Monthly Archives: August 2016

“You Nugatory Nullifidian!” – Walt Kelly

It seems the primary news topic (nay, make that the only news topic) of the last week is the litany of peccadillos and self-inflicted crises of the Trump campaign, all of which auger impending doom, whether we elect him or don’t – doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t.

I’m as fascinated (a useful euphemism for “terrified”) by all these revelations and speculations as the next guy, but I wonder if in the maelstrom of threats to the Trump campaign, we’re not missing a couple.

A friend of mine posted today about the very real possibility of Mr. Trump running out of voting groups to insult. Oh sure, he has yet to attack Eskimos or the Amish, but at the rate he’s proceeding he’ll get to them within days and then what? I have no good suggestions to offer on this quandary…except…meekly, mind you…to suggest terminating the insults and attacks? It’s just an outré thought.

And there’s also the problem of the sameness of the insults themselves, from everyone. I weary of hearing about people being “dopey” and “losers”. I’m tired of hearing Mr. Trump describe everything Trumpian as “incredible” and “huge”. I glaze over hearing his detractors describe him as “narcissistic” and “misogynistic”. We have 90+ days to go before we vote. If vocabularies don’t expand, we’ll all go nuts. If that happens, we’ll vote for a nut. That can’t be the best business plan.

Sometimes, when faced with a serious consideration like this, I seek outside guidance. Unlike Doc Ricketts in Steinbeck’s CANNERY ROW, I can’t go visit the Seer, and Oracle of Delphi is not on my speed dial. But, I do have a shelf-ful of Pogo books from the 50’s and early 60’s. In the Pogo strips, two of the denizens of the Okefenokee Swamp are the Cow Birds. These unsavory critters are uber-critics of everything wholesome and have a tortured vocabulary with which to express their views. I’m not encouraging any plagiarism here, just looking for inspiration. Imagine Mr. Trump referring to his myriad enemies as; “lesser pipsqueaks”. Or Ms. Clinton casting; “a pox on absentee landlordism!” Or Anderson Cooper decrying Mr. Trump’s answers to his questions as; “benighted paternalistic infantilism.”

Now THAT would lively.

And would keep me running to my dictionary.

Remember those?

Cinema Scarcity – Ack!

A geezer thought.

We rarely watched movies on TV in Lexington in the 60’s. There were few channels and thus, few movies to watch.

I remember there were two channels; Channel 27 (CBS) and Channel 18 (NBC). When Channel 62 (ABC) finally began broadcasting, it was overwhelming. How would you find time to watch it all? That turned out to be a non-problem since no household owned more than one TV and dad controlled it. Lawrence Welk, Walt Disney, and Jackie Gleason’s domination of my home’s screen (singular, please notice) was assured no matter what channel the Beatles were on.

The only time movies were offered was in the mornings (I was at school) or after the 11pm local news (I was in bed on school nights). The late flick (singular, please notice) would be followed by a recitation of the poem “High Flight” over images of jet planes (“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth…”), the Star-Spangled Banner over a static image of the flag, and a sign-off announcement from the station until tomorrow morning over a geometric image that looked like the title of a musical piece by Anthony Braxton who none of us had ever heard of much less heard. None of this late programming could remotely be called inspiring.

Things improved when ABC took a chance one Saturday night and screened THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL under the TV banner; “Saturday Night at the Movies”. It was a surprise ratings hit and within a couple of years almost every night had a “… Night at the Movies” broadcast.

Still, there were only three channels, and no such thing as video tapes, DVD’s, DVR, NetFlix, YouTube, or Roku. It was tough for movie lovers. The Student Center at UK would screen foreign films once a week, but it always snowed on those evenings or rained frogs and it was a three-mile walk (uphill both ways) to the theater. I’m tellin’ ya, it was tough!

If Channel 27 scheduled FRANKENSTEIN at midnight on Saturday, you sucked it up, stayed awake and open-eyed, and prayed your antenna was aimed in the proper direction coz there was no recording capability and the chance might not come around again in your lifetime to experience Colin Clive screaming “It’s alive!!!”

Desperate times for movie addicts, indeed.

I remember in 1971, my friend Chuck Pogue and I would climb to the top floor of the UK residential towers on Saturday nights at midnight to commandeer the communal TV set and tune in Channel  9’s broadcast (out of Cincinnati) of Uncle Bob Shreve’s blurry presentation of awful all-night flicks sponsored by Schoenling Little Kings Malt Liquor.

It doesn’t get more desperate than that.

Awful films.

I loved ‘em.

When I hear today of the “good ol’ days” and let’s “make America great again”, one of my many trepidations concerning that thinking is the fear of returning to those movie-watching options of my youth. Call me shallow, but I’ve seen all the Lawrence Welk I need to in this lifetime. Bobby and Cissy, the Lennon Sisters, and Myron Florenz on the accordion…just kill me now.

Cold-Weather Corman

Movie night!

If you are a devotee of cheesy horror, Edgar Allen Poe movies, women-in-cages flicks, and films about vegetables that aren’t vegetarians, Roger Corman is your guy.

Where would you like to begin?

There’s his contemplative “beast” series (THE BEAST WITH 1,000,000 EYES, THE BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE, and THE BEAST OF YELLOW MOUNTAIN)?

Then there’s his Machen-like exploration of nature run amok (ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS, ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES (featuring Yvette Vickers in her best slutty Daisy Mae rendition), IT CONQUERED THE WORLD, and THE CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA).

Or his taboo-shattering exposures of the sexual politics of beings that don’t even exist (SCREAM OF THE DEMON LOVER, THE WASP WOMAN, THE VELVET VAMPIRE, and NIGHT OF THE COBRA WOMAN).

Corman’s canon is a treasure trove of cultural delights; comfort food for the easily entertained. I shop there willingly and often.

Tonight’s film fare however, is a bit off the beaten Corman trail. It’s his 1960 WWII epic; SKI TROOP ATTACK. Imagine THE LONGEST DAY. Now, imagine everything as much the opposite of THE LONGEST DAY as possible.

Cast of thousands? Try six – not six thousand – six.

English Channel? German mountains.

Thousands of ships? Skis.

Years in the making? Two weeks.

You get the idea.

I will give the nod for acting to SKI TROOP ATTACK but that’s by default as any discernible acting that happens in THE LONGEST DAY is accidental and laughable. Who can ever un-watch Richard Burton’s interpretation of the deathless line; “Ack-Ack.” Or Roddy McDowall crooning the word; “June”. Heady stuff.

Given all that, SKI TROOP is OK in my book. It tells a straight-forward, stripped-down GUNS OF NAVARONE, THE DIRTY DOZEN, etc. war adventure story pretty well. However, I didn’t care for all the snow. Frankly, I got cold. I think I would have preferred SURF TROOP ATTACK with Lieutenant Moondoggy leading the squad. Ah well, I just put on a jacket and finished watching the film.