Thursday, July 30, 2009

Three ladies

ERIN GRAY: My friend Amy is lamenting the fact that she wasn’t able to attend the ComicCon in San Diego this year. She’s certainly not alone- the event is a lot of fun, but if you’re claustrophobic, you probably shouldn’t attend. It’s “wall-to-wall people” as another friend said recently. But I’ve been lucky enough to visit the ComicCon a few times, and on one of those visits I was privileged to meet one of my favorite attractive chicks from. . .I mean, one of my favorite actresses when I was but a young lad. Oh, I can remember all the fun we had. Super Grover, Wilma Deering and I were traveling through the cosmos in search of adventure, when we were captured by an enemy and sent to the dungeons of. . .I’m sorry, you’ve never heard this story, have you? I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait until I write my memoirs for that. Let’s just say I was a very imaginative kid.

Back to ComicCon- When I heard that Erin Gray (from “Buck Rogers” and “Silver Spoons” among other things) was going to be signing autographs at ComicCon, I knew I wanted to go. It took me about ten minutes to get up enough courage to talk to her. (I was a very shy kid, too). But I’m glad I did. She was very gracious and easy to talk to. In fact, I realized later that she had tricked me- she made me talk more about myself than about her. She seems to be a great person and I enjoyed meeting her very much. This photo was taken at our meeting.

Erin was back at ComicCon this year, along with Gil Gerard, Margot Kidder and several other celebrities in the autograph section. I couldn’t be there, but if I do get lucky enough to go again, I’d definitely like to talk to Erin. Here’s to hoping we meet again!


MARA JADE, DANCING GIRL: I must confess that I haven’t read many of the Star Wars novels. That’s a shame, because I understand that many of them are quite good. I have picked up a few things here and there, however. I at least have heard of the name “Mara Jade.” She was “recruited” by the Emperor to kill Luke Skywalker. She didn’t, but her story doesn’t end there. She eventually marries Luke! I won’t give anything more away, but you can peek online to find more information on her. I mention her because I recently became aware of a photo of Mara Jade that stopped me in my tracks. It’s this one:

Holy. . .she was a dancing girl for Jabba the Hutt? She apparently disguised herself as a dancing girl in an effort to kill Luke. Unfortunately, she was not aboard the sail barge that took Luke & company to the Sarlacc pit, so her attempt to kill Luke failed that time. But wow! I suddenly have gained a little more interest in this person. I guess I just have a thing for dancing girls.

More about Mara here:


TALK ABOUT A COMEBACK: It was at least five years ago, as I was driving to work, that I heard on the radio that Hope Sandoval, the lead singer for Mazzy Star, had died. It was sad news, as I enjoyed some of Mazzy Star’s work, most notably the song “Fade into you.” I was sorry that she wouldn’t be putting out any more albums. So perhaps you can imagine my surprise when I heard that she had made a new album and was planning a tour! Youch! I’m so glad the radio DJ was wrong. But why was he wrong? I can only think of three reasons:

1. The DJ was somehow given incorrect information.
2. The DJ was an a***ole
3. It was April Fool’s Day.

Anyway, I’m glad she’s still around. I would recommend the song “Fade Into You” if you’re into that download sort of thing.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Apollo 11: Man on the moon

40 years ago this week. I’m not old enough to remember Apollo 11, but its impact is certainly felt. I recall listening to recordings of the astronauts & watching video from various documentaries and TV specials. So the moon landing has always been a “rerun” for me, albeit an exciting one. Even at the close of the "Space Shuttle era," the moon landings seem incredibly amazing. Perhaps it’s because we haven’t been there for so long. And we very rarely even see spacewalks covered moment-by-moment on TV. So to watch spacemen on the moon still brings a thrill.

Some of you lucky (?) friends may recall when my brother and I created our own trip to the moon. We used footage from the Disney “moon flight” cartoon combined with recordings of the flight. And we even let you touch the moon! Yes, I know it felt a little bit like Johnson’s baby powder, but that’s what Neil Armstrong said too, if you recall! That recording, by the way, featured Walter Cronkite, who recently passed away. His influence was great as well, and I hope he’s looking down at the moon right now and remembering that day when the lunar module landed.

Here’s another post about space travel which you may find quite relevant to today:


LOST FOOTAGE: I feel a lot better about myself upon hearing that the original master tape of the moon landing has apparently been recorded over. I don’t feel nearly so bad about all the stuff I’ve taped over! If NASA can screw up, so can I! But you can’t help but wonder what on Earth (or on the moon) was recorded over the master tapes. One friend at work thought it might be porn. Since home video recording wasn’t really available at that time, I tend to disagree, unless it somehow involved the girlfriend of one of the NASA scientists. This is something we’d better stop trying to think about right now.

However, something we can think about is how many OTHER classic moments have been lost to time. It’s kind of sad, but here are the ones that come to mind:

1. TONIGHT SHOW CLASSICS. Johnny Carson often lamented the fact that so many early episodes of the Tonight Show were basically thrown out. They included footage of some incredible entertainers, including Groucho Marx, and Johnny’s first appearance as host!

2. LITTLE RASCALS DEBUT: According to film historian Leonard Maltin in his book “Our Gang: The life and times of the Little Rascals”, the original silent film of Hal Roach’s “Our Gang” is a lost film. This was before Alfalfa & Spanky and the gang made the series the classic we know it as today. But even so, it’s such a historic item that it’s sad that it no longer seems to exist.

3. D-DAY FOOTAGE: On June 6, 1944, when the allied forces invaded France, there were people with cameras trying to capture all the devastation. But there’s not much actual footage of the event. Why not? As one of the photographers handed the film to someone else, it dropped into the waters off Normandy beach! The historic footage was lost, and we are dependant on a few short clips and some photographs to document the Longest Day.

So the next time you make a mistake while recording something (which happened to me this week as well), just remember that you’re in good company. You’re right in there with NASA and “The Greatest Generation.” Everyone makes mistaykes. Uh, mistakes.


I DON'T WANT TO LIVE ON THE MOON: There are plenty of bloggers who will talk about the moon landing this week, but how many, I ask you, will also include the lyrics to "I don't want to live on the moon?" I claim to be the only one! This is one of my favorite songs. It was written by Jeff Moss, who also wrote "Rubber Duckie:" And the video will be available in my "favorites" list on my YouTube page.

Well I'd like to visit the moon on a rocketship high in the air.

Yes I'd like to visit the moon, but I don't think I'd like to live there.

Though I'd like to look down at the Earth from above, I would miss all the places and people I love

So although I might like it for one afternoon, I don't want to live on the moon.

I'd like to travel under the sea, I could meet all the fish everywhere.

Yes I'd travel under the sea, but I don't think I'd like to live there.

I might stay for a day there if I had my wish, but there's not much to do when your friends are all fish

And an oyster and clam aren't real family, so I don't want to live in the sea.

I'd like to visit the jungle, hear the lions roar, go back in time and meet a dinosaur

There's so many strange places I'd like to be, but none of them permanently.

So if I should visit the moon, well I'll dance on a moonbeam and then,

I will make a wish on a star, and I'll wish I was home once again.

Though I'd like to look down at the Earth from above, I would miss all the places and people I love

So although I may go, I'll be coming home soon, 'cause I don't want to live on the moon.

No I don't want to live on the moon.


MISSING LINKS FOUND, NOW NEED READERS: The problem with the links was simply solved by upgrading my page to the new blogger design. Looks pretty good. And there’s even a space to list the followers of my blog. Let’s see how many thousands of people have signed on to be followers of my blog. . .hmmm. Argh. Uh, I wonder if I could possibly follow my own blog? Is that within the realm of possibility? And maybe I can bribe a few friends to pretend to read the blog. I’ll have to look into this carefully, as I’m sure you’re as concerned as I am about this issue. :) See you next time!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Twilight Zone

You’re traveling through another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. That’s the signpost up ahead! Your next stop, one of the greatest shows in the history of television.

Submitted for your approval: The first episode of “Twilight Zone” that I recall was “What’s in the box,” about the guy who watches himself kill his wife on television. SCARY! I stayed away from that show for years, until I was old enough to handle scary. Then I began to really enjoy what I saw. But I won’t tell you which episode I still refuse to watch all the way through! It’s an incredibly creative and often moving show. Fans should pick up “The Twilight Zone companion,” easily the best book about the TV series. And if you look hard, you might find “From the Twilight Zone,” a series of short stories by Rod Serling (pictured, the narrator of the classic series) based on some of the classic episodes.

Some of you might have watched the Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci-Fi channel on July 4. Just to clarify, it was KTLA here in SoCal that began the tradition! (Well, as far as I know, anyway). The local station would run several episodes of the series every July 4. I got to peek at some of the episodes at work this year (no, that‘s not all I do), and saw many familiar faces (Burgess Meredith, Billy Mummy, etc.) and heard many familiar lines (“It’s a cook book!” “Where is everybody?”) and reflected on the show. I was delighted to realize that I wasn’t the only one who knew several episodes well. Several of my co-workers would chime in whenever a “good one” came on. It was quite a testament to the popularity of the show, even after all these years. But on reflection, I also realized why I grew out of the show. Thinking about show for the past few days, I’ve realized something very significant.

For a bit of a preview, you might like to read about my “comic book” years and why I no longer actively collect or read them. Then you can come back here and we’ll talk Twilight Zone again.

Have you ever noticed how many episodes of “The Twilight Zone” have unhappy endings? Think about it! With some notable exceptions, the show almost always ends with the main character in a bad situation. Folks, that’s hard to take! It’s hard to sit there and watch someone suffer and say that you’ve had a good time. That’s true even if the person deserves to suffer.

Thinking back, I felt the same way watching “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” when I was a child. I didn’t like seeing those kids nearly drown or burn or shrink or whatever the case may be! Yes, I know they deserved it. But I didn’t want to watch it! It’s kind of like watching a serial killer be put to death. Yes, he deserved it. But I don’t take pleasure watching it. I’m not going to yell out “yay!” when he dies.

I’m thinking of the character that Telly Savalas played in the classic “Talky Tina” episode. He certainly was a jerk. Yet for a reason I can’t completely understand, you just don’t enjoy seeing him suffer either. You don’t yell out "hooray" when he dies. And watch what happens after he dies. “Talky Tina” threatens the guy’s wife! What the h**l did she do to deserve that?! Why can’t things just go back to normal now?

Just as comic books began to lose their appeal because they weren’t “being true”, the same was true for “Twilight Zone.” Now I know the Twilight Zone isn’t a place where reality has much credence. But is it unreasonable to ask that once in a while, cruel fate might allow for some happy endings? That’s the way it happens in real life sometimes. Just like the horror and crime comics of the past, the Twilight Zone seems to focus on the bad more than the good, to the point that any adult reading it has to tell themselves, “all right, prepare for another weird tragedy.” Sometimes that’s fine, but you’d think the Twilight Zone would have a bit more variety.

None of this is meant to take away from the classic series. Indeed, the focus on tragedy is probably part of its appeal. My only point is to demonstrate how even a classic show can lose its appeal as we grow. Yeah, I know, “who are you to talk, muppet fan?” I guess I’ve learned to enjoy the limitations of everything I enjoy. That may be the key to keeping them going.

FAVORITE EPISODES: Where is everybody?; Monsters are due on Maple Street; Obsolete Man; Time Enough at Last; One for the angels; Miniature; The Incredible World of Horace Ford; The Eye of the Beholder; A Game of Pool; Back There; A Most Unusual Camera; Old Man in the Cave; A stop at Willoughby; A World of his own; An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge; Nick of Time

BONUS: There have been a few revivals of “Twilight Zone” on TV, and here are my favorite segments from the late 1980s CBS revival: To see the invisible man; Children’s Zoo; the one with Danny Kaye and the stopwatch (that’s not its title, but. . . Well, you know. This blogging cuts down on your time, man.)


NAME THAT TUNE: Speaking of the “Twilight Zone,” I had a rather interesting experience as the “Weather Channel” was playing in the background recently. They play some background music during the “Local on the 8’s” segment, and this time they happened to play the Smiths’ “Oscillate Wildly”. The Smiths on the Weather Channel? A quick Internet search confirmed that I was not hearing things. Here’s a posting from NoPhoneNoPoolNoPets from

Interesting tunes this month accompanying the "Local On The 8's".June's music has featured "Blue Sky" (such an obvious choice ) by The Allman Brothers, the instrumental latter portion of The Stones' "Cant You Hear Me Knocking", "Oscillate Wildly" by The Smiths, and even some Clash and Devo !! I know that I've heard some Pink Floyd recently as well (from "Wish You Were Here", IIRC)

The Weather Channel shows the local forecast for the area on the 8's of most every hour (e.g. 10:08, 10:18, 10:28, etc), and uses an eclectic mix of background music.

Way cool. I may find myself checking out that link once in a while if I hear something on the Weather Channel that I want for my collection! I can see it now. “The Weather Channel’s Greatest hits. . .”


MISSING LINKS: If you’re able to see that list of links on the right at the top of this Web page, consider yourself one of the lucky few! For some reason, the latest version of Internet Explorer puts the link list at the BOTTOM of the page rather than the top. Why? I don’t know. If I can solve this dilemma I will. In the meantime, please scroll to the bottom of the page to see the links.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Remember the time

Michael Jackson was such a superstar that it’s hard to find someone who isn’t at least familiar with the man & his music. I was one of many casual fans, and despite any failings, he will be missed. One of his greatest triumphs may be Captain Eo! Think about it. Who else could have gotten away with that? (Imaginary superheroes don’t count!) Michael Jackson was able to join up with George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola to make a short film for Disneyland. Even today, it’s kind of amazing to think about them working together. Watching the film, I can recall the applause from the audience after the captain began to rise up onto the deck. I can remember the brief applause at the end. I can remember buying the shirt. You know, the shirt he wears at the end of “Captain Eo” as he sings, “You’re just another part of me!” That shirt. It could glow in the dark. I wish I still had it - I could send it over to “Neato Coolville!”

I first began to become aware of Jackson during an unfortunate event. I recall the numerous news reports after he was accidentally burned filming a Pepsi commercial. Not the best introduction to MJ, I know! But when we finally did see the commercial, we loved the song. We hadn’t heard “Billie Jean” yet, so this was our introduction to the tune that would prompt the purchase of “Thriller.” (This was also before I got my MTV. I wanted my MTV, but I didn’t get it until about 1986 or so). Then to watch the “Making of Thriller” video, which included the classic moment from “Motown 25” when he “seemed to defy the laws of nature,” as many have said recently.

In the past few days, I’ve realized at least two things that I’ve picked up from Michael Jackson. First is the habit of wearing white socks when I wear jeans. Second is the habit of twirling around in a circle when I dance. I don’t do it as well as he did, that’s for sure. His dancing brought him the respect & friendship of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. His music brought him the respect of just about every other artist in the 1980s, and many more beyond. My Captain Eo shirt is gone, but Michael Jackson’s talent lives on, and always will.

Cartoonist Fred Hembeck has written about something that happened on Tuesday that I thought was pretty horrible. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought so:

So I watched some of the videos and listened to some CDs, newly freed from storage, watched some more news reports--until, up on my TV screen, Joe Jackson appeared, being interviewed about his son's untimely death on the red carpet at a BET event by a CNN reporter, blithely using the opportunity to slip in a plug for his new record label!! Unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable.

Thanks for the comments, Fred. Check up on Fred’s latest blog postings and artwork here:

And a final note: Could we PLEASE stop all these celebrity deaths? Karl Malden passed away today! Knock it off, guys! Uh, stop dying, that is! (I know you don’t have ultimate control over those things, but please, do all you can!)


SIGNING IN: In my May “Star Wars” postings, I didn’t mention that I happened to have a photo of Michonne Bourrigue, who played Aura Sing in “Phantom Menace.” I didn’t mention it because I didn’t have it! But after digging through the archives, I’ve managed to uncover this shot of Michonne signing autographs. Anybody know what she’s doing these days? Still an actress? Still alive? Still hot? Okay, ignore that last one. Anyway, here she is from the San Diego Comic Con a few years ago. They’re doing it again this year, of course, and scheduled to be there are talents such as voice artist June Foray and comedian Stan Freeburg. Read all about it here:


MY BRAVE FACEBOOK: In an effort to locate someone (who could possibly be interviewed for this blog, no less!), I joined the Facebook service. I didn’t find the person I was looking for, but I did find many friends from MuppetCentral and even a few old friends who I’ve wanted to stay in contact with. It’s very cool, and now you can visit the “other side of the face.” You would just do a Facebook search for “Steve Sesameguy” and I should show up. Good luck. Hope you have better luck finding me than I did trying to find someone else!


COOL NEW LINKS: For some insight into the latest happenings in the Disneyland resort in California as well as Disney World in Florida, it’s hard to do better than to check out the Mousepad forums on Mouseplanet dot com. Check it out in the links. And if you like good film reviews, you’ll enjoy Cinema Cervello. It also features a weekly poll. It’s new to the links as well! I’ve been visiting these sites recently and you can sometimes find my comments there. See you there!


GO LAKER: Disneyland held a parade for the Los Angeles Lakers to celebrate their big win, and the only one who showed up was Kobe Bryant! Well, at least the Disney characters were there, including the “rarely seen” Daisy Duck. Enjoy the blog posting with photos here:


ON YOUTUBE: CAROLINE, COOKIE AND YOU: Former MTV VJ and (sigh) high school dream date Carolyne Heldman produced some yoga videos for Expert Village a few years back, and they can finally be watched on YouTube. You can see one of them in my favorites folder. There you’ll also find the standard Sesame Street clips, including the rarely seen Bruno and the Trashmen, and the classic “smallest one gets the cookie” skit. They‘re on my YouTube page. (And needless to say, check out SesameStreet dot com to find a treasure of other rare skits.) And if I haven’t mentioned it already, check out two friends of mine singing the “California furlough blues,” a tune that rings loudly in the ears of many working people these days, who are just thankful that they’re working.