Saturday, December 15, 2018

Next Wednesday Night at the Castro Theatre: The Night Of The Hunter for Christmas!

With the Film Noir Foundation's murder and mayhem filled holiday show on Wednesday night at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, movie fun kicks Santa and the elves to the curb yet again, leaving them to get smashed on Christmas ale.

Just in time for this festive time of year, Noir City Christmas presents the ultra-gothic struggle between good, evil and very evil, directed by Charles Laughton, The Night Of The Hunter.

The Night Of The Hunter was the only directorial effort by actor Charles Laughton - and he created a startling and original melding of southern Gothic, thriller, Americana and folk tale. Laughton opted to train himself for the director's chair by multiple viewings of D.W. Griffith features. The Griffith touch, plus a touch of German Expressionism, plus the Laughton touch (his ability to work with actors) creates the nightmarish netherworld of The Night Of The Hunter.

Just in case the homage to Griffith and the larger-than-life dreamscape of silent movies is not as obvious as the nose on Jimmy Durante's face, there, in the cast, ruling the silver screen yet again, is Lillian Gish.

The studio and the backers weren't ready for this and maybe America was not, either. This was 1955, and even given that Laughton's masterpiece was created in an era when key music milestones from Sun Records, Chess Records and Blue Note Records hit the zeitgeist like a hurricane, The Night Of The Hunter presented a vivid, affecting, profoundly disturbing movie. . . not light entertainment.

If one thinks the murderous preacher played by Mitchum is scary on Blu-Ray or DVD. . . check him out in terrifying big screen glory.

At Wednesday night's program, author, historian and "Czar Of Noir" Eddie Muller, who describes The Night Of The Hunter as a fairytale noir, will host and also reveal the program for the upcoming Noir City 17 festival, which will transpire on January 25-February 3, 2019.

Noir City 17 Passports (all-access passes) will officially be on sale. For more info, check out the Noir City Film Festival - Film Noir Foundation website.

Monday, December 03, 2018

This Saturday At Foothill College: Start Holiday Festivities with the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival!

Poster by Scott Moon. Lobby cards by Sci Fi Bob Ekman.

For over 25 years, the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival has presented a film archivist jam session - and we'll be back at Foothill College's Room 5015 with another freewheeling improvised program of questionable entertainment this Saturday!

Our mission: wreak a winter non-wonderland of pop culture mayhem, riding hallucinatory shotgun through the irritated bowels of 20th century popular culture.

Tonight from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. you can hear us who have been perpetrating this festival since 1992 jabber about all about it (A.K.A. attempt to explain something that utterly defies rational explanation), on KFJC 89.7 FM, on Robert Emmett's Thoughtline.

In the "And Now For Something Completely Different" approach to film programming, archivist-producers Bob Ekman, Scott Moon and yours truly create the cinematic extravaganza on the fly, responding to audience reaction and choosing films accordingly.

The Master of Ceremonies for the evening's Festivities: expert on all things involving film and TV soundtrack music and "host with the most" Mr. Robert Emmett of KFJC-FM's "Norman Bates Memorial Soundtrack Show," who shall preside over the "rilly big shoe" with style, bon mots and door prizes aplenty.

The visual music (cacophony?) draws from a diverse range of oddly tuned instruments: trailers from the worst movies, well-intentioned but now unintentionally hilarious 1950's commercials and "educational" films, phantasmagorical clips from the early days of silent movies, not to mention Incredibly Strange Cartoons!

Also among the usual suspects: bizarro comedy shorts, snack bar ads, trailers from the worst movies and the uber-campiest of uber-campy musical shorts (especially Scopitones and Soundies).

Also love clips from double-entendre packed Pre-Code goodies, thunder lizards", kidvid, serial chapters, puppet animation, 1950's car commercials and whatever not-exactly-cinematic drek we can dredge up for the occasion. And we don't know what riff we'll play until the show is underway!

What? The KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival
Where? Room 5015, Foothill College campus, Los Altos Hills, CA (El Monte exit off of Highway 280)
When? Saturday December 8, 2018 from 7:00 to 11:15 PM
Why? Because it's big screen fun, we give away cheesy door prizes at intermission, and $5 admission benefits our favorite radio station, KFJC 89.7.

While showtime is at seven o'clock (pretty darn sharp), get there early - these shows sell out.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Coming Soon - Silent Movies and the KFJC Psychotronix Film Fest!

Vintage silent movies and the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival return to the San Francisco Bay Area and start December with a bang: silents on December 1, a week later at Foothill College, the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival.

Tomorrow, December 1, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival returns with A Day Of Silents.

The program at the spectacular Castro Theatre begins early in the morning with a Laurel & Hardy program and continues throughout the day. Among a bunch of incredible classic movies, the program's piece-de-resistance is the hit late silent from Fox, 7th Heaven, the very definition of a "no dry eye in the house" tearjerker.

Jam-packed with Frank Borzage's roving camera, unabashed romanticism and blazing cinematic brilliance, 7th Heaven is just one of several pairings of Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell (who TV-watching baby boomers know quite well from his role 25 years later on the Gale Storm sitcom My Little Margie). For more info, check out the San Francisco Silent Film Festival website and peruse the complete schedule.

FINALLY, at long last, the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival is back! The news provokes a big time hallelujah from this writer, who has much missed doing big screen extravaganzas with his friends and colleagues, archivist/projectionists Sci Fi Bob Ekman, Scott Moon and host Robert Emmett from KFJC.

We shall bring to Foothill College's unsuspecting room 5015 that certain KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival trademark tsunami of Scopitones, Soundies, trailers, cartoons and vintage snack bar ads. Can't wait - and thank you again, Judy Zillen, for the fabulous graphics in today's post!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Truly Unfortunate Print Ads: Grotesque Holiday Foods Edition

Like hosers Bob & Doug McKenzie, we're stuck for a topic today. Here's an idea: there's always that old reliable, 20th century print advertisements, especially disgusting food ads that invariably provoke "WTF?" and "what were they thinking?" reactions. Please pardon me whilst I periodically check my blood glucose level. . .

Frankly, the words "white," "mystery" and "fruitcake" constitute a trifecta one never wants to see in the same sentence and especially in the same recipe. Was Betty Crocker drunk off her prim derriere from way too many generous swigs of cooking sherry while devising this "surprising new way to make fruitcake" recipe? You be the judge!

Back in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, there was a most pronounced tendency in advertisements to use shame as a motivator, make American women feel horrible about themselves and, thus, sell products. Still happens in 2018, but more subtly and not as often.

Shaming housewives in particular was big time currency. In the following ad for Knox Gelatin, after a pal corrects wifie's embarrassing awfulness in the kitchen by instructing her how to make a "he-man salad', hubby says "Good girl, Mary" most patronizingly. In 1948 or 2018, this guy's an ungrateful chump richly deserving a LaWanda "Aunt Esther" Page as his spouse "Shut up! You're eatin' my salad and likin' it - SUCKA!"

There was, for some reason, an advertising push to combine savory salads and Jell-o. Do we at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog have difficulty believing that there was a time for Jell-o salads? Yes.

God only knows if there was ever a time for Jell-o salads, even given the utterly inexplicable post-WW2 tastes in food products.

The only thing that could make these gelatin salads more devastatingly unappetizing would be a generous spritzing of Cheez Whiz.

In the "are you ABSOLUTELY SURE you want to eat this?" department, there's always SPAM. At the very least, one must be wary upon hearing the phrase "miracle meat."

While Sweden has produced its fair share of depressing motion pictures, we find it rather uplifting that the Scandinavian wonderland also offers the Disgusting Food Museum. The fellows who founded it, Samuel West and Andrea Ahrens, clearly have a superb sense of humor.

Not sure if the late, great Anthony Bourdain ever got to the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmö, Sweden. In the museum's logo, perhaps it's just as well that they opted not to have something green and hideous spewing out of the mouth of the head on the left.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving 2018 From Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog

The Usual Band Of Idiots at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, who are busy reading 19 Horrifying Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas From Vintage Food Ads, wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Time spent waiting for the turkey and pies to finish cooking constitutes as good a time as any for comedy - such as this holiday entertainment starring Harry Langdon and a turkey.

If one feels bad about how the dinner came out, take heart, one could be Mr. Bean.

It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without Stan Freberg.

And for that matter, the holidays just wouldn't be the same without Bob & Ray. Forget football - here's Wally Ballou!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Farewell and Adieu to Stan, Roy and Stretch

As this is a 20th century pop culture blog, today's post will pay tribute to three giants, one in comics, the second in music, the third a San Francisco Giant. We begin with Stan Lee of Marvel Comics, who passed at 95 earlier this week.

At Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, he's one of our favorite Stans, with Laurel, Kenton, Musial and Getz.

Martin Goodman's Timely Publications, based in the McGraw-Hill Building at 330 West 42nd Street in New York City, published the first Marvel Comics, appropriately titled Marvel Comics #1, in October 1939.

Stan Lee and ace artist Jack Kirby ultimately would join forces and build Marvel Comics into a powerhouse.

They first worked together at Timely Comics in the early 1940's. Lee's first story there was Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge and first character was the Destroyer.

Once running his own company, Lee had the good sense to hire the best - and the best was Jack Kirby. After launching the superhero series Captain America for Timely Comics with another frequent and brilliant collaborator, Joe Simon, Kirby joined Marvel.

Together, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created The Fantastic Four, with Stan concentrating on stories and dialogue. They subsequently collaborated on many more characters and series, before Kirby left Marvel for DC Comics in 1970.

On the Jack Kirby Museum website, there are, among his numerous artworks, a selection of cover stats that Marvel Comics sent to Spanish publishers, along with the Fantastic Four covers Marvel published.

Over his lengthy and prolific career, Lee co-created countless comics and characters in collaboration with Kirby and many more stellar artists: Dick Ayers, John Buscema, Steve Ditko, Bill Everett, Don Heck and Larry Lieber. These include Spider-Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, The X-Men, Iron Man, The Avengers, Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, Hawkeye, The Silver Surfer and Black Panther, to name a few. Ditko and Lee, another stellar team, created The Amazing Spider-man.

In addition to his work with Marvel Comics, Stan Lee also hosted a wonderful series, The Comic Book Greats, featuring interviews with innovative artists.

Even the low budget animated TV shows based on Marvel characters are pretty darn wonderful. The one, the only Spiderman, helmed by former Screen Gems and Walter Lantz Studio cartoon-meisters Sid Marcus and Grant Simmons with former Disney director Clyde Geronimi in 1967? Bring it on - that's entertainment!

A cartoon directed by Ralph Bakshi on the origins of Spiderman? Yes, indeedy!

In an odd way, I find these 1967-1970 shows as entertaining as the big budget special effects and CGI-packed 21st century silver screen spectaculars.

Stan Lee continued well into the 21st century with the still ongoing series of big screen epics starring Marvel characters. Stan does cameo appearances in many of these Marvel movies.

Of the Marvel big screen spectaculars, this blogger's favorite, ands-down, is Iron Man. starring Robert Downey, Jr.

Hugh Jackman, the celebrated actor, dancer, accomplished musician and film producer from Sydney, new South wales, like Mr. Downey, has brought panache to 21st superhero lore in the X-Men movies.

Shifting from comic art and movies to the art of music, we remember the remarkable multi-instrumentalist and recording artist Roy Clark.

A fixture on such programs as The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Late Night With David Letterman, as well as an entertainer who understood that music is supposed to be fun, Roy Clark passed away at 85 on November 14.

Since Roy sang "Folsom Prison Blues" in the previous clip, it's fitting that he made music with The Man In Black, Johnny Cash.

On television, Roy co-hosted Hee Haw with country-western star Buck Owens, while Glen Campbell's summer replacement show showcased such musicians as Jerry Reed and John Hartford. Both were ace country-western musicians profoundly influenced by the masters of string swing, Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian. They sound great together.

Nothing if not versatile, Roy brings a touch of Carlos Montoya flamenco flair to the steel string acoustic in this appearance with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman on The Odd Couple television series.

Jazz? No problem for Roy. Here he is with Joe Pass.

Country & western meets jazz when Roy Clark and Joe Pass play Hank Williams.

While it is no fun to write an R.I.P. Blog and we have resisted that (mostly) at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, the passing of Baseball Hall Of Famer Willie "Stretch" McCovey at 80 on October 31 gets us in a big way here.

This writer found myself with a lifetime membership in the order of San Francisco Giants fandom.

This is a direct result of witnessing the likes of Mr. McCovey, Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, Gaylord “The Dry Look” Perry, Jim Ray Hart, Mike McCormick, Jimmy Davenport, Bobby Bonds (Barry’s dad and the Mookie Betts of the late 1960's and early 1970's), Jack Clark, Darrell Evans, Joe Morgan, Chili Davis, Jeffrey "The Hackman" Leonard, “Will The Thrill” Clark, Kevin “Boogie Bear” Mitchell, Dave Dravecky, Rod “Shooter” Beck, "Rapid Robb" Nen, Matt Williams and Barry Bonds (and more) repeatedly do amazing things in a misbegotten, cold and windy baseball park named Candlestick many moons ago.

Mr. McCovey was not only known for his heroics on the field, but his kindness, consideration and decency off the field. Giants pitcher and longtime announcer Mike Krukow speaks eloquently for all of us here.

Thanks for making the world a better place, Stan Lee, Roy Clark and Willie McCovey.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Tonight in San Francisco: Cartoon Jazz Nonet

Today, composer-saxophonist-educator Jeff Sanford leads his nonet of virtuoso musicians through a rip-roaring performance at Bird & Beckett Books in San Francisco's Glen Park.

Selections from the Cartoon Jazz Nonet's eclectic repertoire of compositions by Raymond Scott, Jelly Roll Morton, John Kirby and other geniuses of mid-20th century music share the bill with new compositions by composer Lenny Carlson and a host of more modern-day movie music classics as well.

The Place: Bird & Beckett on 653 Chenery Street
Showtime: 7:30 p.m.
Presented by the Jazz Philanthropists Union and the Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project with support from Jazz in the Neighborhood’s Guaranteed Fair Wage Fund!
$25 cover charge. $10 for students, musicians, low income.

For more info, check out:
Cartoon Jazz Orchestra official website
Facebook page
YouTube channel