Monday, November 19, 2007

Are you smart enough to read this blog?

A PG-13 rating and a junior high level? I should be writing for According to Jim.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Halloween Treats

One thing I love about Halloween is carving pumpkins, but I hadn't done one in years. When I was growing up, it was always something to look forward to (along with picking a costume, and eating candy). I decided that as my daughter gets older, we'll make it a family tradition to do some carving, and I wanted to get back in the groove. Also, Pilar had never carved one at all, so I thought it would be something fun for us to do together. It turns out that our neighbors had just bought a couple pumpkins, too, so we decided to all get together and have a pumpkin night.

Here are the results:

First up is the pumpkin I carved- a cool, scary scarecrow:

Next is mine and Pilar's handiwork:

Finally, the results of all four maestros:

Of course, four pumpkins means a lot of pumpkin meat to deal with. So far, I've baked up a nice batch of seasoned pumpkin seeds, two pies, and some pumpkin pudding, and I still haven't dented the nmeat. Next up- pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread. I have the feeling I'll be making pumpkin-based meals for quite a while.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Chiller Theatre- October 2007

My- it's been quite a while since my last post. How have you been? You look good- lost a little weight, I see. I've been exercising a little, watching the baby, just trying to enjoy life. I really have been meaning to add some more posts to this blog, but you know how it is.

I see I've had over 1000 visitors in the interim- most of them here because of Rocky LaPorte. Who knew the guy was so popular? I guess everyone wants to know more about that mystery man. So do I, and I have some ideas, but that's for another post. What really brought you here is the fact that it's October, so that means that it's Chiller Theatre Time!

This year's convention was a little earlier than normal- usually it's the last weekend in October, but with the new hotel, I guess, they had to use a different time. No complaints here, for the most part- the new hotel is nicer and bigger than the previous ones, although, for this show, at least, there were a few glitches.

The hotel's undergoing some renovations, which, unfortunately, meant that ventilation in the main areas was poor. A lot of the lines and rooms got very hot and humid. Coupled with the unseasonably warm day, it meant a pretty tropical experience. Unfortunately, I suffer from migraines, which are triggered by heat and humidity, so I was not feeling up to par as the day went on.

Because of that, I really wasn't in the mood to stand in a crowd or wait in line for autographs. I only ended up getting two:

Here is Marcia Wallace- she was great a Carol on the original Bob Newhart show, and is currently the voice of Mrs. Krabapple on The Simpsons. Surprisingly, even though I've been to quite a few conventions, and The Simpsons is one of my favorite shows, she's the first cast member whose autograph I've gotten.

Next up is Lisa Marie- star of many Tim Burton films.

And that's it for my autographs this time.

However, there was one star whose appearance convinced the lovely Pilar to come with me. My lovely wife doesn't like these shows, and I've long given up on having her come with me, but when I saw that this guest was going to be there, I was able to talk her into joining me. He's been her favorite actor for as long as I've known her, and since her birthday was only a couple of days before, I figured this would be a good present for her- a chance to meet Mr. Val Kilmer himself:

So, there you have it- the latest Chiller pix. Hopefully things will be ironed out better for the April show and my head won't feel like it's exploding.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"Rocky LaPorte" Part Deux

Well, as promised, here is the conclusion of the exciting “Rocky LaPorte” story.

Thursday night I received a call from the survey company. They started off with a few questions about the show- when did I watch it, did I watch the whole thing, etc. Then they asked me questions about the commercials, in particular ones for Marie Callendar frozen foods and for cleaning products. To be honest, I didn’t remember either one of the commercials- they were so bland that they completely left my brain as I was watching them.

After that, they asked me a few questions about the show itself- who was my favorite character, who was my least favorite character, what should they change if the show were ever aired, and so forth. I was brutally honest that show was pretty horrible, there were no good characters and that they were all equally abhorrent. As for what should be changed, I pretty much said the whole show should be scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up.

And that was it.

Given that they were particularly interested in two of the commercials, I’m guessing that the DVD was really a preview of new commercials more than a TV Show. The show was there simply to provide a modicum of entertainment in between the real reason to be watching- ads. (Pretty much the way broadcast TV operates anyway).

It was interesting to be part of the survey, though, and I would look forward to the chance to do it again, although I’d like to see a better show than “Rocky LaPorte.”

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I've seen the future, and it's name is not Rocky LaPorte

I like to make my opinions known. (Which, of course, is an unusual trait for a blogger to have.) I also like free stuff. To those ends, a while back I signed up for a service that asks its members to review products and websites, and so forth. Mostly I’ve reviewed some commercial websites. It’s pretty easy work, and I’ve been rewarded for my time with Amazon gift certificates, but it wasn’t anything exciting. Until last week...

I got a call asking if I’d like to review a TV show, which I agreed to do. Yesterday I got a DVD in the mail. I was to watch it last night, and the company is going to call me tonight to ask questions about it. I figured I might get the chance to preview some new show that might be on a network’s fall or winter line-up- I could be the one to determine if it would make it. Maybe I would be getting a preview of the next “Heroes” (yay!) or maybe “Two and a Half Men” (boo!). Or maybe I’d see the debut show of an up and coming star. I was excited, to say the least.

Anyway, I put the DVD in the player, and start the show.

The first scene takes place in a kitchen, where a young boy (about 10 or so) is reading from a book and spouting some trivia from it. A superimposed title reveals we’re watching “The Rocky LaPorte Show.” Dad (the titular Rocky, in real life a stand-up comedian) makes some allegedly humorous comments. Sample dialogue:

Boy: Did you know the ancient Aztecs used played soccer using human heads?
Rocky: Well, you know, when you’re poor, you’ve got to make due with what you have.
(Cue laugh track.)

Teenage daughter enters and exposits (not at all unnaturally) that today is Mom and Dad’s fifteenth wedding anniversary, and did Dad forget to buy a present again this year? Dad feels that he got the perfect gift- a new chair for her office. Daughter says that’s a horrible gift. Dad gets a little nervous and claims he also has another gift, too. And standard sitcom plot #23 is off and running.

It’s pretty predictable where we go from here- Dad stops by to see his best friend, who works in a retirement home. Said friend is a little dopey, but agrees to help with a new present. A crotchety old man™ says to get her jewelry, so off we go to the jewelry store.

Dad sees a nice diamond ring, but is put off when the woman at the store (played by Missi Pyle, the only person in the cast whose name I recognized, and only one of two who even looked remotely familiar) tells him it costs $12,000. Dad realizes that cubic zirconium is the only thing in his price range, so he buys one that is about the size of a GameBoy.

Of course, everyone he shows it to realizes it’s fake, so he heads back to the jewelry store to get his money back. Missi Pyle is gone, and the current salesman is the only other person who looks familiar. I don’t know his name, but he plays the Washington Mutual guy on TV commercials. WaMu guy says that all sales are final and won’t refund Rocky’s money. Fortunately, Rocky is a telephone repair man, so he threatens to cut off the store’s service. This rather wishy-washy threat is enough to scare the bejesus out the salesman, so he gives Rocky his money back. Rocky uses the money to buy a teeny-tiny diamond ring.

That night, Rocky cooks dinner for his wife, gives her the ring and all is well with the world.

So- that’s the show I was all excited about. Boy, was it bad. None of the actors had any charisma, Rocky, who speaks in a heavily Chicago-accented nasal voice, is possibly the worst stand-up comedian turned actor I’ve ever seen- he cannot register any emotion at all. The kids are your standard sitcom issue. Either Rocky’s friend is a huge bland idiot, or the actor playing him is (and given the talent level of the rest of the cast, I’m going to put my money on the latter).

The only pleasant thing about the show was seeing Missi Pyle, but something about her seemed odd at first. She’s not exactly a world-famous actress, but given the movies and TV shows she’s been in recently, I didn’t think she’d be acting in a non-recurring role in a pilot. Then I realized that she’s a lot younger, thinner and brunette-er in this show than I’m used to seeing. So I started wondering how old this show was.

A quick scan of IMDb reveals no information about this show- it’s not on either Missi Pyle’s or Rocky LaPorte’s resume. (Rocky’s does say he did a pilot, but it doesn’t say when that was.) His website also mentions the pilot, but gives no other information.

Another thing about the DVD was that there were commercials. Off-hand, I remember one for Afflac Insurance and another for Cheese Nips featuring Quasimodo that was much funnier than the show itself.

The instructions that accompanied the DVD said that I should watch it from start to finish with no breaks, and to pay attention to everything. So, I guess I’m wondering whether I’m supposed to be critiquing a horrendous several-year-old failed TV pilot, or if I’m the test audience for a bunch of new commercials.

The company that sent out the DVD is calling me tonight for my opinions. I guess I’ll find out more then. When I do, I’ll keep all of you posted.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rememberance of Chillers Past- The Other Movie Stars

Hmm- only about 4 weeks since the last post. If I don't start picking up the pace, you may accuse me of being a slacker or something. Well, since I don't want that, I'll continue with the series that had you coming back for more- previous Chiller encounters. This post will finish off the (more or less) mainstream stars, as well as two surprise musical guests.

First off, a couple of Sopranos alumni:

Joe Pantoliano and Frank Vincent (and the lovely Pilar).

For those of you Stripes and/or Rock and Roll High School fans, PJ Soles:

Or, if Sheena is more your speed, here's Tanya Roberts:

My favorite Lois Lane, Margot Kidder:

My favorite Indiana Jones girlfriend (and someone who's always reminded of being Margot Kidder's spunky younger sister), Karen Allen:

Star of some great Hitchcock films, Tippi Hedren:

Here's Karen Black, who was great in Nashville, and whose TV movie Trilogy of Terror scared the pants off my mother back in the day:

And, our musical guests-

First up, she really, really wanted Candy, Anabela Lwin from Bow Wow Wow:

And, finally, the drummer from one of my all time favorite groups ever, Nick Mason of Pink Floyd:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

This blog is not suitable for children or those with somewhat delicate sensibilities

If you're under 13, turn back now.

Online Dating

The PG-13 is because of the presence of the words dead, shoot and steal.

A real post will come later this week.


I mean it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Not your father's psychotic super-villain

Oh man! I know exactly what my Halloween costume is going to be this year.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rememberance of Chillers Past- The Horror, The Horror

Man- life sure has a way of getting in the way of doing stupid stuff. I purposely chose an easy task for the next several blog posts, and I still can't manage more than one post every couple of weeks. At this rate, I'll be done right around the October Chiller.

So, without any further ado, let's take a look at some of the people who starred in those scaaaarry movies, OK?

First up, the American Werewolf, and quite a Pepper, David Naughton:

Not really a scream queen, but she did kick a lot of monster butt in her prime, Sybil Danning:

Looking a lot different without all that scary black hair in front of her face, The Ring's own Samara (and the voice of Chihiro in the American version of one of my wife's favorite movies, Spirited Away)- Daveigh Chase:

The voice of Chucky, Brad Dourif (who was also great as Billy Bibbit):

The Re-Animator himself, Jeffrey Combs:

You may not recognize her without the black wig and extreme cleavage, but that Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira:

The Ladies of the Evil Dead:

And what would an Evil Dead autograph collection be without Bruce Campbell? (Actually, this is kind of a cheat- I didn't get his autograph at Chiller, it was at a signing for one of his books.)

Here's someone who should be immediately recognizable, Linda Blair:

Finally, two signatures from the stars of one of my favorite scary/funny movies, Phantasm. Angus Scrimm (The Tall Man), and Reggie Bannister:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Remembrance of Chillers Past

Not really having a lot to write about right now, my mind wanders back to the plaintive comment left by The Edward: "Where are the Biffs?"

Yes, where are the Biffs? Well, sir, there is at least one Biff in my archive, so I've decided to revisit past Chillers- for the next several days, I will be posting pictures from Chillers prior to my starting this blog. I am going to arrange the pictures thematically, with tonight's topic being "Television."

Let's start, shall we?

First off, let's begin with the Biffmeister himself, although I'm including him in "TV" because he was also Coach Fredericks in one of my all-time favorite shows, Freaks and Geeks. Say hello to Tom Wilson:

Let's move on to another cool show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I've already posted Juliet Landau (Drusilla), but here are Julie Benz (Darla) and Mark Metcalf (The Master- Buffy's best "Big Bad.")

Seinfeld gave us Morty and Helen Seinfeld, Poppy, and The Soup Nazi:

The show I have the most signatures from is Batman- representing the good guys are Adam West, Burt Ward, and Yvonne Craig:

We get the bad guys in the personae of Julie (Rowr!!!) Newmar and the late Frank Gorshin:

Finally, last but not least- Carol Cleveland of Monty Python fame, Peter Tork of the Monkees, and David "Bud Bundy" Faustino:

Within the next day or two, I'll post another batch under a different theme.

Smell ya later!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Chiller Theatre- April 2007

Wow! It's certainly been a while, hasn't it? Nearly two whole months without a peep from me. How did any of you ever make it?

A lot has happened, but I've been too durn busy to really write any of it down- I've got quite a few posts in me that I hope to put up soon.

For now, though, I just want to post the pictures from the latest Chiller Show. This one was at a new hotel, which was much nicer than the the one the previous two shows were at. It was a smaller show, too, with maybe only about half the guests as usual. Which meant I actually went home with money in my pocket.

Here's my latest autograph round up:

Let's start off with a Playmate- Miss July, 1959, Yvette Vickers. You may also remember her from Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman and MST3K fodder, The Giant Leeches.

Next is Eric Roberts. I was surprised to see him at one of these shows, and even more surprised to find out he was a really nice guy. Very friendly with everyone.

You may not recognize his face, but I'm sure you'd recognize his voice(s)- Billy West from the Howard Stern Show, and the voice of Stimpy, Fry, Dr. Zoidberg, the green M&M, the Honeynut Cheerios Bee, and many, many more:

(BTW- true story- once, while listening to Stern on the way to work, Billy had me laughing so hard I nearly got into an accident. I had to pull the car over.)

Anybody who had a TV in the 70s has seen at least one of Mason Reese's commercials- he did tons. Remember his commercials for Underwood Deviled Ham? Do you remember the word "borgasmord"?

Finally, here's local horror host and living legend, Zacherley:

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Convention Finds #5- Battle Royale

Wow! Can it be nearly one month since I last posted? Hmmm... this watching the baby thing is a little more time consuming than I had originally expected. Well, I’ve got a little time now, so I think it’s time to dip back into my well of movies I’ve obtained from various conventions.

Battle Royale is probably one of my favorite movies. Depending on my mood, I’d probably place it in my top 10. Directed by Kinji Fukasaku and starring the great actor Takeshi “Beat” Kitano and large cast of kids, the movie was originally released in Japan in 2000 to much acclaim and financial success. However, the controversial nature of the film pretty much precluded it’s being released here, especially in the wake of the Columbine shootings.

The premise of the movie is this: in the near-future, as unemployment (especially among the young) rises, Japanese students and teens are becoming increasingly rebellious and violent. In an effort to curb this violence, the government enacts the “Millennium Education Reform” act (AKA “Battle Royale”), basically an organized method to channel this violence, and cull the herd, so to speak.

So- what happens? Let’s begin at the beginning-

The movie opens with a group of reporters trying to get an interview with the winner of the battle. Cut to a girl in a bloody school uniform. She smiles. Fade to black...

A senior class is on a bus, traveling to their graduation trip. As the bus goes through a tunnel, they are suddenly gassed into unconsciousness. When they wake up, they are in what appears to be an abandoned school. A former teacher (Kitano) of theirs who had been stabbed by one of the students several years earlier explains what has happened.

They have been randomly selected to compete in the Battle Royale. They have been shipped to a remote island where, over the next 48 hours, they will be fighting each other to the death until only one student left is left alive. If, at the end of that time, more than one student is alive, all of them will be killed. To make the game more interesting, they have all been fitted with explosive necklaces. At certain times during the game random areas of the island will be declared off-limits. Any students in those areas at the time will have their necklaces exploded.

Each student is given a pack of survival gear and sent out to begin the game. The packs are all they will be given to help them fight. The items in the packs range from the very useful (Uzis, axes, knives, pistols) to somewhat less so (a paper fan, binoculars, a megaphone).

From here on out, what could simply have devolved into a splatterfest a la Saw or Hostel, where we see a lot of blood and guts spilled from characters we don’t care too much about or know too much about (given the size of the cast (44 students), it’s to be expected that the movie would not have enough time to flesh them all out). But the movie throws us for a loop- we start to care about the kids. Part of it, I think, is that it’s easy to feel empathy for their situation- they’ve committed no crime other than being young, and now they have to kill or be killed.

The reactions of the students are pretty realistic- a few just freak out and become easy targets. Some of the students hide themselves and try to figure out ways to beat the system. Others band together and hope that that maybe more than one will be allowed to make it out alive.

One of the layers of the movie is the director understands the cliquishness of high school and the drama of simply being a teenager. How do you shoot someone you’ve known all your life? Does knowing she’s the school’s stuck bitch make it easier for you to pull the trigger? Or does the fact that you’ve secretly had a crush on her make it harder to shoot her, even as she’s coming at you with a gun of her own?

Or what do you do when you think that one of your best friends may have poisoned you? Even though you've known her your whole life, and she denies it, she did try to steal your boyfriend that one time...

Out of all the students, the ones we spend the most time with are a young couple, Noriko and Nanahara, and Kawada, someone they’d never seen before. Kawada, it turns out, won a previous Battle Royale, but only after he ended up killing his girlfriend. Somehow he got kidnapped to participate in this one, and to atone for his girlfriend’s death, promises to help Noriko and Nanahara get off the island. This will be no easy task, especially since there is one more ringer in the mix- an unnamed psychotic who signed up to play simply because he wanted to kill people, a task which he proves to be very skilled at.

The movie manages to keep the suspense levels high as we can never be sure who’s going to survive. Although some of the kids prove to be surprisingly good at killing, dumb luck and fate help even the playing field a bit. Just when you think someone is going to do well, and maybe have a chance to win the game, they’ll get offed.

I won’t spoil the ending to reveal who wins, although most people will probably figure it out before the movie’s end, even despite the twists and turns getting there. This one that’s definitely worth searching for.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sweet dreams

I had a strange dream the other night. Funny thing is, even though I woke up thinking to myself how screwy the dream was, about 5 minutes later, I had forgotten everything about it. Which, I think, is typical for most people and their dreams.

I do, however, have several recurring dreams that I remember clearly. What they say about me is anyone's guess, but, since I can't think of anything else to write about right now, I guess I'll bare my psyche to the world.

  • One of the earliest dreams I can remember is the dream where I'm handicapped- I was usually either blind or suddenly unable to walk, occasionally both. I haven't had that dream in ages- it seemed to fade after elementary school.
  • Possibly the strangest recurring dream I've had is the "Night of the Living Dead" scenario in which I was the last person left alive in a world of zombies. This dream was nearly always triggered by my watching a movie in which someone came back from the dead. However, neither Shaun of the Dead nor The Greatest Story Ever Told triggered this dream.
  • That dream where I'm in school and look down and realize I'm naked. I stopped having this dream after I graduated. Then it became the dream where I'm at work and look down and realize I'm naked.

I haven't had any of those dreams in years, though. The only recurring dream I have now is the one where it's the last day of the semester and I suddenly realize that there's once class I failed to show up for, and, in fact, I'd completely forgotten it was on my schedule. Of course, it's an important class, and I need an "A" in it if I'm going to graduate.

Whenever I'm stressed, this is the dream that I have. In some cases it's so vivid that even after waking up, I have to convince myself I'm not back in school.

So- any of you have any weird dreams you want to share? Or any analyses of what's really going on this sick, twisted brain of mine?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Well, how did I get here?

Not having any real ideas on what to write about, I decided to do something no blogger's ever done before- write about the searches people use to find my site.

Sadly, most of the links to my site come from me going there directly, but there are a few people who've found me via help from our old pal Google.

No fewer that three people have found me by searching for Kymberli Durden and her demonic dolls. Scary that there are people out there who would actually buy these things. Frankly, I'd rather take my chances with a Zuni warrior doll, but what do I know?

Also high on the list were people looking for more information on Estus Pirkle. I hope my commentary on "If Footmen Tire You..." was of some help to them.

Then there were the stranger searches- someone was looking for cartoons about the ebola virus (I didn't realize I had even referenced ebola in any of my posts). Someone looking for "R2D2 Pinewood Derby Cars" managed to locate me. Someone from Australia was Googling Princess Leia, found me and tagged me.

The coolest one, though, was the editor of "Geek Monthly" who somehow found my review of his magazine. I feel bad that the review was so negative, but he emailed me, and he seemed like a nice enough guy. Plus, he's going to send me a copy of #2. So, this whole blogging thing is paying off.

Finally, in a blatant attempt to attract more viewers:

Britney Spears Lindsay Lohan Jenna Jameson X-Men Naked Vampire Slayer Playmate

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I guess it's been a long time...

I know I haven't put up anything new in a while, so I apologize to the two or three of you out there who actually read this blog. Ever since my wife went back to work, and I've had to take care of the baby at night, I haven't had time to do much writing. I'm not complaining- playing with my daughter gives me a lot more pleasure than reviewing videotapes I bought at a convention, but I still want to get back to the blog.

Anyway, I was inspired to write the above by the strange dream I had last night. I dreamed I logged onto the site, and found that my blog had been taken over by a stranger whose posts consisted of either attacks on me, or thinly-disguised ads for various on-line services. I have no idea what that dream says about my psychological well-being, but I figured it was a sign to get back to the keyboard.

I hope that I'll be able to post another review or two this weekend, although I really have no idea what it's going to be about. Let's see if I can do it.