash in on baby-boomer nostalgia.

Swing Wing by SFEZ Films. A revamped version of a 60s-era head and neck injurer.

Growing Up Skipper - Pull her arm and she grows taller and develops breast buds. Dolls were supposed to be an escape from the horrors of puberty. Though we were fascinated by her instant womanly development, this Skipper was a commercial bust. Har!

Growing Up Skipper

Stretch X-Ray - Alongside Stretch Monster, this was Stretch Armstrong's nemesis. All the stretch toys were cool, but physically stretching them always creeped me out. A very Spanish Inquisition/torture-rack feeling would permeate this feeling, along with the anxiety of possible breakage. At what point would these toys finally rip apart and what hellishly chemical internal substances would issue forth? (Apparently, corn syrup.) Fun!

Barbie The Island Princess talking and singing disembodied head doll. Needs no commentary. Hello? (knocking on Mattel executives' heads) Hello?! Anybody in there?

This reminds me that I'm patiently awaiting the return of big hair.

Pie Face. Seems fun unless you're the schmo getting constantly "pied." I can't imagine that being too cheerful, game after game. Children are cruel. Do we have to make it any easier for them to pick on others less fortunate? As a member of the parental clean-up crew, would I really enjoy cleaning off dried whip cream from furniture, floors, clothes, hair and faces? That's a rhetorical question, by the way.

Who invented the "Time-out" doll? How could these things be anything but creepy, standing there silently in the corner, faces permanently turned to the wall? Time-outs don't work in our house--they only seem to humiliate and escalate the hysteria quotient in bad behavior. That leaves us with...nothing. Perhaps we can get one of these dolls and threaten to have our child stand with it in the corner. "And make sure the doll doesn't turn and LOOK at you!"

Yikes--time-out dolls in the corner

Crawling Zombie - The alternative to time-outs. Hide it under your child's bed when he's been especially naughty.

THANKS Santa! (Maniacal giggles)