Saturday, January 15, 2005


The truth is that Elvira and I have a history, of sorts. Ten or twelve years ago, someone gave me one of those stand-up cardboard figures of her that were used to advertise some brand of beer around Halloween. When Elvira showed up at a toy show in Houston a while later, I took the cut-out to be autographed. She had to stand up and lean over the table to do the signing, and she said, "Some of these guys have been waiting all day to see this."

OK, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "That's not much of a history." Maybe not, but it was pretty exciting for me. I lead a sheltered life, after all.

Elvira was a good sport about signing the cut-out, and I liked her on TV when she was introducing horror movies. I thought she was pretty funny. So when I got a DVD called Elvira's Haunted Hills for Christmas, I thought that might be funny, too.

I was wrong. Cassandra Peterson dresses like Elvira, but she steps out of the TV persona to play Elvira as a hot-to-trot entertainer who spends the weekend in a haunted castle. The idea of a movie sending up all those American-International versions of Poe's stories isn't bad. It's the execution that's lacking. The one-liners just aren't funny, and while the Poe spoofing (of just about every famous story Poe wrote, and some of the poems as well) is interesting for a minute or two, it doesn't really work. Which is too bad, since I wanted to like the movie.

I have to say that the production values are better than average (except for the big special effect at the end, but maybe it's supposed to be so bad that it's funny, which it's not). And Elvira's hills, haunted or not, are on prominent display throughout the movie. Even that (or those) isn't enough to save it unless you're a real Elvira fan. I am, so I managed to watch the whole thing, or at least most of it. I'm sorry to say that I can't recommend it to anybody else, however. Posted by Hello

ET Visitors: Scientists See High Likelihood

Yahoo! News - ET Visitors: Scientists See High Likelihood: "Now a team of American scientists note that recent astrophysical discoveries suggest that we should find ourselves in the midst of one or more extraterrestrial civilizations. Moreover, they argue it is a mistake to reject all UFO reports since some evidence for the theoretically-predicted extraterrestrial visitors might just be found there."

This whole article is worth reading. I confess that I know less than nothing about wormholes and superstring theory, but I do think the possibility of extraterrestrial life is fascinating to contemplate.

Friday, January 14, 2005

I've been reading about this guy named Armstrong Williams, who apparently got $240,000 for plugging the administration's "no child left behind" act in his newspaper or magazine column. I want to know where I can go to sell out to the administration. I'd be more than happy to plug any program at all right here in this immensely popular blog, and I'd do it for a lot less than $240,000. Hey, I'd do it for a tenth of that amount. That's right, for a mere $24,000 I'd plug just about anything. If you have government connections, please be sure to let them know about my bargain rates. And my total lack of scruples. Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Posted by Hello

I Married a Witch

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear : "Nostalgia isn't what it used to be." -- Peter DeVries

Once again Ivan over at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear has mentioned a movie that has a special significance for me. I Married a Witch is the first movie I ever saw on TV. I don't know how old I was at the time, probably nine or ten, but I do know that we didn't have TV at my house. We were visiting my aunt in San Antonio, Texas, where she shared a small apartment with a friend. I don't remember the sleeping arrangements except that I, as the kid, had to sleep in the living room on the couch. Which meant that I got to watch TV after everyone else was in bed. And the late movie that night was I MARRIED A WITCH. I thought it was great, and I fell instantly in love with Veronica Lake, an infatuation that's stood the test of time. I recall a couple of her scenes in the movie better than anything I've seen in the last month or so.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

My Adventures in Peru: Chapter Two

One of the things about that Peru that amazed me almost as much as the mountains was the poverty of many of the people. The house above would be classifed as a mansion by a lot of people we saw, many of whom lived in mud houses (sun-dried adobe, if you want to be fancy) with dirt floors and small muddy courtyards. Most of the houses had windows and doors, but some didn't. We passed one so dilapidated that I assumed no one could possibly live there. And a woman stepped through the doorway. I'm sure there are people living in those places who've never known what it means to be warm and comfortable, at least not by the standards I usually apply.

On the way to Nasca, we passed places in the desert that seemed to be nothing more than four walls of mats made of leaves. We thought they might be some kind of animal pens. No, the guide said, people live there, squatters who've come down from the mountains. They have no running water and no electricity, but if they live there for a certain period of time (five or six years, he wasn't sure), they'll have free claim to the land. Someone checks on them now and then to be sure they're actually living there. For some of us, it was like looking out at the landscape of Mars.

One of the most poignant sights I saw in all of Peru was from the window of the train to Machu Picchu as we were leaving Cusco. We passed adobe house after adobe house, and in some of the windows we could see things like a plant or a teddy bear. But in one of them there was a picture of Britney Spears. I wondered how whoever lived in that room could ever have heard of her, much less obtained a picture. To someone living in that house, Britney Spears must seem as far away as the moons of Jupiter. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Cornell Hurd Band

My son does the sound for Austin's Cornell Hurd Band. He also produced and recorded the band's latest CD. Great stuff if you like country swing, which I do. There are a couple of instrumentals on the CD that I especially like. They're not country. More like country surf, or something. They'd have been monster hits back in the early '60s. Maybe that's why I like 'em. Posted by Hello

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Machu Picchu Choo-Choo

This is the train that goes from Cusco to Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu. When we arrived at the platform in Cusco, l located the conductor (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) and sang my line, "Pardon me, boy, is this the Machu Pichu Choo-Choo?" A guy who overheard me asked why I'd burst out in song. I told him it had been my lifelong dream to sing that line at that place. He said he was glad he could be there to share the moment. Posted by Hello

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The movie's in B&W. They colorized the box for the VHS tape. Posted by Hello

The Good Humor Man

For some reason I can't seem to post comments over at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, so I'm going to say something here in response to today's post on Jack Carson, which happens to mention The Good Humor Man. When I was a kid, this was one of my favorite movies. I thought I was probably the only person in the world who remembered it, but I'm glad Ivan over at Thrilling Days does, too. Back in 1950 I saw it three times in two days (I sat through two showings back to back and returned to the theater the next day to see it again). When I saw a video of it several years ago, I nabbed it, and I've watched it several times since. It has everything a kid could want: slapstick comedy, a murder mystery, a secret club, Lola Albright, and Captain Marvel. How could I not love it? (George Reeves is in the movie, but he doesn't play Superman. Or Captain Marvel.) Others might find it a quickie, knocked out on the cheap, with a bad script (it's by Roy Huggins and Frank Tashlin) and unfunny humor. Not me. I think I'll watch it again soon.