Tuesday, March 23, 2010

mst3k on YouTube

There are lots of them. Lots of episodes. They're great! I love them! But...but...

I was lying in bed in the middle of the night, my laptop on the bed playing---which one was it? I don't remember.

I began experiencing mixed feelings about Mystery Science Theater 3000. But why? What was it?

I can't even remember what I was watching. It was the middle of the night.

Was it Joel or Mike?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Men who think killing people is attractive

There was Wes Cooley, the disgraced Congressman. He impressed his common-law wife-to-be by claiming to have been a killer for the CIA. I've heard of other people like that. Men impressing chicks by claiming to be murderers.

There was Mark Fuhrman. Tapes of him bragging about racist crimes committed by him and other LAPD came out during the O.J. Simpson trial. The tapes were of him being interviewed by a woman screenwriter. At one point, he rejoiced at the famine in Ethiopia and he called for all black people to be killed by burning. But, his defenders argued, this was just his way of picking up chicks.

I knew a decorator working in a furniture store. A strange, lonely woman came in---never bought anything but acted liked she was going to. She talked and talked and talked about how her ex-Green Beret husband and his Green Beret friends had massacred a compound full of Mormons. I can't remember why. The Mormons had committed some terrible crime, apparently.

That's what I think about while watching these movies. Truth is that this sad woman with an imaginary husband is the only kind of woman who would sleep with James Bond or Shane, or any other movie killer.

But then again, maybe chicks dig that sort of thing

On the other hand, there was a radio show, This American Life. A man told a story about the time he jumped out of his car and got into a fight with a stranger in a traffic jam because he insulted his mother. And his mother was actually happy about it.

"Your father never did that for me."

And these were bourgeoisie. Public Radio listeners. Not mountain folk. Even bourgeois women want their sons to get into fist fights with strangers.

It doesn't always work out

There was a letter to Dear Abby. A woman didn't know how she could ever respect her husband again after he refused to beat up some people who used obscene language in public.

Another woman wrote in response that she had been so proud of her husband getting into a fight with some strangers until they stabbed him to death in front of her and her children.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

There's something creepy about the Andy Griffith Show

How old was Aunt Bea? She acts like an old woman. She was only 58 when the show started.

There's an episode here where she thinks that Andy wants her to get married and clear out. I think Clara gave her the idea. So she starts dating a simple-minded dry cleaner and she actually seems to be planning to marry the idiot even though she can't stand him because she thinks Andy wants her to.

I don't think I'd want a dry cleaner who works with a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

A few years later, the same thing. Clara gives Aunt Bea the idea that she's a parasite on Andy and Opie, sucking the life out of them. So she falsely claims to be dating the milk man. When it turns out the guy is married and is quite upset at Aunt Bea spreading these rumors, Bea is humiliated.

I guess the real question isn't, how old is Aunt Bea. It's how dumb is she?

After Don Knotts left, the people of Mayberry all became child-like simpletons. It's hard to imagine many people being charmed by this. Maybe people would watch and dream about living in Mayberry where they'd be the smartest person in town.

Turns out Gomer Pyle wasn't developmentally disabled

On Gomer Pyle, in one episode, Gomer is threatened with a "breach of promise" lawsuit when a con artist falsely claims he promised to marry her. Gomer quickly adds up how long it would take him to pay off a judgement against him, calculating compound interest in his head. I think they were trying to show he wasn't actually intellectually deficient even if he did act like it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Alexander Cockburn on the Oscars

From counterpunch.com:

If you want a signifier of the changed image of empire, and imperial adventures in foreign lands, think about last Sunday’s six Oscars for The Hurt Locker, including ones for Best Movie and Best Director. The film’s director, Kathryn Bigelow, said at the end of her acceptance speech, “I'd like to dedicate this to the women and men in the military who risk their lives on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world and may they come home safe.”

Suppose Bigelow’s former husband, James Cameron, had won Best Director for Avatar. There is surely no way Cameron would ever have dedicated his Oscar to any soldiers, American or Canadian, serving as members of the imperial coalition – volunteers all – in Iraq or Afghanistan, unless they had defected to the other side or mutinied and been put in the brig or were facing a firing squad for treason. There is also surely no way that any movie about a serving unit in Iraq would have been in the running for an Oscar back in Bush time.

I hoped Avatar would get a big Oscar rather than the consolations ones for cinematography and special effects. It would have honored a truly uncompromising anti-war, anti-American-Empire movie. I haven’t seen The Hurt Locker and don’t plan to, having endured more than one bomb-disposal films in my movie-going career. Also, the circumstances of the movie’s filming seemed distasteful, with scenes shot in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan. “We had these Blackwater guys that were working with us in the Middle East and they taught us like tactical maneuvers and stuff – how to just basically position yourself and move with a gun,” Hurt Locker actor Anthony Mackie told the New York Times’ Melena Ryzik. “We were shooting in Palestinian refugee camps. We were shooting in some pretty hard places. It wasn't like we were without enemies. There were people there looking at us, 'cuz we were three guys in American military suits runnin' around with guns. It was nothing easy about it. It was always a compromising situation.”

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscars again

I didn't watch. I can't watch.

First of all, most if the nominees lose and I find it depressing. And, even though they're celebrities, I hate watching people on live national television. Anything can go wrong!

There was an awkward moment. One guy was talking and his co-winner walked up and started talking at the same time. Which is probably fine because they usually bring up the music if more than one person tries to talk.

But when I think of it...the way that those two people will be reliving that moment for the rest of their lives. They will never, ever, ever be allowed to forget! Every time they apply for a job, they'll have THAT on their resume. The Oscar. A stark reminder of their horrible, horrible humiliation.

The Academy Awards

It turns out this is Oscar Night and I haven't seen a thing.

Precious, Inglorious Basterds, and Hurt Locker sound offensive. And I have a vague dislike for James Cameron even though I know nothing about him. The word among Hollywood folk is that nobody likes him. Members of the Academy would have a hard time voting to hand him an Oscar.

Let me see. What else.

Oh, yeah. I would probably tend to side with Ishmael Reed in his attacks on Precious. I haven't seen it, so I won't argue the point.

Here's a link to his latest comments about it on counterpunch.com:


...On Tuesday, when I debated Cameron Bailey, the African American co-director of the Toronto Film Festival, who brought the film to Canada, the NAACP awards were the first thing that he brought up. He also followed the sales pitch directed by Lionsgate that the critics of the film were either odd or mentally ill, as a way of minimizing the widespread discontent about this film among black Americans. The sales office has singled out Armond White as the lone critic opposing the film, and seeks to dismiss him as a “contrarian,” a trend begun by the New YorkTimes’ critic A.O. Scott, for whom the family in “Precious” was the typical impoverished black family. Bailey used the same word to criticize White.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

James Garner, The Rockford Files, firing people

I watched a fairly long interview on YouTube with James Garner, talking about The Rockford Files, which is coming back, by the way. Steve Correll is producing a new version.

Garner talked about behind the scenes stuff. He mentioned at one point that he always kept his distance from the studio people---the brass. He didn't want to be friends with them so he could tell them what he thought without worrying about hurting their friendships.


And there were a lot of conflicts, both with the people above him and below him.

It sounded like he fired people freely. He mentioned that filming on the show always went smoothly, they had a good crew, and they got rid of "bad apples" very quickly.

Once incident he mentioned...I didn't see the previous interviews, or I would have had a better idea who he was talking about...he said that when they set out to make the show, Garner insisted that Stephen Cannell be writer-producer because he wanted him there. He needed him as a writer. He had someone else to be executive producer. He turned to a guy named Roy and said, Now what are you going to do?

Roy said he was good at touching up scripts and editing.

Garner said he didn't want the guy too closely involved or there would be conflicts.

But one day, they got some yellow sheets for the scripts---pages that had been rewritten. Okay. Garner read them. He could tell they wouldn't work. They started filming the scene. It wasn't working. He called Cannell. Told him the new pages weren't working.

Cannell came down. He looked at the pages. He'd never seen them before. Roy had rewritten the scene without telling anyone.

Garner announced that Roy wouldn't touch the scripts anymore.

Firing people

I guess if you're making a movie or a TV show and you're spending millions of dollars, at least hundreds of thousands of dollars per day, you really can't worry too much about people's feelings.

Mel Brooks seems like a nice guy. But there was a discussion on TV about Young Frankenstein. He hadn't told the fellow doing the lighting that he wanted it to look like the original Frankenstein, so it was lit all wrong.

"You didn't TELL me!"

"It's true," somebody said. "You didn't tell him."

So Mel didn't fire him.

The guy redid the lighting.

After the movie was done, Brooks told him how glad he was that he didn't fire him.

The guy said he didn't tell Brooks how lucky he was that he didn't quit.

Alfred Hitchcock, Roger Corman

There were stories about them firing stars on the spot. Hitchcock said actors should be treated like cattle, and that's what he did.

Corman fired the guy he cast to star in Wild Angels when he asked for a stuntman to do the motorcycle scenes.

On the other hand, it's good to ask for a stuntman when you need one. Charles Grodin told about a role he got on a TV western. They asked him if he could ride a horse. He couldn't. Bur he wanted the job so he told them he could.

He couldn't.

As they were filming, it became obvious he couldn't.

"Why didn't you tell us? We could have gotten you a double!"

So he had to go galloping off into the distance desperately clinging to the horse.

Constant conflict

Garner made it sound like it was constant conflict, in a way. But he said that it was all an effort to make things go smoothly. He got rid of conflict on the set by getting rid of people when they didn't work.

And they were working 14 or 15 hours a day, six days a week. He was suffering serious health problems because of it. He had repeated surgery on his knees because of damage he was doing walking and running on concrete, doing action scenes, and, he said, after six years, he was drained physically and emotionally.

He said that by getting rid of "bad apples", they kept conflict to a minimum. They managed to stay on schedule.

He commented on TV directing. You never had time to do what you wanted. You had to follow the script. TV is a writer's medium, he said, but then, he though all media were writer's media. Movies were, too. And that always made sense to me.

How exactly could you be an auteur if you didn't write the thing? Why do directors get credit for stuff writers put in the script?

Gore Vidal argued this in an essay somewhere.

Vidal told the story about the gay theme in Ben Hur. He told the story----he was hired to work on the script. He looked at the story and it didn't make any sense. A Roman was friends with Ben Hur, then he gets into a two minute political debate with him and spends the rest of his life persecuting Ben Hur and his family.

Vidal decided that, when they were running around together as teenagers, Ben Hur and the Roman were lovers. When the Roman guy returns to Palestine, he wants to continue the relationship and Ben Hur isn't interested. That's why he wants revenge.

They talked about this with the actor who played the Roman guy. I don't remember who it was. He said, okay. That's how he would play the scene.

They didn't tell Charelton Heston this, and they didn't tell the director.

And yet, Vidal said, the director would get credit for putting gay themes in the movie, if anyone noticed.