Friday, April 27, 2007

Cashman was Money, Baby!

I just got a treasure trove (well, if you're me) of Newsday TV Books from the early seventies, leading me to begin a massive "updating" of my other site, a tribute to Newsday movie reviewer John Cashman. If you dug staying up late back in the day, hoping to discover some weird old flicks on late-night teevee, do check it out...

Friday, April 13, 2007

...And the "Imus Minus Award" Goes To...

...Don Imus, for his labelling of the Rutger's women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." Ha ha, what a card! (And by "card," I mean scrotum-faced curmudgeon.)

I've never liked Imus. I found his radio show idiotic (back in the Moby Worm days) or just dull (in its more recent incarnation emphasizing his indecipherable mumblings about political affairs). I think I once endured about a minute of his MSNBC show before changing the channel, having mistakenly dismissed it as a particularly unfunny Munsters episode. (Oh, the irony of the gnarled I-Man and his gruesome gang impugning the attractiveness of any other human being...)

Do I think he should have been fired for his stupid, off-the-cuff remark? Probably not. But free speech in the street and free speech on the airwaves are different ideas. The "freedom" of his speech, as owned by corporate entities, was a privilege, not a right, despite those companies trading on his rep for outrageousness. CBS Radio and MSNBC have their rights too, as do their advertisers, shareholders, listeners, and even anyone merely catching wind of whatever Imus is spewing on-air. Also, it is one thing to call blacks nappy-headed or women hos, and quite another to call a specific group of mostly black women nappy-headed hos. The former is demeaning and tasteless, but the latter is outright defamatory. (I suppose one could call into play the many stories of Imus being personally repulsive and unabashedly racist, but I've chosen to stick to the matter as publicly broadcast.)

The issue seems closer to one of slanderous speech more than anything, and in that case Imus is clearly in the wrong. He has, however, apologized profusely and made strides to speak with anyone who cares to admonish him, for which he should be commended (even if it did damn near kill the governor of New Jersey). In light of his mea culpa and its acceptance by the Rutger's team, a suspension and perhaps some other form of atonement may have been more appropriate. Conversely, what the hell do I know.

Now I hear Tom DeLay is using this incident as grounds to gun for Rosie O'Donnell's ouster. Why is anyone even listening to this asshole anymore? When Dancing With the Stars announced last year that it was featuring Jerry Springer, DeLay urged his former constituents to vote for country singer Sara Evans (saying she stood for family values as opposed to "ultraliberal" Springer) before the show had even premiered. It sure gives you an idea of how he steered his political agenda. That Evans was then revealed to have more skeletons in her closet than Dahmer was simply too goddamn sweet.

As long as we're all out gunning, though, can we just mention the many times Bill O'Reilly has used the slur "wetbacks," or the time when he was speaking before an urban youth charity and said that he hoped a black singing group that hadn't shown up yet wasn't stealing hubcaps in the parking lot?

Jeez, when you throw rap lyrics, Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson and Al "Freddie's Fashion Mart" Sharpton into this Imus mess, the whole debate gets bogged down to where I just want to retreat into...

...pointless nostalgia! Thus, I present this Newsday TV book spotlight on Imus, Plus from July 1st, 1978.

It was a ninety-minute show (counter-programmed against Saturday Night Live) syndicated by Metromedia and seen in New York City on WNEW, channel 5. The first ep featured such hot-button topics as sex education for pre-schoolers and marriage brokering, and also had John Gabriel of Ryan's Hope discussing "what's real and unreal about soap operas" and Connecticut school teacher Mary Elizabeth Bakunin, who does everything backwards. (I hope she wasn't the one teaching those pre-schoolers. I mean, sex ed was scary enough, imagine if your teacher had started with the third input!)

Anyway, the show lasted about three months, no match for those SNL repeats. Inconsequential contribution to society, indeed... Speaking of, check out the latest exciting news at my Newsday TV listings blog!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Comlink to the Past.

I recently had several boxes' worth of my past sent to me, courtesy of brother Artie, sister Jackie and cousin Jerry. They had the unenviable task of going through mom's stuff and divvying it up appropriately. Thus I got two boxes containing hundreds of posters (many of which I heisted from the Old Country Twin after it closed down around 1987), and two enormous boxes of comic books and Star Wars memorabilia. Well, now it's memorabilia--a long time ago, in a house far, far away, it used to be my life.

Like a lot of the boys I knew back then, I was infatuated with Star Wars from the day it came out. My room quickly became a shrine to it. I had the sheets, curtains (which mom made from extra sheets), lunch boxes, calendars, posters, you name it. Most of all, there were the toys, elaborately arranged around the room.

Here we see the Land of the Jawas playset (minus escape pod) and the Hoth Ice Planet playset (minus laser cannon). Notice their identical molding, and that I cleaned the Sandcrawler base but not the AT-AT base. (Click on the pics for a closer look.) Also three Hoth mini-rigs (an MLC-3 and two MTV-7's), the Droid Maker set (missing one leg, one tank tread, the hydraulic wire, the two metal axles and all but two of the little rubber connectors), a Dewback, a Taun-Taun, the Yoda hand puppet, the Land Speeder, and the Cantina playset (less the doors and the backdrop, which I remember floating around for years in the oddest places). To the right is the original base for the first twelve figures, also without its backdrop.

The awesome (and I don't throw that word around) Millennium Falcon. It's missing the piece that holds the cannon in place, and the lower hatch is busted. Other than that, I think it's all there--the lightsaber training ball on string, the false floor, the chess table, the landing struts, the dish laser...

(4/2 add: I am pleased to report that I found a great website with all the original Kenner assembly instructions online, and realized that a mystery piece which I had assigned to the leftover bin is in fact the gunner seat, which is what holds the cannon in place. I just now snapped them together, and, in the words of fellow nostophile Jean Shepherd, all is right with the world.)

The X-Wing is minus canopy and the wings won't stay open. The TIE Fighter, Darth's TIE Fighter, and Snow Speeder are all intact, I believe, except the Snow Speeder is missing the harpoon and string. I don't think any of the sounds work anymore, but most of the lights do. The Snow Speeder has the best lights and sound and they work (and yes, I flew it through the living room and attacked the cat with it). Most stickers are in decent shape except for Darth's TIE Fighter, with lots of buckling and peeling corners. I had the Troop Transport with the sound effects, but, alas, that one has not surfaced.

I don't even remember this crummy cardboard Cloud City playset, so I don't know if it came with anything. There's the Yoda statue I painted myself, a metal C3PO pendant (which Donna is determined to wear), and miniature die-casts of the X-Wing (no canopy) and TIE Fighter (tiny pilot intact). That digital watch came with a bunch of different stickers you could put above and below the readout, but I lost those. I don't know if the watch still works, but if it does, I may have to break my policy of never wearing one of the damned things. (Donna and I will make quite the pair, out and about in our Star Wars-themed finery...)

I once had all the figures released through '82 or so (I drew the line around the time Zuckuss came out--I mean, Zuckuss? Who the hell was Zuckuss?), but these are all I have left. (Note the horribly mangled Greedo at the top right, hands nailed to a Lincoln Log and liberally spattered with red nail polish, and you'll get an idea of the others' fate.) Yoda is missing his cloak and staff but amazingly enough not his snake. The stormtroopers (you could never have too many) range in condition from looks-nearly-new to yellowed to demolished. That's the original Artoo from my once-cherished Early Bird set. I just realized I neglected to put him alongside Threepio. I guess it's obvious I'm no longer a fan.

Here are the accessories I have left. Two Leia guns survived, but sadly, no Tuskan Raider gaderffii sticks. Is that white thing the Ugnaught's purse?

I know I had the large figures of Luke and Leia, but all that remains as evidence are his saber and her shoe. Chewbacca has his gun but I think a little piece is broken off, as is the tip of Boba Fett's antenna-thingy. Boba's missing his Wookiee scalps, and the thing in his backpack isn't attached anymore. Han is missing his medal, and Darth, like his tiny counterpart, has only the hilt of his saber left. Artoo still has his Death Star plans inside but his legs fall off easily and when you turn his head it goes boing! boing! boing! instead of click-click-click.

Last (and least, in the sense of missing the most parts) is the Death Star playset. It took me friggin' forever to put this thing together. I know I had the cannon that's supposed to go on the top level--what the hell happened to it? The upper posts are missing too (that's Luke's lightsaber propping up the grid), as are the rope swing, the foam garbage, and one other post. There's the Dianoga, that little minx, popping out of the trash compactor to pose. (5/4/12 add: I've decided to attempt completing my Death Star, and so I've recently gotten the cannon and two struts to finish the top level. I tried to get the box, but missed the winning bid by ten bucks. I see there are counterfeit rope swings on eBay--what has this world come to? And I suspect it'll be a sweltering day on Hoth when I find that foam trash at any price, reasonable or otherwise...)

That's about it for the toys... I'll get to the other SW stuff another time--the trading cards, photos, lobby cards, posters, comics, calendars, fan club newsletters, activity books, Presto Magix (Magices?), magazines, (including your various Mads, Crackeds, and even the occasional Crazy), etc. etc....

2/13/15 add: Holy shit! I finally wrote it!