progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from the Crockett Library, whence I am composing this post. Sorry for the frumpy look:

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I shouldn’t get over-confident with regards to facial hair symmetry, as I’ve been having drooping issues again of late. And with a Beard & Moustache event coming up! Oh well, I don’t have any intention of competing, I am just there to support/meet up with [livejournal.com profile] aadroma.

My attempts to go hiking here in the Crockett area have been met with failure each time, for one reason or other. This time it was rained out, even with a little hail! I managed to get a little street walking around town in, but my original plan to hike from Eckley Pier out to the town of Port Costa is out. Oh well. Is this some kind of curse?

Finally got a copy of Love Has Many Faces, a rather infamous Lana Turner vehicle from 1965. [livejournal.com profile] albadger and I wound up watching it on Friday. It’s very quotable, in particular any scene featuring Ruth Roman or Hugh O’Brian, who between them steal the show from Lana’s legendary “million dollar wardrobe.”

Hoping to hear from the park soon. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from the Lombard Mel’s Diner:

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Something new happened this week: I was mistaken by a UC Berkeley student for one of his professors. I suppose it had to happen eventually.

Went to see [livejournal.com profile] albadger in Tartuffe. I expected to be a bit irked by this, as the dialogue is all in verse, but it was quite well done (props to the theater’s artistic director for the first-rate translation). Al had a small (yet verbose: everyone gets tons of words to speak in this) part near the end. It was East Indian themed, which actually works well for the material. [livejournal.com profile] hardybear was in attendance, and it was good to catch up with him.

Went down to get my Livescan and DMV printout on Wednesday for the upcoming job at China Camp. The first UPS store I went to told me their Livescan machine was in the shop getting repaired, so I had to go to the next-nearest one. Where the man had difficulty getting good prints, so he handed me a bottle of Cornhusker’s Lotion and told me to put a little on my hands. I had to restrain myself from blurting out, “This is the first G-rated use of Cornhusker’s Lotion I’ve ever seen!”

Movie find of the week, nay the month, nay the year: Love Has Many Faces, a 1965 potboiler set in Mexico and starring Lana Turner. This looks like Grade A campy kitsch, so I’m glad to have finally landed a copy.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait outside the park housing again. My handlebars were abnormally symmetrical on this particular afternoon, and I wanted to preserve this rarity in a photograph:

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Sorry that I’m a day late for this photo. I’ve been working my butt off this week and I guess my mind isn’t fixated on updating you guys on my activities on my off time.

Saw a couple of rarely-screened movies with Al (Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife and High, Wide and Handsome) at the Stanford on Wednesday evening. I need to do mini-reviews of these. Perhaps tomorrow.

One of the new guys started today. The other starts tomorrow. B_____ returns in a couple of weeks, so finally we’ll have a full staff. Which means that Labor Day won’t be anywhere near this horrific. At least it shouldn’t be! A lot can happen between now and then.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Brian Blessed)
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The first sound version of this much-told tale for the big screen (the first version was a silent in 1916, the second a 1937 TV movie). Unlike the better-remembered 1988 version (but like the 1961 version, also made for TV), this one retains its Victorian setting (the book was written in the late 1800s), so it’s facial hair galore.

The story is a familiar one: a man (Roger Livesey) comes to own a mysterious Indian artifact (stamped “Made in Sheffield” on the bottom!) thanks to his good-for-nothing brother-in-law. But it turns out it’s a wishing stone, and he inadvertently wishes to return to his carefree schoolboy days. And it turns out someone may only wish once. His son (an impossibly young Anthony Newley, pre-voice change), instead of wishing his father back, wishes himself to be grown up and take his father’s place. So, Father must go back to the boarding school where he learns that his son’s schoolboy days are not so carefree, while Son must deal with a conniving woman (Kay Walsh) and the aforementioned brother-in-law.

Unlike a lot of versions of this tale, which emphasize each character learning a lesson about how hard the other’s life is, this one puts an emphasis on the comic potential of the scenario. The dialogue, written by Peter Ustinov (who also directed, but does not seem to appear in the film except perhaps as a background extra), is extremely witty and consistently entertaining. The acting is strong all-round, Livesey convincingly childish as a boy trapped in a man’s body, Newley surprisingly good at imitating Livesey’s mannerisms and voice patterns. James Robertson Justice comes very close to stealing the show as the school’s dictatorial headmaster. Also featuring a teenaged Petula Clark as Newley’s schoolboy sweetheart.

Viewers of British TV will no doubt be amused by the presence of not one, but two veterans of Are You Being Served? not only in the same film, but in the same scene: James Hayter (Mr. Tebbs) as a wisecracking bandmaster and an almost unrecognizable Alfie Bass (Mr. Goldberg) as a street urchin.

Screen grabs to follow. I know, I promised you screen grabs of The Rough Riders last week, but trust me, they’re coming!
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from the Mel’s Diner on Geary in S.F.:

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Incidentally, the cap is not mine. It belongs to [livejournal.com profile] scottasf, who lent it to me for dinner. We were dining (along with [livejournal.com profile] albadger) after a production of the original play of Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Momma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feeling So Sad. It’s a really messed-up, yet captivating, play. I’d previously only seen the film with Rosalind Russell, Robert Morse, Hugh Jeffries and Barbara Harris, and it (rather predictably) completely misses the point of the original text. Really, it strikes me as an unfilmable play, especially considering fully one-fourth of it consists of an extended monologue.

I also tried on Scott’s straw boater, but it didn’t go with the clothes I was wearing, so it stayed in the car.

Other events this week: [livejournal.com profile] 2ndbanana’s birthday party. A new dining experience: fondue! I copied Fol-de-Rol (weird Sid & Marty Krofft variety special from 1972 with a sort of Renaissance Faire theme) and the aforementioned Goin’ Coconuts for him. Lots of fun was had. It’s a shame that, with my current schedule, I tend to only see him once a year these days.

[livejournal.com profile] albadger and I got together additionally to watch a couple of films. One is my new favourite thing ever, and will be discussed in an adjoining post. The other was Dünyayı kurtaran adam, popularly-known as Turkish Star Wars (on account of stealing tons of footage, and some of its music, from the original Star Wars). In it, a couple of astronauts crash-land on a desert planet run by a tyrant who resembles Rasputin with an empty box of Quaker Oats on his head. They battle his army of carpet monsters using cardboard swords, trampolines and clumsy amateur martial arts. That’s pretty much it. Additional music on loan from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Flash Gordon and The Black Hole.

The bad news: the Toshiba laptop I bought back in September completely bricked. The good news: it’s still under the manufacturer’s warranty, so it’s currently at the Toshiba service center. Hopefully I won’t need to wait too long; someone else told me that his has been “waiting for parts” for three weeks. In the meantime, I have the old Lappytron 2000 (MSI), which I’ve renamed the Craptop, on account of the unwieldy bulk, the broken shift key, the piddly-sized hard drive, the noisy fan, the fact that it gives off lots of heat, the power-cord connection is wonky and sensitive and the battery is circling the drain and won’t retain a charge. It was also filthy from months of neglect. Like I said, I can’t wait for the Toshiba to be back in my possession. I only hope there was no data loss.

I guess things are looking up, though. I found two four-leaf clovers while out hiking today. That has to count for something, right?
progbear: Pride Goeth Before Destruction (1900) (Boss Croker inflated)
Three-hour miniseries produced for TNT, based on the Spanish-American War, in particular the activities of the Arizona Volunteers, from the same man who brought you Red Dawn. Rather entertaining if you don’t care about historical accuracy. Myself, I couldn’t help but get over how the production design team played Mr. Potato Head with the Major Generals: Generals Wheeler and Shafter had their facial hair swapped out*.

I also noticed that General Wheeler was portrayed as a borderline psychopath. I don’t know if that was a directorial decision or just a foregone conclusion on account of him being played by Gary Busey Who was, incidentally, too chunkified by 1997 to convincingly portray Wheeler, who even at that advanced age was built like a stick-insect. Meanwhile, Shafter spends two-thirds of the film with an inappropriate Southern drawl. My hypothesis: it might have been the case of actor Rodger Boyce not even bothering to conceal his own Southern accent, rather than my joke about Shafter being from “the south of Michigan” (or being inordinately suggestible after spending one day in Tampa). I’d say they should have gone with my suggestion: have Sam Elliott play him in a fat suit. But I can’t imagine Elliott being content for playing a role that would call for him to sit under a tent and peer through binoculars while barking orders.

Elliott is, of course, in this; you can’t have a latter-day film with anything resembling Old West theming without him. Unsurprisingly, he’s a highlight of the film: he’s one of those charismatic performers who’s just a pleasure to watch/listen to no matter what he’s doing. He plays “Bucky” O’Neill, who I’m half-regretful to say has been reduced to a punchline to a joke thanks to the Cartoon Network show Clarence (Half-regretful, I say, because it’s a funny joke; do a Google search on “Rough Riders Chicken” if you don’t believe me).

The real reason to watch this is Tom Berenger as Teddy Roosevelt. He owns the role, and does everything you’d want to in the part...namely chew every bit of scenery in sight. I get the feeling he jumped at the chance to take the part, and begged the producers for the casting. I’m even envisioning a sort of Sean Young/Catwoman scenario with him bursting into the producers’ office on horseback, dressed in full Rough Riders uniform complete with pince-nez spectacles, waving a saber around and shouting “Bully!” I imagine the reaction was something like, “Well, he’s totally nuts and we’re scared of him, but damn if he’s not convincing. Hands up, who thought it was the ghost of the real Teddy Roosevelt when he first barged in?”

Any scene with him is guaranteed to be watchable. It’s made even better by the presence of Ileana Douglas as Mrs. Roosevelt. After seeing so many on-screen couples displaying all the on-screen interaction of dead fish in the water, it really warms my heart to see two people with dynamite chemistry. It made me long for another, related film of just the two of them as the Roosevelts and their day-to-day lives. It made me long for a series of latter-day screwball comedies with them as the new Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. I’d pay good money to see that. Make it happen, Hollywood!

*On second viewing, it’s like they played Mr. Potato Head with all their hair. In real life, Gen. Wheeler had a full beard, but was balding, and Gen. Shafter had a full head of hair and a moustache. In the film, it’s the other way around. Oh, you’l see when I post the screenshots. Surely, I’m the only person on Earth that would notice or care about this!

Screen-captures forthcoming.

Lucky Seven

Mar. 2nd, 2015 07:17 pm
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait right outside of my house. There’s supposed to be a rainbow off to the left, but the shot is framed incorrectly. Oh well:

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Getting some last minute stuff done before returning to work. Including some DVD transfers, so I have lots and lots of viewing material for the work season. A couple of ’em are pretty self-indulgent: the 1997 3-hour Rough Riders mini-series and Blackie the Pirate (1971) starring Bud Spencer in particular. Saving up the original 1948 Vice-Versa for viewing with [livejournal.com profile] albadger and the previously-mentioned Goin’ Coconuts for soon-to-be birthday boy [livejournal.com profile] 2ndbanana, both of whom I’ll be seeing this weekend.

My great new discovery of the past week was Simply Bowl, on University in Berkeley. After the grievous loss of Yaki Ichiban at the Emery Bay Public Market, I’ve been looking for someplace to get my curry tonkatsu fix, and I think I may have found it. They serve it in a rice bowl with a side of...crunchy red stuff. I guess it’s some kind of radish. Whatever it is, it’s good! I’ll be back here!
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from Beanery, my other, other favourite Oakberkeleyland café:

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Finally got a much-needed cash injection this past week, which was a great relief, as February is turning out to be a very expensive little month. I only have myself to blame. I have to think of my taxes pretty soon; hopefully I’ll see some kind of return.

Got some hiking done before the deluge of rain we got over the weekend. February is looking a bit more like January usually is. I hope we get more rain like this until at least the end of April, though the break in the rain today was welcome. I went out to Point Isabel as I had a yearning for shoreline views. Lots of shorebirds to see, notably avocets which are probably my favourite shorebirds.

[livejournal.com profile] albadger and I watched the aforementioned Claudelle Inglish, the Southern-fried potboiler that was supposed to catapult TV starlet Diane McBain to the Hollywood A-list (it didn’t). It turned out to not have been worth the wait, but it did have its moments (and, I must say, its plot was anything but predictable).

Fans of my Random Video Finds feature rejoice: I took a bunch of screen-captures from one of my old videotapes, so I have a pretty big update coming up. Watch this space!
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from the Hercules Library, possibly my favourite Contra Costa County public library:

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Right when life starts getting expensive, wouldn’t you know, my check from the EDD is delayed. And it’s all my fault for making a stupid mistake on my form. Won’t do that again!

[livejournal.com profile] albadger and I had a much-missed Bad Movie Night this week. It was Death Promise, an extremely silly, and immensely entertaining, low-budget martial arts action movie made in 1970s New York. It’s viewable in its entirety on Youtube, which I suggest you do right now, stopping whatever else you’re doing. I was not expecting it to be that much fun!

In other cinematic news, I finally got me a copy of Claudelle Inglish, the trashy potboiler 1961 film starring Diane McBain and based on the novel by Erskine Caldwell. I have been looking for this film for years, ever since reading about it in Bad Movies We Love, but finding a copy has been difficult, as it never received a home video release in any format. More updates after I wind up watching it...
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from Chamberlain Creek Falls in Jackson State Forest.

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What a switch last week has been from the norm! I spent the weekend with [livejournal.com profile] snousle and Ray (not on LJ) at their country home in the mountains of Mendocino County. Mostly it was a relaxing weekend, starting with a social evening at the town bar in Ukiah but it was mainly very mellow, with home-prepared meals every night (well, take-out pizza on Thursday, but other than that...).

Chester went through his paces on Saturday as I went out on a long car trip out to the coast. I stopped off half-way to take a detour on the forest roads to see Chamberlain Creek Falls. This is really one of my most-liked California waterfalls of the ones I have visited. It has one of those features I really love in that you can actually walk right up to the falls. The daring could strip down and drench themselves in the spray. There were too many other people visiting to be daring.

Stopped off in Fort Bragg for lunch, but elected not to visit the beach there, as while the town was nice, the beach looked pretty scuzzy. So I drove up to the town of Cleone and went to the beach at MacKerricher State Park instead. There were some very dramatic rock formations, perfect for watching waves crash.

I also visited some thrift stores in Ukiah and Fort Bragg but came back empty-handed. The selection was disappointing; contrary to my expectations, I tend to find more interesting junk in Hayward and at the El Sobrante Thrift Town in my own backyard. The fact that one of them was called Paul Bunyan Thrift Store just made it all the more disappointing.

Saturday night was Movie Night! So we watched my favourite episode of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl as a short subject and a prelude to the main feature. Which was Twinsanity, the video title of the 1970 film Goodbye Gemini. Two mentally disturbed fraternal twins (Judy Geeson and Martin Potter) find debauchery and tragedy in swinging London. It’s very 1970, has strong acting performances all-round and, best of all, has a plot that subverts almost every expectation you have. Just when you think you know where this movie is going, it yanks the rug out from under you. Gripping from beginning to end. I had a hunch about this film when I picked up the VHS tape mere weeks ago at Half Price Books, despite never having even heard of it before. What a find!

I definitely have to thank Tony for being such a gracious host. What a cool guy! What a cool home!

Chakra Khan

Jul. 7th, 2014 06:51 pm
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from the streets of Berserkeley:

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Cool discovery this week: my co-worker C____ likes Krautrock! It happened quite accidentally as we were going together in the 1-Ton to clean out one of the campgrounds after lunch. She had her MP3 player and the FM transmitter hooked up, and was flipping through albums looking for something appropriate to play, when I spotted the cover to Can’s Future Days. She was so excited that I even knew what it was! “Most people don’t even know Can!” she said. Later on, I caught her singing along to Amon Düül II. A pity she’s on vacation and I won’t see her again for two weeks. Oh well, I have other cool co-workers, but they’re not “Hydra is laughing, she’s got nine heads” cool.

Oh, and I finally have something I’ve wanted for quite some time: a laserdisc player! It’s a Pioneer, and I forget the model number exactly (CLP...something) but I tested it last night and it does indeed work! (I semi-tested it in my park housing, without the TV, and smelled rubber which was unnerving.) The test disc was Scissors, a campy 1991 psychological thriller starring Sharon Stone. I’ve seen this one before ([livejournal.com profile] albadger and I watched it on Netflix Streaming when it was available there) and have wanted a copy ever since I read about it in Bad Movies We Love. But it’s never been released on DVD, and the VHS copy usually goes for big bucks when it turns up, so I’m quite fortunate to own the laserdisc, and have it in pretty good shape (even on my crappy Zenith CRT television, it looks great).

I finally broke down last week, succumbed to the hype and bought The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Now a week later, I’m 150 pages in (quite a lot for me) and own the sequel. I guess I liked it. And you can bet I’ll get the third in the trilogy when it comes out. Why couldn’t Game of Thrones have affected me this way? Eh, I’ll take another stab at it when I’m done reading these two.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Trying something different with the self-portrait this week: shooting a short video and drawing stills from it:

Rockridge


This Friday, [livejournal.com profile] albadger invited me to the movies. Cinematic mini-rant behind the cut )

Actually, another good thing came out of this: Al laid down another instance of “Boss voice” for the upcoming Movie Explorer video. And it was brilliant! It is such a pleasure to work with an actor who knows how to take direction, it makes me feel like a for-real director.

I was considering attending the Bear Pizza Dublin Tuesday Event...until I saw the stratospheric prices of the place where they hold it. Yikes! Not till I get a high paying job, fellas!
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Sort of trying for a Sam Elliott-ish “come hither” look with this week’s self-portrait. I don’t think I really pulled it off but this is the best I could manage:

Out in front again


For those who haven’t seen it yet, the Xmas Special Fairy Tale Matinée is up. And I just posted a holiday bonus: commentary for my “inexplicably” popular review of The Second Coming of Suzanne.

Coming up next: another Aural Report. I’ll be following that up with a vanilla Movie Explorer episode. Both will probably be ready after the New Year.

[livejournal.com profile] albadger treated me to a viewing of The Hobbit on Friday. My longwinded thoughts behind the cut )

Saturday, I went out to a Christmas party in the Sunset district. Caught up with lots of friends I hadn’t seen in some time, I won’t list them all but if you need proof I was there, [livejournal.com profile] fogbear took this self-portrait incorporating me there.

I promise to be caught up with the Weekly Puck by this week. I only owe you two more images.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
So...how do you like soft-focus?

Photo-Finish


Not a whole lot to report. I’m quite delighted with my choice in video editing software. My last video wound up looking quite good: great image clarity, the captions and overlays looked sharp and crisp AND I was able to edit everything in one go as opposed to needing to do it in multiple passes. I got an 11th hour assist from [livejournal.com profile] albadger, contributing a voice-over. The review was delayed an extra day as I contracted a horrible, sick headache that left me unable to do anything but lie around and wait for it to subside.

I came to a horrible realization of late. When I was at Amoeba recently, I came across an overpriced VHS copy of Beyond the Forest with a sticker reading “NOT ON DVD” affixed to the box. I was shocked and horrified to learn this was not released on DVD and I have to wonder how many other classic films that I just assumed had a DVD release in fact do not. Something to research, anyway.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
Direct link because blah blah Blip embeds incompatible with LJ markup blah.

Bert I. Gordon’s contribution to the Sunday kiddie matinée (well, this and The Magic Sword as seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000). Come for Bert’s inept rear-projection effects and the awful acting of his daughter Susan, stay for the cringeworthy dialogue and Blackbeard’s incomprehensible accent.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
The latest Movie Explorer review now available for viewing. It’s for the 1974 movie The Second Coming of Suzanne:



It’s based on the song by Leonard Cohen. But not really. And it stars Richard Dreyfuss. But not really.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
This took much longer than I wanted it to. A day pissed away. Technical difficulties, but it’s finally up.



The Movie Explorer reviews the Golden Turkey Award winner for Worst Children’s Film: Pinocchio in Outer Space. Imagine three different cartoons smushed together haphazardly, each conceived by a different person, all of whom hate children. That’s what this movie is like.

Direct Blip link.

Youtube link.
progbear: Weenies from Spongebob (weenies)
The new Movie Explorer review now up:



It's a musical. Made in 1984. Starring multiple Razzie award winner Pia Zadora. Scared yet? You should be! It’s called Voyage of the Rock Aliens and it also features Allison La Placa, Ruth Gordon and Michael “Pluto” Berryman doing things they’re not proud of.

Direct link to Blip page

Watch on Youtube
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)


Now, I know I have given Liz a lot of ribbing in her past for some of her cheesy later work (Boom!, X, Y and Zee, The Driver’s Seat et al) but the fact is, I truly do respect her talent. Films like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof showed she was not just a pretty face and did have a knack for incisive drama. And Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf remains one of my favourite movies of all time; for all its overheated, theatrical performances and cutting, vulgar dialogue it remains a startlingly subtle film with some nuances you have to keep a keen eye and sharp ear open for. True, her role as Martha tended to overshadow her later work. That said, I genuinely do enjoy some of those later films; Hammersmith Is Out is actually something of a satirical gem, thanks in no small part to its writer, director and co-star, beloved daddybear Peter Ustinov.

In short, rest in peace, Liz, and thanks for all the good times.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
I’m on TV!

blip.tv to be exact:



Direct link in case the embed code doesn’t work.

Yes, it’s a bit crude but then, so is the movie I’m reviewing. I promise future reviews will be better. I’m a bit awkward in front of the camera here but I’m sure I’ll be more relaxed in the future.

Review #2 coming soon.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] dhpbear for his invaluable help in making this happen.

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