Thursday, December 31, 2009

November Round-Up - 2009

Most people are putting together "Best of 2009" posts, or, even worse, "Best of the Decade" posts, and here I am, talking about November.

But here's the thing: There's no way I can do any kind of "Best of the Decade" post because my memory is just not that good. Plus, I am lazy, and don't want to do the work that it would require for me to refresh my memory. As for a post about my fave movies, or music, or books of 2009, well, maybe I'll do a round-up of the past year's round-ups, but I really don't think I have seen enough 2009 movies to really make any legitimate kind of "best of" list, and I think I bought one new record this year. And books will be covered in any kind of round-ups round-up I do. As for TV, I think I'll be covering that best of list elsewhere, so stay tuned.

So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at November!

Movies Seen: Fourteen, with none in a theater. The best were probably "Food, Inc.," which I won't go into because it covers much of the food-related things I've talked about before, and the horror movie "Trick 'r Treat," which I think went direct to DVD, which is a shame because as far as horror movies go, it did some things I haven't seen before, and was also very darkly funny. I recommend it!

The worst, or at least, most disappointing, was probably Jim Jarmusch's "The Limits of Control," which I found so incredibly tedious and boring, I watched most if it in fast forward mode.

Books Read: Three. The first was a book I spent most of October reading which, fine, some books take a long time to read. Sadly, this book was only 126 pages long. It was "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James, and I started reading it because I wanted to read something scary for Halloween. Alas, the only scary thing about it was how boring it was. I'm not sure what the problem was. I've read Henry James before--I LOVED "Portrait of a Lady"--so it wasn't an issue with the language or the writing per se. The story just never picked up, and went on and on, and then suddenly, it was over. (After I finished reading it, I watched "The Innocents," to see if it was any better. And it was, a little, but still had the same ridiculous ending.)

So, after that horror, I wanted to read something I knew I'd like, and I knew would be a fast read, so I picked up "A Box of Matches" by Nicholson Baker. Back in the '90s, I really liked his books, ("The Mezzanine" in particular), but then kind of grew bored with him. This one was quite enjoyable, but it made me realize he was writing like a blogger back before blogging even existed.

Lastly was "American Nerd" by Benjamin Nugent, an anthropological look at nerdom and geekery. Alas, it was pretty gender-centric to male geekery, which, fine, the author is a dude, and he's writing about what he knows. But it's far from a definitive look at "American Nerds"...

Fancy Dinners Out: One, at Bix. I've written about Bix before, and it was as good as it's always been. Plus, the waiter gave us free stuff--including some POTATO PILLOWS--since we were there for Jessica's birthday, so that made it even better. I had the lobster spaghetti, and it was the best spaghetti I've ever had in my entire LIFE.

Live Shows Seen: One, the Pixies at the Fox Theater. It was a much better show than the last time I saw the Pixies, which was several years ago at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. I was stuck way up on the lawn for that show, next to someone who wouldn't stop talking, so it was like I was watching a show that was taking place somewhere else. I've mentioned how much I like the Fox Theater before, but this was the first time I didn't sit up in the balcony. I think I still prefer the balcony, because I am old, but it wasn't that bad being on the floor, since it's tiered, and I could see the band for most of it. As for the show, I really liked the video set-up they had going on behind them, and if "Doolittle" is your favorite album, the show was made for you. (Thankfully, it is my favorite Pixies record.)

Shoes Bought: Gosh, I can't remember, so I think it must have been...none?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Put a Ring On My Poker Face

Last January, I posted an awesome mash-up of the top 25 pop songs of 2008, as put together by DJ Earworm. Well, he's back with this year's mash-up, which he's dubbed "Blame It on the Pop."

It's a little too heavy on the Blackeyed Peas for my taste, but it's still pretty great...Here's the video version.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Festivus!

I've got a lot of problems with you people, and now you're gonna hear about it!

Well, maybe later. As much as I'd like to believe there's got to be a better way, I still need to go out and do some last minute Christmas shopping. But believe me, if anyone tries to come between me and a coveted doll, I will RAIN BLOWS UPON HIM.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Christmas Miracle!

Last year, I bemoaned the fact that I could not find video of Cher's version of "O Holy Night," which has become infamous due to Paul Shaffer's yearly rendition on "Late Show With David Letterman."

Well, my prayers have been answered. Watch the song, among others, in the medley below. Indeed, she does have her hands in a muff, but she is not alone under a street lamp, as Shaffer often describes. Instead, she is surrounded by extras similarly dressed in awful 70s versions of Victorian garb. Which is, of course, AWESOME.

You Need My Nutmeg

There are very few recent Christmas specials that deserve yearly viewings. But "A Colbert Christmas" is an exception. It's required viewing every year.

Unfortunately, Comedy Central seems to be waging a war against Christmas as the only time the special will be airing this coming week is at 2:30am late, late Christmas Eve.

F' that! Watch it right here ANY TIME YOU WANT.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Raise Those Claws!

I went to the Lady Gaga show in San Francisco last night. It was, as you would imagine, pretty spectacular. I think this was probably my favorite moment, as it is just so wonderfully ridiculous. Kind of crappy video, but I think you see enough to get the point...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

October Round-Up - 2009

I spent most of October worrying about my cat, and spending a lot of money at the vet, so I didn't do much else. As a result, this round-up is rather brief.

(Tori is doing quite well now, by the way, but it was very scary there for a while, with an insane amount of peeing everywhere, because she had a UTI, and then a really scary seizure, which I'm still not sure the cause of. Most likely culprit was probably some of the medications she was being given. But now she seems back to her old (and I do mean old) self, albeit with one fang a little shorter than the other. NO idea how that happened!)

Movies Seen: Thirteen, with one in a theater. That one in a theater was "Paranormal Activity," and I'll admit to being totally duped into seeing it, based on the hype, and the fact that "The Blair Witch Project" is still one of the scariest movies I've ever seen, and this movie, of course, shares a lot with that one. Alas, it was not scary. Yes, I jumped a few times, but it did not succeed in building up any sort of dread, and was actually kind of boring since the set-up--the couple goes to sleep, the camera rolls, and something spooky happens--is repeated over and over again. I really, really wanted to like it, but it failed.

Which leads to the best movie I saw last month, another horror movie, and a much more effective one: "House of the Devil," which I saw via Amazon Video on Demand. Now, it's not a movie for people who want a lot of action in their horror, as it is, essentially, all build-up. It's set in the early '80s, and is made to look like a movie that might have been made back then, but not just so the director can make fun of the era; he's paying tribute to the horror films of the '70s and '80s, but not in any satirical way. I won't discuss the plot, except to say it's your basic babysitter in a scary place set-up, and Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov are residents of that scary place. I think it's still available on Comcast OnDemand, and Amazon, and is coming out on DVD in February.

(And let me just add, it was really awesome to be reading some reviews of the movie on the Friday night before Halloween, thinking to myself, "Oooo. I wanna see that!" and then being able to watch it right then and there. These are magic times we live in.)

As for the worst movie, that would be "Year One." I don't know why I keep renting comedies that I know are going to suck. I need to stop that.

Books Read: None! Well, I didn't finish one, but I did spend most of the month reading one that was actually very short, which is sad. But I'll have to talk about it in the next round-up.

Fancy Dinners Out: None!

Live Shows Seen: None!

Shoes Bought: OMG, none!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmastime Is Here, Happiness and Cheer

If you read my daily posts on the SFGate Culture Blog, I'll be listing a lot of Christmas specials in the coming week. But if you don't (and why is that, exactly?!) here's a handy list of what's coming up this week.

Monday: "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" at 8 P.M. on ABC.

Tuesday: "The Year Without a Santa Claus" at 7 P.M. on ABC Family, and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" at 8 P.M. on ABC. Edited to add: Tonight's Obama speech means you'll have to wait two weeks for "Charlie Brown." It will air on December 15th.

Wednesday: "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" at 8 P.M. on CBS.

But that's all you'll get from me right now. Check the Culture Blog every day for more!

And here's a clip from "Rudolph" to tide you over. (Spoiler alert! Major plot point revealed in this clip!!!!!)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gobble Gobble!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I begin this holiday a bit disappointed. I was so hoping some TV station out there would air "Blood Freak" today, since it really is the perfect Thanksgiving film. It's a pro-Jesus horror movie about the dangers of drug use, and tainted-turkey eating, and how a combination of the two can turn you into a horrific man-sized fowl in search of blood. Really, is there any other message more meaningful today?

Here's the first 10 minutes. Alas, the really good stuff doesn't happen until further in, but perhaps it will encourage you to add this sucker to your Netflix queue, and stat.

As for other Thanksgiving Day TV viewing, go on over to the Culture Blog for my rundown of today's (other) essentials.

Have a great holiday, everybody!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ra-ra-ah-ah-ah, Roma, ro-ma-ma, Gaga, ooh la la!

Not to turn this blog into a Lady Gaga fansite or anything, (although, WHY THE HELL NOT?), but I just wanted to post these clips from her appearance on "The Jay Leno Show" last night. (And by the way, have you watched that shite recently? OMFG, but it is some awful stuff. I mean, fine, his interviews with celebs are OK. But his attempt at comedy and sketches? PAINFUL.)

First is her performance of "Bad Romance," in which she wears a jacket that reminds me of an old SCTV sketch that parodied Joan Crawford's heavily shoulder-padded heyday.

This is her sit-down with Leno. I love her answer to the question about what rumor about herself most upsets her.

Also, a realization I came to last night: She's younger than Britney Spears. By 5 years. That really kind of floored me, especially after seeing this interview on Fuse. Now, it's a long one, and probably only of interest to big fans, but I think it's pretty great. Sure, she comes off as pretentious at times, but I just appreciate that she has the intelligence to even aspire to pretentiousness. Can you imagine someone like Britney talking about her music with such self-awareness? Or even rationally discussing gay rights?

Understand, I still love me some mindless pop trash. I just really appreciate Lady Gaga bringing a little thought to the whole process. And some damned catchy hooks.


Monday, November 16, 2009


I've been sick. It started Wednesday night, and probably reached its peak yesterday, when my cough turned into something I might hear from my neighbors, and I managed to sleep away most of the day because I didn't have the energy to do much else.

I think the worst has passed, but I want to assure you that I did NOT take this whole thing like a man....

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Well, I Guess Sundays Can Go Back to Sucking Now

Season three of "Mad Men" has come to an end, leaving me no reason to look forward to Sundays anymore. At least until next year.

I won't get too spoilery, but I felt the episode managed to take the story in a direction that almost every fan probably wanted it to go, without seeming like it was pandering. And it perfectly set-up season four, for which I CAN NOT WAIT!

Here's a clip of Matt Weiner and some of the cast talking about the finale. Needless to say, don't watch this if you haven't watched the episode yet!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 31

Well, I did it! I made it through the whole Halloween countdown! And it's been kind of a rough month, so I have to say I'm extra proud I was able to pull of this post-a-day thing. Thanks to all who stopped by. I hope my treats were tasty and fun sized!

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and tonight is the night this has been building up to. And you know what? TV is kind of letting me down. It's a Saturday, so I'd expect all the movie channels would have all horror line-ups today. But that just doesn't seem to be the case. For shame!

You can basically turn on Turner Classic Movies at 3am, and leave it there for the rest of the day because their frightful line-up is awesome. Here's a list of some of the films, with my pick being, of course, the original "Cat People," at 2pm.

"Circus of Horrors,"
at 9:45pm, also looks pretty awesome.

At midnight, on Creepy KOFY Movie time, is "The Last Man on Earth," starring Vincent Price. It was based on the Richard Matheson book "I Am Legend" which was also the basis for "The Omega Man" starring Charlton Heston and the Will Smith "I Am Legend."

And, as I mentioned few days back, "Night of the Living Dead" is on everywhere today. Check your listings, you're bound to find a showing. It's sort of become the Halloween equivalent of "It's a Wonderful Life," back when that movie was still in the public domain, and was shown over and over around Christmas. In fact, I think they'd make a terrific double bill.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Friday, October 30, 2009

September Round-Up - 2009

It's been a tough couple of weeks. My cat's been sick and that has been emotionally and physically draining. That coupled with work and other blogging duties means I am TIRED. So this month's round-up might seem a bit brief.

Movies Seen: Nine, with one in a theater. That one was "The Informant!" which I liked a lot, but would not rank up there with my favorite Soderbergh movies. I'll say one thing: the film's score by Marvin Hamlisch is fantastic, and it had BETTER get an Oscar nomination. You can listen to samples on this YouTube clip.

Of the DVDs watched, I loved "Valentino: The Last Emperor," and thought "Fanboys" sucked, although the last line in the movie made me like it a little bit...

Books Read: Three. I started reading the Julia Childs's autobiography "My Life in France" the same week I saw the movie "Julie & Julia," and each complimented the other. It's a fun book.

"The Strain" by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan was not a fun book. Not at all. It was AWFUL. I expect so much more from Del Toro. The most galling thing about the book is just how dumb it is. The characters are just plain dumb. The basic premise is that vampirism is kind of like a virus, and it arrives in New York when a plane lands at the airport with all the people apparently dead. Which is a cool idea. But from there it just gets stupid, with the so-called CDC people doing the stupidest things you could possibly do while dealing with some kind of new virus. Like: dumping tissue samples down lab drains, or releasing bodies after maybe a day of quarantine. Man, I could go on and on, but trust me: it is a stupid, stupid book.

Lastly was "Voices from the Storm," which is part of McSweeney's Voice of Witness series, this one about New Orleanians who experienced Katrina and the failure of the levees. Some of the stories in it are quite amazing, and infuriating.

Fancy Dinners Out: Two. One at Wexler's, and the other at Millennium. Yes. Wexler's is a fancy barbecue restaurant, and the other is a vegan restaurant. You wanna make something of it?

Live Shows Seen: Two, if you count a comedy show as a live show. And I will, since I don't see that many shows period. The comedy show was Patton Oswalt at the Masonic, and one of the main reasons I went is because the Masonic is two blocks from my apartment. Convenience is a big incentive! It was a good show, even if it was kind of sad seeing the theater only half filled. David Cross was playing the same night at the Warfield, and I bet you anything their respective audiences were basically cut in half because of it.

The other show was the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Fox in Oakland. Again, the venue played a big part in the decision to see the show, as I love the Fox. And it was a good decision because the show was terrific. Karen O. is a powerhouse, and they put on an awesome show. It kind of made me pissed off at the number of shows I've seen in my life where the bands just stand there on a boring stage and perform. Come on! Put some energy into it!

Shoes Bought: One, this lovely pair, which I found for almost 60% off on Amazon. Score!

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 30

There's a Boris Karloff marathon on Turner Classic Movies today. You can read about the entire line-up on their site, but here are some highlights.

At 5:30am, "The Ghoul," which reunites Karloff with his "The Old Dark House" and "Bride of Frankenstein" costar, Ernest Thesiger.

Many of his movies had very similar plots, with Karloff playing some kind of mad scientist who is executed and comes back to life, or is condemned to death, as in "Before I Hang," which is on at noon.

"Isle of the Dead" is one of three movies Karloff made with producer Val Lewton. In this one, Karloff fights the Balkan War and the plague. It's on at 3:45pm.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Eyes Have It

OK. There is a resemblance between this:

and this, right?

I'll admit, I only noticed this because I had that "Cat People" poster on my wall for most of the 1980s, and it's been burned into my brain. But still...Cat eye. Half face. Girl with short brown hair...a little fishy. Or, at least, catty.

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 29

The original "Night of the Living Dead" is another one of those movies I like to watch every Halloween, so today's post is my yearly excuse to embed the entire movie on this here blog. (But, if you'd like to watch it on the teevee, it will be on many times on Halloween night, like 6pm on AMC, and 11:15pm on Retroplex.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 28

"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" airs tonight on ABC at 8pm. (It was also on last night, but I kinda forgot about that. Thank the Great Pumpkin for repeats!)

For me, the Holiday season--not just Halloween, but the whole shebang--doesn't begin until this special airs. Man. What'll I do if they ever decide to stop showing it?!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 27

Doh! I guess I didn't set this post to publish, so it's coming quite late. Sorry!

Once again, Tuner Classic Movies is the place to be for some scares today, because it's Psychic Powers Day!

First on the agenda is "Poltergeist" at 5pm. Here's 10 minutes from near the beginning of the movie; probably some of the best moments from the whole thing, actually...

Next is George Pal's 1968 movie, "The Power," which bears many similarities to David Cronenberg's later movie "Scanners." Can't find a trailer, but the whole things up on YouTube, although not embeddable, bastards! You can see part one here.

The original version of "The Haunting" follows at 9pm. This one really scared me the first time I saw it, which was on Laserdisc on a tiny TV; I can't imagine how freaked out I'd have been had I seen it in a theater. Shudder to think. Here's the first 10 minutes as well!

At 11pm is the original version of "Village of the Damned." Any movie featuring creepy kids with English accents is bound to be scary, you know. Also, the whole "everyone passes out for a space of time" thing has recently been used in the TV show "Flash Forward," but I have a sneaking suspicion the end result of those blackouts won't be as freaky or interesting as they are here...

Finally, there's "Escape to Witch Mountain" at 12:30am. I've never seen the original, but did have the unfortunate experience of watching the remake, starring the Rock, recently. Man. THAT was a mistake...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 26

It's tradition that I list the original "Halloween" at some point in this countdown, so tonight is that night. Alas, the only channel showing it this week is AMC, which still refuses to air any of its movies in their proper aspect ratios, and "Halloween" is a a very widescreen movie. So all I can say is, if you can watch "Halloween" any other way, do it. You might also try AMC's HD channel, although I'm pretty sure it doesn't show movies in proper ratios either. Oh well. It's on regular AMC at 7pm and AMC HD at 10pm.

Here's something slightly--and I do mean slightly--amusing. It's also slightly spoiler-ish, so if you haven't seen the movie, avoid.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 25

It's Meteor Night on Turner Classic movies, and no, the movie "Meteor" is not part of the fun. Here's what is:

At 5pm, the original "The Blob," featuring a young Steve McQueen, and a snazzy theme song.

At 7pm, "Die, Monster, Die!" which is not a German monster movie called "The, Monster, The!", but instead an American horror movie starring Boris Karloff that was loosely based on an H.P. Lovecraft story.

And finally, at 9pm, there is "Riders To the Stars," from 1954, back when space travel was merely the stuff of science fiction, and fantasies of capturing gigantic meteors seemed plausible; and were backed by serious theme songs.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 24

At midnight tonight, as part of Creepy KOFY Movie Time on channel 13 (TV-20) is "The Giant Gila Monster," a 1959 flick about...well, the title says it all, I suppose. Aside from the fact that the monster seems to have a thirst for teenagers.

It was also featured on an episode of "Mystery Science Theater 3000." Watch the beginning below, and part two here....and from there you can figure out how to watch the rest.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 23

"Pretty Poison" is a weird little movie, kind of like "Badlands" and "Bonnie and Clyde," in that it's about a teenage girl who gets sucked into a life of crime when she hooks up with a bad boy. Only in this case, the bad boy isn't so bad, and the girl, well, is POISON!

Tuesday Weld, who was just breathtakingly beautiful, is perfect in the bad seed role, and Anthony Perkins is perfectly cast as the guy who is probably not quite as into the chick as he'd like us to believe. The movie is considerably less "wacky" than this trailer makes it out to be, although I do kind of dig how misleading the trailer actually is.

And a totally random personal note: I once used a VHS copy of the movie, which for a long time wasn't available anywhere, as a bribe to get into a film class that was over-enrolled. The professor teaching the class had, during that first day's lecture, talked about the movie, and how he wished he could find a copy of it. So I told him after class that if he let me in the class, I'd give him a copy. And he did.

Watch it at 11:15pm on TCM.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 22

The 2000 "I was a teenage werewolf" movie "Ginger Snaps" seems like it was a bit ahead of its time, what with teenage werewolves and vampires being all the rage right now. Of course "Twilight" is not nearly as subversive or clever as this tale of burgeoning female sexuality. 4:10pm and 11:30pm on IFC.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Hitler finds out about the Balloon Boy hoax.

Oh, Hitler. Always so naive.

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 21

I'm a little reluctant listing today's pick, but lack of much else has pushed me to it. It's "Bugs Bunny's Howl-O-Ween Special," and it's one of those hatchet job "specials" that cuts up a bunch of old cartoons, and re-edits them to look like one big movie. Sad, really. But what's even sadder is that currently I cannot find any channel in my available line-up that shows Looney Tunes cartoons. What the hell?

Anyway, the "special" is on at 9:30pm on the Cartoon Network. Here are a couple of the full length cartoons that were used.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 20

Turner Classic Movies is having a William Castle festival today, so you should just turn to that channel at 5pm and call it a night. Here's the line-up.

"Mr. Sardonicus" at 5pm. Gimmick: Audiences were given glow in the dark thumbs up and down cards, and before the end of the movie, could vote whether the villain lived or died.

"Strait-Jacket" at 6:45pm. Gimmick: Theater goers were given little paper axes. Not sure what they were supposed to do with those. They were also supposed to keep telling themselves "It's only a's only a movie..."

"The Tingler" at 8:30pm. Gimmick: Probably the most famous Castle gimmick of all: "Percepto!" Theater seats were rigged to "shock" random movie watchers when the "tingler" escapes into the movie theater.

"13 Ghosts"
at 10pm. Gimmick: "Illusion-O," basically 3-D glasses that would reveal the ghosts, or hide them.

"The Old Dark House"
at 11:30pm. Gimmick: None! But Charles Adams did the title sequence. (It's a remake of the 1932 James Whale movie.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 19

There are very few Brian DePalma movies I can say I like wholeheartedly. In fact, there's only one: "Carrie." But I'll admit there are moments the 1973 "Sisters" that are quite good, and the whole film has a nice sick sense of humor. 1:35am on IFC, with a repeat on October 30th at 2:40pm.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 18

I've never seen the movie "The Cars That Ate Paris," but will admit that for years I assumed it was a horror movie about killer cars that eat the French. Which? Still sounds like an awesome movie to me.

But the actual movie, the first film by director Peter Weir, is set in the fictional town of Paris, Australia...and that's about the only bit of the plot that makes perfect sense. Guess I'll have to watch it at 3:05am or 9:45am on IFC and try to figure it all out myself...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 17

I love the 1960 version of "The Time Machine." It's one of those movies I just have to watch if I happen to see it's on TV. I'm not saying it's a perfect film--it's hilariously dated in some ways, and the Morlocks are about as terrifying as chubby blue guys with Sonny Bono haircuts and clam diggers can be--but it's just so fun and naive.

And Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux are pretty hot.

Watch it at 11:30am on TCM.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 16

"Videodrome," the ultimate in analog video horror!

If the remake does happen, I sure hope it includes some kind of DVD slot in someone's stomach, because if it doesn't, it will be an epic FAIL.

Watch the original at 11pm on TCM.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 15

I have a recurring nightmare involving an alien invasion. In my dreams I can always see the San Francisco skyline, and it is being attacked by weird UFOs, and a huge explosion is about to blow everything up for good when....I wake up.

So, alien invasion movies sometimes freak me out. Even something as dated and, at times, silly as the original "War of the Worlds," can give me the heebie jeebies. It's also why I don't hate the Spielberg remake that much; it manages to crib from my nightmares quite well...

The original is on TCM at 11:30am.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

You Promised Butt Stuff!

I think I've watched this moment from last week's episode of "Community" about 20 times, and it makes me guffaw every. Single. Time.

It probably needs some set-up: Volunteers for a social psychology experiment are continuously told that the experiment will happen in five minutes, not knowing that the experiment IS them waiting for the experiment to begin....

I want to leave every room with that crawl from now on.

Watch "Community"! It's really funny! Thursdays at 8 P.M on NBC!

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 14

"Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte" was part of the mini movie trend of the 1960s that involved casting aging movie stars in horror movies, a trend I would love to see a resurgence of right now.

Of course, movie stars these days don't actually age...

10:30am on the Fox Movie Channel.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 13

I was never into the "Ghoulies" movies as a teenager, probably because I saw them as nothing more than a "Gremlins" rip-off, and I loved "Gremlins." When I finally did see the first "Ghoulies" movie when I was in my 20s, I realized I hadn't really been missing anything, as the movie was not nearly as clever as "Gremins," and as a result, not nearly as fun.

But some of the Ghoulies themselves are kind of...grossly cute

10:10pm on HBO Zone (whatever that is!).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 12

I'm writing this post in the wee hours of the morning, after a very hectic and festive weekend, so apologies for its brevity and last minute-ness.

The movie pick is "The Hunger." It's on at 4:00am on Logo. And it's not very good. Yeah, yeah, I know you saw it when you were a young goth, and you thought it was really rad, and the sex scene between Catherine Deneueve and Susan Sarandon was totally hot, but you're wrong. It's a bad movie.

The first 10 minutes of the movie kind of sum up all that is good and bad about it. The good: Bauhaus. The bad: almost everything else. Warning: the clip's a bit NSFW.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 11

"The Unholy Three," starring Lon Chaney in his last role, and his only talking film, is actually a remake of an earlier Chaney film by director Tod Browning. The "unholy three" of the title are circus performers who embark on a life of crime. One of the criminals is a midget (played by Harry Earles) who disguises himself as a baby. That whole concept just had to be a direct influence on this Bugs Bunny Cartoon called "Baby Buggy Bunny."

Unfortunately, I can't find any clips of the "baby" scenes from "The Unholy Three," but you can watch the whole movie at 10 P.M. on TCM.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 10

I'm not sure what Frankie Avalon is doing in this British "orgy of horror," but it doesn't look like it involves any surfing. "Horror House," AKA "The Haunted House of Horrors" is on at 12:45am on TCM.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 9

I re-watched "Motel Hell" a few years ago, and found it to be a lot more stomach-turning than I remembered it being when I saw it as a teenager. I mean, that shouldn't be a surprise; it's about a farmer who uses human meat in his smokehouse. But it was the way he preps his, uh, "livestock" that was so disturbing....

Rory Calhoun! Watch it at 9pm on IFC.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 8

"Do I just, uh....just cut them up like regular chickens?"

"Sure, just cut them up like regular chickens."

4:30am on the Sundance Channel.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 7

"Haxan" is a really interesting silent film from Sweden, made in 1922. It's about the history of witch hunts and includes some really freaky sequences. I am not sure which version of the movie is being aired--there seem to be several different versions with different musical soundtracks--but you can watch it at 6:15am and 1:35pm on IFC. Below is a clip from the film, without music.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 6

The remake of "The Wicker Man" is on F/X at 9:30am, and I am in no way recommending you watch it. I am just using that listing as an excuse to repost one of my favorite YouTube clips of all time.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 5

The spooky movie choices today are slim, but there is a marathon "A Haunting" on the Discovery channel starting at 11am.

There are so many paranormal reality shows on TV right now, I almost feel like they should just go ahead and create an entire channel devoted to ghosts and call it Discovery BOOO! or something.

And speaking of those "real life" ghost stories, I have to say I am looking forward to seeing the movie "Paranormal Activity." Few movies have scared me as much as "The Blair Witch Project" did, and I am hoping this one will be the rare "Blair Witch"-esque movie that gets it right.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 4

"Bloodlust," a cheap-o version of "The Most Dangerous Game," stars Robert Reed--Mr. Brady!--and that should be reason enough to watch. The fact that the evil doctor in the movie hunts humans and keeps them in glass tanks is just a bonus. The movie is starting RIGHT NOW on KOFY TV-20's "Creepy KOFY Movie Time," but you can watch the entire movie right here!

It was also featured on an episode of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," and you can see part one of that episode below.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 3

"Flesh and the Fiends" AKA "Mania" is not a Hammer movie, but it does resemble one, especially since it stars Peter Cushing. He's a doctor who experiments on dead bodies that are provided to him by grave robbers. Donald Pleasance plays one of the grave robbers. I can't find a trailer for the movie online, but it does appear to be on YouTube in its entirely, albeit broken up into several parts. You can watch part one below.

It's on at 3:30 AM on AMC, but I'd almost prefer it be watched on YouTube, because at least that version is letterboxed. AMC's, no doubt, won't be...

Friday, October 02, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 2

My go-to source for all weird movies, "The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film," has no entry for tonight's maniacal movie, "Awakening of the Beast." Adventures around the Internet have only confused me, but from what I've read, this movie is fucking nuts. It's from Brazil, and is the third in a series of films featuring the character "Coffin Joe," who is played by the film's director, José Mojica Marins. This one involves a talk show and LSD. Take a look below, and watch the whole thing on IFC at 10:45pm.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 1

OMG OMG OMG! It's October already. I can hardly believe it. And I can hardly believe I decided to do, once again, a Halloween countdown. (You can find a list of other blogs doing similar countdowns here.) That means I will be posting EVERY DAY in October with some sort of Halloween-related TV recommendation. Of course, this is dependent on something actually being on TV any given day, so some recommendations will be better than others, and some things will no doubt be repeats from years past. (There are just some movies and specials that should be watched every year.) It's a scary proposition, but it's also kind of exciting....

So let's get started!

Well, like I said, this is dependent on what's on TV any given day, and today's pickings are rather slim. Which is why "From Hell" is being included in this countdown. Now, it wasn't a terrible movie; it was just a big disappointment since it's based on such an amazing comic book. But as far as Johnny Depp movies set in 19th century England are concerned, I liked it more than "Sweeney Todd." It's on at 5pm and 11:30pm on IFC.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

August Round-Up - 2009

Goodness. Summer is over! But it was just getting juicy a month ago. Let's look at that month, shall we?

Movies Seen: Thirteen, with one in a theater. That one was "Julie & Julia," which was perfectly pleasant. As seems to be the consensus, the parts about Julia Child were the best parts of the movie, but I wasn't as put off by the contemporary stuff as much as others. Maybe because I read the book it was based on? Who knows.

My favorite film of the month was "I Love You, Man." I wasn't expecting much, as I have been kind of underwhelmed by the bro-centric comedies of late. But I really liked this one, and it has a lot to do with...OK, ALL to do with Paul Rudd.

Worst? Man, so many of them were bad. Most of the bad ones weren't movies I was expecting to be any good, like "Fast and Furious." So I guess the one that was a bit of a disappointment was "Sunshine Cleaning." It was just so annoyingly QUIRKY INDIE MOVIE, it was like they were working from a checklist of things that need to be in an indie movie. Single mom with troubled child, dysfunctional family, and wacky job? Check check and check!

Books Read: Three. "All Together Dead" by Charlaine Harris, another Sookie Stackhouse book, and this one was definitely better than the last one I read. But it's also the last in the box set I have, which means it will probably be a while before I throw done the money for the next one...

"The Year of Living Biblically"
by A.J. Jacobs. He's also the author of "The Know It All," which was about his attempt to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in one year, (which I read last year and liked a lot). This one's about trying to live as close to Biblical rules as possible for a year (with an emphasis placed on the Old Testament). My fear was that it would just be a lot of easy-target humor; of course many of the rules in the Bible are ridiculous. But he does a really good job of balancing reverence and irreverence; it's not a bitter atheist's take on the stupidity of the Bible at all, and it's really, really funny.

"In the Woods" by Tana French was a book I picked up while in Palm Springs, but didn't get around to reading until now. (Side note: Since when do books have trailers?!) It's a murder mystery set in Ireland, centered on two homicide detectives who are partners on the case, a man and woman. So it's kind of like a really elaborate episode of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." I usually don't go for mysteries, but the book is really about the relationship between the detectives, and the history of one of them, and the mystery is just there to elaborate on that. Good stuff.

Fancy Dinners Out: Three. The first was a surprise birthday brunch for a friend at Foreign Cinema. I don't really see the appeal of that place. The service was rather lacking (we were a large party, but they really weren't very accommodating, and seemed rather put out), and the food was just OK. The side of bacon I got was pretty good, though!

Bistro Clovis
was an impulsive choice after seeing "Julie & Julia." We just had to have French food, and Bistro Clovis used to be a favorite, many, many years ago. It's kind of a miracle it's still around, actually. Alas, they didn't have the dessert I remember loving so much. It was called "Fontainebleau," and was basically whipped cream and cream cheese and other fattening things molded into a heart shape, served with strawberries. I stuck to French onion soup and a salad. It was OK. Nothing as transformative as the stuff Julia Child had to eat in France, that's for sure.

Fish & Farm
is a cool little place in the Mark Twain hotel downtown. I went there with full intent of having their burger, which was voted the best fancy shmancy burger in the city by 7X7 magazine. And it was dang good. But now I'm kind of obsessed with trying all the others, especially any that use grassfed beef. The rest of the menu looked pretty good too, and they do something interesting with their pricing. All prices on the menu are what you pay on the bill, which is to say they already include taxes and that "healthy San Francisco" fee that some restaurants stick on the bill. So that kind of saves you from sticker shock come check arrival time.

Live Shows Seen: None!

Shoes Bought: None!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Absolutely Epic

Behold, Singing Kitties. Everything the Internet has been working up to.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Looks like my boy Vincent D'Onofrio is probably leaving "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."

I'm crushed.

Probably not crushed enough to edit together a tribute video, but close. Thankfully, others have already gone that extra mile.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. Seriously. How could they let a guy with such a passionate--and OK slightly scary--following go?

Monday, September 14, 2009

'Cause You Know That Baby I...

...fucking love Lady Gaga. I make no apologies. Combine the batshit insanity of someone like Nina Hagen with music that is actually listenable--and insanely catchy--and it's a pop culture win. Her VMA performance just sealed the deal.

The actual video for the song "Paparazzi" is just as nuts, if a little less bloody. And speaking of blood, it co-stars Alexander Skarsgard, Eric from "True Blood."

Lady Gaga - Paparazzi (Official Music Video)

And finally, one of the things I most appreciate about Lady Gaga is the fact that she can actually sing. And play the piano. Check out this acoustic version of the song.

I wasn't really aware of her when she last came to the Bay Area to perform, which kills me, because it looks like her next appearance is going to be a co-concert with Kanye West. WHHYYYYYYY?????

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Coming Fall

Well, Labor Day is over. Put your white pants away, and prepare for the coming chill. Except if you live in San Francisco, where "Indian Summer" is the closest we ever get to summertime.

The end of summer means the beginning of Fall TV, a time I look forward to and dread at the same time. As much as I love TV, I really do like getting a break from shows I have to watch. But, duty calls, and watch I must.

And write too. But, once again, most of it can be found elsewhere. For the next few weeks, I'll have daily posts up on The San Francisco Appeal about each night's Fall premieres, so please be sure to look for those over there.

And you can continue to see my daily picks over on the SFGate Culture Blog.

Summer is over! Time to get back to work! And prepare for the coming of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!

Monday, August 31, 2009

July Round-Up - 2009

July was great. July was awesome. I miss July....

Movies Seen: Only six, with none in a theater. Vacation meant I spent a lot of time sitting by a pool reading, and not a lot of time watching DVDs. And none of the DVDs I did watch were really worth mentioning. Except to say that "Knowing" is as ridiculous as you suspected it might be the moment you heard it starred Nicolas Cage.

Books Read: Four. First up was "Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant," which was a gift from a friend. (Thanks, Chris!) It's a compilation of essays about food, and what people make when they are only cooking for themselves. Like most compilations, it had its highs and lows. My favorite was probably "Poisonous Eggs" by Jonathan Ames.

While in Palm Springs I read another Sookie Stackhouse book, the sixth in the series, called “Definitely Dead.” Charlaine Harris ended up being the author of choice for all of us on vacation, as both Michele and Jessica plowed through the first few books in the series. (Alas, the one I read was definitely--get it!--the worst one I've yet to read.)

Back at home I raced through "The Sleeping Lady” by Robert Graysmith. Graysmith is the guy who wrote that book about the Zodiac killer that was turned into the movie by David Fincher in which Jake Gyllenhaal played him. THIS book was also about a Bay Area serial killer, known as the Trailside Killer, who preyed on people primarily around Mt. Tamalpais. Weirdly, I had no memory of any that, even though it took place in the 80s, when I was certainly old enough to be aware of it, and, of course, scared to death. Probably for the best. The book is your usual bit of true crime writing. Nothing great, but still pretty engrossing.

Finally, I read "In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan, the guy who wrote "The Omnivore's Dilemma." It covers a lot of the same ground, but is more of a "guide" than that other book, in that he goes into detail about what we can eat that will make both us and the planet healthier. If you're only going to read one of those books, "In Defense" is probably the way to go, just because it's a lot shorter, and a little more accessible.

Fancy Dinners Out: Six. Five of those were in Palm Springs. Let's talk about those first. We ate twice at Las Casuelas Terraza, a Mexican restaurant a block from our hotel. I had the same thing both times, a grilled chicken breast covered in a red sauce, sliced avocado and cheese. YUM.

Fancier was Citron, which is in the Viceroy hotel, a few blocks from where we were staying. While there, the waiter convinced me to get the halibut, instead of the side of mac and cheese I was going to get as my entree. I ended up getting both, and we all split the mac and cheese. But I should have stuck to my guns because the halibut was actually pretty dry, and the broccoli that surrounded it was flavorless. So, if you ever go there, skip the fish. Get the mac and cheese.

The Falls was another restaurant a block away, and they're famous for their large selection of martinis, all of which come bubbling and smoking with dry ice. Pretty fun. I can't even remember what I ate. Maybe a pork chop?

We thought about eating at Mr. Parker's in the Parker Hotel, but it is ridiculously expensive, and there were some less than stellar reviews on Yelp that scared us away. Instead we spent several hours at one of their bars. The bartender was awesome.

The Kaiser Grille, yet another restaurant a block from our hotel, was actually not that fancy, which is good, because it also wasn't that great. But it might have been the fact that it was boiling hot in there that made the food less-than-appetizing.

Finally, there was lunch at Circa59 in the Riviera Resort. I had some gazpacho, and it turned out to be exactly what I am afraid gazpacho will be whenever I see it on a menu: not a nice blended, cold, tomato soup, but instead a bowl of salsa. Do NOT serve me salsa in a bowl and tell me it's soup, because it ain't!

Last but not least was back in San Francisco, and a return to Town Hall. This time around I had the eggs, ham, toast, and jalapeno cream appetizer as my entree. And it was GOOOOOD.

Live Shows Seen: None!

Shoes Bought: Two pair. One pair of blue, pointy-toed flats from Target, which gave me wicked blisters when I wore them to shop at the Premium Outlets in Cabazon, during which I also bought a pair of Keds. Cheap!