Friday, December 30, 2011

All the news that fits the bias

You've been following the blow-up over the Girl Scouts, right? The Blaze reported that the organization has a booklet that refers Girl Scouts to Media Matters to correct "media misinformation." If you don't understand the problem with Media Matters as a source of information, check out the from Big Journalism.

So, that should be a story, right? Of course. And there are plenty of stories about it. On Fox News. And The Daily Caller. And Hot Air.

Oh, wait. Those aren't traditional media outlets. Except maybe Fox News, and they're only 15 or so years old. But they do have stories about it.

What about the traditional media? I know. Let's do a search on the phrases "Girl Scouts" and "Media Matters" for specific Websites and see how many hits we get:
Well, now that can't be right. None of these pillars of journalism are covering a case of media bias?

Ah! I know. The Washington Post. There we go. Two search results. Oh, wait. Both are unrelated comments in unrelated stories.

USA Today? Yes!! Oh wait. One's the Don Imus "Nappy-headed Hos" story where where both Girls Scouts and Media Matters were mentioned, but nothing to do with the story at hand. The other one is a link to the story on The Blaze. So, they provide a link to a different source, if you search for it.

How about The Old Grey Lady? Surely the New York Times ought to have something. A-ha! Three hits. Oh, wait. Two of the hits are unrelated stories that have sidebar links to other sources. The third one is a page with two separate stories, one on the Girl Scouts and the other on Media Matters.

So, nothing from the traditional media.

MST3K: Episode K21 - The "Legend of the Dinosaurs"

Watching all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes is a big job. More about that can be found here and here.

The show began as a local program on KTMA (now WUCW) in Minneapolis before they got a deal to go national on the Comedy Channel. Some fans of the show have copies of most of the shows the first season. 18 of the 21 KTMA shows were recorded and survive to this day. We've covered episodes K04 - K20. Now, the final KTMA episode.

Episode K21: The "Legend of the Dinosaurs"

First aired: KTMA on 28 May 1989

It's a Sandy Frank film. And the episode where Joel said "Never trust a man with two first names, especially if the first one's a woman."

Mt. Fuji
I can't figure out if they love Sandy Frank, or hate the viewers. The reason is probably a lot simpler: they used what they had. Of course, finding out it was a Sandy Frank film gave me hope for a hot Japanese she-villain.

But it did give an image of Mt. Fuji. Actually a couple of images of Mt. Fuji. Actually, more than a couple of images of Mt. Fuji. Okay, about eight dozen images of Mt. Fuji.

The riffing had several that referenced the background music, including references to The Girl from Ipanema, Shaft, songs by Harry Nilsson, James Bond movies, Surf City, Up Against the Wall Redneck Mothers, music by Jethro Tull, and others.

My buddy, Mad Max, couldn't believe the music either:
Whoever did the soundtrack NEVER saw the movie - light jazz and ... "softcore porn music" plays during tense life & death moments."
Joel is dead
Joel, Josh (Servo) & Trace (Crow) still stepped on each other's lines a few times. And Joel misspoke a line, cracking up all three of the riffers. Those are some of the problems with ad-libbing the riffs, rather than scripting them.

It looks like they reversed host segments one and three. If they ever release these episodes commercially (I don't think they will) things would make more sense if they swapped these segments around.

One of the funniest parts was the whole "Joel is dead" thing they did, a takeoff of the "Paul is dead" rumors from the 1960s, complete with clues in the Abby Road album. And, yes, kiddies, that's an actual album. It was before CDs.

What are CDs? That was before iTunes.

This wraps the KTMA season. After New Year's, we'll dive into Season One.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bumper stickers

I mentioned earlier this month that I needed a new bumper sticker for my car. Well, blog buddy Andy pointed me over to his buddy Woody, who has some bumper stickers.

I'm not going to steal all of Woody's thunder, but I will list a couple here. Then, I'll ask for more suggestions.

He's got more. I didn't even steal the best one.

Now, here's where I could use your help. I want some suggestions for bumper stickers. You can make your own images and post them, or just suggest a sticker. They don't even have to be about Ron Paul.

NOTE: Oh, by the way. How much you want to bet that a bunch of Ron Paul nuts come by and don't offer bumper sticker suggestions, but instead start spouting whatever the current Ron Paul Talking Points are?

MST3K: Episode K20 - The Last Chase

I'm continuing my project of watching all of the episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. More about that can be found here and here.

We're nearly done with Season K/Season Zero. The nationally-broadcast season are coming up after the first of the year. Let's finish the KTMA season first.

Episode K20: The Last Chase

First aired: KTMA on 21 May 1989

Close you eyes and imagine the future. Imagine a future where Burgess Meredith flies an F-86. Then imagine he uses he F-86 to chase Lee Majors across the country.

No, really. That's this film. See what happens when you let Canadians make films?

The Mads try a cold fusion experiment ... in Dr. Erhardt's mouth. It doesn't go well. But Trace Beauliew and Josh Weinstein do work well together. I really don't remember ever watching a lot (read that: any) of shows from Season One (Weinstein left after Season One), so the Dr. Erhardt character was unknown to me before I expanded my collection of MST3K shows. I like the character. And, watching how Servo has developed has been fun and interesting.

The movie itself is ... bad. Which I don't need to say. MST3K doesn't do good movies. This one suffers from a bad plot more than bad acting. It's the future, and nobody has any gas. Except there's enough for one car, Lee Majors' Porsche (it looks to me sort of like a 917, but I'm no expert on Porche). And a Korea War-era jet.

Not a hot Japanese she-villain
This one was hard to watch. I tried to not get distracted, but failed several times. Not that the riffing was bad; it wasn't. Just that to get the jokes you have to also watch the movie. And that was hard.

And it wasn't a Sandy Frank film. And no hot Japanese she-villains.

One thing: it reminded me a little of "The Final Sacrifice." Remember that one from Season Nine? If so, when I saw the goofy-smile kid in the audience listening to Lee Majors, I thought "Rowsdower!" And, yes, "The Final Sacrifice" is also a Canadian film.

Still, not a bad show. The show has developed, matured over the last 17 episodes. They have the format down pat. There's still some tweaking to Dr. Forrester's character to be done, but Joel & the Bots are, well, Joel & the Bots.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Better than Obama

As the vote in Iowa approaches, the Republican candidates are turning up the heat on each other. Newt Gingrich had some not-so-nice words for Ron Paul, according the National Journal:
"I think Barack Obama is very destructive to the future of the United States. I think Ron Paul's views are totally outside the mainstream of virtually every decent American," Gingrich said Tuesday in a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer.

Could he vote for Paul? "No." If it came down to Paul vs. Obama? "You'd have a very hard choice at that point."
Newt and Frank J. sound more and more alike:
So, if it were between Obama and Ron Paul, who would you vote for? I’m leaning Obama there; he’s a known entity and can at least be bullied into doing what’s right. Ron Paul would just stand back while nukes are launched at us and say, “We had this coming for abandoning the gold standard!”
Then there's Mitt Romney, who seems to be every conservative's last or next-to-last choice. He compared Newt Gingrich to the I Love Lucy "Chocolate Factory" sketch:
Appearing in Portsmouth, Romney noted a statement that Gingrich's campaign director compared the former House speaker's recent inability to qualify for the Virginia ballot as a setback comparable to Pearl Harbor from which the campaign would recover.

"I think he compared that to Pearl Harbor? I think it's more like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory," Romney said in reference to the famous I Love Lucy skit in which the comedienne was overwhelmed by a rapid assembly line of candies. "You've got to get it organized."
That was a good line. Let's look at Lucy in the Chocolate Factory:

[Direct link]

That's funny stuff. But, you know what? I still think Lucy and Ethel would do a better job than Obama and Biden.

Ricardo/Mertz 2012!

MST3K: Episode K19 - Hangar 18

I'm watching all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. Information about that can be found here and here.

Episode K19: Hangar 18

First aired: KTMA on 14 May 1989

ZOMG there is an alien spaceship in Hangar 18!!1!
There's all kinds of crazy in this world. Some of it is good crazy. Like a guy who decides to create a TV show about him and two robots being forced to watch bad movies in space. You gotta admit, that's crazy. But good crazy.

Then there's bad crazy. Like people who watch a movie and decide that it's all real. Like people who watch Michael Moore or Al Gore movies. Or people who watch movies about the government covering up evidence of aliens.

Hangar 18 is one of those government alien conspiracy movies that was at the forefront of movement. In 1978, the whole Roswell aliens thing took off, and this movie capitalized on that -- and helped make it worse.

Everybody got all blowed up at the end. Or did they?
The version of Hangar 18 isn't the original theatrical release, where everybody died and the cover-up was successful, but the edit-for-television version where some survived and the cover-up was exposed. I'm not sure how that played into the conspiracy movement. Probably not. Nuts is nuts.

In this episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the two crazies collide. Only one survived. And, as always, it was Joel & the Bots.

My copy is rather dark. That made it really hard to see J&tB in the corner. It always helps, on a bad movie, to see J&tB in the corner. It helps me realize I'm not alone.

Shortest. Opening. Ever. Joel tells the name of the movie and yells "Movie sign!" and we're underway.

Since it's a space movie, they got to do the Far-Out Space Nuts joke, "Did you say 'lunch?'"

The thing is, there aren't a lot of great riffs. But, overall, good riffs. A couple of instances where you could tell it was mostly ad-lib, but they work well together.

While the movie was bad, something good came from this episode. We did find out what "Crow" stands for.

[Direct link]

Oh. It was just a joke. Or was it?

There's a reason, and it's not what you think

It's no secret that I think Barack Obama is an idiot. And that I think that those that voted for Obama are idiots. But, during certain times of the year, I try to put that kind of stuff aside and do the whole "can't we all play nice" kind of thing.

For example, here on this little blog, I've posted proclamations by the current president regarding Thanksgiving (2009) and Veterans Day (2009, 2010).

Why not Veterans Day proclamation post? Simple. The current president didn't issue any such proclamation this year. Check for yourself. Find one for Thanksgiving, too.

Oh, and find one for Christmas. Not just for this year, but for any of the three Christmases since he occupied the Oval Office. They don't exist. The last Presidential Proclamation regarding Christmas came from President George W. Bush in 2008.

Now, you will find a proclamation on Hanukkah for this year. But you won't find one for last year. I suppose after this year's missteps regarding Israel, he did this, hoping to mend fences. But, Obama being Obama, he screwed it up. Though the proclamation got the dates right, the actual ceremony was 12 days off -- and all jacked up.

He did issue a statement on Kwanzaa this year, as well as in 2010 and 2009. Maybe if Kwanzaa was more than 45 years old, he'd issue a proclamation. Till then, made-up holidays got to take what they can get, I suppose.

Anyway, about Obama. There's no hope for this guy. And, if you are planning on voting for him in 2012, there's no hope for you. And, if he wins, there's no hope for any of us.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Comic of the day

[Direct link]

MST3K: Episode K18 - The Million Eyes of Sumuru

My quest to watch all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes continues. More about the quest can be found here and here.

I'm working to get the KTMA season (Season K/Season Zero) finished by end of the year. Four more to go, counting this one.

Episode K18: The Million Eyes of Sumuru

First aired: KTMA on 7 May 1989

Sumuru, missing 999,998 of her eyes
Since the KTMA shows aren't commercially available, and the only way to get them is to have a copy of an over-the-air recording someone made in 1989, the quality of the shows is sometimes quite inferior. Every now and then, though, you get a very good quality recording.

I was all excited to get one of those. Then, about 30 minutes in, the quality suddenly dropped. I was hoping it was just the film, but the shortly went to a host segment, and the quality was still poor. Then, after a few minutes, the quality improved again, and stayed good the rest of the way.

I think they were just toying with me.

Frankie Avalon, performs without Annette
There was no hot Japanese she-villain. Though the characters were supposed to be Oriental, Sumuru was played by Shirley Eaton, who was Jill Masterson in Goldfinger.

The riffing in this one seems more like the riffing of the national episodes. Some of the jokes are great.
  • "This is a hard role for Frankie. He’s working without Annette."
  • "He’s a very clean old man, isn’t he?"
  • "Dominique-nique-nique!"
  • "I’m gonna tell you all a story..."
  • "I like a movie with lots of midriff." "I think the navel department had a hand in it."
And more. Including some that could never be said on TV today, such as
  • "It's the Boatnips!"
  • "This movie's got something for everybody: Brits, Nips, & dips."
Midriffs Galore
This movie even riffs itself. Frankie Avalon muses aloud, "I wonder if this is where I'm supposed to sing." Joel responds, "We'll make fun of the movie if you don't mind."

As mentioned above, they referenced midriffs a few times. In this spy film of sorts, almost all the she-villain's she-henchmen wear midriff-revealing outfits. I almost expected one of the characters to be named "Midriffs Galore."

As I mentioned when I started this project, I was more familiar with Mike's work than with Joel's work. I have to admit, I like Joel's work. A lot. Of course, I liked Mike's work a lot, too.

We'll see how things go by the middle of Season Five.

Monday, December 26, 2011

MST3K: Episode K17 - Time of the Apes

Mystery Science Theater 3000. Four little words. Or is 3000 actually two words? That would make it five little words. Well, however many words it is, I'm watching all the episodes. Because I can. More about this here and here.

We began at the beginning: the 21 episodes that aired on KTMA (now WUCW) in Minneapolis, before it went national. Episodes 1-3 aren't available, but 4-12 are. We've covered 4-16. And counting.

Episode K17: Time of the Apes

First aired: KTMA on 2 April 1989

Joel floats outside the Satellite of Love
Remember some episodes back where Trace Beaulieu was unavalable for some shows, so they had Crow frozen for two episodes, then had him taken apart in another? Well, there's a cast member missing from this episode, too. Only it's Joel Hodgson. So, they covered it by having the Bots lock him outside the satellite.

Oh, remember that episode where Joel went solo riffing the movie? Exact opposite here. Servo (Josh) and Crow (Trace) handle it without Joel. And, do pretty well, though I do miss Joel.

What did Joel miss? Not much, really. Back in 1974, there was a TV series in Japan called Saru no Gundan (Army of Monkeys). It was not a rip-off of Planet of the Apes, though, because in Planet of the Apes, astronauts landed on a planet populated by apes, that turned out to be Earth in the far future. In Saru no Gundan, a woman and two schoolchildren wake up in the future on Earth populated by apes. Totally different.

In the 1980s, someone decided to put some of the episodes together and call it a movie. Then, Sandy Frank (who else) brought a dubbed version to America and called it Time of the Apes.

Let me state right now that there is no evidence that Sandy Frank is the Antichrist. Of course, there's no evidence he isn't, either.

"Gorilla my dreams"
No giant flying turtles that shoot fire in this film. No hot Japanese she-villains, either. This film could have used a hot Japanese she-villain. It did have a hot Japanese heroine, so there's that.

Of course, there's the obligatory friendly ape, who doubles as comic relief. She sticks around way too long.

There's a flying saucer that shows up from time to time. It doesn't seem to serve any purpose other than to distract the apes every time the human heroes get in trouble. I'm not sure, but I think it's the U.S.S. Deus ex Machina.

There is some super computer or something, that runs everything, like a super Multivac or something, that throws them forward or backward in time or something. It has a happy ending. At least, it ended, and for that, I was happy.

One thing about the whole "Joel is locked outside" storyline: it gave the writers the chance to run a storyline through all the host segments. In Episode K08 - Gamera vs Guiron, the segments were all part of a "dream" theme. In Episode K15 - Superdome, the "Servo writes a letter" theme was throughout. That makes this two out of three shows with a running theme.

My buddy Mad Max has seen both this episode, and the reworking during Season Three:
This is one case where both the K-version and the regular seaason are must-sees.

... there are scenes in this version that were cut for the regular season. ... Not that it made anything any clearer.
This is the 9th movie from the KTMA season that was redone during the national seasons. One of those (Episode K02 - Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars) is a "lost" episode. The other 8, we've now covered.

There are four more shows in Season K/Season Zero, none of which were redone. You'll see why soon enough.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2
  1. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
  2. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
  3. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
  4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David
  5. To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
  6. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
  7. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
  8. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
  9. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
  10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
  11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
  12. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
  13. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
  14. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Night Before Christmas

©2000 Denise Van Patten -
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter's nap, When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the luster of mid-day to objects below, When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: "Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, so up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too. And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow; The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, Laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

A Visit from St. Nicholas
-- Clement Clarke Moore

Friday, December 23, 2011

MST3K: Episode K16 - City on Fire

I'm attempting to watch all the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. All of them. Why? Why not. Background on the project can be found here and here.

Episode K16: City on Fire

First aired: KTMA on 19 March 1989

Mildly-peeved researchers
The film that Joel & the Bots are subjected to during this episode is about a Canadian city located in the Midwest of the U.S. catching fire through a series of unfortunate events. If only the filmstock had caught fire.

Drs. Forrester and Erhardt are upset that the Guild of Calamitous Intent, or the Mad Scientists League -- I forget which -- that says they aren't really mad scientists but more mildly-peeved researchers. They are more than mildly-peeved over that assessment.

We don't see J&tB until after the movie starts. The opening segment between the Peeveds Mads ends with them going to watch the movie.

"Don't smoke"
Even though there's no opening "Movie Sign!" bit, later on, they end a host segment with Joel yelling "Movie sign!" and then run down the hallway. Cambot runs over them again.

Joel does his "Hell in a Handbag" skit. He repeats that during one of the nationally-available seasons.

Servo does another Yul Brynner gag: "Now that I'm dead, don't smoke." Josh Weinstein loved that gag.

They do the Lassie thing a couple of times. Still funny.

There are a couple of references to M*A*S*H, including one that I thought was pretty obscure. During an operating room scene -- there's a hospital and it catches on fire along with the rest of the city -- Joel mentions that there's no laugh track. In the TV version of M*A*S*H, they used a laugh track in almost every scene, but not in any operating room scene.

Shelly Winters plays a Shelly Winter-type character
My buddy Mad Max couldn't stand the film:
They spend the first hour or so with "human-interest" sub-plots in an attempt to engage the viewer and develop empathy/concern for the characters. But, in most cases, the more you learn about the characters, the less you like them.

For example, there's a nurs who was more than likely intended to be seen as kindly and maternal, but came across as shrill, bossy, and obnoxious. I croacked out a coughing "Huzzah!" when a burning building fell on her.
He's got a point.

Old flames
The ad-lib nature of the KTMA season is evident by them stepping on each other's lines. Joel steps on Servo, then apologizes. Servo delivers his line, and Joel says "I'm glad I interrupted you." Crow chimes in, "We're beginning to annoy ourselves. Cool."

My favorite riff: "She's an old flame."

The film uses footage of real fires intercut with the acting, which means some of the special effects aren't effects, but actual footage.

The copy of the episode I have includes several spots of distortion that appear to be because of the VCR recording. It doesn't ruin the film, though. The filmmakers did that.

More MST3K after Christmas. If you're nice. Or naughty. Either way, you've been warned.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Don't vote for Newt!

Newt Gingrich is making some news because he told someone at a campaign event to vote for Obama. Really.

Okay, here's what happened. At a Gingrich rally in Oskaloosa, Iowa, a gay Democrat Obama supporter got into a "cordial" one-on-one with Gingrich, that ended with Gingrich telling the questioner to support Obama:
Gingrich: "I think those for whom the only issue that really matters is the definition of marriage, I won't get their support. I accept that as reality. On the other hand, for those to whom it's not the central issue in their life, if they care about job creation, if they care about national security, if they care about a better future for the country at large, then I think I'll get their support."

Q: So what if it is the biggest issue?

Gingrich: Then I won't get their support.

Q: How do we engage if you're elected. Then what, what does that mean?

Gingrich: Well then you engage in every topic except that.

Q: Except it's most important (some crosstalk).

Gingrich: Well, if that's most important to you then you should be for Obama.

Q: I am, thank you
Now, personally, I'm fine with what Newt said. I'm not talking about my agreeing or disagreeing with his stance on gay marriage. I'm talking about his standing his ground and telling the gay Democrat Obama supporter the same thing he tells his own lesbian sister. That's unusual for a politician to tell someone "go vote for the other guy."

But, apparently, that's not what a candidate is supposed to do. A candidate is supposed to pander to all the little piss-ants and ass-clowns that crash a campaign event and come up to him. The candidate is supposed to say whatever it takes to make them happy -- even if the clown is going to vote for the other candidate anyway.

Newt Gingrich isn't doing that. And I like that about him. But, of course, standing firm and not backing down for what you believe is a bad thing, to hear the media, Democrats (but I repeat myself), and most other Republicans and their supporters talk. Except Ron Paul supporters. They like that their candidate has been consistent for years. They don't like it when Newt Gingrich is consistent. It shows how much he's part of the establishment ... though all of the Washington establishment has come out against Gingrich.

Wait. We're looking for someone who the Washington establishment doesn't like? Yet someone who knows how Washington politics works? And someone who can balance a budget? And someone who, when he makes a mistake, can admit it? Even big mistakes?

I better stop now. I'm finding that I'm liking Gingrich more and more. And I don't think I'm supposed to.

MST3K: Episode K15 - Superdome

If you've been following along, you know I'm attempting to watch all the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. Some background here and here.

Episode K15: Superdome

First aired: KTMA on 12 March 1989

What can you say about a movie about a football game that ends before the game begins?

That right there is all you need to know about the movie. And that it's really bad. But, you knew that already. MST3K doesn't have any Academy Award winners. Well, that's not true. There is an Oscar-winner shown in Season Four. More on that later ... when we get to Season Four.

There's a story behind this episode. Not the actual episode, but the availability of the episode.

As you may recall, none of the Season Zero/Season K/KTMA episodes are commercially available. They exist, but only in Jim Mallon's vault. The only way fans of the show get to see the KTMA episodes is for them to obtain a copy of the "circulating tapes" ... and that's what I have.

For years, the most complete copy of K15 (Superdome) was missing the final host segment. Then, one day, the lady whose letter was read at the end of the show shared her tape with the masses. While her copy isn't good quality or even complete -- someone had taped over much of the show -- it had the "lost segment," but not the closing credits.

A sort-of-complete version of the show is now circulating that includes the better-but-incomplete version up to the end of the film when Joel & the Bots leave the theater. Then, it switches to the letter-lady's copy through the final segment, then Episode K20 - The Last Chase's credits are grafted on.

Football players, but no football game
The movie itself is boring. Sure, there's some real-life football players -- including Bubba Smith, Dick Butkus, Marv Fleming, Les Josephson, & Shelly Novack -- but the soap-opera plot is really boring.

It's a typical 1970s TV-move cast, with David Janssen, Edie Adams, Clifton Davis, Ken Howard, Susan Howard, Van Johnson, Donna Mills, Ed Nelson, Jane Wyatt, & Tom Selleck. They even reveal the identity of the killer (yes, there's a killer on the loose) half-way through the film. But, the movie is so bad, I really don't care. In fact, I was hoping (*SPOILER ALERT*) she'd off the rest of the cast before they caught her.

Servo types with his feet
The premise of the host segments is Servo typing a letter (with his feet) to his non-existent uncle about what's been going on. Which, of course, means ... flashbacks! Only, turns out just one of the flashbacks is really a flashback from a previous show. There is a video montage set to Louis Armstrong's What A Wonderful World, but the others skits are all new.

Riffing was okay, but not great. Of course, you can only work with the material you have. The movie was lame, and I'm thinking that was the reason.

Crow looks for the audience
Late in the movie, Joel says that he can't think of anything funny. The Bots agree. Crow later mentions the movie's a yawn-fest. Servo asks "Who are you talking to? Most of our home viewers have tuned away anyway." Crow turns around and checks. I thought that was funny.

My buddy Mad Max refers to really bad movies as "That Which Shall Not Be Named." He said this one was nearly in that category, except "an intrepid and prolific assassin made it somewhat interesting."

Oh, one final thing. The movie ended with the National Anthem being played before the Super Bowl. Crow kept asking, "Who won?" as they left the theater. Who won? I'll tell you who won: anyone who didn't watch the film.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Is your Obama tree properly decorated?

Students of history agree: the upcoming celebration doesn't accurately reflect the birthday of the person being celebrated. This holiday has traditions that go back far beyond the birth of the One who is worshiped by many. But, over the years, the two celebrations became intertwined. There is no actual physical proof of the circumstances of birth of the child, but there are documents and writings from around the time. Though their authenticity is questioned by some, we have enough evidence from other sources to establish an approximate date and location of the birth of the one worshiped by His followers.

So, despite Barack Obama being born August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, the trees are trimmed with decorations celebrating Him during this holiday season.


Christmas tree? What Christmas tree?

Oh, that thing in front of the U.S. Capitol? Yeah, some people still call it by that archaic name, but we can't have anything related to this "Christ" person, because of the Separation of Church and State that's in the Constitution, so...


Oh, it's in there. Somewhere. Let me look.

Okay, it's not in the first seven articles. Maybe it's in one of the amendments. Ah, here it is.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...
See? Oh, wait. It goes on.
...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof
Well, that's not it. But everybody knows it's in there, even if nobody can find it. And, as a result, we can't have a tree that celebrates this Jesus person.

But, the Constitution doesn't say we can't celebrate Obama. In fact, it says we have to. I think that's in the Commerce Clause or something. Or maybe it's in the Right to Privacy section. But it's got to be in there.

So, in celebration of Barack Hussein Obama, we urge you to take that tree you have in your house and get rid of anything that has a Jesus implication. Like Angels. Except Albert Pujols. You can keep him.

And watch that Santa stuff. We don't want children getting the idea that Santa brings them things, when everyone knows Obama is responsible for the stuff you have. He lets you keep some things, and we are beholden to him for that. So don't confuse the kiddies with that silly Santa nonsense.

We know that some traditions die hard. So, if you want to have something from that Bible book on it, maybe something from Psalms. Number 19 would be good:
The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold
See, that could apply to Obama, so it would be okay. But, you got to be careful. You don't want people reading something into it and get the idea that there could be worship going on. Unless it's worshiping Obama, which is good. And right. And required.

What if you don't have a tree? Because you're a Jew or a Muslim or a Jehovah's Witness or an atheist or a Pastafarian or something else? Simple. Go get one. Gaia won't mind you cutting down a tree for something as important as Obama. And put up your Obama tree. Like the U.S. Capitol did.

And, be sure to have ornaments that actually mention Obama. But not Jesus.

We don't want to forget the reason for the season.

MST3K: Episode K14 - Mighty Jack

I've begun a project to watch all the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. Some background on this is here and here.

Before they went national with MST3K, it was a local show on KTMA (now WUCW) in Minneapolis. The first three of the local shows are lost to antiquity ... and Jim Mallon's vault. Fan copies of the other 18 KTMA episodes exists. I have one of those.

We're still in the KTMA season, also known as Season K or Season Zero.

Episode K14: Mighty Jack

First aired: KTMA on 5 March 1989

It's Sandy Frank!! Or this film is a Sandy Frank import. It's from Japan, but there are no turtles. At least, no flying turtles that are full of meat and friend to all children.

Rather, it's like it's a live-action version of Thunderbirds or something. Silly submarines and jets and such. And Mighty Jack is an organization or a ship or a person or a rock band or something. It's not clear. And not all that important, when you get down to it.

Mighty Jack is opposing Q, which is an organization sort of like SPECTRE. Which, I suppose, makes Mighty Jack MI6 or U.N.C.L.E. or something. Maybe CONTROL. Again, not all that important.

Can't hurt me, I got my eyes closed!
There's a plot where they have to rescue some person named Atari who (*SPOILER ALERT*) turns out to be the head of Mighty Jack, which Mighty Jack doesn't find out until they rescue him. The bad guys try to torture Atari with a blinding light, which he overcomes by ... closing his eyes.

Later, one of the good guys goes to rescue Atari, but is trapped when he lets the door to Atari's cell close behind him.

Yeah, the film is like that.

Hot Japanese she-henchman
There is a hot Japanese she-villain. Well, sort of. She's more of a hot Japanese she-henchman/spy, who is caught, escapes, then spontaneously explodes on the roof of a building. Oh, the short, tragic life of a henchman.

The opening segment has Dr. Erhardt telling Dr. Forrester that he's not sure they're really mad scientists, just angry. They have a couple's spat. And Dr. Erhardt, in an attempt to change, adopts a voice that sounds suspiciously like Tom Servo. Dr. Forrester isn't impressed.

My buddy Mad Max said, "there are marvelous moments." And there are.

A couple of the in-theater comments I loved were this one:

"This is the kind of politics Josh — this guy I know — could get into." -- Tom Servo
It was fun hearing Servo/Josh refer to Josh/Josh. And I though this one was interesting:

"He looks like Frank Conniff" -- Tom Servo
In Season Two, Frank Conniff would join the cast as TV's Frank, replacing Weinstein (Dr. Erhardt). Someone else would take over as the voice of Servo.

While the riffing is more on par with the national seasons, the host segments are still all stand-alone, not related to the movie. Though in later seasons, there are still some segments that have nothing to do with the film, most are movie-related. All of these are stand-alone. But good skits.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The enemy

Who is our enemy? Well, it's not the Taliban. That's the word from Joseph R. Biden -- or is it Yosef ar Biden?

Air Force Two's Prime Cargo declared in an interview with Newsweek that the Taliban isn't our enemy:
There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens U.S. interests.
Naturally, the White House issued a clarification. Oh, it seems they stood by Biden's statements.

So, the Taliban isn't our enemy. Then, who is?

Looking at the actions of the Obama administration, here are the likely candidates:
  • The Queen of England
  • White people that are conservative
  • Black people that are conservative
  • Brown people that are conservative
  • Navy SEALS
  • Republicans that support Ron Paul
  • Republicans that don't support Ron Paul
  • Libertarians
  • Liberaltarians reassessed as not a threat
  • Fox News
  • A little bit of ABC News
  • You, simply for reading this
Be on guard. Report any of these people you see. It's your duty.

MST3K: Episode K13 - SST - Death Flight

I'm watching all the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. Background on this is here and here. I'm still in the "K" season -- the episodes that aired on KTMA TV 23 in Minneapolis, before the show went national.

We're half-way through Season Zero. Actually, more than half-way. Or something. There were 21 KTMA episodes of MST3K, but the first three of those are "lost" -- no fan copies exist. So, of the 18 episodes that do exist, we've covered nine of those, with nine more.

Episode K13: SST - Death Flight

First aired: KTMA on 19 February 1989

Remember the disaster movies from the 1970s that featured an "all-star cast?" This is one of those. Disasters, I mean.

"Wow. Look at that wingspan."
Who are the all-stars making up this all-star cast? Well, theres Robert Reed (pilot), Billy Crystal (stewardess), Bert Convy (low-life), Misty Rowe (hot chick), Doug McClure (washed-up ex-pilot), Tina Louise (castaway stewardess), Lorne Greene (owner of the company), along with a bunch of others, including Peter Graves (passenger who doesn't self-destruct in 5 seconds), John de Lancie (whiny passenger), Robert Ito, Martin Milner, Brock Peters, Burgess Meredith, Susan Strasberg, George Maharis, Barbara Anderson, Regis Philbin (not a star, but plays one on TV) ... and more!

My buddy Mad Max saw this episode and said it looked like "they just tipped over the TV Star Coffee Can and poured them all into this one."

What could make this TV movie even better? Have Joel, Crow, & Servo trash it! Either that or it be the European version of this film where Misty Rowe shows her boobies. Guess which one we're doing? That's right: Joel & the Bots ravage the film. No Misty Rowe boobage.

Dr. Forrester is back from Las Vegas.
Trace Beauliew is back, which means Dr. Forrester is back. And Crow is put back together. Dr. Forrester says "push the button" for the first time, only it's to send up the movie, not at the end of the show.

They jump straight into the movie -- so fast, Joe only has time for a spit-take -- and the voyage is underway.

The whole soap opera storyline is set up with all of the characters introduced, with their relationships and former relationships explained. Most of them, anyway. And, J&tB do their standard comments on each.
  • Mike Brady!
  • Oh, I get it!
  • Misty Rowe ... Wow, look at that wingspan.
  • I wonder how Cindy and Jan are doing? They’re in the luggage compartment. In four different suitcases.
  • This movie’s got more stars than that two-hour episode when the Love Boat went to Fantasy Island.
"The trouble with being a legend: most people think you're already dead." -- the late Burgess Meredith.
The movie plods along. The plot involves a company competing to fly America's first SST, a last-minute transport of flu virus, an MSbP mechanic whose plan goes even more wrong, characters betraying other characters, pregnant girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, and just about every other movie cliche.

Fortunately (*SPOILER ALERT*) the plane crashes at the end. However, some people survive.

You can't have everything.

Again, in the episode, Servo makes another Yul Brynner "don't smoke" reference. Josh Weinstein loves that gag.

The host segments were funny. Servo got to feel pain, the Bots got to do a limbo contest, and Gypsy got a new voice. Okay, she didn't; it was Servo playing a gag on Joel. Think that one through.

Good episode. Not a good movie, but that's the idea. The episode was funny, though. And that's enough enough.

Monday, December 19, 2011

How to make the debates more fun!

There are seven Republican candidates left:
  • Michele Bachmann
  • Newt Gingrich
  • Jon Huntsman
  • Ron Paul
  • Rick Perry
  • Mitt Romney
  • Rick Santorum
Oh, wait. There are actually 15 left. We forgot about these:
  • Gary Johnson
  • Fred Karger
  • Andy Martin
  • Jimmy McMillan
  • Tom Miller
  • Buddy Roemer
  • Matt Snyder
  • Vern Wuensche
Why aren't they getting in the debates? Because they have no shot?

Isn't that what was said about Herman Cain, who was the frontrunner for a while?

Isn't that what was said about Newt Gingrich, current frontrunner, when most of his campaign staff deserted him this past summer?

Isn't that what Ron Paul supporters say about every other candidate?

Isn't that what every other candidate's supporters say about Ron Paul?

This is where Donald Trump screwed up. When most of the big names declined to show, he canceled. He should have invited the lesser-known candidates to show up. Who knows? We might be seeing Jimmy McMillan or Vern Muensche leading in Iowa.

We need to have a debate where all the candidates show up. That would be interesting. Imagine hearing this exchange:
Chris Wallace: Mr. McMillan, how would you handle the threat of a nuclear Iran?

Jimmy McMillan: The rent is too damn high! I say it again, the rent is too damn high!

Gary Johnson: Let me add, Chris, that the war on drugs has caused the rent to rise.

Buddy Roemer: The high rent favors the 1%.

Chris Wallace: Can I just go back to asking questions of Newt and Mitt? Please?
That would be fun. But perhaps I'm being unfair to Chris Wallace.

Plus, we could actually have Obama there in a dunking booth. Whenever there's a question about Obama, the participant can either answer the question, or get a ball to throw at the plunger, trying to dunk Obama in a tank. With sharks. With frikkin' laser beams.

We would be glad to sponsor such a debate, as long as someone else will pay for it, but still put our name on it. Here's what we need: a venue, a moderator, and a panel.

So, what ideas have you to make the debates more fun?

MST3K: Episode K12 - Fugitive Alien

I've decided to watch all the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. Background on this is here and here.

Episode K12: Fugitive Alien

First aired: KTMA on 5 February 1989

Since the recordings from the KTMA season (Season Zero) are from over-the-air recordings on a VCR in 1989, the quality isn't the greatest. This episode is a little dark, for instance. But, my copy is as good quality as is available.

Joel & Servo, but no Crow
Trace Beaulieu wasn't available for this episode (the 3rd time this has happened) so no Dr. Forrester and no Crow. They explain it by having Dr. Erhardt speaking on the phone with Dr. Forrester, who's in Las Vegas, attending the Mad Scientists convention. Joel wonders throughout the first movie segment where Crow is. At the second break, he finds out: Servo and Gypsy took Crow apart.

Not Yul Brynner
Josh (Servo) seems to love making fun of the Yul Brynner anti-smoking commercial he recorded shortly before his death. He referenced the ad during an earlier episode, and again in this episode when the bald alien is shown at the beginning of the film.

The movie is a Sandy Frank import from Japan. No flying turtles or hot Japanese she-villains -- all the villains are men -- just bad sci-fi action.

Dance contest
One thing Servo said that I absolutely agreed with: the dance contest was one of the stupidest things I've ever seen. It was funny, though.

Despite missing one-third of the riffing crew, the riffing is good. I do miss Crow, but Joel and Josh (Servo) play together well.
I wonder sometimes if the worse the movie is the better the riffing seems. That could explain it. I didn't care for the movie at all. But then, again, that's the whole point of the show, isn't it?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

MST3K: Episode K11 - Humanoid Woman

I've begun the task of watching all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. More about that can be found here and here.

Episode K11: Humanoid Woman

First aired: KTMA on 29 January 1989

Humanoid Woman
The Mads revert to showing a Sandy Frank film after two weeks without one. No flying turtles, and no hot Japanese she-villains. There is a Russian chick, with an odd haircut, but that's just not the same thing.

The movie is an English dub of the Soviet film, Per Aspera Ad Astra (Through Hardships to the Stars). Servo kept making references to "Czech" as if it was a Czech film. Don't know if that was a mistake, or just thinking that one Soviet bloc country was pretty much the same as another Soviet bloc country.

I laughed out loud at the references to Kraftwerk's Autobahn. That was one of those songs that just seemed to fit the times, and the movie's background music during that segment did remind me of the song.

I thought of Rosie the Robot before they said it. Kinda obvious, though.

Servo said the "I said 'lunch,' not 'launch'" gag for the first time.

Joel & the Bots play tag. Servo's head extends like a Rock'Em-Sock'Em Robot. We've seen it in silhouette while watching the movie, but that's the first time we've seen it outside the theater.

I loved the reference to the Rutles. That seemed scripted, though, not ad-libbed. Not that it's a bad thing.

Joel & the Bots run down through the doors
The bots chase Joel down the hallway as the host segment ends and Movie Sign hits. That's new.

Servo thought the voiced used for Turanchoks sounded like "an intergalactic Truman Capote." I thought he sounded more like Wally Cox.

The show gets more and more like the show we remember. I had heard that the KTMA season (Season Zero) was very rough. And, at times it is. But, several times it is every bit as polished as the nationally-broadcast episodes.

Servo strikes out
To that end, they re-used some of the skits after going national. One example is the bit where Tom Servo hits on the blender. It's pretty much as I remember it, including the same punch-line.

The movie was, oh, I guess the word I'm looking for is "interesting." Maybe I just don't "get" Soviet films. I've seen some Soviet films, including the original Solaris (1972). Yawn-fest. I've also seen the sci-fi classic, Aleita (1924). Funny hats. But the Soviet film I've enjoyed the most is footage taken by survey teams exploring the Tunguska event. Really.

Okay, maybe footage of Alexey Leonov during his spacewalk. That or Tunguska. Certainly not this film.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

MST3K: Episode K10 - Cosmic Princess

I'm watching all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. More about this project can be found here and here.

Episode K10: Cosmic Princess

First aired: KTMA on 22 January 1989

Once upon a time, there was a TV show called Space: 1999. Or so I'm told. I never watched an episode. It ran from 1975-1977 in syndication on U.S. TV. I got my TV programming from Savannah and Jacksonville during those years, and don't remember what station carried it. For whatever reason, I never watched it. I know it was made by the same people that made The Muppet Show, and starred Rollin and Cinnamon from Mission: Impossible.

Joel & the Bots watch the movie
What all that has to do with anything is that episode K10 of MST3K, Cosmic Princess, isn't really a movie, but two related episodes of Space: 1999 that were jammed together and called a movie. The Mads mention this, so it's not exactly like I was smart enough to figure it out, though I'd like to think I was.

The riffing is good. They play off each other pretty well, though they do step on each other's lines at times. I noticed that the cast really like the Dairy Queen.

During one of the host segments, Crow gives Joel a haircut. They redid this bit in a later (nationally-broadcast) season.

Maya is introduced
It was pretty obvious when the change from the first episode to the second episode. The one threat was resolve and they went straight to the second threat. The new character, introduced in the first hour, had some more introductory storyline playing in the second hour, which was the thread that wove the two hours together.

However, the episodes were 13 episodes apart. The first hour ended with the new character, Maya, being checked out. In the 14th episode, Maya was hospitalized with a virus. When the episodes were put together, they edited it as if the timelines were back-to-back.

Some of my favorite riffs:

Mr. French!
The Spaceship Gillespie
It's the gorilla his dreams
We have visual
Actually, the dialogue in the movie said "We have visual" right before it showed the moon buggy was four feet behind the space creature. The riff was simply repeating the movie dialogue in that context. Makes it easy when the movie riffs itself, I suppose.

Since there are no flying turtles, there are no hot Japanese she-villains. There is a hot Hungarian she-villain (who turns out not to be a villain), but her character isn't all that hot (thought the actress is). The space-makeup helps make her look alien, but lowers the hotness factor. The character, Maya, is a shape-shifter. Maya should have shifted her shape to something that looked more like Catherine Schell.

MayaCatherine Schell

After watching this Space: 1999 movie, I don't regret never seeing the show back in the '70s.