Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thanksgiving Leftovers.

An ad from the TV Guide, this week 1981.

Any NYC area kid from the era will tell you this was a big deal. Not so much "Son of Kong," by which time you were almost certainly eating, but boy, missing the King on Thanksgiving was a bitch.
From a 1977 Newsday, the debut of "The Hobbit," which featured very little CGI. It was made by Rankin/Bass, and even scripted by Romeo Muller, scribe of Rudolph and other stop-motion Christmas stalwarts. This film did not turn into the annual presentation the producers had hoped for.
This week, 1976. I was an ABC devotee during this period. I think I watched every show featured in this Thanksgiving preview.

Two Ads from the Newsday TV Book.

Look kids---Billy is obviously incapable of rationally evaluating an ID of any kind! Come on down for your late-night parking lot binging holiday needs! CRAZY Billy's!
For Long Islanders, an ad for the Nassau Farmer's Market from this week, 1978. Good pickles!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Sayonara, Funnyman.

Pat Morita died the other day. As a kid, I really enjoyed him on "Happy Days." I remember cracking up when, describing Fonzie's crash into the chicken stand, he threw the drumstick in the air and went "frrt!" Classic. He also had a memorable guest spot on "The Odd Couple" as the Japanese soldier driven to fits when forced to deal with Felix Unger. Here is my small tribute to the man, and the ABC sitcom that was tailor-made for him in 1976, "Mr. T and Tina." It didn't last very long, but these vidcaps from the commercial touting its premiere demonstrate the thespic subtlety that would later earn him an Academy Award nomination.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thoughts on the Star Wars Holiday Special, 11/17/78

Here at last are my musings on the Star Wars Holiday Special. If you haven't seen it, I recommend immediately picking it up off eBay (I'm sure it's on DVD by now). Get it with the original commercials if possible, they're half the fun. This bizarre spectacle, like many of the cheesy variety specials of the seventies, was co-written by Bruce Vilanch. He has a real ear for Vaudevillean shtick, but not so much for the science-fiction stuff. I used to say I disliked this show, but I can't deny having watched it twenty or so times since I got it a few years back, and I can aver without reservation that it is far more entertaining than all the Star Wars films put together. If you haven't seen it... at some point while reading this you may think I am kidding. I am not. It is that peculiar.

Mark Hamill cameos as Luke Skywalker. I'm not familiar with the entire SW canon, so I have to ask: how did Luke end up with Marlo Thomas' nose?

Carrie Fisher as a strung-out Leia.
Chewbacca's dad, the absolutely repulsive Itchy.

The Wookiees must venerate their elderly. I mean, how useful is a weak, toothless, mangy Wookiee?
Chewie's son Lumpy, who looks like Adam Rich before he was rescued from a Mexican carnival.
Here's the Christopher Lowellish ringleader from the utterly fabulous hologram circus.

Diahann Carroll as the object of Itchy's affection.

Art Carney gives Itchy a virtual reality porno cassette that he plugs into the "Mind Evaporator." (Good name, Bruce!) Here she is writhing orgasmically because, as she says, she can feel her creation. I guess Itchy's got some jungle fever skeeter bites need scratchin'!
At the beginning of the Mind Evaporator segment, you see these Seamonkey-looking things swimming around. I swear these are seen in "Revenge of the Sith," but I forget when. Someone can back me up on this, I'm sure...
More mind-evaporated Seamonkeys.
Unfortunately, this was the best vidcap I could get from the Spinal Tap-esque Jefferson Starship segment. The song is just atrocious. "We'll vanish without a trace in a cigar-shaped object," Marty Balin promises, but never delivers.
From the rather cool cartoon segment, here we see Threepio camping it up as he minces to the cockpit.
If you look closely at his ATM card, you'll see that Boba Fett's real name is Carl.
Harvey Korman (as creepy, spout-headed stalker "Krelmin") sexually assaults the cantina owner played by Beatrice Arthur.
Bea drunkenly serenades a rodent of unusual size.
Han Solo embarrasses Lumpy by saying his voice has changed. Ugh, can you imagine what a pubescent Wookiee smells like?
Chewie and Mala make out. Interesting in that they are both played by men.
The Wookiee family, clad in robes that must be terribly hot and stifling, does something blurry involving glowing orbs.
The sneaker-clad Wookiees then shuffle celestially into the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet, and it's over.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Some words from sponsors of the SWHS...

First up, it's the Reggie bar. "The candy they named after me," says Reggie, stating the obvious with charming smugness.

Tobor (AKA "Parc")

Tobor, a very advanced robot who rolls forward... and backwards! At the end of the ad the VO says, as if dropping a real bombshell, "Tobor is 'robot' spelled backward." How do you spell "zzzzzzzzzzzz" backwards? Because that's what any kids who got this piece of junk for Christmas said within five minutes of opening it.
Here, Marilyn Maksela enjoys some pudding-in-the-mix goodness.

This commercial has more close-ups of cakeholes getting crammed than.. well, ahem, I wouldn't know what, would I?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Happy Life Day!

This weekend in 1978 saw the premiere (and burial) of the Star Wars Holiday Special. I hope to have an overview and some really wretched vidcaps up here tomorrow. Until then, suit up in your crimson robes, grab an orb and set about enjoying your Life Day traditions, such as listening to Princess Leia sing terribly off-key! (Okay, not terribly off-key, just a clinker here and there...)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Five People You Meet in Hell.

Last week, Oprah asked George Clooney what five people he would like to have to dinner. I don't remember his answer, but then Donna asked me. I got stuck after Elvis Costello and Al Franken. As I was about to add Robert Anton Wilson, I instead turned the question to her. After a few minutes of thinking out loud through many possibilities, she finally settled on Denis Leary, Jim Carrey, Ian Wright (the perpetual traveller from Globe Trekker and Lonely Planet), Jeffrey Dahmer and Dennis "BTK" Rader. I started explaining why I felt that particular combination might not turn out as well as she may hope, and she told me that I shouldn't be able to criticize her answer. I couldn't argue with that and so stopped, silently imagining the awkward introductions (not to mention the mess to be cleaned after such a soiree).

As she prepared to walk out the door for work, I suggested "What about Manson?"

"Please," she declared, "I am so over Manson." Sorry, Charlie.

Friday, November 11, 2005

From TV Guide, this week 1977: "Has The Fonz finally met a girl he can't handle?"

Yes. I don't believe Fonzie (or any man) will be oiling this Leather any time soon.

Besides, The Fonz wouldn't fuck that one with Potsie's dick.

11/13 add: I Googled "Potsie's dick" to see if I was the first to virtually conjure this appalling vision, and lo and behold got 73 results. Apparently there's quite a pornified "Happy Days" fanfic movement out there, mostly gay-themed. "Happy Days?" I mean, I could see queering up "The A-Team" or "Dukes of Hazzard," maybe even "Knightrider," but "Happy Days?" Does anyone really want to read about Al cornholing Arnold? Or how about Laverne and Shirley doing the "Mallachi Munch" on Joanie?

I believe, in any case, that I am the first to use Potsie as punchline when positing a situation in which one would not wish to engage in intercourse with an unappealing woman such as to preclude the act even in the case of supplanting one's own penis with that of an inferior.

Malph would probably work too.

From TV Guide, this week 1976: The Barbarino in the Plastic Bubble

Can you read the text below the title?

It says, "Inside, he is protected. Outside, there is the risk of death... but the chance of love." That would make a great condom ad.

From TV Guide, this week 1976: Wonder Island Nazis. I HATE Wonder Island Nazis.

Well, just let the Nazis have something for God's sake, maybe they'll settle in and stop bothering everyone! Wonder Woman can sublet the Fortress of Solitude until she finds a new place...

From TV Guide, this week 1979: The Afterschool Special that taught me everything I needed to know about high school

And I may be Edward Furlong in a wig.

From TV Guide, this week 1979: I spot a trend...

"At last," I exclaimed on that November 13, "reality television! A man who sings while washing the windows of the Empire State Building! A story on the Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged! Now if only they could combine those two segments into some sort of lowbrow game involving avarice, debauchery and general lowest-common-denominator morality, then you've got something!"

From TV Guide, this week 1979: Gossip you'd forgotten

Wheel of Fortune host and televangelist seen canoodling!
(The difference in age is shocking!)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ad from the Newsday TV Book, this week 1978

This is from an ad selling the "Enurtone Method" to stop bed-wetting.

Johnny seems to be smiling a little. Maybe he enjoys the attention just a mite. Hey, at least he's getting noticed by those three cool-looking guys. Maybe they're not cool, but their houses probably don't smell. If the Enurtone Method doesn't work, I'd recommend this to Johnny's folks.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Trivia from the Newsday TV Book, this week 1978

Corky? Circus Boy?

Question two.

This is easy...

Question three...

This one is worth the pic of Buddy alone...


How did you do?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Report to Hell, you fucking jackanapes!

Years ago, I co-published a rotten piece of bimonthly tripe known as Report to Hell. It was a literary "zine," as such an abomination was then known; the form has since mutated into the equally-lame "website" or "blog," which can be happily ignored for free (instead of sending cash or stamps and regretting it later). My buddy (Mr. Lantern Fishworks) and I started RTH as a way for our far-flung friends to contribute their writings to be consolidated into an intermittently published booklet, then to be distributed among interested acquaintances. I misbegottenly submitted our title to an outlet for poetry submissions, and soon began receiving a torrent of mail. Most of it, whether perpetrated by zine veteran or newbie, was really, really fucking dreadful. Originally, however, I stuck by my hey-isn't-everything-poetry-really? stance, and printed some literary crimes the like of which should only qualify the offending writer for a spot in a just and dispassionate hell. I soon became disgusted with the whole thing and flushed it, with the blessing of my conspirator. We've since spoken of reviving it many times, but the shitty taste in our mouths may never subside enough for this to occur.

Once or twice a year, I Google the name of our zine, and this time around I found something to regurgitate that vile taste: one "Raindog" (whose poetry is every bit as trite as his sadly self-applied moniker would imply) has grunted this dropping on, I think, his own website. (Trust me, it really doesn't afford further investigation.)

"EPG: So how did you first get into publishing?

RD: I started writing poetry again seriously in about 1993. I got a computer in 1994, my first computer. And I had sort of this renaissance of writing. I wrote 150 poems that year. And somewhere in there . . . somebody brought it to my attention that there were all these magazines out in the world that accepted poetry. The first magazine I submitted poetry to was called, "Report To Hell." It was a little stapled digest-sized thing that was kind of thrown together. It didn’t really look that great. And the editor insisted I use my real name as opposed to my writing name, which pissed me off. I thought, there’s gotta be a better way to do this. After successively trying to get published in other magazines and getting rejected; or having things published but then having the magazine look like garbage, I decided, well, I’ll publish my own magazine."

I felt a perverse need to reply to this. Here's what I emailed to "RD":

I was the main editor of Report to Hell. I didn't "insist" that your real name be used. It's just that the name "Raindog" was so douchey (and still is, and will be forevermore) that I couldn't bring myself to use it. I printed your poetry simply because I received it, having, at the time, some hippie notion that any and all poetry was at least worth distributing. I changed that ridiculously liberal policy soon after, and eventually stopped publishing entirely because I finally realized that nearly everything I got was crap. Good riddance to zines (as far as I know and care), and fuck poetry and its dead mama in the ass.


I like that he considered writing 150 poems in a year a "renaissance." I'd call it unrelenting diarrhea. At least I knew my crap was crap--this guy thinks his is literature. I bet he reads his poetry out loud, the pussyfart. "It really didn't look that great." Gee, I'm sorry this zine out of Calabash, North Carolina didn't look like Utne Reader, you stupid, self-aggrandizing twat. And yes, I know that the name is a Tom Waits reference: when he uses it, it's cool; when you call yourself it, it's just gay and embarrassing.

I guess that's my first official blogrant. (And to be fair, RTH had its occasional charms.)

11/6, 6:17 pm... Okay, I'm less angry about the whole thing now, so to put it into perspective I dug out the issue of RTH with Steve "Raindog" (ugh) Armstrong's poetry in it. Ironically, the way the mag looks is one of the few things I like about it, but I can see why the hacks we published rarely liked it. It obviously doesn't take the whole zine thing seriously, and these people were nothing if not dogmatically earnest about their dubious art. I see that I did use the name "Raindog" in the front, but the page with his poem uses his real name, heaven forbid. I recall that he sent a bunch of poems. The one I used is terrible, so I can just imagine the wretchedness of the rejects. I probably shouldn't print it here, but I'll sum it up: hotel as metaphor for relationship, or some such blather. It's like, I'm gonna paint this place and clean it with Murphy's, and then you can check in and someone will take your bags. That is seriously about the gist of it. It's called Vacancy, which also describes his imagination. Anyway, "Raindog" answered my admittedly pissy (and piss-drunk) missive. He agreed that 98% of what's out there is crap and that it's good I don't do it anymore, and that was it. What a dullard. He could've at least called me an asshole.

Looking through that RTH has invigorated me, though. I think I'll start writing uninspired poetry again and inflict it on the poor dopes still publishing that crap. Except this time around, I'm going to call myself "Thundercat."

Friday, November 04, 2005

50 more days!

I thought it was a little odd, my wife and I listening to Christmas music on November 3rd, but we were after all going Christmas shopping. (Odder still is that she's almost done with hers, and has been for a while.) I expected Christmas decorations when we got to the mall, but I was surprised to note that many of the stores were playing Christmas music, too. Then today she calls from work to say that she was flipping through stations on the way there and found that 106.7 has gone all-holiday music all the time. I didn't think that would happen for two or three weeks. I remember once when I was a kid, I started listening to my family's Reader's Digest box set of yuletide favorites around mid-October, and even I knew I was nuts.

So my point is that I am listening to christmas music now and it's real nice. Don't be surprised if you see lots of 70's Christmas images popping up here soon and continuing for two months (with a stop-off at Thanksgiving, of course)...