Saturday, December 26, 2015

First It was the Thin Mints Melee

‘I’ll kill you right now’: Florida man opens fire at McDonald’s restaurant after dispute over order escalates

Steampunk 101: From Sci-Fi Sub-genre to Cultural Phenomenon

Boneshaker by Cherie PriestSteampunk 101: From Sci-Fi Sub-genre to Cultural Phenomenon on AbeBooks: The creation of the ‘steampunk’ term is usually attributed to the science fiction author K.W. Jeter, who used it in a letter to Locus Magazine. He was trying to find a way to describe Victorian fantasy novels like those written by himself (Morlock Night and Infernal Devices), Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates) and James Blaylock (Homunculus).

Song of the Day

Ray Charles - Hard Hearted Hannah - YouTube:

Everything Old Is New Again

Columbia House looking to get back in the mail-order game with vinyl records

Today's Vintage Ad

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Best TV Characters 2015


Norman Bligh, Sin Child, Quarter Books, 1949

Soon We'll Have No Rights Left at All

Woman arrested after drinking wine; eating sushi, muffins, chicken at Walmart

Words (Not to) Live By, 2015 Edition

Words (Not to) Live By, 2015 Edition: Attempts by dictionary publishers to appeal to the millennial generation have, sadly, lent legitimacy to words like "fleek" and "hangry."

William Guest, R. I. P.

Gladys Knight and the Pips member William Guest dies at 74 - AOL: William Guest, a member of Gladys Knight and the Pips, has died. He was 74. 

Guest performed throughout the lifespan of the Grammy-winning group from 1953 to 1989. He performed background vocals on hits such as "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "Midnight Train to Georgia."  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Conversation with Steve Binder, Director of the Star Wars Holiday Special

Conversation with Steve Binder, Director of the Star Wars Holiday Special: What does the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special have to do with improving race relations and Elvis getting his groove back? Steve Binder. So this holiday season, I sat down with the legendary director to talk about Wookiees, Hound Dogs and some of the other highlights from his career.

I Want to Believe!

Montana man claims he has proof that UFOs are real   

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Star Wars!

Working on the theory that nobody would be at Star Wars on Christmas Eve, Angela, Allen, Tom, and I decided to go.  It worked out fine.  There weren't more than thirty people in the theater, which is about how I like it.  We all got a big kick out of the movie, which we saw at a Cinemark with XD, which just means a bigger than usual screen, and 3D, which, well, you know what that means.  We all enjoyed the movie, and I was encouraged to dig around in the back of the closet and bring out the t-shirt that I bought back in 1977 to wear.  Since it was 82 degrees, a t-shirt was the right kind of apparel.  

As for the movie, Harrison Ford stole the show as far as I was concerned, not that Daisy Ridley wasn't terrific.  John Boyega was good, too.  But Ford looked like he was having a wonderful time.  All the old friends were there, and I'm ready for the sequel.  At my age, I can only hope they get it made soon.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Year In Band Names

When Bundled Bowels met Gruesome Toilet: The 2015 year in band names 

Hat tip to Art Scott.

First It was the Thin Mints Melee SAN DIEGO — A man was stabbed by a 400-pound, bearded woman soon after asking a group of people for a cigarette in East Village Wednesday night, police said.

TBT: Christmas, 1965

In 1965 Judy and I were living in our little apartment on Normal Street in Denton and having our first Christmas together.  We bought our little tree (that's it on the left) at an A&P grocery store and immediately decided that would be our Christmas tradition.  I don't know how many years after that we bought our trees at A&P, but the tradition lasted for all our Austin years and extended into the Brownwood years for a while.   The decorations on that tree are some of the ones on our tree this year. 

Eventually we decided it was time to get an artificial tree because the real ones were causing problems.  The needles they dropped on the carpet were bad enough, clogging up the vacuum and almost burning up the motor.  The tree was so dry by the time Christmas rolled around that it was a serious fire hazard. 

We found a plastic tree on sale at T.G.&Y. after Christmas and bought it to use the next year.  It wasn't long afterward that the A&P in Brownwood closed its doors forever, but I'm sure there was no connection.

The artificial tree inspired me to poetic heights I've never reached since.  I may have posted this poem before, but here it is again:


Underneath my plastic tree
are plastic presents, wrapped with glee
and plastic tape as you can see.
Nearby there's a nativity
(made of plastic, naturally)
with its plastic babe fast asleep
and plastic shepherds that quietly creep,
as plastic angels from the rooftop peep.

Beside it stand my plastic wife, 
my plastic children . . .
my plastic life.

First It was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

. . . and now it's the alleged urine attack!  Indiana Woman, 69, Stockpiled Her Urine So She Could Dump It On Neighbor's Home: Jackie VanTyle was charged Monday with a pair of misdemeanor criminal mischief counts for the alleged urine attack on the property in Lynn, a town about 80 miles east of Indianapolis.

Song of the Day

SANTO & JOHNNY - Twistin' Bells (1962) - YouTube:

Elvis Presley and His Gift-giving

Elvis Presley and His Gift-giving

Today's Vintage Ad

The year in guilty-pleasure movies

The year in guilty-pleasure movies: The most delightful flops and worst trainwrecks of the year

First It was the Thin Mints Melee

NY Daily News: A British man attacked his girlfriend for asking him if he wanted a McDonald’s McMuffin while he was on a diet.


Mickey Spillane, Me, Hood, Signet, 1968

Bob Dylan Reads “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”

Bob Dylan Reads “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” 

The Joys of the Dark Side by Elaine Viets

The Joys of the Dark Side by Elaine Viets

Christmas in jail

Vintage photos of what it was like to spend Christmas in jail  

Link via Neatorama.

Angela McEwan, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Angela McEwan, whose late-in-life acting résumé included a brief but memorable turn as the former flame of a hapless old man played by Bruce Dern in the Oscar-nominated 2013 film “Nebraska,” died on Sunday in Long Beach, Calif. She was 81.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Snuff Garrett, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Snuff Garrett, a former Texas disc jockey who was forsaken by his own music teachers but became a millionaire by the time he was 30 producing records for Bobby Vee, Del Shannon, Gary Lewis & the Playboys and other artists, died on Dec. 16 in Tucson. He was 76.

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Forgotten Music: 10 Legendary Artists That Never Had a Number One Hit

10 Legendary Artists That Never Had a Number One Hit 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

George Clayton Johnson, R. I. P.

Salem-News.Com: George Clayton Johnson wrote the very first episode of Star Trek, The Man Trap; he wrote eight original Twilight Zone episodes for series creator Rod Serling including "Nothing in the Dark", "Kick the Can", "A Game of Pool", and "A Penny for Your Thoughts".

Update:  Locus has taken down its notice of the death of George Clayton Johnson.  Apparently the reports were greatly exaggerated.

Brooke McCarter, R. I. P.

BBC News: Brooke McCarter, best known for playing a vampire in The Lost Boys, has died at the age of 52, his family has said.

First It was the Thin Mints Melee

The Smoking Gun: DECEMBER 23--A heated argument over beer turned violent Friday night when a Minnesota woman bit off her husband’s ear, according to police.

I Miss the Old Days

The Sears Wish Book, 1977  

Link via Boing Boing.

Song of the Day


The Story of the Star Wars Holiday Special

The Star Wars Holiday Special

Today's Vintage Ad

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 20 Best Movies of 2015  

Annoying slideshow.

Yes, right, of course it was. Just move along. Nothing more to see here.

Mystery Solved! Bright Light Seen Across Southern California Skies Was Debris From Russian Rocket


Mickey Spillane, Killer Mine, Signet, 1968

I Miss the Old Days

Vintage Scan #43: Parade (November 30, 1969) - Retrospace

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales in 2015

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales in 2015


Texas hunkers down for another oil bust

Top names of the 1960s

Top names of the 1960s: The following table shows the 200 most popular given names for male and female babies born during 1960 - 1969. For each rank and sex, the table shows the name and the number of occurrences of that name. The 200 most popular names were taken from a universe that includes 19,617,720 male births and 18,899,276 female births.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

First It was the Thin Mints Melee

Salvation Army bell ringer attacked in White Plains, hit with kettle  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Get a Rope

Daily Mail Online: Saudi authorities close down shop selling traditional camel urine drinks… after discovering the owner had been filling the bottles with his own bodily waste

Perfectly Justified

News from The Associated Press:  A Montana man is charged with threatening to shoot a boy for sharing information about a subplot of the new "Star Wars" movie during an online conversation.

Free for Kindle for a Limited Time

Holiday Homicide (University Mystery Series Book 2) - Kindle edition by Brenda Donelan. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @   Criminology professor Marlee McCabe is thrust into a criminal investigation when a janitor is murdered at Midwestern State University. Marlee's sleuthing leads her to the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation and into the dangerous underworld of trafficking Native American artifacts and sacred cultural items. Those involved are not afraid to use threats, violence, and even murder to keep their secrets buried. What will they do to keep Marlee from exposing the truth?

Literally Just 25 Things That Happened At Walmart In 2015

Includes bad language:  Literally Just 25 Things That Happened At Walmart In 2015

Song of the Day

The Kingston Trio: "The White Snows Of Winter" - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Best Movies of 2015

Today's Vintage Ad

I Want to Believe!

Telegraph: Genes which make people intelligent have been discovered and scientists believe they could be manipulated to boost brain power.

I Miss the Old Days

Inside the Playboy Paradise, 1966 


Cecil St. Laurent, Caroline Cherie, Dell, 1952

To the People Who Follow this Blog

Blogger Buzz: An update on Google Friend Connect: We encourage you to tell affected readers (perhaps via a blog post), that if they use a non-Google Account to follow your blog, they need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-follow your blog. With a Google Account, they’ll get blogs added to their Reading List, making it easier for them to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs they follow. 

We know how important followers are to all bloggers, but we believe this change will improve the experience for both you and your readers.

The Most Frequently Returned Holiday Gifts Each Year

The Most Frequently Returned Holiday Gifts Each Year

Patricia Elliott, R. I. P.

NY Daily News: Patricia Elliott, who won a Tony Award on her Broadway musical debut, went on to star opposite David Bowie in "The Elephant Man" and spent 23 years aboard the TV soap opera "One Life to Live," has died. She was 77.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Or Maybe You Did

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Winter Solstice

Overlooked Movies: The Musketeer

That's right, The Musketeer.  Singular.  The guide that pops up on my TV screen refers to the movie as a "loose adaptation" of Dumas' famous novel.  That sounds about right.  The guide also tells me that the movie is sitting on about 11% "fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes.  That sounds about right, too. 

But here's the thing: As much as I decry unnecessary remakes, I'll watch any movie that's based on The Three Musketeers because I love the story and have ever since I saw the Gene Kelly version when I was a kid.  I took a look at some of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.  Wow.  Some of those people despised this movie.  They loathed it.  You might not be surprised, however, to hear that I got a big kick out of it. 

See, what this is, is a Hong Kong version of The Three Musketeers, with action scenes designed by Xin-Xin Xiong, a fairly big name in that field.  So let's get this straight right from the start: The movie's about the action scenes.  There's no acting required, and the stars live up to that idea (with one exception, which I'll get to).  Catherine Deneuve (the queen) is beautiful, and Mena Suvari (the sweet confidant) isn't bad.  Justin Chambers (D'Artagnan) is dashing and handsome.  Stephen Rea, as Cardinal Richelieu, hardly bothers.  Everybody pronounces D'Artagnan's name differently.  The plot doesn't make any sense.  Aramis, Pothos, and Athos are just afterthoughts (Athos hardly appears at all).  But the action scenes make up for all of that.  And so does Tim Roth.

You might recall that Tim Roth was the villainous villain in Rob Roy, which I talked about last week.  He was so villainous that I didn't think anyone could top him, and maybe that's true.  However, he can top himself.  He plays Febre, whose motiveless malignity is a wonder to behold.  If there's such a thing as overplaying by underplaying, Roth has mastered that ability, and he shows it here with magnificent restraint and all the best lines in the movie, but it's not so much the lines as the delivery.  Samples:

D'Artagnan: Do not harm her!

Febre the Man in Black: But, I feel the need to harm someone.
The Queen: I will die before I help you.

Febre the Man in Black: Well, you wouldn't be the first.
The Queen: Is there no mercy in your heart?

Febre: No mercy. No heart.

There are a good many more.  The others have some good lines, too, but Roth is far and away the best at this kind of thing.

Now about those action scenes.  I'll just mention a couple.  One of them is the stagecoach chase that you've seen in a hundred old westerns, but never quite like this.  There are a few dozen men (who's counting?) pursuing the coach, and D'Artagnan defeats every single one of them with any number of amazing stunts, including one in which he stands on the saddle of one horse and jumps to the saddle of another and lands standing on it.  And just for fun, the classic stunt of falling off the front of the coach, hitting the ground between the running horses, and then pulling up on the rear of the coach is here, too.  It's a fine scene.

The finale comes after D'Artagnan climbs a rope up the side of a castle tower, sword fighting with men who drop down on their own ropes to tangle with him.  They don't stand a chance, of course.  When he gets inside the tower, he finds the queen and Mena Suvari.  And of course, Febre.  The big finale begins, and it's right out of some Jackie Chan movie I saw once.  They fight their way into a big warehouse full of wine barrels and ladders.  Many ladders.  The climax of the battle comes on these ladders, and you have to see it to disbelieve it.  Great stuff.  Guess who wins.

BONUS:  This is the only musketeers movie ever to have jokes about crocodiles in the sewers.  Really.  It was great.  Sometimes I think I'm the sole target audience for a movie.  This might be one of those times.

So once again we have a movie that nobody likes but me.  Or maybe you'll get a kick out of it if you approach it in the right spirit.  Buckle on your swash and give it a try.

The Musketeer

The Musketeer (2001) Official Trailer - Mena Suvari, Tim Roth Movie HD - YouTube:

Monday, December 21, 2015

Nicolas Cage Update

Actor Nicolas Cage seen returning stolen dinosaur skull he bought

This Is Exactly Why We Need 911

Man Phones 911 for Rolling Papers

It's all about Walnut

Here's what I'm trying to figure out these days:  What's up with Walnut?

The reason why I'm pondering this question is that for months now I've been getting e-mails from concerned individuals who happen to believe I live in Walnut.  For example:

We don't know if you happen to heard good news but Obama has launched an innovative program to let you fund your own home.

This system is actually for individuals living in the area of Walnut. 


Pedophile Alert in Walnut area!


Hey there , I know you live near me at Walnut.

I want to meet you if you're still interested by me? 

Clearly this Walnut is a happening place.  I almost wish I did live there.  

11 Great Facts About ‘Bad Santa’

11 Great Facts About ‘Bad Santa’ 

Song of the Day

Snoopy's Christmas -- Royal Guardsmen - YouTube:

Forgotten Hits: 50 Year Flashback: December 21st, 1965

Forgotten Hits: 50 Year Flashback: December 21st, 1965

Today's Vintage Ad

I Miss the Old Days

TV Guide #12: December 16-22, 1978 - Retrospace


Florence Stonebraker, Four Men and a Dame, Quarter Books, 1951

Paris Hilton Update

Paris Hilton puts on busty display in red cut-out swimsuit in the Caribbean   

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Michael Jackson And Stephen King Made a Film About Ghosts

Michael Jackson And Stephen King Made a Film About Ghosts, and It Tanked, Hard 

Where the Wild Books Are

Where the Wild Books Are: Needle-in-a-haystack stories are the caffeine of collecting. Who hasn’t heard a tale of someone finding a rare toy at a garage sale, a dust-covered antique in an attic, or a priceless document hidden inside a beat-up picture frame? “That could be me,” we are supposed to think, and right on cue, we do.

What are the lyrics to "The Twelve Days of Crispness"?

The Straight Dope: What are the lyrics to "The Twelve Days of Crispness"?


Climate change: Crocodile survival at risk

Sunday, December 20, 2015

8 Popular Christmas Songs Written by Jews

8 Popular Christmas Songs Written by Jews   

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

12 Best Hymn Covers Of 2015

12 Best Hymn Covers Of 2015

Song of the Day

O Little Town of Bethlehem - Bob Rivers - YouTube:

Rare Vintage Photos of Christmas in the Victorian Era

Rare Vintage Photos of Christmas in the Victorian Era

Today's Vintage Ad


The IRS could soon call you about debt collection, and it's not a scam: A provision in the emergency budget plan, signed into law by President Barack Obama, allows federal agencies to make robocalls demanding payment of back taxes, as well as student loans and mortgage debts.


Edison Marshal, Benjamin Blake Son of Fury, Dell, 1951

The Things They Carried

Military kit through the ages: from the Battle of Hastings to Helmand

Link via Messy Nessy.

Big Deal. I Have Ketchup that Old in my Refrigerator.

Shipwreck Filled With Roman 'Ketchup' Discovered off Italy's Coast : Archaeologists recently discovered a Roman shipwreck off the coast of northeastern Italy that dates back to the 1st or 2nd century CE. Unlike other recent aquatic finds such as the Spanish galleon San Jose, this submerged craft wasn’t laden with gold, jewels, or other precious relics. Instead, The Local reports that it once contained 3000 jars of a fermented fish sauce called garum—a condiment that’s considered the “ketchup” of the ancient Mediterranean.

Big-Box Bookstores Don’t Have to Die

Slate: Big-Box Bookstores Don’t Have to Die

And not the one you might guess, either.

Sword and knife fight puts one man in Halifax hospital