Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Watching the Un-MSTied versions

I mentioned a while back that I was watching the movies that Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffed. The original versions. Without the riffing.

Why am I doing this? Heck, I don't know. Lots of things I do for no good reason. It's what I do.

Anyway, I've actually seen most of the movies. I've got 25 more to go.

Let's do some numbers real quick. There are 213 episodes of MST3K, counting the revival series on Netflix, and the local season on KTMA TV-23 in Minneapolis way back in 1988-89. There's also the movie from the "pilot" episode, which was really just a demo reel, not an actual pilot episode. That brings us up to 214 episodes.

Now, keep in mind that nine of the movies from the KTMA season were later re-done in Season 3 on Comedy Central. That means there are 205 movies to watch. Well, I've watched 155 of them. That means there are exactly 50 more to go. Here they are, in episode order, with alternate titles, or sometimes, original titles, listed along with them.
  • The Green Slime
  • Invaders from the Deep
  • Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars
  • SST - Death Flight
  • Superdome
  • The Legend of Dinosaurs
  • The Slime People
  • Untamed Youth
  • Women of the Prehistoric Planet (The Prehistoric Planet)
  • Wild Rebels
  • Lost Continent
  • Godzilla vs. Megalon
  • Pod People (The Pod People) (The New Extraterrestrials)
  • Daddy-O
  • Master Ninja I
  • Master Ninja II
  • Warrior of the Lost World
  • Secret Agent Super Dragon
  • Teen-Age Strangler (Terror in the Night)
  • Teen-Age Crime Wave
  • Village of the Giants
  • The Dead Talk Back
  • Code Name: Diamond Head
  • Last of the Wild Horses
  • The Starfighters
  • The Sinister Urge
  • San Francisco International
  • Kitten with a Whip
  • Red Zone Cuba (Night Train to Mundo Fine)
  • Escape 2000 (Escape from the Bronx) (Bronx Warriors 2)
  • The Mole People
  • The Thing That Couldn't Die
  • The She-Creature
  • Agent for H.A.R.M.
  • Prince of Space
  • Devil Doll
  • Invasion of the Neptune Men
  • Space Mutiny (Mutiny In Space)
  • Time Chasers (Tangents)
  • Werewolf (Arizona Werewolf)
  • The Deadly Bees
  • The Space Children
  • The Touch of Satan
  • Quest of the Delta Knights
  • Soultaker
  • Final Justice
  • Hamlet, Prinz von Dänemark
  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II
  • Carnival Magic
  • At the Earth's Core
All of the other movies, the other 155 movies, I've watched. Some I watched before there was an MST3K. I enjoyed some of them. Some, I absolutely hated. Which movies fall into which category is something I'll get into when I'm done watching them all.

Of course, that assumes I'll be able to watch them all. But, I know me. I'll figure out a way. In fact, 17 of these 50 are, or have been, recently available on DVD. The other 33 might be difficult. However, many of those have shown up online, though sometimes just briefly. There are only about four that I've not seen as available online or on DVD, even if briefly. I suspect I'll be able to see them all before the year is out.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Kudos to Comcast

Up front, let me tell you that I absolutely hate those sorry grawlixes at NBC news. NBC can just cease to exist as far as I'm concerned.

Having said that, I do want to say some nice things about their parent company, Comcast.

Several days back, my mother's home phone went out. She has Comcast's XFINITY Triple Play, with cable TV, Internet service, and home phone provided by them. It's what she wants, it's what she's got.

Only, her home phone went out, and the local office -- people that have always been good to her and seem to want to take care of their customers -- told her that it would be a week and a half before someone could go by and service her account.

I jumped on social media (The Twitter and The Facebook) and let my displeasure be known about their making an 81-year-old widow woman do without a home phone for 10 days. Well, turns out that Comcast reads The Twitter and The Facebook. They reached out and asked for more information. After some communication back and forth, they left word that someone would be by on Sunday. That was last Sunday. And, someone did come by.

Comcast service tech Patrick made the visit on a Sunday afternoon, and, before he left, her home phone was working. He inspected all the lines under the house, in the attic, and outside. He found an issue -- actually, something that was still working but would become an issue in the future -- and got that fixed. She and I were happy with his service.

But that's not all. Let me relate about a family friend from the church, an 81-year-old woman who lives alone. She had DirecTV service that hasn't worked since summer, plus AT&T home phone, Internet (6 Mbps DSL), and cell phone (flip phone) service. They weren't giving her any discounts, despite having four services from AT&T (remember, they own DirecTV). She was paying out a lot of money.

No more.

Today, Comcast made their scheduled service installation visit, and hooked up her cable TV, Internet (75 Mbps), and home phone (ported her number). Service tech Eddie came by within the service window, and set to work to make her a happy customer.

He didn't work fast, but he didn't piddle around, either. He went through the steps, verified everything was working at each step, worked to clear up some hiccups along the way -- yes, I was there and watching -- and, when he left, she had everything she was wanting. And, she'll pay less for more. She's happy.

As much as people dump on Comcast -- and I'm sure much of it is deserved -- I think it's proper to say when something goes right. Maybe those people that trash Comcast have legitimate complaints. I'm certain they do. But, what they don't have is Patrick and Eddie serving them. People like Patrick and Eddie make Comcast look good.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

MST3K: Completing the library?

I wrote before about having a full library of all the video releases of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Shout Factory has continued to release volumes since I originally wrote that.

Volumes XXXVI, XXXVII, and XXXVIII have been released, as well as re-releases of Volumes 2, 3, 4, and 5. And, yes, I have them.

Volume XXXIX would normally be released this summer, based on the schedule Shout Factory has maintained since they took over the releases in late 2008. And they normally announce the next volume when a volume hits the stores.

This time, they didn't.

What they did do was announce that the complete Cinematic Titanic collection would be released in August. That's around the time of the normal MST3K summer volume release (traditionally, late July).

So, why no annoucement? Why Cinematic Titanic instead of a new collection of MST3K? I dunno. But I've never let that stop me.

In case you aren't aware, Cinematic Titanic was Joel Hodgson's project that, like Mystery Science Theater 3000, had a crew riffing on movies. Like RiffTrax -- from Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, who were Mike, Tom and Professor Bobo, and Crow and Brain Guy on MST3K -- they pretty much were themselves in the riffing. Like MST3K, they used silhouettes over the movie.

Cinematic Titanic ran from 2007 to 2013 with DVDs and live shows. Since it's from MST3K creator Joel Hodgson and featured MST3K stars Trace Beaulieu (Dr. Forrester/Crow), Frank Conniff (TV's Frank), Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester), and J. Elvis Weinstein (Dr. Erhardt/Tom Servo), it's quite closely related to MST3K. And, it seems that Shout Factory is using the complete CT catalog to fill in for the summer release. At least, that's how I see it.

Anyway, we're not sure if we've reached the end of MST3K releases, or if we're simply close to the end.

As of this writing, there are only 13 national classic episodes that have never been released in any form (that is, Rhino VHS, Rhino DVD, or Shout DVD):
  • Rocketship X-M
  • Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster
  • It Conquered the World
  • Fire Maidens of Outer Space
  • Attack of the The Eye Creatures
  • Girls Town
  • The Amazing Transparent Man
  • Terror from the Year 5000
  • I Was a Teenage Werewolf
  • The Deadly Bees
  • The Space Children
  • Quest of the Delta Knights
  • Diabolik
There's one other, The Amazing Colossal Man that has never been on DVD, but was released on VHS.

None of these are public domain, so rights have to be negotiated. Only two are likely for release: The Amazing Transparent Man and Quest of the Delta Knights (Source: Travis Hosey).

Shout Factory may never get rights to some of these. I'd personally be fine with them releasing any they could, with inclusion of previously-release solo items padding out to fill a four-pack. For example, Shorts Volume 3 was only on Rhino VHS and as a bonus disc on early issues of The Essentials (Rhino). That would be great to have for fans that didn't get those early or limited editions.

Some of the solo-only episodes would be great, too:
  • Beginning of the End
  • Red Zone Cuba
  • The Wild Wild World of Batwoman
  • Manos: The Hands of Fate
There are also some that were released on Rhino that have never been released on Shout Factory.
  • Eegah
  • I Accuse My Parents
  • The Crawling Hand
  • The Hellcats
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Technically, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians was never a solo release, but part of the aforementioned two-episode The Essentials DVD release along with Manos: The Hands of Fate and, for limited pre-orders, Shorts Volume 3.

I wouldn't mind Volume XXXIX consisting of packaging some of the solo-only releases. For example, a Super Essentials with Manos: The Hands of Fate, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Shorts Volume 3, and maybe the full versions of Poopie and Poopie II (their bloopers reels) as the fourth disc. The uncut versions of the two films would make great Bonus Disc materials. They'd even make good replacements for the interviews and features that have been staples of the releases.

Volume XL could be one (or two) of the unreleased items for which Shout Factory has or can get rights, padded with Tom Servo's All Time Favorite Host Segments volumes 1-5, The MST Scrapbook, and The Last Dance - Raw (though that would be great to pair with Diabolik, should it ever see the light of day.

Perhaps they could even work out a deal with RiffTrax for some of their public domain movies they riffed to be released.

Now, I firmly believe that if Shout Factory were to release anything other than four previously unreleased episodes, they'd get complaints. Heck, they've received complaints about some of the four-packs of unreleased materials. Some people live to bitch, moan, and complain.

Anyway, I'm not sure if we're on the home stretch, of if we've actually crossed the finish line.

Oh, and I've not even mentioned the KTMA episodes. Word is they exist. I've seen them, or tapes of broadcasts from episode 4 on. They're rough. They're not the quick-paced riffing we're used to, because it was all ad-libbed. Still, there are some gems there. But that's a topic for a whole 'nuther day.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday Night Fish Fry

What's the oldest rock n roll song you know? When did it come out?

If your answer after 1949, you may want to think again.

Until recently, I wasn't familiar with Louis Jordan's "Saturday Night Fish Fry." But now I am. How I ran across it is ... well, there's a story.

A long time ago, on the SiriusXM radio in the car, I had several of the Decades channels on the presets. 40s on 4, 50s on 5, 60s on 6, 70s on 7, and 80s on 8. I stopped after the 80s because I know what music from the 90s and later sounds like. But the thing that might surprise some is the 40s on 4.

Some of the songs from the 40s are songs that I would listen to as far back as high school. Not many back during my high school days, but some. And as time has gone on, I find more and more from the 40s are songs I'd listen to. I have a few songs from the 40s on my iPhone for occasional listening. Which means my listening might consist of a sampling of Beatles, Pink Floyd, Merle Haggard, The Who, Aerosmith, Glenn Miller, Bob Seger, Joe Walsh, and Nat King Cole.

I was a little disappointed when SiriusXM did a reworking of the channels some time back and 40s on 4 disappeared. Channel 75 Pops disappeared at the same time. I was not a happy camper.

Anyway, the other day, I noticed that right below Channel 74 Met Opera Radio was Channel 73 40s Junction. So, I added that back to my presets, just ahead of 50s on 5.

Now that we're all caught up, I have noticed that when I switch channels because I'd rather hear something else, that when I stop on 40s Junction, I'm not so quick to change to something else. So, I'll drive for some time listening to that.

Well, the other day, right after Glenn Miller (or Benny Goodman, or Artie Shaw, you get the idea) something called "Saturday Night Fish Fry" started playing. I looked over to see if I was still on 40s Junction, or if I had hit the Next button on the steering wheel and moved to 50s on 5.

Nope. Hadn't moved. Was still on 40s Junction, listening to what sounded like a rock n roll song.


[The YouTube]

Now, I have heard some 50s songs -- songs from as late as 1955, the traditional start of the "rock n roll era" -- on 40s Junction. But, I made a note to look this song up. 1949.

That's rock n roll before there was rock n roll.

If you know of an earlier rock n roll song, let me know.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sweet!

I like sweet tea. Or, as we call it here in Georgia, tea. The only problem with sweet tea is the Calories. But that's both bad and good.

It's bad, because I don't need to be taking in as many Calories (or kilocalories, properly) as I do. But it's good, because the more Calories something has, the better it tastes. Usually.

Anyway, I like sweet tea.

I like really sweet tea.

Really sweet tea.

Tea so sweet that if it was a little bit thicker, you could pour it over pancakes. That's how sweet I like my tea.

Only, I really do need to lose some weight. Which means I could drink something else, like water, or unsweet tea. But I don't like unsweet tea. I like water, but sometimes you want some flavor in your drink at the table.

So, I thought, I could do unsweet tea and put a sweetener in it. And, the only sweetener I really like -- actually, don't intensely dislike -- is sucralose. The most well-known brand of which is Splenda. Basically, it's sugar with a chlorine atom attached, so you body passes that poison right through. You get the taste, but not the Calories. At least, that's the theory.

The thing is, I don't like the powder, because it never works right. I mean, if you take a little bit of hot water and dissolve the Splenda in that, it's fine when you add it to your drink. Yes, I've experimented with this. But that's not always the easiest way to do it in a restaurant.

Fortunately, there's Splenda Liquid.



It does a pretty good job, and I've used it recently. I carry it around in the pocket of my blazer, so I would order unsweet tea, then pull it out and squirt some of the sweetener in. A little stirring with a straw and it's done. Tastes okay.

Then I went and left it on the table at a Huddle House. Yes, I will eat at a Huddle House. Shut up. Their omelets are pretty good. Anyway, I went back later, but they already threw it away.

Thing is, Splenda liquid is hard to find. At least, around here. In fact, I've only found it in the Walmart store in Perry, Georgia. I'm sure it's in other places, but I don't know what those places are.

Around here, the grocery stores -- and Walmart stores -- carry other stuff. Like Stevia liquid stuff.



It ain't the same thing. And I don't like it. But, it'll do until I get some more Splenda liquid.

Or, I may just decide to stay fat. That's always an option.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ellis Island

My mother visited my daughter in New York the past few days. She's been to New York before, but the weather was horrible, so this was her first opportunity to actually get out and see stuff there.

The Little Princess had a blast showing her grandmother around. Broadway shows. Some famous restaurants. One World Trade Center. Many of the typical tourist things.

Once place they went this past weekend was Ellis Island. While they were there, my daughter sent me a text:
Do you know the name of any ancestor who came to Ellis Island? We are here and can look up names
I knew the answer off the top of my head, but thought it best to actually verify. I called up some ancestry records I had easy access to, and gave her the first part of the answer:
Ellis Island opened in 1892. All 8 of my great grandparents were born in the US prior to that date. ...

I'll check your mother's side.
And, a few minutes later, I confirmed it:
All of your ancestors were in the US prior to the opening of Ellis Island facility.
The Little Princess wasn't fully aware of how long her people have been here. Yes, her ancestors came to the U.S. from other countries. Only, many of them didn't come to the U.S. It didn't become the United States until well after they were settled. Many of them, anyway. There may be some that arrived in the 1790s. Records are skimpy, but I have run across one that appears to have arrived then. And that's the most recent.

That's not to take away from any families that came here during the time Ellis Island was open. But that has been played up so much that she assumed some of her ancestors came to the U.S. then.

They didn't. They were already here, welcoming those immigrants.

Or, knowing my family, giving them a rough time. Probably that.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bob Owens

I became aware of Bob Owens back when he ran the Confederate Yankee blog. His early days, if you will.

I never actually met him, but I did run into his brother in Las Vegas. His brother ran Phin's Blog (now defunct). "Phin" was a huckuva nice guy. But his brother Bob, the "Confederate Yankee," was the big time blog. Or it became big time in short order.

I'm sad I never did have the opportunity to meet him. I think I would have come away the better for it. But, it wasn't to be.

Bob apparently took his own life yesterday.



I don't know the circumstances. I do know that when the pain, whatever the cause, exceeds the clarity of thought, bad things happen.

I'm shocked about what has happened, and I hope the family will be able to recover from this devastating loss. I just wish Bob understood how many miss him.