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Tibby’s Bowl Online Entertainment Magazine » Party Favors
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Joe Corey’s PARTY FAVORS - 7/2005

Posted by Ken in Party Favors (July 1, 2005 at 12:47 am)

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NAGS HEAD – Don’t you hate it when you go down to the beach and discover the idiot manager forget to turn on the heater in the ocean? Who decided that “summer” starts on Memorial Day weekend? Cause this isn’t summer on the beach. I’m experiencing Eskimo Spring.

And don’t you hate it when you discover that Jimmy “J.J.” Walker is playing a hotel in that area, but you’re in no condition to saunter down the sandy path to take in Kid Dy-no-mite? I feel bad for you, my reader, because you missed out on another thrilling account of me meeting a childhood icon. Although mostly I’d be asking Jimmy about his time making commercials with Marc Jacobson from Toyota of Durham. Those were some of the most messed up local car ads. Marc looked like Ric Flair as a car dealer. He used to have this little doofus guy that he smashed pies into.

A source told me that Toyota offered money to Marc to stop making ads. He turned them down because the man loved showbiz. Although he’s toned down his 30 second spiels. Plus the little guy he smeared with pies died. It’s kinda like how Kid Rock just isn’t the same without Joe. C.

So there’s no real report here on the splendor of Jimmy Walker’s comic stylings. Although I’m guessing any regular readers in Reno know what his routine contains.

What we did end up doing that night was watching the second season boxset of Chappelle’s Show. Unbleeped, the show is funnier. Although the show is still “censored.” There are topless women that are still checkerboarded in the Rick James episode. Although in the Oprah’s Baby’s Daddy sketch, there are exposed breasts. This leads me to believe that the actresses didn’t sign off on having their nudity shown in the Rick James sketch – especially since Rick makes fun of them as “sour milk.” Could be worse – they could have had the mudbutt.

The sketch that really shines on the boxset is Wayne Brady’s midnight cruise. Wayne should have won an Emmy for turning his persona inside out. Every line out of his mouth is comic gold. He makes Dave his straight man and keeps him his straight man.

I’m not going to speculate why Dave flipped out and didn’t finish up the third season on time. But after watching the boxset, it hurt that the new ones aren’t coming anytime soon. Although I’m hoping there will be a new Charlie Murphy story about Dave.

It also hurt that the DVD player we watched the set on didn’t have a remote so we couldn’t explore the bonus features. So no report on the extra Charlie Murphy stories. But at least the “play all” worked cause we were in no shape to keep pressing “play” every 22 minutes.

A PLUGGED BOOK

If I read only one new book this year, I’m happy it’s Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation.

The book is a strange travelogue of a woman who can’t drive, but wants to see various sites that involve the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, John Garfield and William McKinley.

For the longest time I’ve avoided Vowell’s work. I haven’t read any of her other books. I don’t listen to her readings on NPR’s This American Life. And when her name was mentioned as a guest on Conan, I would turn the channel to see what’s on VH1Classic. I think she reminded me of this girl I hated on the school bus in 7th grade who even though she was an outcast like myself, she sided with the popular kids in the back of the bus. I know it wasn’t really Sarah since she grew up in Oklahoma and Montana. But sometimes it’s hard to shake that vibe that she was the traitor.

I had two chances to see Vowell speak and both times I turned down the invites. That might be because I was just jealous that she was being treated like this golden child of the Birkenstock crowd. They’d drink their merlot, listen to a Bulgarian women choir and chat about those witty stories on This American Life. I couldn’t get on that show. Why? Because it isn’t called “My American Nightmare.” Sure I had colorful tales of growing up the child of a West Point grad and a Boston public school teacher, but they ended up being a blur of black and blue. Mine are the type of stories that normally get social workers sniffing under the welcome mat. There’s not too much cute and funny growing up knowing that your father’s favorite offspring was his imaginary son called Kevin. Do you know how hard it is to grow up in the shadow of a brother that never existed? This wasn’t even a case of a sibling that died at birth or miscarried. This was a complete Harvey in my house. Kevin never seemed to be around when Dad would snap from the simplest of actions like a missing TV remote. And Kevin never had to hold the board while Dad sanded. I bet Kevin has complete fingerprints.

So let’s just say that for the most part, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about Sarah Vowell because I was jealous that she had a colorful family that she could milk for material that didn’t come off like a Jerry Springer pre-interview. Why the change of heart? Why did I get this book out of the library? The Incredibles.

She was the voice of Violet. My wife who normally doesn’t care to see bonus material wanted to poke around the extra features. There was a short piece on Sarah. And as she showed off her collection of Lincoln assassination souvenirs and mentioned her upcoming book, my curiosity kicked it. And I put my name on the library’s waiting list.

During a nearly seven hour round trip to the coast for my wife’s grandmother’s family reunion, I tore through the book. There’s something refreshing about reading a book about traveling around the country while traveling around the country - especially if you’re not driving – cause that would be dangerous. Vowell’s obsession with these three murders is fully explained in these pages. She gives context to both the presidents and their assassins. Garfield’s killer isn’t reduced down to “disappointed office seeker.” Charles Guiteau’s life is exposed as a complete nutjob. The man lived at a sex commune and nobody wanted to sleep with him. We also see how McKinley’s death is nearly forgotten by exhibits let alone elementary school textbooks. This must be the fate of a guy who is killed in a temporary exhibit space. But she does make some interesting links between McKinnley’s policies and Our President W.

The real star of the book is Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of the dead president. He is Sarah’s fellow traveler on this gruesome pilgrimage. Not only did he witness his father’s death, he was around for Garfield’s shooting and arrived in Buffalo minutes after McKinley was gunned down by an anarchist. Talk about a bad luck streak. But what’s strange is that Lincoln’s life was saved by John Wilkes Booth’s brother. Talk about full circle of weirdness.

Vowell’s words roll fast over the eyes. It’s almost a shame that there are no pictures of the various sites – especially since she repeatedly talks about taking photos during her journey. It’s not nice to tease the readers. Probably around Christmas time we’ll see the illustrated version cropping up as a prize for donating $300 to your local radio station.

The one big missing thing from the book is some sort of address section for people who want to visit the various places. Even a quick guide to websites would have been nice. A book like this should inspire travel and it’s nice when there’s an easy destination guide for those with happy feet. But I guess you can always google search these various locations. Who wouldn’t want to visit Walter Reed Hospital to see fragments of Lincoln’s skull?

The book enraptured me. So now I have made my peace with Sarah. If she’s ever in the area, I’ll treat her to drinks. I might even treat her to the story about how Matthew ruined our Easter at DisneyWorld because he couldn’t keep his hands off a wood fence at the mall – that’s an MA rating story so it’s not fit for radio broadcast.

CROSSOVER CABLE

While watching Family Business on Showtime, there was a “crossover” moment as Seymore Butts showed Isabella Soprano her g spot. Isabella was the captivating hooker who enjoyed visits from couples on Cathouse II on HBO. And now she’s decided to flip her star power into a career in adult entertainment.

At first I was shocked seeing that the sparkling brunette beauty had reduced herself down to making porn movies. But then it hit me – she was a whore, now she’s a porn star. That’s a step up. The weird thing was that she had a part in Seed of Seymore, but didn’t partake in Seymore’s #1 activity that involves the #2 hole. Even Seymore isn’t sure how she got this far in the casting process without being told that you can’t be in the movies without (let’s just say for the sake of any kid’s reading) doing the dirtiest of deeds.

But for many of us, the reason of her appearing in the film is simple – to bring Pay Cable naughtiness together. Perhaps next year we’ll get to see Cousin Stevie hanging out with Dogg the Bounty Hunter.

It should also be pointed out that even with her new career, Isabella isn’t forgetting her old fans. She’s still showing up at the Moonlight Bunny Ranch to treat viewers willing to pay $4,000 an hour to more than just a signed 8×10 glossy. Talk about a giving performer. Don’t see Mariah Carey offering that sort of fun to the lambs on her website.

ANNETTE’S AIP SWANSONG

After MGM and Best Buy screwed America out of the latest wave of Midnite Movie Double Features, I imported several of them from Canada. No one is talking about why that deal crash and burned. Although a few of the titles are now available in America from various retailers instead of the Best Buy exclusive.

Instead of teasing you with the titles that are still MIA in the USA (like the amazing double bill of Last Man on Earth and Panic in Year Zero), let’s talk about one that is on the shelf this month: Fireball 500/Thunder Alley. These two movies represent the final two features that Annette Funicello made for the legendary indie American International Pictures. But instead of ending her career kicking around the sand, she found herself covered in dust from NASCAR tracks.

Fireball 500 can be considered the last of the Beach Party films since it was directed by William Asher and features Frankie Avalon, Annette and Harvey Lembeck except they aren’t close to their normal surf and sand creations. Lembeck is no longer nutty biker Erik Von Zipper. He’s a Southern bootlegger who also deals in racing. Frankie plays a racecar driver working his way down to Daytona. These are the early days of NASCAR before sponsors made life so much easier for the drivers. So instead of getting cash from Budweiser like Dale Jr., Frankie scores extra bucks by hauling moonshine for Lembeck.

There is a different tone between these films and it’s not merely going from sand to asphalt. You can feel the dividing line between Fireball 500 and How to Stuff A Wild Bikini during a fight between Frankie and Harvey. Instead of the slapstick mayhem of those early films, Fireball 500 shows these two men are out to hurt each other. They’re not aiming at the funnybone. No longer is Lembeck frozen by a touch of the finger. Now there is blood on their lips. Annette doesn’t have too much of a role. This racing movie is not her vehicle.

The same can be said about Thunder Alley. Fabian (Frankie’s racing rival in Fireball 500) plays a racer who has a pesky blackout problem as he circles the hardtop. So he tries to make a comeback by being part of a stunt show that features Annette. There’s even a wild party that gets out of control – especially compared with those soda drinking kids on Bikini Beach. Richard Rush directed this final AIP – Annette feature. He’s the same guy who a decade later would give us The Stunt Man – one of the cinematic greats about the madness of a movie on location.

Both films come off as a little more hard-edged than an Elvis movie. (And both were made before Elvis roared into the NASCAR circuit with Speedway.) But neither is shocking in their portrayals – especially when you consider that a month after Fireball 500, AIP would put out Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels – a biker film that didn’t flinch in its debauchery and violence. While the films were released a year apart, it seems the films were shot close to each other since they involve the same track in Southern California and the same footage of NASCAR events at Daytona and Darlington.

If there is a major buying point for these films, it is this amazing footage of early NASCAR. Both films feature Richard Petty’s blue 43 as their racer’s car. During that period of time, Petty dominated so the filmmakers were guaranteed that their character’s car would be zipping underneath the checkered flag when they shot the actual race. However this footage also includes a tribute to Johnny Reb complete with his confederate battle flag. So this isn’t the new multi-racial Nextel NASCAR. This is not for the squeamish or those who want to think that this sport wasn’t from hardcore Southerners.

The next time Annette shined on the silver screen, it was Back to the Beach in the mid-80s when her and Frankie tried to make us remember those beach blanket bingo days.

CREATURE DOUBLE FEATURES

As summer approaches, the memories of freakish monster movies on TV fill my fancy. The joy of plopping down in front of my grandmother’s TV set to watch Creature Feature when the sun went down on Boston makes me smile. But last Saturday there was nothing. No monsters or mad scientists or superspies. Where have they gone?

People lately have been talking about the death of the local horror movie host. These people were goth before Sisters of Mercy were cool. The best recent example of such a person is Elvira of her Movie Macabre. There’s a great website www.dvddrive-in.com that deals with various movie shows that aired on New York City TV. I don’t really count Mystery Science Theater 3000 since they talked over the film – so it wasn’t like you were watching Manos: The Hands of Fate. You were watching them watch it. A good horror host would pop up with a goofy sketch and a quick summary of what’s happened so far for the latecomers to not feel alienated.

It’s a shame that these genre driven TV slots have pretty much been pushed off the schedule for big budget action flicks. It seems like that ever since TNT yanked off Joe Bob Briggs and Monster-vision, it’s been an empty time on the various channels. Perhaps part of this can be blamed on a lack of good packages being shopped by the various studios. It’s just a shame as summer approaches that there’s no decent timeslot and destination to enjoy Psychotronic flicks.

The DVD has saved me from a pure abyss. I have a boxset of Godzilla flicks to feed the radioactive monster fix. There are sets of various Universal Classic Monster collections to make sure Karloff, Lugosi and Chaney roam freely from the crypt. Not to mention various public domain collections that give me a chance to watch Attack of the Killer Shrews and Hercules adventures. Plus all the Planet of the Apes films are on the shelf ready to be marathoned – not counting that crappy Tim Burton version. And the AIP weirdness is found doubled up on the Midnite Movies. Plus I have the Frankie and Annette Beach Party DVDs so I never have to lose the urge to hang ten with Deadhead. I have made my own world of cult-ure.

Two of the biggest boxsets that will feed this desire are coming up. August shall bring us the Matt Helm Lounge boxset. Thrill to Dean Martin’s superspy adventures. The guy drives around in a loaded up station wagon that features a wet bar that he can use while at the wheel. Yes, it’s a film that promotes drinking and driving! Shame this is coming so late in the season. But when it does come out, we will have friends over to enjoy a cocktail bliss.

WOR in New York used to show King Kong, Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young after Thanksgiving. It was a holiday tradition in our house – right after the “you weren’t supposed to cut that pie!” threats. By Thanksgiving, a boxset featuring all three great ape movies will be available in time to cash in on Peter Jackson’s King Kong. The only film that’s missing from recreating the WOR experience is King Kong Versus Godzilla. Someday that’ll see this shore.

I do have to warn anyone curious about St. Clair Vision’s Giant Monsters collection that it’s not a bargain. Sure they promise 9 movies over three DVDs including tons of Gamera and Yongary, Monster From the Deep, but the transfers look like fifth generation bootleg EP speed tapes. It’s a shame this collection isn’t at least the same quality of a normal PD collection. And it’s also a shame that Sun Coast doesn’t let you check out the quality before you buy something. But I didn’t pay that much for it, so I’ll keep it on the rack. These are best watched when drunk.

It is great to own these DVDs and not have to worry about a programming dork taking away my favorite films. But I feel bad for kids growing up and not stumbling across these films. What will they do without a creature double feature to alter their idea of entertainment? And the thrill of being able to call up a friends and say, “Turn to channel 11! Gamera is on!”

Instead they are stuck with numerous replays of Adam Sandler’s Waterboy. And a 12 year old can’t afford buying that many DVDs to enjoy films they are clueless about. Maybe their parents will let them get them off Netflix? Or have a cool uncle.

Maybe someday the pendulum will swing back and there will be Vincent Price in his pit, eager to thrill and chill us all.

ACE OF SPADES

Has anyone else noticed how pro wrestler Triple H is trying to look like Lemmy from Motorhead with his latest beard? I wouldn’t be surprised if Triple H has surgically implanted warts put on his cheek.

BELLY RUB

That Shakira can work her belly. She really needs to enter some sort of Olympic competition. Even with all those tortured years of taking Spanish, I haven’t a clue what she’s singing, but I’m moaning as she shakes it up. Plus she’s heaving that bosom like she’s practicing for a Jane Austen film festival.

THE WRONG SIZE

Scientists at NASA have proven that hindsight isn’t 20/20. Hindsight is really 10/20.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Is there a better series of commercials than Bacardi and Cola as Miami Vice with ice? I still laugh at the introduction of Diet Cola and his dance between the super models. What is the point of remaking Miami Vice? These two guys need a feature film. Or at least they need more ads.

FREAKISH GIFT

While picking through a strange antique shop in the middle of farm country, I find a tiny NASCAR racer with Frankenstein’s monster on the hood. While this isn’t odd, what made it interesting to me was that instead of Karloff, the hood had Lon Chaney Jr’s version of the monster from Ghost of Frankenstein. I had to buy it so it can go next to my toy car with Lon’s Wolf Man on the hood.

BEST DAMN SEASON

The Fourth season of Seinfeld had to be the best. The boxset is filled with episodes that are nearly all the ones retold by friends – exception being Festivus.

DROWNED BY BOREDOM

After not feeling too motivated to see it in the theater, I bought a copy of Wes Anderson’s Life Aquatic on DVD. Mainly this was after a chat with legendary documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles at the Full Frame Film Festival. Albert told me he directed a bonus feature. Albert’s piece is better than the film. I’m not sure what Wes Anderson is trying to do in cinema, but entertaining an audience seems to go 20 rung beneath appearing like a smug New York bastard. I felt so bad for Bill Murray being dragged through an uninspired mess of a flick. Everything about the movie wants to be fun, but Wes sucks the marrow from the celluloid. Nothing makes sense and yet Wes doesn’t want to admit it’s brainless. And the action scenes are painfully bad. A shoot out seems like it was taken from the footage shot by the behind the scenes crew. Nothing wants to connect.

A few years back we watched Blue Water, White Death, about a ship searching to film a Great White Shark in the wild. And we thought it would make a fun comedy – cinematic explorers looking for a killer shark and nearly killing each other. After Wes Anderson’s floating whale turd, no one will ever fund our movie. Thanks for nothing, Sappy.

SUMMER ISN’T SINGING

We’re already in summer and I don’t hear a song. There better be a song this summer! Perhaps an ode to Mudbutt?

ROCKINGHAM, NC

NASCAR stole their races, but this town still has a need for speed. The former racetrack sits silently on the side of US 1. The signs hype the last race from two winters ago and even promotes the Winston Cup Series. It’s an artifact waiting to be put inside a box at the Smithsonian.

But there’s still a vroooom in the air since across the street is the Rockingham Dragstrip where the speed goes in one direction.

As the creepy PA, I was hired by Scion to help work on footage about Christian Rado for their website at the NDRA meet. Unfortunately we didn’t get to feel the speed. Rado’s team was supposed to debut his new Pro Outlaw front wheel drive Scion that has 1,500 horsepower under the hood. Except somewhere on the road from Reading, Pennsylvania to the countryside of North Carolina, somebody left the barn door open. The horses fled the undercarriage. The car could not crank.

It would make a sputter, but wouldn’t turn over. I can’t give too many details because my automotive knowledge normally ends at my credit card. There was no moment when I could save the day by saying, “What about replacing the difusitron?” I just sat back and kept wondering if the engine would ever go “vroooooom!”

And it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Rado’s mechanic, who reminded me of a lost Ween brother, spent nearly 24 hours working on the massive four-cylinder engine. He tore apart the engine of the $750,000 car that was supposed to hit 200 mph on the quarter mile blacktop. They had computers checking everything. They even had their main competitor, Jason Hunt and his mechanic came over to the pit to help work on the car. Can you imagine Tony Stewart giving Jeff Gordon a hand in gasoline alley?

And people were so looking forward to the car speeding past the concrete grandstand. Even with all the pressure of trying to get the car, Rado and his team were nice to the fans. During one frustrating moment, an onlooker asked a goofy question about the horsepower. The mechanic looked up and gave a serious answer and thanked the guy for dropping by their prep area. It was amazing how this team never tried to alienate the fans during the pressure.

And what a nice area they had. A super RV towed a garage trailer that held the racing car, an SUV and their golfcart for puttering around the parking lot. And can I please warn you that it was the most dangerous parking lot in the world (non-battlefield category)? People kept zipping around the parking area in their hopped up cars with the right headlight removed for better air-intake. Plus one freak was popping wheelies on a four-wheel ATV with kids hanging off him. And there were way too many close calls with those mini-motorcycles zipping underfoot. It was a miracle that the rescue squad wasn’t pulling bodies out of the grillwork of the numerous VW Bugs. (Although my favorite car not owned by Rado was a Bug called “Going Postal.”) And even if you avoided the cars, there was still a chance of having your eardrums busted wide open as they revved their engines.

You could also bust open your eyeballs on the NOPI Chicks. Not everything around the track was made of metal – some were merely enhanced with silicon. One of the bikini contestants looked like a young Jenna Jameson as she pranced around with her swimsuit glued onto her body. If you’re going for the prize, play to win. The sad moment was running into a Penthouse Pet from 2001. Even though the makeup was caked on her face like Tammy Faye, the former Pet looked like Darryl Hannah without makeup. I didn’t have the nerve to ask if her publicity pic was airbrushed or photoshopped.

We were told that around four on Sunday morning, Rado’s car started. We were excited at the news when we arrived at the track with our camera and the knowledge that the car had one last chance to qualify for the big showdown with Hunt. But at 10 a.m. the engine had reverted to its mystery illness. The super Scion would have to wait for its public debut.

Rado’s long sideburns come to a point on his chin, but they could have gone on for infinity as he looked at the engine that wouldn’t crank. In a moment of resignation that the day was scratch, he mentioned that the car cost seven times more than his house. And on that day, the house and car were traveling at the same speed. When a fan pulled up next to the guard rope, Rado cheered up as he spoke about what the car was going to do in an upcoming meet in Bristol. Someday that engine will be the gift under the Christmas tree that pushes him into the record books.

You can’t keep a good natured racer idled too long.

HAIL TO THE BILL

Did you know Bill Murray used to be funny and cool?

He wasn’t always a novice AARP member feeling the weight of the world on his forehead and squeaking out a wisecrack to ease the pain. He wasn’t always the voice of a stupid CGI cat that hates Mondays and loves lasagna. And he wasn’t always forced to perform minor comic relief to three clueless women in a big dumb action film.

The old Bill was the life of a party so splendorous that you give a quart of blood to gain an invitation. When you were at a party, after a few drinks, it was easy to slip into Bill’s outlook on life. As the night went on, the goal was to achieve a state of Billness: to become a sensitive cocky guy who connects with anyone who matters in the room. And after a few more drinks, you’d also butcher the latest hit songs with lyrics forced into the tune. Bill was the new Dean Martin for a generation that didn’t want to roast Foster Brooks.

Way back when, Bill Murray was someone I wanted to evolve into – at least his persona. I didn’t know what his real life was like. But the image he projected on the screen was an attitude took hold. Bill’s way of life offered protection from the dickless rodents that would prefer you follow orders and march toward the grave as pathetic fools with no thrills, passion or adventure. There was no moping around in the comic bravado of Bill. Before there was Kabbalah and Scientology, there was Bill.

I remind myself of his former screen presence while witnessing him sleepwalk through The Life Aquatic. Why did I spent $22 for the special edition Criterion DVD. Did I really need a bonus disc worshipping Wes Anderson’s diligence in sucking the panache out of Bill Murray’s marrow? I should have used that money to buy Stripes: The Extended Cut.

Murray demonstrates the law of diminishing returns in working with Wes Anderson. Rewatching Rushmore, it’s easy to see that Murray’s meaty role disappears as the film goes on. Once he makes amends with Max, he’s just a side character. And in The Royal Tenenbaums, Murray is completely wasted as Gwyneth Paltrow’s detached husband.

His sad sack schtick worked on Lost In Translation. And he was robbed of the Oscar that was rightfully his. I’m not talking Best Actor, but the Best Original Screenplay award. A bowl of Campbell’s alphabet soup put more words into his mouth than Sophia Coppola. But she clung to the masquerade of the writer-director auteur and didn’t give Bill co-writer credit for his contributions. Would she have stood on that podium holding an Academy Award if Lost In Translation starred Jim Belushi?

Bill went back for a fourth serving of pathos in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zizzou. When the project was announced, I expected Bill to be Jacques Cousteau after a pot of espresso. But instead he’s a sad, lost creature in a Speedo. It hurt me to see him stuck in this film. There’s nothing wrong with an actor stretching in their role choices, but when will the real Bill Murray return?

Doesn’t look like it’ll happen soon.

His upcoming movie is Broken Flowers written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. Judging from the Cannes reviews, Bill is described as “droll” and very restrained in his actions. The downtrodden streak continues. After that there’s The Lost City, an Andy Garcia project about Cuba with Bill playing “The Writer.” It’s hard to imagine that Garcia will be remaking Our Man in Havana. The kicker is his name has been attached to Rob Schneider’s Hard R with David Spade and Norm McDonald. This film could make people think fondly of Osmosis Jones.

His bit part as the shifty lawyer in Wild Things was the last time Bill was properly used in a film. That was seven years ago. And you have to go back to Kingpin in 1996 for a bigger screen time worth watching. There are children who went from high school to college graduation thinking that Bill Murray is either a middle age crisis case or an idiot. They’ve never experienced Bill as a comic genius at the local cineplex. They’ve had to witness his true talent via video on a small screen. The man who gave us Meatballs is MIA on the silver screen. They don’t know a Bill Murray that’s 20 feet high and worthy of looking up at.

At some point Bill must realize that people no longer want to emulate him for the same reasons as two decades ago. No one wants to be the 21st century Bill Murray. They merely want to be in his shoes so they have a chance of scoring with Scarlett Johansson.

And it’s not like the spark has gone out on Bill. He shines on David Letterman appearances to plug these “droll” roles. He’s not dead yet. He’s barely a decade older than Tom Cruise. It’s just a shame that the only work he gets (or accepts) is either restraining or stupid. Maybe this is how he tortures his fans for not embracing Razor’s Edge?

Perhaps Bill should just give up film work and enter politics. The man is ready to become president. Sure he might have some dark marks on his permanent record. But after Clinton and George W. Bush, whatever happened in the 70s and 80s and maybe the 90s can be explained away by a press secretary who swears he’ll look into it. And Schwarzenegger has proven that on location antics won’t kill you on the ballot. So whatever happened in the Saturday Night Live dressing rooms won’t cripple Oval Office aspirations. He might have to answer for his expatriate time in France.

Bill knows how to work a room. Even on a serious subject like his trainer’s suicide, he had people laughing without making a joke. Imagine how entertaining he’ll make the State of the Union – it’ll be more electrifying than XXX: State of the Union. He plays enough golf to grip and rip his way to the White House. Plus like the current resident, Bill owns several baseball teams. Isn’t that enough of a resume? He might lack a background in foreign affairs or economics, but does that matter anymore? Imagine what lyrics he’ll add to Hail to the Chief. Get this man on a bus in Iowa. At least the campaign trail will be a good excuse for Bill to avoid making another restrained film.

But for the health of the nation, Bill has to make at least one film where he sparkles with that cocksure attitude and take no prisoners wit for those of us who saw him as the way to live. Bill can’t let us think that at the end of the road we’ll end up with the same sad pathetic lives as the dickless rodents we tried to rise above.

DANGER: LAW

John Phillip Law deserves credit for being in three films that define Pop Cinema: Barbarella, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Danger: Diabolik. The last title has come out on DVD and Paramount has actually given it a velvet touch without jacking up the price.

Diabolik is a master thief who rips off the mega-treasures with his hot girlfriend (played by Marisa Mell). They live in a hot underground lair. When Paramount first announced the DVD release, it was merely a barebones edition. And I was pissed when it was yanked off the schedule. But then they put out a new date and announced several bonus features including John Phillip Law giving a commentary. There’s a 20 minute film talking about the character going from Italian comics to the big screen. But the gem is the Beastie Boy’s tribute to the film Body Movin, where they used clips while dressing up as the characters. Now this is what I expected on DVDs – the ability to see how a movie has been used in other projects.

The only downside of the DVD is that the used the “suspenders and belt” box. But that can be overlooked since the disc inside shines with a dark character. Can I also recommend Monica Vitti’s Modesty Blaise to go in your collection if you like this title? And sometime this summer, you should host a John Phillip Law triple feature.

SAND IN THE SINGLE

It’s the start of July and I’m not dancing around to a song that’s beach ready.

WHY PEOPLE SHOULDN’T BREED

I haven’t seen much of either show, but The Princes of Malibu and I Want to Be a Hilton are proof that reality shows are now excuses for self-centered worthless people to become the center of the universe.

Princes of Malibu feature the sons of Bruce Jenner and former Elvis squeeze Linda Thompson and now the stepsons of David Foster, a songwriter of schmaltz. They are lazy pretty boys who now are supposed to earn a living in order to please Foster. Instead of getting real jobs, they do stupid stunts like run a drive in theater on their yard. It’s a rip off of Viva La Bam except more family friendly. And with two kids who should be worried that their real dad looks like a transsexual woman. Maybe someday their faces will transform into Bea Arthur. I will only watch this show if the digital cable guide mentions “Murder-suicide.”

I Want to Be a Hilton shows that the mother of Paris isn’t a complete whore bag. Honestly, how can this woman teach anyone how to be a proper human being? Her daughter is a vapid pain that makes internet porn, can’t figure out where her dog is and has no real talent outside of being a whore. Did Paris graduate from high school or merely a rehab clinic? And daughter Nicky almost outdid Britney Spears on marriages. Mother Hilton should only be on TV confessing that she has no business raising children since she didn’t mind letting her daughters become a couple of teenage bar crawlers. Will any of the competitions have to deal with seeing what contestant can get the most downloads of their homemade porn? Maybe they’ll have a Red Bull chugging contest?

What’s next on the reality schedule? Taking a Second Whack At Love with Robert Blake? Either way Mrs. Hilton and the Jenner boys really need a hobby to keep them off TV – how about heroin addiction? Or how about Mrs. Hilton follows in her daughter’s truest talent and make a video with the Jenner boys demonstrating the 11th Decathlon event.

AMERICA’S SWEETWHORE

I shall repeat my statement that Patti Kaplan is the director with the most cultural influence in America. Do you know how many people have tried something “new” in the bedroom after watching her work on HBO’s Real Sex series? Or think differently their traveling choices viewing Taxicab Confessions? Too many directors view themselves as merely artists or entertainers. Patti is a guide to an America that dares to peek under the covers.

And now she has expanded upon her amazing Cathouse specials by creating a series where we follow the inner-workings of the Moonlight Bunny Ranch Brothel. The show does an amazing job at giving us a view from both the whore and the client. The series educates the viewers with talks about the g-spot and ways to entertain a man with a foot fetish. What was amazing about the g-spot episode is that on Showtime’s Family Business, Isabella Soprano located her g-spot for the first time with the help of Seymore Butts. And now she was passing on the knowledge to others. This might be the first time in reality show history that education has been transferred from show to show.

And the star of the show is Isabella Soprano. She comes off as very smart, funny and most of all very eager to please her clients. While she does have implants, she doesn’t have that plastic enhanced face of some of the other gals. Her hair is a bouncy brown instead of a bleached and sprayed up blond. She has a smile that says she’s the girl next door except with a devious gleam in her eyes. She is America’s Sweetwhore. And I find it amazing that even with the stardom, she’s still working at the Bunnyranch so her old and new fans don’t need to merely teased by her sexuality – like Jessica Simpson.

If you want to get it on with Isabella, all you need is a plane ticket and enough cash to cover the hourly charge. If I only have sex with one hooker in my life, it will be Isabella Soprano. And the best part is that I can bring along the wife since Isabella enjoys couples. I’m not sure if she charges double for spouses or if like the breakfast bar at the Days Inn, wives eat for free.

Kaplan has truly given us another reason to see why she deserves to be feted with the Cathouse series. She’s giving America a peak behind the curtain and invitation to sneak onto the stage. When is the last time Scorsese or Spielberg or Lucas ever helped you make your partner moan for an hour? Kaplan can claim that honor.

ONLY HE IS THE BATMAN

I’m sick of hearing various media knowitalls attacking the Batman TV series from the 60s. Sure it wasn’t the Dark Knight gloom and brood of the latest film or the comic books. But damn it, I can’t get enough of this show. For me, the only real Batman is Adam West. Michael Keaton is always Bill Blazejowski from Night Shift. Val Kilmer is Chris Knight from Real Genius. George Clooney will never shake his days on Facts of Life. And even Christian Bale will be less a Batman in my mind than the guy who got his heat stolen by Tom Cruise’s love life. None of these four men will ever be cursed by being Batman. They will never have to spend part of their career bouncing around car shows signing their Batman promo pics. Batman was merely a role they played. For Adam West, the Cape Crusader is a role that he will wear to his grave.

And he best wear it proudly for many of us are still entertained by his campy capers. He is the Batman that a generation or two experienced on TV in the afternoons. It is a damn shame that Fox and Warners are still bickering over putting the TV show on DVD. But at least Anchor Bay released Return to the Batcave. I missed seeing the original airing of this freakish reunion special that has Adam West and Burt Ward forced to assume their former roles in order to hunt down a missing Batmobile. Along the way, they tell their story of what it was like in the mid-60s when they rode the wild wave that was Batmania. We see them go from nobodies to superstars with all the ladies hanging off their utility belts. Plus Frank Gorshin and Julie Newmar team up for one last whack at the dynamic duo. While this isn’t high art, it’s a guilty joy. And it’s a heck of a lot better than the normal interview and clip show slapped together by VH1. The one big thing that you’ll notice is that all the clips used came from The Batman movie that is available on DVD for a cheap price. Seems like Holy Batmania is the only place to get a taste of the original TV series.

At the end of the 80s, I had a chance to interview Frank Gorshin when he was performing at Ft. Bragg. He was a charming man who put up with a lot of freakish questions about playing the Riddler and his nightclub routines. He mentioned that he didn’t have any of the green question mark costumes since they shred as the shooting went on because they were made of nylon. He praised his stage work with Donny Most (Ralph Mauph on Happy Days). He described the coldness of when Johnny Carson stopped booking you on the Tonight Show. He spoke of Las Vegas before the corporations took over and nickel and dimed the entertainment budgets. I felt sad when it was announced that he passed away. But it was so nice that a few nights later, Frank was able to say goodbye to his viewing public with his role in Quentin Tarantino’s CSI episode. Instead of having his swansong be a straight to video release, Frank got to tell one last tale of old Vegas for 30 million people.

Hopefully future generations will get to think of Frank as the Riddler – if those DVDs ever get released.



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