Thursday, June 30, 2011

I'm in the Metro (Again!)

On page 42 of this week's "Metro" (June 29-July 5, 2011), there is a review by Richard Von Busack of my "Cracked" book. Happy day! I wish that I could post the cover here, but I don't have access to a scanner at the moment. You can read the issue by clicking here:


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Excellent Book, Delicate Subject

I read this book on loan from a friend of mine. I'd like to own it, but man, $200+! Is this book sexist? You bet. Is it also inciteful? Yes! It gets a bit bogged down by Kirksite's dabblings with women on a trip to Australia and New Zealand, but his main point of why and how men get caught up and dragged down by women sometimes is an inciteful book as "He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys", (which I've also read and liked.) This book should have been as popular as that one, but men typically don't read or care about these kind of "self-help" books.

Kirksite's writing style is very easy and quick and it's a shame that the book is not more readily available. I think that's mainly due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter. It's not going to win many female supporters, if any.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Time for a Political Rant of Sorts on Words

This may be a meandering one, but I feel like airing my grievances and I can't wait until Festivus.

A friend of mine has taken issue with the term "Obamacare" in use in headlines of various newspapers. I asked him what term he would use and he said, "Obama's Health Care Plan" or similar such verbiage.

His complaint is that by the use of "Obamacare" in the headlines of a news story is akin to editorializing and professing an editorial bias. While I agreed with his assessment on the face of it, the unfortunate thing is that we do live in a world of lingo and abbreviations and I believe the papers are not taking an editorial slant, rather they are using the common or becoming common terminology of the day in their writing. Does this mean it is correct or right? Not necessarily. Newspapers really should be above using slang.

I explained that even 10 years ago, no one said, "I'm going to Google that subject." Now, Google is a commonly used verb even if Webster's doesn't agree. Another example is the terminology of "Watergate". Despite the fact that this one word seems to sum up the entire description of the Nixon White House in his second term, it is really just the name of a hotel. The term "Watergate" shouldn't even be used. Instead, it should be hotel break-in or just break-in.

What makes matters worse is that now the term "fill-in-the-blank-gate" has permeated our society as a term to describe some sort of scandal. We use the terminology all of the time and it really doesn't mean anything. Putting gate on the end of something is ultimately just a bad etymology. So, if someone stole a bunch of gold, would we call the scandal Golden Gate? Or if Bill Gates did something wrong, would we call it Gatesgate? It's all pretty silly if you ask me.

So, back to Obamacare. Yes, we shouldn't call it that, but it's now too late. It is the jargon of the Republicans planning to get elected who strangely enough call themselves the Tea Party and that has been bastardized into the Teabaggers.

Tea Party isn't even a proper term for what they are doing. The Boston Tea Party had to do with taxation without representation, not about higher or lower taxes or overthrowing incumbant parties, which is supposedly what the Tea Party is on about. And representation means (for those who don't know) a voice in the political system, not overthrow (despite the fact that they threw tea into Boston Harbor as a protest).

In other news, I now see handmade stickers popping up all over the place that say "Obama Failed Us". I got so agitated that I wrote "Republicans Have Too" on one of them. I'm still a registered Republican, but in my lifetime, I've seen the Democrats become the traditional Republicans and the traditional Republicans just go off the deep end and have become the party of "Against".

The Againsters would be a better name for the Republicans who seem to just be against whatever's happening in the other party. If Bush implemented any of the things Obama has (and actually he did in some cases before he left office like the first bailout), the Tea Party would think it was the greatest thing in the world, but because it was a (shudder) Democrat who's (more shuddering) also a black man doing this stuff, it's suddenly not cool.

The two parties are all the same and they should just get along for that very reason. Neither party is really willing to end the war or raise taxes on the very wealthy or cut stuff that really needs to be cut. Stuff that actually could improve the economy.

Off of soapbox...for now...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Weird Al is Back!

Actually, he never went anywhere. A few months ago, I bemoaned the fact that Weird Al hasn't released an album of new music since 2006, which is true, but since 2006 has posted new videos and songs on the Internet. Finally, Al has released his new album "Alpocalypse" which does not fail to disappoint.

On this one, he does parodies of Lady Gaga and other current acts. The thing that amazes me about the 51-year-old Al is that he does parodies of acts that I usually hear AFTER his parody. It's like he's making these people's careers. In actuality, even thought I try to keep up with current music, I certainly don't do it to the depths that I used to. Instead, picking on a few choice newer acts that catch my interest like Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. I don't tend to like hard-core rap or syrupy ballads and so avoid a lot of people that Al has parodied.

In other words, I usually enjoy Al's previous album better by the time the new one comes out. So, I like "Straight Outa Lynwood" much much better than I did in 2006.

Some people HATE Weird Al, which is their right. He is not for all tastes. In any case, you've got to admit the dedication and detail Al pays not only to his parodies, but in his original songs as well.

The highlight of Al's latest for me is his Doors genre parody called "Craigslist". Ray Manzarek actually performs keyboards on this and the second disc DVD contains a video of it with Al doing Morrison par excellence.

For those who can't stand to have a second disc with DVD videos, you can also just purchase the single disc CD.

Another thing, I'm sure Al won't do this, but I think it would be funny if Al did a video of "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" where he sings alongside Allan Sherman and does a duet with him a la Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole.

Finally, I was reading Wikipedia's coverage about Weird Al and was surprised to find out how many music acts that I like that also like Weird Al don't like parodies of their own songs including Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page and Prince. Hey guys, lighten up. Geez, your image isn't THAT good. In fact it is an honor to have Weird Al do your song. I know that I would like to hear "Chicken Pot Pie" ("Live and Let Die") and the Led Zeppelin polka medley. And Billy Joel, get over the "It's Still Billy Joel to Me", one of the funniest unreleased Weird Al parodies of all time.

Friday, June 24, 2011

White Album Ensemble

I saw the White Album Ensemble with friends last night at San Jose's free Music in the Park. I've seen them before, and they were as good as usual, but this time did not play any Beatles album through its entirety, instead focusing on Beatles songs everyone knows and loves, with particular attention to the 1966-1970 period. There were also a couple solo Lennon songs ("Imagine", "Instant Karma") thrown in for good measure. This time they had a full brass section, which I don't think they had before. I seem to remember the brassy sections being done on the keyboard before.

The Ensemble is different from other Beatles covers bands as they make no attempt to really look or sound like The Beatles. They just perform and sing the songs very well, and that's all that's really necessary. So, if you ever get a chance to see them, do!

I snapped some photos which I am showing here.

Jack Sheldon and Gene Colan

Of course, lots of famous people I admire die all the time, but never two in one day that I've actually met!

I'm saddened to say the passings of Jack Sheldon and Gene Colan.

I met Jack a few years ago at a Ronnie Schell comedy benefit at San Francisco State University. He was there with the also now late Merv Griffin. Jack and Merv used to work together and they went on stage with some fun patter about celebrities and music and comedy. Merv sang a few songs and Jack played his trumpet.

Jack was better know to us kiddies as the singer for "Conjunction Junction" and "I'm Just a Bill" for "Schoolhouse Rock". He even sang a parody of "Bill" on the "Simpsons" once called "I'm an Amendment to Be". He was a jolly guy when I met him backstage and really enjoyed cutting up with Merv, who was also a great guy.

Gene Colan appeared at a signing at Lee's Comics in 2007. He was already in ill health and the reason that he was doing the signing in the first place was to earn money to pay for his medical bills. Gene was very soft-spoken and very cordial and signed my Marvel book and also the second volume of Dark Horse's "Creepy" reprints.

I saw him soon after at the Cartoon Art Museum and I believe also at Wondercon and was thinking to myself, "This guy isn't sick, he does more traveling than me!" He was with his second wife, Adrienne at the time, who later, in a bizarre set of circumstances physically assaulted Gene and then took her own life in 2010. At the time of me meeting her, Adrienne appeared to be normal. Apparently, not so.

Although he did work for "Daredevil" and "Iron Man", it was his work for "Howard the Duck" and "Tomb of Dracula" that I admired most. He even did some work for "Cracked"!

I miss them both.

UPDATE: Seems that reports of Sheldon's death are greatly exaggerated! Details later...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Joan Walsh Anglund

My sister was really into Joan Walsh Anglund when we were kids in the 70s. Back then, they issued numerous books, dolls and calendars with the large-headed, no-mouthed children who's only intent is to be cute.

This type of design has since been surpassed by the likes of Hello Kitty, but I saw a book today of some poetry and drawings by Anglund, so I decided to look her up on Wikipedia.

They actually have removed her entry, but I did discover in another spot that she was born in 1926 and is still alive. I don't know what she currently does or if she currently does any artwork. She may just be old and feeble. Does anyone have any news?


Mark Evanier commented on his blog entry about the upcoming Blu-Ray release of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" that he has not embraced the new format. His reasoning being that by the time he converts to the new format, the Blu-Ray will be deemed obsolete. I tend to agree with that notion despite having friends that swear by Blu-Ray.

Now, I am no luddite, but I tend to embrace new formats that seem to be practical and do not compromise what I already own. Also, cost and availability has a lot to do with it, too.

In the case of video, I go back to the stone ages of Super 8 and actually purchased a few 7 minute films that cost 10x more than an entire DVD does today.

When video tape came in, my dad purchased a Beta machine in early 1977. I thought this was the greatest invention of the world. Unfortunately, Sony was slow on the uptake on video tape and very soon VHS took over. I HATED that format, and initially refused to embrace it, until it became impossible to find Beta tapes anymore. This despite the fact that Beta is a better quality video tape format than VHS ever was.

Next came 12" laser discs and video discs. Many people got laser discs, but I passed due to the cost and the fact that you had to flip everything over to get the rest of the film. Besides, by this time, vinyl record albums were on the way out and being replaced by CD's. I saw no purpose in replacing the large format discs with another version.

Now my mom purchased a video disc machine. This differed from the laser disc as the principle was more closely related to the vinyl record with a needle than what eventually became the DVD. Had my mom not purchased one of these machines, I would have bypassed this format as well

Next came DVD. I totally embraced this format, but was initially hesitant, thinking that it wouldn't catch on. I made the conscious decision to not by DVD's unless Disney released them and the machines dropped in price lower than $200. Eventually, Disney joined the DVD race with "Mary Poppins" and machines did get lower, and I sold virtually all of my video tapes. (I still have my films, however...)

Now, it's Blu-Ray. I haven't accepted this format primarily because I don't have a high-definition TV (and don't plan to get one anytime soon), the movies I tend to buy aren't released on Blu-Ray anyway, and the ones that are, usually don't have much that's significantly different in that format.

Now, if they released the COMPLETE Looney Tunes or something to Blu-Ray, you can bet your boots I'd be buying them, and a new TV and a Blu-Ray player today.

Also, agreeing with Mark Evanier, if I did transition over, they'd probably replace it with a new format as soon as I got it, such as streaming video or video on a flash drive or such similar non-spinning device.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Robert Crumb at the San Jose Museum of Art

Well not him, but his artwork. This show runs June 23 through September 25, 2011, and it will be the last time all the pages of Robert Crumb's Book of Genesis will be together in one setting as after this the pages will be split up and sold.

I went to a sneak preview today and took a few pics. Highly recommended!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Stanford Photos

A while back I posted a few Castro Theatre photos from San Francisco. Now, here's some photos of the interior of the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, CA. Enjoy...

I love these old theaters.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Drool! Drool!

A recent collection unearthed by an 85-year-old original owner...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Robert Crumb Art Exhibit in San Jose

The San Jose Museum of Art at 110 South Market Street in San Jose, CA, is planning to have "The Bible Illuminated: R. Crumb's Book of Genesis" on display from June 23-September 25, 2011. I plan to go. Do you?

Road Pictures

If you are in the Palo Alto, CA area from June 15-17, they are running two of the classic Bob Hope-Bing Crosby Road pictures at the Stanford Theatre. They are running "Road to Rio" with my favorite one "Road to Utopia". I plan to go on Friday night at 6. Join me if you like.

Fairport Convention

So my friend Greg has been trying to get me to like Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson. At first, I poo-pooed them thinking they were a bit lightweight, but then I realized that, as Greg pointed out, that Fairport is a lot like Jefferson Airplane and I like them. They are also a lot like The Mamas and the Papas strangely enough, with their harmonies.

They also hung around Led Zeppelin a lot, with Denny contributing vocal's on Zep's "Battle for Evermore" on their 4th album.

Ok, ok, so I like them now. I don't know if I'll rush out to buy all their albums as I have done with groups I have embraced in the past,

Monday, June 13, 2011

Here's my books! They're all in! Woo-Hoo!

The IT Crowd

I'm always on the lookout for some great TV shows on DVD. Since I don't have cable, I have to scour the shelves at the library or DVD store to see what's available. I took a chance on a new one (even though it originally aired in 2006) called "The IT Crowd". It's written by the same guy who wrote "Father Ted" (a favorite of mine) and "Black Books" (another good one, but not as good as "Father Ted") and produced by the UK producer of "The Office" (not a huge fan, but I like Ricky Gervais. I preferred "Extras").

Anyway, "IT Crowd" is kinda like a UK version of "The Big Bang Theory". I've only seen the first season of six episodes, but I liked what I saw. It's two nerdy IT guys named Roy and Moss who's IT response is usually, "Have you turned it on and off?" A new lady named Jen gets hired to be their "Manager". There is also a goth guy named Richmond who lives in the office behind a red door.

I'll have to get the second through fourth series and catch up...

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I'm rewatching "Casablanca" on DVD and realize that I probably like the film better for the relationship between Claude Rains and Humphrey Bogart rather than the one you are supposed to like between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

The reason why has to do with the genuineness of the Rains/Bogart friendship. Even though they had threatened each others lives as in the Bogart/Bergman relationship, they are more willing to forgive and move on, creating the great line that Bugs Bunny often repeated, "This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Anyway, as a huge Rains fan, and a somewhat good Bogart fan, this helps. Claude Rains is just fantastic in any role and he usually is underrated or ignored by most reviewers.

Overall, what's fantastic about "Casablanca" to me is not the romance, which is nice, but really it's the suspense. You really don't know until the last few frames of the picture where this thing is going and who is going to live or die or stay or escape.

Even today upon multiple viewings, I am fascinated by the intricacy of the writing, that you really can't guess what's going to happen next until it happens.

The Big Broadcast of 1938 and International House

I went again to the Stanford Theatre, one of my favorite places to go. This time I went to see "The Big Broadcast of 1938" and "International House".

Both films feature the great W.C. Fields, but "Broadcast" is probably best known now for the feature film debut of Bob Hope and the song "Thanks for the Memory" which became Bob's theme song.

W.C. does a great bit on a pool table and on the golf course. There are other things going on like a crazy flip-over dance with Martha Raye and a storyline for Bob where he's in alimony prison for his three ex-wives and is now on the arm of ever lovely Dorothy Lamour. In the end, Bob goes back to one of his exes turning down Dorothy!

The main storyline is a big broadcast aboard a ship about a ship race between the Gigantic and the Colossal, but not that it matters. There is so much going on and its so incongruous that you really just have to sit back and enjoy the set pieces and not the film as a whole.

But "Broadcast" seems totally coherent in comparison to "International House". This bit of insanity takes places in Wu-Hu, China, a name which prompts the following dialogue exchange between W.C. Fields, the effeminate Franklin Pangborn and an unnamed lady.

Fields: Where am I?

Lady: Wu-Hu!

Fields: Woo-hoo to you, too. Now where am I?

Pangborn: (more insistent) Wu-Hu!

Fields: (obviously not wanting to be propositioned by a man, casually tosses away his boutonniere.) Don't let the posie fool you!

Fields flies in a crazy helicopter-type contraption and ends up in Wu-Hu, but the main thrust of this story if there is one is showcasing various musical acts such as Cab Calloway and Baby Rose Marie (later of "The Dick Van Dyke Show") on an invention pre-dating television.

George Burns and Gracie Allen exchange some lame Vaudevillian jokes and a doctor and nurse and Bela Lugosi is even here as a Russian General.

The story at times sometimes moves at a snail's pace, and the dialogue is generally unfunny, but it's great to see all these old timers once again. I am not alone in this assessment, as the reviews from the time as printed in "The Films of W.C. Fields" parrot my views.

In other words, it was considered bad back in 1933.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Comments on Cracked Book

The comments are a startin'. They are generally pretty favorable, but it's starting that people as usual are nitpicky about the details. I actually appreciate this, though sometimes it is a bit harsh. Anyway, start checking out the reviews of my Cracked books on the internet and then do me a favor and buy a copy please!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Neil Innes

Saw Neil Innes last night at the Red Devil Lounge in San Francisco. Who is he, you may ask? If you've seen "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", he's the minstrel playing and singing with Brave Sir Robin. Or, you may know him from the Rutles. Or maybe other Monty Python stuff. Or maybe even the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. If you're really hard core, you may know him from "Rutland Weekend Television" or "Do Not Adjust Your Set". Or you may still not know him at all. If that's the case, it's your loss...

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Warner Archive Updates

I still get annoyed with these studios offering DV-R's for $20 apiece and up for usually schlocky old movies. On the plus side, how else are you going to complete your collections of schlocky old movies.

Warner Archives has just released "Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd" and "Rio Rita" to DVD, and thus every Abbott and Costello film is now own on DVD in some form. The annoying thing again is that these two movies cost more than the 8-film sets that Universal put out years ago of old A&C films.

Another film out is Soupy Sales' "Birds Do It". Not a great film at all, but it is nice to have it out.

Though again I complain, I am happy there are series like Warner Archives, Universal Vault, Disney Exclusives, etc., etc.

The Looney Tunes Button Fund

I want to buy this Looney Tunes button, but I don't want to pay $100. Please, help a brother out and contribute to the "I Want to Help Mark Arnold Get The Looney Tunes Button Fund". Paypal your contributions to

This was a button that Dell Comics offered to subscribers back in 1947. Author Craig Yoe has one and made me aware of it. Now I've seen one for sale for more money than I'm usually willing to shell out for such things. (Of course, if you have one for sale at significantly less than $100, please let me know.)

You will be rewarded for your efforts by the comforting thought that you have made this comic book and animation fan very very happy. Thank you for your support.