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Monthly Archives: October 2006

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Robot Chicken

Oh Turner Classic Movies, what would we do without you? They’ve been playing some groovy old Japanese horror/sci-fi films lately that deserve a little write-up here. First up was Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (1968), broadcast on October 1st. This film follows a small passenger aircraft as, mysteriously, the sky turns bright red and birds start crashing into the windows. A glowing UFO appears, causing the plane to crash in an empty canyon. As the terrified band of passengers attempt to survive with no food and water, an alien host invades one man who then tries to kill the others in various entertaining ways. This was a memorably unsettling film made even more resonant with its references to the Vietnam war. Although the alien looks like nothing more than a harmless blob of pearlescent shampoo, I found the scenes of it entering/exiting the human hosts through a slit in their foreheads truly creepy.

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Our second film came in the form of last Sunday’s The X from Outer Space (1967), another one of those “giant creature on the loose” flicks. The creature in question, a big rubbery reptile/chicken saddled with the un-scary name Guilala, doesn’t appear until the second half. Until then, we have to endure a standard romantic love triangle in space involving a handsome astronaut, a pretty Asian traffic controller, and a pretty blonde scientist. I’d have to agree with one of the IMDb commenters, however, in interpretating that the two women seemed more interested in each other than in the man — which made this movie more interesting than the filmmakers likely imagined. Another thing I dug was the space station’s future-chic costumes and production design, which predated the similar looking TV series UFO and Space: 1999 by a few years. I also enjoyed the groovy rockish music score, although the repeating theme accompanying the monster’s inevitable rampage through cardboard buildings got old after awhile. In sum: two squawks up.

I’ve Seen the Light

“You are so Markie Post in every single Lifetime movie.” — Will Truman, Will & Grace

Too campy. Somebody on YouTube did an eleven minute Lifetime movie parody starring Judith Light. It goes without saying that Ms. Light’s role is played by a fetching-looking guy.

Gruesome Twosome: Girl Power Edition

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The Pixies Three: “Welcome to the Party”
LP: Party With The Pixies Three, 1964 | BUY

The Breakaways: “That’s How It Goes”
Pye Records U.K. single, 1964 | BUY

Let’s break out the fun with a couple of Girl Group gems. No shrinking violets, the Pixies Three bring loads of spontinaety and charm to this opener for their lone LP, a concept album on the subject of parties. I love how the track goes through various popular dances of the day; makes me want to Monkey with the best of ’em. The Breakaways were best known for backing some of ’60s England’s biggest recording acts, but the thundering “That’s How It Goes” gave them an excellent chance to shine on their own. Producer Tony Hatch furnishes the gals with a raucous (and eerily correct) recreation of the Phil Spector sound. More about the Breakaways’ incredible career here. Thanks to Patrick for the Pixies Three.

It’s My Birthday

The rumors are true. As of today, I have reached 38 years old. I don’t feel 38. In many ways, I still feel like there’s much to learn about this thing called life. When my parents were my age, they already had the steady careers, the suburban house, and three growing boys. All the trappings of an adult life, yet maybe they too had the same outlook. We’re all on a journey here, and personally I can’t wait to see what twists and turns are in store.

Me and Christopher had a very nice birthday weekend. We started off by visiting the Japanese Friendship Garden in downtown Phoenix. I drive by this place all the time, yet never stopped in until yesterday. It’s a beautiful, restful spot with a swarm of hungry koi fish in the park’s pond. I didn’t take our camera, so you’ll have to view these pages instead. After that we had lunch at a place called Knock Kneed Lobster, a greasy little dive that serves up some of the best fried seafood in town. — kind of a tinier, quirkier Red Lobster. During this visit, we spied the boxer Michael Carbajal eating in a booth not far from ours. Rounding out the afternoon, we went shopping at the grimy Goodwill east of downtown and spent an hour at the library. Christopher gave me a thoughtful birthday gift — an iPod shuffle engraved with our initials and the date we met. That was yesterday. Today was pretty normal, although I did get myself some yummy chocolate cake from Safeway. Another year, another lovely birthday.

Sitcoms on the Brain

Jaime Weinman explains what makes a successful sitcom on his weblog for Macleans, TV Guidance. As on Something Old, Nothing New, the guy consistently wows me with his knowledge of TV, stage and screen. Is there anthing he can’t do?

I’m of two minds on those old sitcoms. There’s the good quality TV, and then there’s TV you remember and re-watch because it’s the visual equivalent of comfort food. In that category I present Dawn Wells, Tina Louise and Natalie Schafer performing “You Need Us” on Gilligan’s Island. This scene isn’t a great example of sitcom artistry or anything, just one of those indelible moments embedded in my brain. Along with The Brady Bunch, Gilligan constituted of the daily after school viewing ritual for a certain time. Seeing it again makes me wish that somebody put out a whole Honeybees album. That would’ve rocked.

Justin Time for a Field Trip

The proprietor of This Justin details a road trip to visit the huge fake Egypt erected for Cecil B. DeMille’s 1923 version of The Ten Commandments. What hasn’t been reduced to shards of broken plaster is now buried under a sand dune located 100 miles north of Los Angeles. And the site is likely to stay that way for awhile, since it’s now an endagered bird habitat. Stuff like that is so fascinating.

Oh, and Justin also writes on one of our faves, Charles Harper. The artist has lent his talents to a new line of skateboards and La-Z-Boy fabrics. Good to know that he’s still around to enjoy (and take advantage of) his resurgence.