Thursday, August 31, 2006

More like a (cough) "Cunning" Church Sign is a very funny site with listings of marquee messages outside churches all over the country. One category lists messages that prompt the reader to respond, "What were they thinking?". This one is my favorite:

“Loose tongues get in tight spaces.”

Maybe I have a dirty mind, but what imagery does that sentence provoke when you read it?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sponsored by Pier One Imports

The original Wicker Man is a classic British horror movie from 1973 starring Edward Woodward (better known to American audiences from the TV series The Equalizer). Though I have never gotten around to seeing it, it's supposed to be one of the most chilling films ever made.

The remake coming out this Friday stars Nicholas Cage. Again, having not seen the original, I have no passionate opinions on whether this is a sacrilege or not. However, my view of the film is now permanently changed by a cutesy, play-on-words headline from

Something Wicker This Way Comes

Somehow, this does not put me in the mind of sheer terror. I mean, I know from reading about the original film what the title signifies. But with this news headline, I am immediately put in mind of something else entirely:


Out of context board game advertising

I agree with Boing Boing: This series of print ads is a great advertising campaign for the board game Risk. But what do you want to bet that this one of the three ...

... will somehow end up with the Risk logo snipped off the corner and posted on conservative wingnut blogs with the the tagline "Liberal Wet Dream"?

I can see the asshattery from here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

MST3K: The List

In terms of DVD's, there is only one standing order: Mystery Science Theater 3000. Today marks the release of Volume 10 of the Rhino box sets, which were preceded by single movies released individually. Aside from the much-coveted MST3K:The Movie (which is Out of Print and goes for about $100 on Ebay), I have them all. With today's release, I decided to make a list of all the episodes that aired on the show and which of these (printed in red) have seen the light of DVD so far:

K04 Gamera vs. Barugon
K05 Gamera
K06 Gamera vs. Gaos
K07 Gamera vs. Zigra
K08 Gamera vs. Guiron
K09 Phase IV
K10 Cosmic Princess
K11 Humanoid Woman
K12 Fugitive Alien
K13 SST Death Flight
K14 Mighty Jack
K15 Superdome
K16 City on Fire
K17 Time of the Apes
K18 The Million Eyes of Su-Muru
K19 Hangar 18
K20 The Last Chase
K21 The Legend of Dinosaurs

101 The Crawling Eye
102 Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy (with short: Commando Cody & the Radar Men from the Moon - Episode 1)
103 Mad Monster (with short: Commando Cody & the Radar Men from the Moon - Episode 2)
104 Women of the Prehistoric Planet
105 The Corpse Vanishes (with short: Commando Cody & the Radar Men from the Moon - Episode 3)
106 The Crawling Hand
107 Robot Monster (with shorts: Commando Cody & the Radar Men from the Moon - Episodes 4 & 5)
108 The Slime People (with short: Commando Cody & the Radar Men from the Moon - Episode 6)
109 Project Moonbase (with shorts: Commando Cody & the Radar Men from the Moon - Episodes 7 & 8)
110 Robot Holocaust (with short: Commando Cody & the Radar Men from the Moon - Episode 9)
111 Moon Zero Two
112 Untamed Youth
113 The Black Scorpion

201 Rocketship X-M
202 Sidehackers
203 Jungle Goddess (with short: The Phantom Creeps - Episode 1)
204 Catalina Caper
205 Rocket Attack USA (with short: The Phantom Creeps - Episode 2)
206 The Ring of Terror (with short: The Phantom Creeps - Episode 3)
207 Wild Rebels
208 Lost Continent
209 The Hellcats
210 King Dinosaur (with short: X Marks the Spot)
211 First Spaceship on Venus
212 Godzilla vs. Megalon
213 Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster

301 Cave Dwellers
302 Gamera
303 Pod People
304 Gamera vs. Barugon
305 Stranded in Space
306 Time of the Apes
307 Daddy-O (with short: Alphabet Antics)
308 Gamera vs. Gaos
309 The Amazing Colossal Man
310 Fugitive Alien
311 It Conquered the World (with short: Snow Thrills)
312 Gamera vs. Guiron
313 Earth vs. the Spider (with short: Speech: Using your Voice)
314 Mighty Jack
315 Teenage Caveman (with shorts: Aquatic Wizards & Catching Trouble)
316 Gamera vs. Zigra
317 Viking Women and the Sea Serpent (with short: The Home Economics Story)
318 Star Force - Fugitive Alien II
319 War of the Colossal Beast (with short: Mr. B Natural)
320 The Unearthly (with shorts: Posture Pals & Appreciating Your Parents)
321 Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
322 Master Ninja I
323 The Castle of Fu-Manchu
324 Master Ninja II

401 Space Travelers
402 The Giant Gila Monster
403 City Limits
404 Teenagers from Outer Space
405 Being from Another Planet
406 Attack of the Giant Leeches (with short: Undersea Kingdom - Episode 1)
407 The Killer Shrews (with short: Junior Rodeo Daredevils)

408 Hercules Unchained
409 Indestructible Man (with short: Undersea Kingdom - Episode 2)
410 Hercules Against The Moon Men
411 The Magic Sword
412 Hercules and the Captive Women
413 Manhunt in Space (with short: General Hospital - Part 1)
414 Tormented
415 The Beatniks (with short: General Hospital - Part 2)
416 Firemaidens of Outer Space
417 Crash of the Moons (with short: General Hospital - Part 3)
418 Attack of the Eye Creatures
419 The Rebel Set (with short: Johnny at the Fair)
420 The Human Duplicators
421 Monster A-Go-Go (with short: Circus on Ice)
422 The Day the Earth Froze (with short: Here Comes the Circus)
423 Bride of the Monster (with short: Hired! - Part 1)
424 Manos, The Hands of Fate (with short: Hired! - Part 2)

501 Warrior of the Lost World
502 Hercules
503 Swamp Diamonds (with short: What to Do On A Date)
504 Secret Agent Super Dragon
505 Magic Voyage of Sinbad
506 Eegah!
507 I Accuse My Parents (with short: The Truck Farmer)
508 Operation Double 007
509 Girl in Lover's Lane
510 The Painted Hills (with short: Body Care & Grooming)
511 Gunslinger
512 Mitchell
513 The Brain That Wouldn't Die
514 Teen-age Strangler (with short: Is This Love?)

515 Wild, Wild World of Batwoman (with short: Cheating)
516 Alien from L.A.
517 Beginning of the End
518 The Atomic Brain (with short: What About Juvenile Delinquency?)

519 Outlaw
520 Radar Secret Service (with short: Last Clear Chance)
521 Santa Claus
522 Teenage Crimewave
523 Village of the Giants
524 12 To the Moon (with short: Design for Dreaming)

601 Girls Town
602 Invasion USA (with short: A Date With Your Family)
603 The Dead Talk Back (with short: The Selling Wizard)
604 Zombie Nightmare
605 Colossus and the Head Hunters
606 The Creeping Terror
607 Bloodlust
608 Code Name: Diamond Head (with short: A Day at the Fair)
609 The Skydivers (with short: Why Study Industrial Arts?)
610 The Violent Years (with short: Young Man's Fancy)
611 Last of the Wild Horses
612 The Starfighters
613 The Sinister Urge (with short: Keeping Clean & Neat)
614 San Francisco International
615 Kitten with a Whip
616 Racket Girls (with short: Are You Ready For Marriage?)
617 The Sword and the Dragon
618 High School Big Shot (with short: Out of This World)
619 Red Zone Cuba (with short: Speech: Platform, Posture & Appearance)
620 Danger!! Death Ray
621 The Beast of Yucca Flats (with shorts: Money Talks! & Progress Island)
622 Angel's Revenge
623 The Amazing Transparent Man (with short: The Days of Our Years)
624 Samson vs. The Vampire Women

701 Night of the Bloodbeast (with short: Once Upon a Honeymoon)
702 The Brute Man (with short: The Chicken of Tomorrow)
703 Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell
704 The Incredible Melting Man
705 Escape 2000
706 Laserblast

801 Revenge of the Creature
802 The Leech Woman
803 The Mole People
804 The Deadly Mantis
805 The Thing That Couldn't Die
806 The Undead
807 Terror from the Year 5000
808 The She Creature
809 I Was a Teenage Werewolf
810 Giant Spider Invasion
811 Parts: The Clonus Horror
812 The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living & Became Mixed-Up Zombies
813 Jack Frost
814 Riding With Death
815 Agent for H.A.R.M.
816 Prince of Space
817 Horror of Party Beach
818 Devil Doll
819 Invasion of the Neptune Men
820 Space Mutiny
821 Time Chasers

822 Overdrawn at the Memory Bank

901 The Projected Man
902 The Phantom Planet
903 Puma Man
904 Werewolf
905 The Deadly Bees
906 Space Children (with short: Century 21 Calling)
907 Hobgoblins
908 The Touch of Satan
909 Gorgo
910 The Final Sacrifice
911 Devil Fish
912 Screaming Skull (with short: Robot Rumpus)
913 Quest of the Delta Knights

1001 Soultaker
1002 The Girl in Gold Boots
1003 Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders

1004 Future War
1005 Blood Waters of Dr. Z
1006 Boggy Creek II
1007 Track of the Moon Beast
1008 Final Justice
1009 Hamlet
1010 It Lives by Night
1011 Horrors of Spider Island
1012 Squirm (with short: A Case of Spring Fever)
1013 Danger: Diabolik

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturation Point

Number of computer animated feature films starring wise cracking animals released in 2004: One
Shark Tale
Number of computer animated feature films starring wise cracking animals released in 2005: Three
Chicken Little

Number of computer animated feature films starring wise cracking animals released in 2006: Eight
Ice Age: The Meltdown
The Wild
Over the Hedge
Ant Bully
Open Season (due out in September)
Flushed Away (due out in November)

Note to Hollywood: You're pushing it. Don't make me come over there.

"Children's Crusade"

Oh, Dear Lord

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I'm really surprised they didn't add a USB drive while they were at it

85, count 'em, eighty-five tools:

1. 2.5” 60% Serrated locking blade 2. Nail file, nail cleaner 3. Corkscrew 4. Adjustable pliers with wire crimper and cutter 5. Removable screwdriver bit adapter 6. 2.5” Blade for Official World Scout Knife 7. Spring-loaded, locking needle-nose pliers with wire cutter 8. Removable screwdriver bit holder 9. Phillips head screwdriver bit 10. Phillips head screwdriver bit 11. Phillips head screwdriver bit 12. Flat head screwdriver bit 0.5 mm x 3.5 mm 13. Flat head screwdriver bit 0.6 mm x 4.0 mm 14. Flat head screwdriver bit 1.0 mm x 6.5 mm 15. Magnetized recessed bit holder 16. Double-cut wood saw with ruler (inch & cm) 17. Bike chain rivet setter, removable 5m allen wrench, screwdriver for slotted and Phillips head screws 18. Removable tool for adjusting bike spokes, 10m hexagonal key for nuts 19. Removable 4mm curved allen wrench with Phillips head screwdriver 20. Removable 10mm hexagonal key 21. Patented locking Phillips head screwdriver 22. Universal wrench 23. Laser pointer with 300 ft. range 24. 1.65” Clip point utility blade 25. Metal saw, metal file 26. 4 mm allen wrench 27. 2.5” blade 28. Fine metal file with precision screwdriver 29. Double-cut wood saw 30. Cupped cigar cutter with double-honed edges 31. 12/20-Gauge choke tube tool 32. Watch caseback opening tool 33. Snap shackle 34. Telescopic pointer 35. Compass, straight edge, ruler (in./cm) 36. Mineral crystal magnifier with precision screwdriver 37. 2.4” Springless scissors with serrated, self-sharpening design 38. Shortix key 39. Flashlight 40. Fish scaler, hook disgorger, line guide 41. Micro tool holder 42. Micro tool adapter 43. Micro scraper-straight 44. Reamer 45. Fine fork for watch spring bars 46. Pin punch 1.2 mm 47. Pin punch .8 mm 48. Round needle file 49. Removable tool holder with expandable receptacle 50. Removable tool holder 51. Multi-purpose screwdriver 52. Flat Phillips head screwdriver 53. Flat head screwdriver bit 0.5 mm x 3.5 mm 54. Spring loaded, locking flat nose nose-pliers with wire cutter 55. Phillips head screwdriver bit 56. Phillips head screwdriver bit 57. Phillips head screwdriver bit 58. Flat head screwdriver bit 0.5 mm x 3.5 mm 59. Flat head screwdriver bit 0.6 mm x 4.0 mm 60. Flat head screwdriver bit 1.0 mm x 6.5 mm 61. Can opener 62. Phillips head screwdriver 63. 2.5” Clip point blade 64. Golf club face cleaner 65. 2.4” Round tip blade 66. Patented locking screwdriver, cap lifter, can opener 67. Golf shoe spike wrench 68. Golf divot repair tool 69. Micro straight-curved 70. Special tool holder 71. Phillips head screwdriver 1.5mm 72. Screwdriver 1.2 mm 73. Screwdriver .8 mm 74. Mineral crystal magnifier, fork for watch spring bars, small ruler 75. Removable screwdriver bit holder 76. Magnetized recessed bit holder 77. Tire tread gauge 78. Reamer/awl 79. Patented locking screwdriver, cap lifter, wire stripper 80. Special Key 81. Toothpick 82. Tweezers 83. Adapter 84. Key ring 85. Second key ring

All this can be yours for the incredibly low price of $1,200!

(Industrial-strength cargo pants necessary for carrying the damn thing not included)

Gotta get paid

Let's take a moment to consider Andre Braugher.

Braugher first came into prominence back in 1993 when he starred in the series Homicide: Life on the Street. The series got a lot of attention from critics and attracted a loyal fan base during its seven year run. It also managed to gather a nice pile of Emmy nominations and wins, including a Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy for Braugher in 1998. By far, Braugher got the most attention and praise of the large cast. Because he had the talent, the looks, the intelligence and the charm, he was the one actor that everyone saw as becoming the next Denzel Washington or Sidney Portier.

Unfortunately, that didn't really happen. Like his fellow Homicide castmember (and inaugural Acrentropy Quote-of-the-Month subject) Yaphet Kotto, he turned to doing solid character supporting roles in film. Eventually, he found himself back on the small screen doing episodes here and there and starring in three series in the span of six years (Gideon's Crossing, Hack, Thief).

This is not to belittle him in any way. You gotta do what you gotta do to put food on the table. And semi steady television work is not a bad way to do it. But today, over at the website, it was revealed that he had turned down a recurring role on ER this coming season to do ... wait for it ... the Fantastic Four sequel.

Let me repeat that: He's doing the Fantastic Four sequel.

Now I'll admit that ER's better days have long past along with it's original cast, but I have to imagine that doing that TV gig would be more preferable than doing a crappy sequel that nobody asked for to a crappy comic book film that nobody saw. I know he still probably has that yearning for the big screen, but come on!

Ironically, it is the subject of our current Quote-of-the-Month series, Forest Whitaker, that will be taking Braugher's place on ER. We wish Whitaker luck. And we wish Braugher luck, as well. Maybe by some miracle this film will launch into a new career on the big screen. But I got the feeling that he should have learned from David Caruso and stuck with good TV.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Yes, I'm that tired

Mrs. Mosley's birthday was yesterday and I didn't get much sleep last night, so I have no energy to post.

However, I do have the energy to re-post a whole article off of Slate today:
Among the many flabbergasting answers that President Bush gave at his press conference on Monday, this one—about Democrats who propose pulling out of Iraq—triggered the steepest jaw drop: "I would never question the patriotism of somebody who disagrees with me. This has nothing to do with patriotism. It has everything to do with understanding the world in which we live."

George W. Bush criticizing someone for not understanding the world is like … well, it's like George W. Bush criticizing someone for not understanding the world. It's sui generis: No parallel quite captures the absurdity so succinctly.

This, after all, is the president who invaded Iraq without the slightest understanding of the country's ethnic composition or of the volcanic tensions that toppling its dictator might unleash. Complexity has no place in his schemes. Choices are never cloudy. The world is divided into the forces of terror and the forces of freedom: The one's defeat means the other's victory.

Defeating terror by promoting freedom—it's "the fundamental challenge of the 21st century," he has said several times, especially when it comes to the Middle East. But here, from the transcript of the press conference, is how he sees the region's recent events:

"What's very interesting about the violence in Lebanon and the violence in Iraq and the violence in Gaza is this: These are all groups of terrorists who are trying to stop the advance of democracy."

What is he talking about? Hamas, which has been responsible for much of the violence in Gaza, won the Palestinian territory's parliamentary elections. Hezbollah, which started its recent war with Israel, holds a substantial minority of seats in Lebanon's parliament and would probably win many more seats if a new election were held tomorrow. Many of the militants waging sectarian battle in Iraq have representation in Baghdad's popularly elected parliament.

The key reality that Bush fails to grasp is that terrorism and democracy are not opposites. They can, and sometimes do, coexist. One is not a cure for the other.

Here, as a further example of this failing, is his summation of Iraq:

"I hear a lot about 'civil war'... [But] the Iraqis want a unified country. ... Twelve million Iraqis voted. ... It's an indication about the desire for people to live in a free society."

What he misses is that those 12 million Iraqis had sharply divided views of what a free society meant. Shiites voted for a unified country led by Shiites, Sunnis voted for a unified country led by Sunnis, and Kurds voted for their own separate country. Almost nobody voted for a free society in any Western sense of the term. (The secular parties did very poorly.)

The total number of voters, in such a context, means nothing. Look at American history. In the 1860 election, held right before our own Civil War, 81.2 percent of eligible citizens voted—the second-largest turnout ever.

Another comment from the president: "It's in our interests that we help reformers across the Middle East achieve their objectives." But who are these reformers? What are their objectives? And how can we most effectively help them?

This is where Bush's performance proved most discouraging. He said, as he's said before, "Resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists." This may or may not be true. (Many terrorist leaders are well-off, and, according to some studies, their resentment is often aimed at foreign occupiers.) In any case, what is Bush doing to reduce their resentment?

He said he wants to help Lebanon's democratic government survive, but what is he doing about that? Bush called the press conference to announce a $230 million aid package. That's a step above the pathetic $50 million that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had offered the week before, but it's still way below the $1 billion or more than Iran is shoveling to Hezbollah, which is using the money to rebuild Lebanon's bombed-out neighborhoods—and to take credit for the assistance.

As for Iraq, it's no news that Bush has no strategy. What did come as news—and, really, a bit of a shocker—is that he doesn't seem to know what "strategy" means.

Asked if it might be time for a new strategy in Iraq, given the unceasing rise in casualties and chaos, Bush replied, "The strategy is to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and dreams, which is a democratic society. That's the strategy. ... Either you say, 'It's important we stay there and get it done,' or we leave. We're not leaving, so long as I'm the president."

The reporter followed up, "Sir, that's not really the question. The strategy—"

Bush interrupted, "Sounded like the question to me."

First, it's not clear that the Iraqi people want a "democratic society" in the Western sense. Second, and more to the point, "helping Iraqis achieve a democratic society" may be a strategic objective, but it's not a strategy—any more than "ending poverty" or "going to the moon" is a strategy.

Strategy involves how to achieve one's objectives—or, as the great British strategist B.H. Liddell Hart put it, "the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfill the ends of policy." These are the issues that Bush refuses to address publicly—what means and resources are to be applied, in what way, at what risk, and to what end, in pursuing his policy. Instead, he reduces everything to two options: "Cut and run" or, "Stay the course." It's as if there's nothing in between, no alternative way of applying military means. Could it be that he doesn't grasp the distinction between an "objective" and a "strategy," and so doesn't see that there might be alternatives? Might our situation be that grim?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Chicken Caesar Review: Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille

The first time I ever went to Harry's a year ago, I got an excellent shrimp Po' Boy. When I returned there recently for a second time, I decided to see if their salads were just as good. Their Classic Caesar Salad contains fresh-cut Romaine lettuce tossed with Harry's own Caesar dressing and topped with shredded Parmesan cheese. When the salad is topped with grilled chicken (which is extra), the total comes to just under nine dollars.

First off, the croutons are your standard pre-packaged variety, but are still above average. The chicken is freshly grilled and juicy, but are cut into strips. The tendency away from chunks and towards strips is increasing lately among restaurants (even on my favorite Chicken Caesar at Panera!), so I guess I had better get used to it. Where this salad really kicks into high gear is with the dressing. It does indeed have a unique flavor compared to others I've tasted and is an even split between an oily Caesar and a creamy Ranch. In fact, the flavor reminded me a bit of the sauce of that Shrimp Po' Boy I had before, but this is in no way a criticism. Lettuce and cheese are both fresh and in abundance and are well tossed with the dressing, resulting in a rich and thick salad (which somehow brought to mind those Caesars that they serve at the Pizza Hut lunch buffet).

The end result is a strongly flavored, uber-filling salad that won't leave you wanting dessert. It's not a light salad by any means, but if you want to chuck your cares about your wasteline for a meal out, then dig in.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Geeks and Freaks

It was confirmed this week that Tim Burton's next project will be a version of the musical Sweeney Todd with Johnny Depp. Though I'm not that familiar with the original story, I'm glad about this development for another reason: It will put off a planned Burton biopic of Robert L. Ripley that would star Jim Carrey. Why do I want this postponed? Read on:

"Carrey and Burton had ideas to change the script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski in ways significant enough to require rewrites by those screenwriters and a re-thinking of the f/x budget. The result would change the emphasis from Ripley to some of the wonders he uncovered for his 'Believe It or Not' column."
Some background is required before I get into this. One of the biggest perks to living in Jacksonville is that it is only 30 minutes north of St. Augustine, the oldest city in America and also one of the most fun. My parents and I went down there quite often and I pretty much saw every attraction down there at least twice.

One of my favorites was the Ripley's Believe it Or Not museum. Unlike the others I have seen over the years in San Francisco, Gatlinburg and Niagara Falls, The St. Augustine location was unique. First off, it's not dressed up like a Las Vegas circus that that the others resemble. It's located in a 1887 mansion named "Castle Warden", which had served as both a private residence and a hotel in it's history before being turned into the first Ripley's museum in 1950. The place has atmosphere in spades, and the exhibits were wonderful to study over and over again

Because of the effect the museum had on me, I read up on Ripley and found him to be a real interesting guy. His travels and discoveries were just part of his life, and there was plenty of story there to tell. So when this news came out and the manner in which they plan on handling the subject matter, I was disappointed. The last film I saw of Burton's was Big Fish, which was a fine film for what it was. The words they use to describe the Ripley pic sounds a lot like Big Fish, and that's not a good thing.

Big Fish concerned an old man and the tall tales he was fond of telling over the years. The movie ends up being very choppy and episodic because of this, but it works well enough to keep you interested. But with Ripley, we're not talking about tall tales. Furthermore, whereas the stories he told kind of defined the protagonist in Big Fish, Ripley was more than the sum of his bizarre parts. Though his name is well known today, the man himself is a mystery. Here we have a chance to show who he really was, and Tim Burton wants to put on a big screen version of the comic strip with lots of CGI. Bleech!

And apart from all this, I just don't know if I can accept Carrey as Ripley. I like Carrey as an actor and all, but I just don't know if this is the role for him. Of course, I'm at a loss to think of anyone else as a replacement, so I guess that criticism is not terribly helpful.

Ripley was one of the first national celebrities that didn't fit the matinee idol good looks that people normally responded well to. Maybe Burton will have a charge of heart during his making of Sweeney. We can only hope so. Because despite Ripley's claim to fame, his life was much more than just a freak show.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

"I am an Anime lineman for the county"

Question: How do you get young people interested in hard labor out in the sun such as construction work?

Answer (Via Metafilter): Have 'em move to Japan so they can look friggin cool and awesome while doing it!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"You made a woman meow?"

Do yourself a favor and go rent When Harry Met Sally and Good Morning, Vietnam if you haven't seen them both already. Bruno was comedic gold. We'll miss ya, pal.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Review: Galactica DVD

I had been in the market (as it were) for one of those cheap DVD multi-film packs for awhile last year. Then I happened to across this Galactica set last October in an Orlando outlet mall, so I picked it up for less that ten bucks. Unlike some of the others I've come across, not all of the titles on this set are public domain, and some are obscure rarities that were a pleasure to discover. Others, unfortunately, were quite painful. So let the reviewing begin!

In the Year 2889 (1967)
Token "Celebrity": Paul Peterson

In terms of cheese, the first one is perhaps the best. Director Larry Buchanan had a string of projects that were remakes of films whose scripts the studio had the rights to. This one here is a remake of Roger Corman's The Day the World Ended. If nothing else, this remake convinces you that Corman was lightyears ahead of some other directors in terms of talent. The dialogue, such as it is, is badly dubbed. The plot makes little sense. And the sets don't get more elaborate that the acre or so around some schmuck's house that they were able to obtain the use of (they mention a natural spring out in the woods at one point, and when we actually see the "spring", it comes complete with diving board, ladder and concrete walkway). Paul Peterson, who is best known as one of the original Mousketeers on the Mickey Mouse Club, does about as well as the other actors, which is to say "not very". Seriously, this is a great selection for the "so bad it's good" category.

Journey to the Center of Time (1967)
Token "Celebrity": Lyle Waggoner

I first watched this film while drugged out on cold medicine. That could probably account for my going to sleep halfway through, but I don't want to give the NyQuil too much credit. Watching the film while healthy still resembles a fever dream, and when I went back to see watch parts of it the second time, I couldn't believe that my mind hadn't made it up. Cardboard sets, inexpressive actors, a slow plot, and some guy I could have sworn was Leslie Nielson, but apparently was not. Lyle Waggoner, who plays one of the aliens, is best known for The Carol Burnett Show and Wonder Woman, two credits which he will definitely list before even remembering this one.

Idaho Transfer (1973)
Token Celebrity: Keith Carradine

One can't but help but feel you've stumbled into "student film" territory with this one, and that isn't hard to do with most of the cast being teenagers and twenty-somethings. The basic premise is that a time machine has been created at a university in Idaho that can only go a certain number of years into the future; a future that appears to be one after the extinction of the human race. Compared to everything else on this disc, this is pretty good. The plot is interesting and the minimal props and special effects were well used. Aside from the brief appearance by Carradine, most of the acting is wooden. I'm willing to bet director Peter Fonda grabbed most of these people from colleges in the area he was shooting the spooky post-apocalyptic scenes (Idaho's Craters of the Moon National Monument). You can find another good review of this flick at Unknown Movies, complete with screenshots.

The Day Time Ended (1980)
Token "Celebrity": Jim Davis

So here we have an retired couple moving into a new home in the desert that is totally modern with it's solar power and hemispherical design and whatnot. Come to visit them on this occasion is their children, grandchildren and, unfortunately, some aliens from another planet! Any more description would be really pointless, because the rest of the story simple serves as set-ups for stop-motion action with a cavalcade of creatures, spaceships and glowing pyramids. Jim Davis is better known as the grand Ewing patriarch on the Dallas TV show during the 1980's. He and the other actors do an adequate job reacting to the nothings around them. To see some footage, go check out the film's entry on the website.

Star Odyssey (1979)
Token "Celebrity": Somebody Italian ... maybe

This one hurt. It's not the most painful film on this disc (that one is two slots down), but it comes close. It's an Italian film that was clearly... ahem ... "inspired" by Star Wars. We have some goofy aliens, annoying robots, futuristic sets, heroes, villains and plenty of shoot outs with laser guns. The acting is over the top with some painful comic relief. Even though it is dubbed in English, the plot makes little sense. One thing that stick out like a sore thumb was sequence square in the middle of the film that was clearly meant for the beginning as it gives the backstory that drives the plot ... such as it is.

Warriors of the Wasteland (1982)
Token "Celebrity": Fred Williamson

Now here is an Italian ripoff that was quite welcome; Mad Max cheese of the highest order. You know the drill: Post apocalyptic wasteland, the lone reluctant hero drawn in to help the pilgrims and fight the mean barbarians. The interesting thing I noticed in this one was how, even though civilization has fallen and everyone is in rags, the barbarian bad guys all have snazzy matching uniforms and custom vehicles. Where did they get those? Oh, and Fred Williamson plays the badass that helps out our stoic hero. Anybody who has watched their share of Blaxploitation films and cheap straight to video fare will recognize him and count themselves glad he's there.

Waiting for the Giants (2000)
Token "Celebrity": No one to be seen for miles

(A side note: The original release of this DVD set had the old B&W version of Day of the Triffids included. Apparently, there were some rights conflicts with this, and subsequent editions of the set replaced that film with this one. As I will soon reveal, it was a most unfair trade.)

OH, THE PAIN! We're in serious low budget film territory, here. The story, which is really a ripoff of the original X-Men film, has little appeal. The actors, well, aren't. And the execution is really horrid at times, particularly during the night scenes where you seriously cannot hear the actor's dialogue over the thrumming of the portable generator powering the lights. Oh, and the most priceless moment is a dream sequence where they all three main characters are supposed to be floating in the sky, so they achieve this by putting the camera on the ground tilted up and shooting the actors as they wave their arms and make like they're floating while walking around. Damn, this one hurt.

Killers From Space (1954)
Token "Celebrity": Peter Graves

This film has the MST3K feeling about it, and it's a wonder that they never did this one.
Peter Graves stars as a scientist that is abducted by aliens and he turns out to be the only one that can save the planet from destruction! What with all the military stock footage and lame special effects that make ordinary animals look like giants, you'd think you were watching a Bert I. Gordon flick. Still, it's easy enough to pass the time with this one, particularly if you like the cinematic fare that Joel and the 'bots were regularly subjected to. I suspect I don't need to explain who Peter Graves is, but here's the link to his IMDb resume just in case.

Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
Token Celebrity: Jack Nicholson (Jack doesn't get the sarcasm quote marks)

Roger Corman was also a frequent subject on MST3K, but this film is actually considered a classic by some. It went on to inspire the 1986 Frank Oz remake and, subsequently, the stage musical. The storyline is the same: young kid who works for a florist finds a unique plant that brings in customers, but only if the plant is regularly fed human blood. It's very low budget, but they do a lot with what they have and you have to respect the dedication of both Corman and the entire crew. Jack Nicholson makes one of his first film appearances here. Contrary to many things I had read before seeing this, he plays a masochist dental patient, not the dentist himself. This is a full nine years before Easy Rider, and his one appearance does provide one of the films highlights.

Neophytes and Neon Lights (2001)
Token "Celebrity": Matt Doran

As we are made aware of during the introductory Amiga-ish computer animation, there is a teleport station out in the middle of Sydney harbor. We get to know a few of the travelers as well as the staff of the place and a quartet of cyberpunk teenagers (with theivery on their minds). The set up is fine, but the story they have could have been told in fifteen minutes, if that. The padding is painful to watch, and the actors don't give you much incentive to follow them around. Plus, there is a lot of swearing in the film. Normally, I don't give a rats ass about this, but the swearing is so inelegant and unnecessary, that I grew tried of it and the characters spouting it by the time it was over. They were clearly going for a Kevin Smith vibe with this one, but they never got remotely close. Matt Doran will always be known as Mouse from the original Matrix film. The most I can say is that he is not quite as annoying as the lead characters.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Kill Dozens, Terrify Thousands ... of Republicans

Wondermark (Via Boing Boing):

Omlets vs. Quiche

I just watched the first episode of the BBC series MI-5 last night on DVD. Great stuff. The only quibble I had with the pilot was with the villain, who was an American anti-Abortion activist named Mary Kane that wanted to start a reign of terrorism in Britain. Of all the actors they could have gotten to play this Southern character, they chose a New York actress who couldn't do a good Southern accent to save her life. Oh well.

But here's an interesting point: One of the plot complications was how the CIA representative in London wanted to bring in the terrorist now so the American government could have someone to parade out in front of the American people and say "Hey! We're doing our job!" (The pilot takes place some six months after 9/11). Nevermind that the British agents did all the work and had the subject under constant surveillance so she couldn't do anything. Also, the CIA also doesn't seem to care that MI-5 wants to follow her around a bit longer to find her associates and where the rest of her explosives are hidden, thus possibly saving some British lives that could still hang in the balance.

So, considering that storyline, it's interesting to read this (Via Boing Boing):
NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.

A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.

Go read the rest. It's worth it.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


I don't know if it's blasphemy or not to say this, but The Vatican has one bitchin' looking website!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Fill-In-The-Blanks" Art Criticism

I was looking for some information for a patron recently and came across a website that sells religious-themed poster prints called Christian Art Depot. It seemed like a fine site, and the descriptions of the paintings were particularly interesting. Let's take their category "Prayer & Worship", for example. Here is the description of a piece called "Saving Grace":
"Empty would be the walls of our office without ravishing Christian art paintings like this. Saving Grace really showcases the love of God through the artist Walker T.. Walker T.'s use of color shade and imagery make this art work come alive. This work of art really inspires us to think deeper of Jesus and his amazing grace. This Saving Grace Christian art print is a fine example of how an artist can use Prayer & Worship scenes to convey a message. All of the prints in the category Prayer & Worship deserve to be the focal point in any room in the house and this print Saving Grace is no different. Anybody that sees this amazing work of art will surely ask some questions about this Prayer & Worship art work. Saving Grace will help you to share the love of God with all the people that visit your home. That's what it is all about isn't it?"
And here is a description of a piece called "The Invitation":

"Empty would be our walls without exquisite Christian art paintings like this. The Invitation really shows off the love of Our Maker through the artist Danny Hahlbolm. Danny Hahlbolm's use of color shade and contrast make this print come alive. This Christian art print really motivates people to think deeper of God and all his beautiful creations. This The Invitation Christian art print is a awesome example of how an artist can use Prayer & Worship scenes to express a message. All of the prints in the category Prayer & Worship deserve to be the topic of discussion because of their imagination and this print The Invitation is no different. Anybody that sees this amazing work of art will surely ask some questions about this Prayer & Worship print. The Invitation will help you to share the love of The Lord with all the people that visit your home. That's what Christian works of art are all about isn't it?"
And, best of all, here is a description of "Daily Bread":

"Empty would be our walls without fine Christian art prints like this. Daily Bread really shines the love of Christ through the artist Unknown. Unknown's use of color shade and imagery make this print come off the page. This work of art really reminds us to think deeper of God and all his amazing creations. This Daily Bread Christian art print is a awe-inspiring example of how an artist can use Prayer & Worship scenes to lift up a message. All of the prints in the category Prayer & Worship deserve to be the focal point in any room in the house and this print Daily Bread is no different. Anybody that sees this extraordinary work of art will surely ask some questions about this Prayer & Worship print. Daily Bread will help you to share the love of God with all your family and friends that visit your office. That's what Christian art prints are all about isn't it?"

Boy he really nails it when he mentions our empty walls, conveying a message and the print coming off the page and/or alive! And I hear that the color shade and imagery of Unknown was really influenced by the work of artists such as Walker T. and Danny Hahlbolm!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Skippy of the Day: Larry Knapp

In the latest issue of American Libraries, there is a story out of Idaho about the Nampa Public Library's decision to retain a couple of books that some citizens wanted banned. Included among these was a businessman named Larry Knapp, who withdrew a $10,000 donation to the library as a result of this decision.

That is, of course, his prerogative. His statement regarding it, however, was insipid. Here's the excerpt from the article:
"'Why would you want to create a larger problem?' Knapp said in the June 27 Nampa Idaho Press Tribune, noting that the library official's decision was an unpopular one and 'from a business perspective that’s a bad policy.'"
Alright, who wants to be the person to tell this joker that a library is not a business? We serve the public, Larry, and that means all of them. As a result, we're strictly a please-all-of-the-people-some-of-the-time organization. Maybe you can use some of that ten thousand to buy yourself a nice big dictionary to look it up. Or better yet, go by the Nampa Public Library and you can use theirs. We serve everybody, Larry, even nitwits like you.


Never was there a more appropriately titled website than Damn Interesting. In a recent story titled The Ruins of Fordlandia, you can read about an ill-fated attempt by automobile mogul Henry Ford to establish a rubber tree plantation in South America.

It's fascinating stuff, as is always the case with articles on the site. Most fascinating was the following two sections:

"Ford chose not to employ any botanists in the development of Fordlandia's rubber tree fields, instead relying on the cleverness of company engineers. Having no prior knowledge of rubber-raising, the engineers made their best guess, and planted about two hundred trees per acre despite the fact that there were only about seven wild rubber trees per acre in the Amazon jungle."

"Certainly he was unable to buy his way into rubber royalty, and his efforts to spread his American "healthy lifestyle" were met with resentment and hostility ... but history has repeatedly shown that obscene wealth gives one the privilege - perhaps even the obligation - to make bizarre and astonishing mistakes on a grand scale."
Hmm ... not soliciting the advice of experts before going into a foreign venture, trying to change a culture without any understanding of it, and then throwing tons of money at it in the false hope that it will all get better. Did Dubya study this guy at Yale?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A bit of the old ultra-gambling

Martin Scorsese's Casino taught us a number of things, but what stayed with me longest was the little history lesson the film ended with: Las Vegas, which was once a City of Sin that was ruled over by the Mob, has now been Disney-fied in order to attract family tourist dollars. Whether that's a good thing or not is all according to your point of view.

This little tidbit came to mind when I saw this ad over on Roger Ebert's website the other day:

In case you can't read the small print, this ad is for the Circus Circus Casino in Las Vegas which, they assure us, is "Fun For The Whole Family". But take a look at this clown. For an ad that wishes to impart a Barnum and Bailey's feel, right down to the two classic circus fonts used, they didn't blow much money on the clown. His make-up is very minimal, as is also his costume. He could be a valet at the hotel for all we know. The image itself isn't very sharply photographed, which somehow makes the ad more creepy. But the overriding quality that really seems counter-productive is the choice of the man playing the clown. Is it just me, or does he look like Malcolm McDowell. And not just any Malcolm McDowell, but that Malcolm McDowell.

I suddenly have the fear that, were I to go to this place, that clown would break into my hotel room, bind and gag me, and then kick the living crap out of me whilst crooning "Singing in the Rain".

But maybe I have this all wrong. Maybe this ad is some very subtle dual-programming initiative. A child might see this as simply a clown, nothing more. His or her thoughts may lead plainly to the circus and, therefore, a good fun time. Meanwhile, any adult who has seen A Clockwork Orange will see the poster and pick up on the sense of menace and the darker side of Vegas. "Yes, we have something for adults too", it seems to say, much in keeping with the current slogan "What Happens Here, Stays Here".

I may be reading too much into it, I suppose. But if Mrs. Mosley and I ever go to Vegas, I'm sure as hell deadbolting the door against possible droogie/clown invasions.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A chart so easy that even Dubya would understand it ...

... and probably wouldn't change a g&dd%mn thing:


The Professionals and misleading ratings

I put in my DVD copy of The Professionals in order to while away a lazy Saturday afternoon. It remains one of the best classic Westerns to come out of Hollywood, so it was perfectly suited for this purpose.

Before the Columbia Pictures Annette-Benning-as-the-Statue-of-Liberty logo is shown, the standard rating stamp comes up. In this case, it says this film is rated PG-13 for "Violence and Nudity". Now, the official ratings system did not go into effect until 1968. That was two years after this film was released, so the rating is retroactive. This is even more obvious if, like me, you remember that the PG-13 rating was actually created back in 1984 (Red Dawn was the first film released as PG-13).

Now there is plenty of gunfire and people do bleed (though it's not at Wild Bunch level), so the violence moniker is understandable. However, the nudity thing is misleading. There is a scene where Claudia Cardinale tries to seduce Burt Lancaster by unbuttoning her blouse and letting it all hang out. However, a black smudge appears at the bottom of the screen where the justifications for the rating should be staring us in the face (Note to whoever put that smudge there: dirty pool, my friend). By the way, for those of you unfortunate to have not seen her in this film or Once Upon a Time in the West, check her out here.

On top of this, there was an interesting discovery when I started playing with the buttons on the DVD remote. In the original film as shown in theaters, the filmmakers made the choice to not present any subtitles when anyone speaks Spanish. Anyone in the audience who doesn't speak Spanish is left to wonder what the characters are saying, but the general gist is easy enough to guess. On the DVD, however, when you choose the English Subtitles option, the subtitles also surprisingly translate the Spanish lines into English. This includes one line in a scene where two Mexicans are fighting and one yells out, "I don't give a shit!".

Now, MASH is recognized as the first major studio film to have the word "Fuck" spoken, but it would seem that The Professionals is the first one to use "Shit", and use it four years before MASH to boot. None of this is to say that I'm offended by any of this, but it is an interesting bit of trivia for the film.

And in the interest of continuity, let me end this post with the great last lines of the film and their own milder profanity:
J.W. Grant: "You bastard."

Rico: "Yes, Sir. In my case an accident of birth. But you, Sir, you're a self-made man."

Friday, August 04, 2006

"thug-life stroll"

I had been considering dropping some links I have on right-hand bar. Little Yellow Different (LYD), which blogger Ernie updates at the rate of about once a month lately, was one of these. But it's comments like this one, which is in reference to a concert he went to recently, that keeps him over there.
"Dear homeboy doing your thug-life stroll with a beer in your hand trying to look all hard: YOU'RE AT A KELLY CLARKSON CONCERT."

The good of the (Caucasian) one over the good of the (swarthy) many

Tony Blair just canceled his vacation in order to address the very urgent crisis in the Middle East. Good on him. Swift action is what is needed in this situation.

So what is Dubya doing? Equally important stuff:

President Bush arrived here Thursday evening to begin a 10-day stretch at his Prairie Chapel ranch, his longest planned period away from Washington during this summer vacation season.

So let's make this clear: Cutting short a vacation in order to help cease a four-week conflict that has claimed the lives of over a thousand civilians is not an option.

However, cutting short a vacation in order to dramatically fly to D.C. and sign a bill into law for the purposes of saving a woman who has been in a persistent vegetative state for over a decade with no hope of recovery is downright necessary.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

You haven't seen the video, Tom. I HAVE.

I first saw this video several months ago and was astounded. It's popped back up here with included subtitles so you now know what this German kid is yelling.

(If you want to watch it, then either turn down the volume very low on your computer or put on headphones. Otherwise, you'll freak out your coworkers.)

I still have my doubts as to whether this is authentic or not. It seems too over-the-top. However, if it is authentic, then it leads me to two conclusions. First, online gaming attracts the kind of devotion that is normally reserved for guys who regularly use a Cat of Nine Tales on themselves. Second, Tom Cruise should promptly ceases his belittling of Ritalin after seeing this.

Oh, and one other sidenote about the video: I really feel sorry for that keyboard.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Oh, how they laughed to see such fun

Let's pause a moment for a few recent incidents of schadenfreude in the news:

Katherine Harris & Jeb Bush:

"The state Republican Party bluntly told Rep. Katherine Harris that she couldn't win this fall's Senate election and that the party wouldn't support her campaign, a letter obtained Monday by The Associated Press shows."

"Party Chairman Carole Jean Jordan made a last-ditch attempt in the confidential May 7 letter to force Harris out of the race for the nomination to challenge Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson. But the next day, Harris turned in paperwork to get her name on the Sept. 5 Republican primary ballot."

"The letter came as Gov. Jeb Bush was trying to get state House Speaker Allan Bense into the race. Bense announced later that week that he would not enter the race."
Ralph Reed:

"Reed was soundly defeated in Tuesday's primary by a conservative state senator, Casey Cagle. Cagle focused on Reed's connection with Abramoff, the convicted lobbyist whose relationship with Reed goes back to when they were both with the College Young Republicans. As a longtime favorite of Christian conservatives, Reed's clean-cut image took a beating when it was revealed that he took millions of dollars from Abramoff to lobby against various gambling initiatives in the South. Reed's goal is one that was shared by many religious conservatives. But when it was revealed that the money came from Abramoff's gambling clients, Indian tribes that felt threatened by competition, Reed was thrown on the defensive and never recovered. Cagle won with 56 percent of the vote."
And, finally, Joe Lieberman:

"The New York Times endorsed Ned Lamont over three-term U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman in Connecticut's Aug. 8 Democratic primary, criticizing the incumbent for a 'warped version of bipartisanship,' including support of President George W. Bush on national security issues."

"In defending the Bush administration's efforts to undermine restraints on executive power, Lieberman 'has forfeited his role as a conscience of his party and has forfeited our support,' the Times said today in an editorial."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006



What I wouldn't give to hear Fiona and Ben Folds do a piano duet/duel. They'd both probably pound their instruments into splinters.

Skippy of the Day: Mel Gibson

No, I'm actually not going to discuss what everybody else is discussing concerning Mel and his run in with the Law. Enough has already been said.

It was Christopher Hitchen's commentary on these events that jogged my memory to something Gibson said over two years ago (thus, it doesn't really qualify as a current event "Skippy" post, but we'll let that slide). In an interview he made the following statement:

"My wife is a saint. She's a much better person than I am. Honestly. She's, like, Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it's just not fair if she doesn't make it, she's better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it."
In case you didn't catch that, he was referring to his conviction that his wife will not get into Heaven while he will. Thank you for that, Mel. You have provided a perfect example of how incredibly deluded someone can become when their devotion to earthbound dogma far surpasses their sincere faith in God.

And my sympathies go out to Robyn Moore, his wife of 26 years and counting.

Forest Whitaker Quote of the Month: August 2006

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai concerns a child that is saved from death and adopted by a mobster named Louie. The child grows up under his care and, for whatever reason, steeps himself in the teachings of the Samurai. When he is grown, he believes himself a samurai warrior, and is so employed as a hitman for Louie's boss. When the order comes down for him to be eliminated, Ghost Dog does not go peaceably.

This may sound like a very conventional action film, but it isn't. Director Jim Jarmusch makes films that are slow and filled with quiet moments offset with quirky dialogue. This particular Jarmusch film also features some great music by RZA and the Wu Tang Clan. Ghost Dog himself is a man of few words. The majority of lines he speaks are his numerous quotations from The Hagakure. A Code to the Way of the Samurai. A more memorable line, however, occurs when is forced to shoot his savior Louie ... for a second time.
Louie: "Goddamn it! You shot me in the exact same f#&king place as last time!"

Ghost Dog: "I'm sorry. I mean you no disrespect. You're my retainer. I don't want to put too many holes in you."