Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Pink Floyd

Ah! Here they are, the happy-go-lucky Pink Floyd after their first hit in 1967. I wonder what happened to them?

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Topper" and "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir"

I saw "Topper" and "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" with friends over the weekend at the Stanford Theater. Interesting to note that both movies eventually became TV series for a time. In fact, I used to watch "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" TV show as a kid and had no knowledge that it was based on a movie. I remember liking the TV show, but can't say that I've seen an episode in about 40 years. (YouTube here I come...)

Anyway, the basic story is a widow (Gene Tierney) decides to move into a haunted seaside cottage previously owned by a crusty old sea captain (Rex Harrison). It has moments of humor, but I bet you'll cry in the end, too.

"Topper", I've seen dozens of times including its two sequels, but never on the big screen until now. Roland Young portrays "Topper", a wealthy businessman who lives a sedate life with his wife (Billie Burke), until his deceased friends (Cary Grant and Constance Bennett) help him to live it up. Much humor and great special effects highlight this film.

Both are on DVD, but it is always good to catch these on the big screen whenever possible.

Lee's Black Friday Sale

My friend Lee had a Black Friday sale last er um Friday! Here's a couple of photos from that day. You can find Lee's Comics at 1020-F North Rengstorff in Mountain View or 2222 South El Camino in San Mateo or online at www.lcomics.com

Friday, November 26, 2010

Unreleased George Carlin?

George Carlin died in 2008 and the album pictured above was released shortly after his death of a concert taped right before his death (naturally).

In the meantime, I have discovered some rare Carlin performances in bizarre places like on the "Tony Orlando and Dawn" DVD set. What's amazing to me is, not only are these rare performances, they also contain comedy that wasn't released onto Carlin's 20 or so other albums!

So, the time has come for Atlantic and other record labels and even some TV producers to search their vaults for rare and unreleased Carlin. It doesn't even matter if it was released material; it could be a rare performance. For instance, Carlin does a slightly different version of his classic "Baseball/Football" comparison routine the first ever episode of "Saturday Night Live", now on DVD. Different than both versions available on the "Wally Londo" and "Carlin on Campus" albums.

Anybody, somebody, let's make this compilation. We want more Carlin and this is the only way now to get it....

Come to Lee's Comics Sale Today!!!

I know it's kinda late to promote, because it starts at about 10am (90 minutes from this writing), but he will have some great stuff for sale.

Two locations: 1020-F N. Rengstorff Avenue, Mountain View or 2222 S. El Camino Real, San Mateo.

If you can't make it, log onto www.lcomics.com and be there in spirit!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

More Ritz

So, I watched "The Gorilla". Not as bad as it could have been, but not great, either. The Ritz Brothers act a little more masculine in this, but they still really aren't funny. When they or Patsy Kelly say some joke, it's usually a lame old one that I believe was old even in 1939.

Bela Lugosi surprisingly comes off best and his acting here is one of the reasons I like him so much. He appears to convey that he's the bad guy, but he really isn't. I love that.

"The Gorilla" is available on a number of public domain compilations and has yet to see an official release from 20th Century Fox. Keep waiting....

PS I posted the poster for this the other day, so no photo today. Go back to the entry about "The Three Musketeers".

Peter and the Wolf

I am a sucker for "Peter and the Wolf". I feel that it's an amazing piece of music. What's more amazing is how many versions there are available. It seems to be a prerequisite for becoming a true celebrity. You have to record a version of Prokofiev's classic.

Among the people who have recorded a version are David Bowie, Captain Kangaroo, Dame Edna Everage, Patrick Stewart, Sean Connery, Sting, Jonathan Winters, Boris Karloff, Jack Lemmon, PDQ Bach, Melissa Joan Hart, Allan Sherman, Hermoine Gingold, Ben Kingsley, Peter Ustinov, Sir John Gielgud, David Attenborough, Dudley Moore, Sesame Street, Will Geer, and even Sophia Loren, Bill Clinton, and Mikhail Gorbachev did a version together!

A personal favorite is "Weird Al" Yancovic's version with Wendy Carlos.

The classic version is the one done by Sterling Holloway ("Winnie the Pooh") for Disney. His version is good on its own or with the cartoon. Some complain about Disney's cartoon because you no longer can imagine what these characters look like anymore. You only think of the Disney versions. I say pooey on that.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Where's Weird Al's New Album?

Ok, I am one of those few people that actually LIKE Weird Al Yankovic's work and get frustrated when he takes longer and longer to complete an album. Granted, it's always a treat when he finally DOES release an album, but he hasn't released a new album since 2006. Hey, I don't count those "cheater" downloadable songs or Al's umpteenth greatest hits release. C'mon boy, time for some new stuff.

Surely you have time to parody Lady Gaga and Katy Perry or Black Eyed Peas...I'm waiting...hee-hee...

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Ritz Brothers

Ok, so I finally saw my first Ritz Brothers movie, supposedly one of their best. It was "The Three Musketeers" also starring Don Ameche and Gloria Stuart. Hmmmmmm.... I guess they're funny. My ultimate impression of them are that they are the effeminate Three Stooges. Although, I'll admit the "Chicken Soup" song was kinda cute and they were skillful with their "cymbals" act.

I'll take another look at them, but the only other film I have of them on DVD is "The Gorilla", supposedly one of their worst films, but overall they left me kind of cold.

More About Piracy...

There was one more point I forgot to make on my last blog entry. Since there is easy access to virtually everything now, the insatiable desire to collect or search for items is virtually gone, hence the real need to OWN is gone.

Nowadays, if you want an old comic book, instead of scouring old comic book stores or mail order catalogs or making phone calls or taking long trips, you can just go on Ebay and chances are that somebody's selling it.

And on music and films since the accessibility is so easy, people now have music and film collections so large that they could not possibly listen or watch everything in their collections even once in their lifetimes anymore. The days of cherishing a long sought-after album are over. It's all there at your fingertips.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Everything is Free; We're ALL Pirates

I hesitated for a bit as to whether I would write this, then I decided to, but will leave out the names of the people in question I am talking about. If you use your deductive reasoning, you may figure out who I am writing about, but it really isn't one person in particular, though I do have at least one in mind while I am writing this.

The issue is about how with the Internet, especially with YouTube and Facebook that everything creative is now deemed "free". The unfortunate byproduct of this is that artists are no longer getting paid for their efforts, and as a result can no longer make a living on such efforts. While this is ok for someone who is already a multi-millionaire, for those creators who are just squeaking by, now they may have to take a 9-5 job or make drastic cuts to their lifestyle, or both.

While I sympathize with this to a certain point as I am a book writer and really do not want digital copies of my books circulating around for free on the Internet, it is always going to be part of the equation from this point forward for anyone trying to make a living off of creative pursuits. In other words, I know full well that there will always be some wags out there that want to read my books and never have any intentions of purchasing those books. They would rather have it sent to them digitally for free or printed and bound for free and given to them or just do without before any money is even thought of as being exchanged.

I have said this to friends before, but never on my blog, that entertainment as a profitable venture is a 20th century invention. Prior to the 20th century, I suppose a few performers made some money for their efforts, but in general, the prevailing thought about entertainers in general has been that of the court jester or the village idiot or the fool or a minstrel or a member of some traveling show.

George Carlin was the one who made me aware of this theory from his album "Occupation: Foole", wherein he describes his job as one that has its origins of a bored king stating to his court, "Throw the fool out there!" for his own entertainment pleasure.

By the 20th century, people finally figured out a way to monetize such work and as a result, people eventually got paid REAL MONEY for acting, writing, drawing, film-making, distributing, creating, producing, designing, public speaking, performing, singing, sports playing, etc. etc. etc.

Sometimes REALLY BIG MONEY was earned by people like baseball players or Oscar-winning actors or people who drew comic strips that appeared in 2000+ newspapers.

All of this came crashing down when the Internet produced high speeds and was able to digitally send and receive songs, films, drawings, photos, and all sort of copyrighted material at the speed of light to anyone who wanted to view it at anytime. And, if one source took it down, another source put it right back up making it difficult to track down and catch the "pirates".

Right now, at this very moment, one can view in 10-minute segments, "Song of the South" on YouTube, a film that Disney has stated repeatedly that it will never issue onto DVD. Meanwhile, with its easy access, there is no longer a need for the purchase of said unavailable DVD. So, if Disney DOES decide to change its mind, the market share has been lost, except for the most extreme die-hards who want the exclusive packaging and bonus features as well.

This never used to be such an epidemic because prior to this, people would check materials out of the library or listen to things on the radio or TV or trade them with their friends and maybe some would copy them or record them.

Now, it is all SO EASILY AVAILABLE that it isn't even necessary to have an official release and so everyone gets a copy of something for free and NO ONE gets paid. I know of many people under 20 who don't own a single CD or record album because they have everything on their iPod with material downloaded from Limewire or copied from borrowed CDs.

And, we're all guilty of this...including myself...by posting videos from YouTube to my Facebook page and/or blog. This basically negates the need to go out and purchase a DVD of said video because I just gave it to you. If you are more curious, you could go to YouTube too to see if there was more. If there isn't, THEN you might seek out a copy at the store or online to purchase.

Can there be something done? Probably not. What's interesting is that we have now entered the "Star Trek" age for real, where one can literally go up to their computer and get information about anything at any time for no cost whatsoever.

So, if you are an artist or some other creative type person, unless you can make personal appearances anywhere, you might as well plan for a back-up 9-5 type job in order to make ends meet, because the money is no longer in the product. Sorry to say.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jack Benny

Ok, so Mark Evanier posted something on Jack Benny, so I should post something on Jack Benny. Evanier posted a video of the classic "Si. Sy. Sue" routine that always is funny no matter how many times you view it.

What is NOT viewable is most of Jack Benny's material. It is a shame that Benny isn't more revered. I was fortunate to have become a fan of his when I was really young, so that I was actually saddened when he died late in 1974. I was only eight, but I had hoped to get the chance to meet him someday.

I have a very funny Benny movie on video tape that I taped off the air called "The Meanest Man in the World" and it is hysterically funny and also has never been released to commercial home video in any form.

The only Benny movies that have been commercially released to DVD number only TWO! The classic "To Be or Not To Be" and "Charley's Aunt". Of course, there are others with Benny cameos like "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", but I'm talking the starring pictures, here. Surely there's room for a DVD of "The Horn Blows at Midnight"?!?

Even his TV work is undervalued. Sure you can find about 20 or so episodes of varying quality on various public domain DVDs, but Benny's TV show was on for 15 years! He even did a few specials after that which have eluded official release.

Evanier posted another posting about pirating stuff, which I tend to agree with, but it's maddening when stuff that COULD be released...isn't. What's a fan to do but resort to bootlegs and YouTube and such. Even Evanier does...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monty Python Edited and NOT Complete

I'm frustrated to find out that the episodes of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" issued in the US on A&E DVD are sometimes censored and have omissions.

For example, "Summarize Proust" was unedited on US broadcast, then on the A&E DVDs it was (omitting the line "and Masturbating"). Truly disappointing.

"Cartoon Religions" used to air uncensored, but later the part with Jesus being crucified on a telephone pole was cut.

Also, a sketch that I forgot about with "Political Choreographers" was completely cut. It has been added as a bonus feature on a later "Python" compilation.

All of these are on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

I even remember small details that have changed like after the "Argument Clinic", Eric Idle says, "And now one more minute of Monty Python's Flying Circus" and it literally was close to a minute before it went on to the next show. Now it just cuts off immediately.

I also remember the episode where they say "Start Again" at the very end of the show and the clown waves. I've seen it where he waves only once and I've seen it where he waves two times before the fade-to-black.

So the A&E sets are incomplete, and I am not imagining things. If you review yesterday's blog about Terry Gilliam, that piece of animation may still exist somewhere. You'd think Python themselves would want to remedy this as they were so up in arms when their shows were edited by ABC back in the 70s.

Even on the records the "Farewell to John Denver" still appears on US pressings of "Contractual Obligation Album", but not on UK pressings of the CDs and is still included in the US "Instant Record Collection" CD.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Terry Gilliam Animation

For those of you who think Terry Gilliam only did animation for "Monty Python's Flying Circus" before becoming a director of such things as "Brazil" and "Time Bandits", you would be mistaken.

Gilliam did a lot of illustration for Harvey Kurtzman's "Help!" magazine in the 1960s, and did one of their many fumettis with John Cleese.

Gilliam also did animation for "The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine" particularly the opening credits (see above).

Also, he did "The Miracle of Flight" in 1974. I originally saw "Miracle of Flight" on PBS' "International Festival of Animation" in 1977.

I also remember a cartoon that I believed was called "Nee-Nee Nah-Nee and the Two Nu-Nu's".

From what I remember, Gilliam announced off-screen, "And now Nee-Nee Nah-Nee and the Two Nu-Nu's". There are two well-dressed men on either side of this large pile of whipped cream. Then with frog-like tongues, proceed to lick away the cream, revealing an attractive woman. This is followed up with a "ta-da" like orchestral crash.

I have everything Python on DVD and cannot find this cartoon anywhere, but I do remember it. It might have been from the "Marty Feldman Comedy Machine" or on "International Festival of Animation".

Does anyone know?

Don Knotts Book

I read this book recently "Barney Fife and other Characters I have Known" and was thoroughly enthralled, but at the same time somewhat disappointed. While Don Knotts does a good job of touching every highlight of his life including "Three's Company" and "The Apple Dumpling Gang" among others, he tends to gloss over a lot of details.

The book reads like someone just printed answers to an interview that he did about his career and maybe that's what he did. The book ultimately left me wanting more.

I know there's another book out there called "The Incredible Mr. Don Knotts", but I haven't read it yet, but hopefully it delves a little deeper than Knotts' own recollections.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Underdog and Tennessee Tuxedo Comic Strips

Hy Eisman recently appeared in my fanzine "The Harveyville Fun Times!" in an article about "Bunny", a teen comic book Harvey published in the late 60s and early 70s.

Eisman discovered that I wrote a book about Total TeleVision and he said that he was commissioned to do comic strips about Underdog and Tennessee Tuxedo for possible syndication. Unfortunately, the comics did not sell and these are the only finished examples that Eisman completed.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Archie Book to Get

Archie is once again acknowledging their past by this latest book published through Dark Horse called "Archie Firsts". It's about time that Archie is doing this.

Archie is also planning to do a chronological reprinting of his earliest adventures, similar to what DC is doing with Superman and Batman. Here here!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Al Jaffee Book

Finally, getting around to reading this one. It's a fascinating tale of the life of Al Jaffee that YOU don't know.

Trust me.

You don't.

It will shock and surprise you.

So there.

It's called "Al Jaffee's Mad Life".

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Old Redwood City Hotel Pic

This is just for fun. I work in and around the San Francisco Peninsula selling ads for the "Daily Post" when I'm not busy writing books and articles about comic books and animation.

Anyway, yesterday I snapped a photo of this old hotel sign above the Sequoia Hotel in Redwood City, CA. The sign says "Rooms $3 and up"!

I suppose that's still accurate, but I would like to see the $3 room...to see if I could fit into it...might be a casket....

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

More Beatles Stuff

There are a LOT of new Beatles items to purchase that aren't all necessarily must haves. Currently, Yoko Ono has remastered and reissued all of John Lennon's catalog AGAIN, along with many various greatest hits compilations. It's a little bit of overkill and for the most part unnecessary except for the stripped down version of "Double Fantasy", which some complain about as sacrilege.

Paul McCartney has joined on the bandwagon, by remastering and reissuing "Band On the Run" AGAIN.

By far, the most interesting new releases are the reissues of the Apple back catalog. Most are dispensable if you bought them back in the early 90s, but they do have different bonus tracks. The most interesting and almost must have purchase is the "Best of Apple Records" disc.

Nothing new from Ringo or George as of late, but give them time...

Monday, November 08, 2010


Here's another group that I absolutely love. At least two of their albums are among some of my favorite albums of all time "The Lexicon of Love" and "How to Be a Zillionaire".

Even some of their crappy albums have some merit ("Abracadabra" and "Up" come to mind).

They are still around and released a new album called "Traffic" which I haven't heard, but apparently it has been favorably reviewed.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Robert Klein

Robert Klein can be an acquired taste, however I find him really funny. He does tend to ramble a bit without editing as evidenced by a DVD set that I recently checked out of the library featuring eight of his HBO specials from over the years.

For top-notch Klein, get his first two albums that have appeared on CD: "Child of the 50s" and "Mind Over Matter". The reason for them being top-notch has more to do with one thing...editing.

Unedited Klein is fun, but like I said, he does tend to ramble...much like I do on my blog. Anyway, it's highly recommended stuff.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

More Monty Python...Splunge!

There is yet another box set of Monty Python junk. Of course, if you are a completist like me, you'll need this one. It's called "The Best of Monty Python 40th Anniversary Edition". This actually came out in 2009, but the seven-disc set is now worth the price as it's been reduced from $60 to a close-out price of $14. I got mine from Books Inc. in Palo Alto, but I'm sure they're elsewhere.

Two of the seven discs are repeats of the "Monty Python Live" set from years back and three of the seven discs are the "Personal Best" of "Monty Python" shows, but if you haven't gotten those before, or even if you have, the price of the entire set is less than a single disc was before. The final two discs are two brand-new documentaries, also sold separately for more than this complete set.

Get this, the 16-disc complete "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and the three-disc movie set and you'll have more Python than you'll know what to do with.

Of course, you could then venture into the 10 or so albums Python recorded and then they did at least three or four books, or you could buy all the books in hardback AND paperback or you could start collecting all of their vinyl albums and singles or you could collect the original PAL broadcast tapes kept under lock and key in the Python vaults or you could collect the ulimate Python collectible, a Python himself. Only five of the six limited editions are left....

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Richard Pryor

I develop more and more of a respect for Richard Pryor with each passing year. I relistened to his box set of his Warner Bros. albums and the Laff Records compilation, both reissued on Rhino Records and feel that Pryor was not always respected.

I certainly didn't always respect him. A lot of that had to do with Pryor doing A LOT of inferior movies over the years. He did have a few good ones with "Silver Streak" being my favorite of his films and what would "Blazing Saddles" be without his writing talents?

Anyway, it's always good to discover or rediscover good comedians. Too bad he's gone. He passed away December 10, 2005.

More Giants News

Here was the line outside the Giants Dugout store at Stanford Shopping Center after the Giants won on Tuesday. I went back on Wednesday, and even though shopping was still brisk, it was nothing like it was on Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Giants Did Win!!! Woo-Hoo!!!

Now, EVERY California baseball team has won at least ONE World Series championship!!!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Oh Boy! "Sesame Street Old School, Vol. 2" CD!!!

Recently, they released a 3-CD set of old "Sesame Street" albums to CD. Now, they've done it again! They've reissued "Grover Sings the Blues", "The Count Counts" and "The Year of Roosevelt Franklin". Yee-hah! Buy it today!!!

The Giants Will Win Tonight!!!

...or they better...