Broken Machines

(Thanks, AustroPopArchives Vienna!)

So, we had a death in the family a few months back we all recently found out about (last week), which means it’s been a bit busy here with all sorts of shock and paperwork to tackle and quite a few ‘i’s to dot and ‘t’s to cross. Fortunately, the deceased was a very excellent record keeper, so most affairs are in good order and although there are a few important things to tackle for the near and far future, I think we have much of the important things covered.

Courts are all still closed here, so there’s the matter of waiting for a few important papers which need filing, so the waiting is the most annoying part. Well, next to figuring out a too smart Smart TV that was inherited that has a few subscriptions that need shutting down. After connecting the TV, it automatically started playing a film that wasn’t even chosen or someone who wasn’t me as I was walking into the kitchen to get some coffee pressed a button on that arcane backwards-designed remote it has (I need to go look up an online manual, stat!) and a movie no one ordered started up. While I was trying to figure out how to shut it down, this scene was playing in my tired head:

(Thanks, TheBoilingFrog!)

Anyway, I need to help out a family member in securing a few benefits and go through a few too many accounts and passwords as we play Match Game for a bit. I’ll be back in a bit or sooner if most things go smoothly as most seem to be so far. I just need to figure out that remote that has a list of pages of services and which services need that OFF switch. I have enough Blu-rays and DVD’s here to keep me busy for some time and nope, I just can’t afford more digital services than I can ever watch in a lifetime.

Wear a mask, people.

-GW

The Moment of Truth (and Dare)

(Thanks, Jay Partridge!)

I’m sure that I noticed exactly when people stopped taking the idea very horrid fact of a still thriving pandemic a whole lot less seriously here where a few too many people have died from it or assorted complications arising from it. By my estimation, it was about two weeks ago, give or take. I know this because I live across the street from a car wash and in the past few months, it’s been busy there, but mostly quietly so. About two weeks back, a sudden blast of loud music woke me from seven floors up. It was some person who drove up and yes, was blasting their music for all to hear too early in the day.

I was of course, annoyed by this, but I did take it as an alarm clock of sorts as I’d overslept (again) and dragged myself out of bed. A pot of coffee/chicory blend went to brew up and it was decided to kick off another Groundhog Day of mostly staying indoors and side-eying both the news and my backlog of work to do.  It’s harder to concentrate on fun stuff with actual life now a lot less fun, but it is sort of a necessary non-evil these days. To be honest, I liked the solitude for the most part except the MIA partner in crime part. But that’s part of the job description when you have a new virus, a new potential thing to kill you added to all the other things than may or may not set your expiration date to SOONER THAN YOU’D CARE FOR. “Did you hear? That guy died when he slipped in the shower while trying to dodge the plague!” makes for a rather poor epitaph.

Well, a funny one, but still poor.

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Package Lander II: The (Not) Quickening

(Thanks, tarash oniani!)

So, in the middle of this more very urgent chaos taking place, I have 19 pounds of someone else’s medical supplies here. They’ve been here over a week and it’s FedEx’s fault for “just doing their job”. Hi, FedEx. Anyway, here’s the deal: someone ordered whatever is in this box and had it shipped here, but they seem to have mixed up their address with mine or the person who took the order scrambled the numbers or couldn’t read someone’s handwriting properly. I say this because just over two weeks back, I got two large boxes bundled together that for the same person.

After about 45 minutes to an hour spent going to the FedEx website which constantly sent me to an automated call line no matter what I tried, I held on for a live operator and explained the situation. The problem seemed to be solved when he said the box would be retrieved (which took a few days), but guess what?  It wasn’t.  A week or so later, another large box labeled medical supplies arrived and was left at the door before I even had the chance to open that door and explain to the driver this wasn’t the correct address. FedEk was called again, and almost 52 minutes of looping muzak later, someone said they would be picking up the box… and that was what, almost a week ago?

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(Not So) Random Film of the Week: No Blade of Grass

no blade of grassSo, I lost a coin toss with myself a few days ago and ended up watching a pretty dark film from the lower end of the bucket list. Reasons, I guess. I also guess I should put a trigger warning here, as this one’s something else.

Grim meets garish (plus tax where applicable) in Cornel Wilde’s 1970 apocalyptic survival shocker No Blade of Grass, which is very likely not a film you want to see if you’re holed up in quarantine for a spell. Then again, it’s a film that’s brutal to watch under any circumstances, with its kind of timely by today’s calendar plot and Wilde’s decision to linger on some scenes that are a bit too exploitative and counteract whatever strong ecological message he was trying to send.

Then again, the source material wasn’t exactly a pleasant story either. Still, Wilde (who co-wrote, directed, and produced the film) gets his powerful message across from the opening moments, using a sledgehammer of assorted mostly stock imagery of polluted water, air and land, plus what seems to be clips of a dying emaciated child to let you know business is meant in all that intensity of the opening moments. I think there was a nuclear explosion in there somewhere as well, but I might have been busy trying to find my jaw, which was under the sofa when it fell off and rolled under it. I need to vacuum more, it seems, as my chin was a bit dusty when I located it. Uh, so mind-blowing and downbeat opening, plus a reach for a finger pistol depressing tune (sung by Roger Whittaker!) as a main title? Check.

(Thanks, The Film Archives!)

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Long Tall Sally, the He-Men and Way Outer Space

(Thanks, Reflex Gaming!)

In terms of retrospective career highlights, I’ll let the music historians do their thing far better than I. I just wanted to do a very quick post to note two films that featured Little Richard’s music in key sequences. 1987’s Predator has that key introduction to Arnold and company and the scene is funny as heck because of its burly mcbeefcake manly men riding that choppa listening to” Long Tall Sally“, which is not at all what you expect them to be listening to, but there it is, and it works perfectly.

(Thanks, katananja!)

Two years earlier, Joe Dante’s surreal sci-fi flick Explorers featured Richard’s performance of “All Around The World” sung by a comical looking space alien. That may be Robert Picardo in that suit, as he’s credited for the film as that alien. A cover version of the song was done by Robert Palmer and appeared on the film’s soundtrack, accompanied by a music video:

(Thanks RetroVault2!)

Ah, the days of actors in well-crafted slimy-looking rubber suits and good ol’ practical effects, right? The film also had a great Jerry Goldsmith score and is worth a look if you like a bit of mid-80’s nostalgia and one of those flicks that’s a bit of fluffy popcorn fun.

-GW

 

Frogs (Trick or Treat 1)

(Thanks, Burbanked!)

I rather liked science class as lot as a kid despite running into a few bumps in the road, literal warts and all. I recall almost no one wanting to dissect those pickled frogs that the teacher placed on each lab table one fine day, save for two guys in the back (why are the shady ones always in the back and equipped with sharp knives now?) who I guess either turned out later to be really good doctors or even better serial killers later on in life. That and there were a couple of too gleeful girls who obviously didn’t believe that kissing a very dead frog would generate a very dead prince or a live one, for that matter. They just wanted to gross out those that spied them doing it, Ewww.

The more amusing thing here was those girls otherwise hated the class except for this one time and a few other incidents where mayhem was a potential outcome. There was the one time they (about a year later), along with one of the two boys from the back ‘accidentally’ created ammonia gas in the lab that cleared the whole floor, eventually leading to school being dismissed for the day, whee. Uh, don’t try that trick at home, by the way. It’ll the be the perfect cure for everything that ails you with the very obnoxious little side effect of a bit of invisible but acrid smelling poisonous death (and neither a fine nor noble death at that).

(Thanks. Henridellik!)

Eventually, during the two days, I caved into the learning process and with a fellow equally skittish student (we were all paired up in the class – less dead frogs means a sharing moment for all), we took the plunge. Yes, I thought of all those company-farmed frogs taking a plunge one fine day for a final swim they didn’t know would have them a few hundred miles away dead, well-preserved and soon to be splayed out like ghastly centerfolds courtesy of class-provided scissors and scalpels. My partner in (non) crime was a girl who mentioned before we cut into the preserved formerly ribbiting animal that she had frog once for dinner and yes, it tasted like chicken.

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The Missing, The Mail, And The .19 Pork Chop

Well, Hi There.

If asked how I’m doing, I’d say I’m more very much more annoyed these days than usual, but I’m still breathing, which is a hard realization to work around with all this dice throwing going on by the political machine in spots. “Roll your dice, move your mice!” Yes, it’s hard to dance around the elephant in the room, but after seeing EMS pop by the building a few too many times over the months, plus a growing amount of undelivered mail sitting downstairs, it’s been a bit too joyless around here. Well, until I found out that the mail carrier who regularly did the job perfectly was off taking care of his parents for a spell and the person now doing his job was pretty much rushing it by what it seems was sticking the mail in whatever mailbox was laid eyes on and getting the hell out of the building as fast as possible.

Boo, Sir, Ma’am, or otherwise. At least I got to play mailman for an hour or so by dropping off some bills and letters to their correct apartments later, as did a few others who got someone else’s correspondence. Now, I’m a fan of the post office normally, but not when an employee does this to everyone’s mail on the route. Whatever miserable death count I was grimly thinking of was chopped down considerably by some mislaid mail, but that was a merely a small decline in the joylessness. One bit of a laugh came when I deposited some bills at one apartment and the guy who lived there opened the door, saw he had bills and let out a deadpan “Wow. Gee, Thanks.” he really didn’t mean.

Hey, don’t shoot (a mean glare at) me – I’m only the messenger.

(Thanks, MyMotownTunes0815007!)

Still, a few neighbors have gone and left the building (is that literally or figuratively? I forget!*), so that’s a painful fact to work with. Even though we weren’t close, a chat in the elevator, a wave and smile at the right time, or some weird conversation about ice cream are all memory banked and filed for future use now. Processing is different for all of us, but I’d say similar in how we hold onto that past. Presently I’m back and forth on a few things relevant and not so, but I try not to go under the waves more than necessary, as madness stalks that dark, dank alley and that’s a total drowning pool.

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Random Film of the Week: The Sailor Who Fell With Grace From The Sea (1976)

sailor 01

Just another day at the beach…

sailor_who_fell_from_grace_with_the_sea

This isn’t Altman’s Popeye, to say the least.

I first saw this film on network TV some decades ago and don’t remember much except that I later realized it was edited within an inch of its life, as when I saw it the next time in my teens on cable, the film had a load of stuff I missed plus stuff I understood better, but still missed because of the TV version’s heavy censoring. That said, I’m gathering that over that first network airing, the nudity was chopped out as much as possible and anything overtly sexual didn’t make the cut except for brief flashes. As for violence, I remember the infamous scene with the cat (more on that below) was also chopped down, but you still got the idea of how horrifying it was.

Anyway, flash forward to seeing the film again recently, and while The Sailor Who Fell With Grace From The Sea is both beautiful to look and quite haunting, it’s also going to be for some viewers (as I found out when I recommended it to some friends), a “pretty repellent film” when all is said and done. Two tastes that don’t taste great together for some, but at least the tagline on the poster is quite applicable. It’s got memorable performances, lovely cinematography, direction, and so forth and so on, so I can’t and won’t complain about any of that. I think the issue with some viewers is with the original Yukio Mishima story it was based on and the film not changing its tone into a more kinder one, although it shifts what some say are morally questionable characters and plot to a breezy, stunning English seaside setting instead of its original Yokohama location. But this wasn’t meant to be a film that bent itself to a particular set of generic movie rules.

(Thanks, MADWORLD1247!)

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(Not So) Random Film of the Week: The Flesh Eaters (1964)

THE FLESH EATERS

Cheesy, but very perfectly so.

TFE_adI think about Jack Curtis’ exceptionally cheesy but really awesome sci-fi/horror hybrid The Flesh Eaters maybe a bit more than I should, but there’s a good reason for that. It was one of the many fright films I grew up watching on television so many times that its unnerving 91 minutes were engraved in my brain for decades. While I’d seen many other horror/sci-fi films as a kid, this particular one stood out for the unsettling for a kid gore factor and overall tone that screamed EC Comics-style nightmare fuel.

I found out later in my teens that it was written by very prolific DC, Marvel and other publishers comics writer Arnold Drake who also made storyboards for the film to assist the director. It’s also by location, classifiable as a New York-based film because it was partly shot in Montauk, New York. The plot kicks off as a small seaplane takes off from Manhattan, runs into a bad storm, and is forced down on a small island in the area with, let’s just say, some rather interesting results in store for all involved.

 

 

On that plane are faded starlet and professional drinker Laura Winters (Rita Morely), her lovely but very harried assistant Jan Letterman (Barbara Wilkin), and debt-ridden pilot for hire Grant Murdoch (Byron Sanders), all of whom survive the in-flight stormy surprise landing. They soon meet a German-accented marine biologist Professor Peter Bartell (Martin Kosleck) who’s all by himself on the island save for his little microbial friends whom we will soon find out more about. The not so good Professor has taken up some evil WWII experiments in breeding nasty little bacteria who need fresh flesh to thrive, and between the human and many more fish skeletons that start turning up in the troubled waters around the island, everyone is in for quite a bad time if something REALLY stupid happened to that plane, right?

TFE_Hello There

It’s too bad the folks on that plane didn’t see the beginning of the film as the in-flight movie, as they kind of missed out on a few important things…

Guess what happens to the plane? Free popcorn to the winning guess!

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Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations: Two Cuckoos In A Happier Dance

L&H pose

A pair of kings.

Classic comedy fans, take note: Well, this is a fine mess, and a particularly good one coming soon on both Blu-Ray and DVD on June 16.

L&H

Get one for yourself, and one for a friend!

The comedy films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy have been beloved around the world since they were first released between 1927 and 1940. So beloved that many of the available copies are blurred dupes printed from worn-out negatives. Now, the best of their short comedies and two of their finest features have been fully restored. They look and sound as spectacular as when they were first released… Here are a few videos that prove it:
FEATURES
* NEW! 2K and 4K transfers from the finest original 35mm materials in the world.
* WORLD PREMIERES! Laurel and Hardy’s legendary 1927 silent “pie fight” film THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY makes its video debut after being “lost” for 90 years! The only reel of L&H bloopers and out-takes, THAT’S THAT!
* Classic short comedies BERTH MARKS, BRATS, HOG WILD, COME CLEAN, ONE GOOD TURN, HELPMATES, THE MUSIC BOX (the legendary Academy Award winning “piano moving” short), THE CHIMP, COUNTY HOSPITAL, SCRAM!, THEIR FIRST MISTAKE, TOWED IN A HOLE, TWICE TWO, ME AND MY PAL, THE MIDNIGHT PATROL, and BUSY BODIES in addition to the feature films SONS OF THE DESERT and WAY OUT WEST (which includes the team’s famous soft shoe dance routine).
* EIGHT HOURS of EXCLUSIVE extras – 2,500 rare photos and studio documents, audio and film interviews with L&H co-workers, original music tracks and trailers plus a full restoration of their one surviving color film, THE TREE IN A TEST TUBE.
* Commentaries by L&H historians Randy Skretvedt and Richard W. Bann
*Restorations provided by Jeff Joseph/SabuCat in conjunction with UCLA Film & Television Archive and Library of Congress.

Eight hours of special features? That’ll get me to watch those first, then. I grew up with these gentlemen on the TV screen quite frequently, so I know I’m going to be laughing too hard at the main events. Those features will be the educational part of the day’s programming.

-GW