Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trailer of the Week: Dracula (1931)

Before Lee, there was Lugosi.

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Halloween Song of the Week: “Monster Mash”

I don't know who made this clip but (1.) it wasn't me and (2.)whoever it was really likes Young Frankenstein.

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Lauren Valle Almost Died for Their Sins

Oh, geez. I guess I should not be surprised by anything done by people who consider chair-throwing a legitimate form of political protest but the incident this past week in which protester Lauren Valle got thrown to the ground by Rand Paul supporters and then stomped in the head by one particularly loathsome individual kinda takes the cake.

Did they really believe the woman deserved that kind of treatment? Granted, I am old enough to remember Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, the woman who tried to kill President Gerald Ford back in the 1970s, but then I see no comparisons between a would-be political assassin like Ms. Fromme and a legitimate political protester like Ms. Valle any more than there should be any connection between the Oklahoma City bombing and the original Boston Tea Party. And should not the woman just have been held till the cops arrived if Paul's supporters truly believed she was that much of a legitimate threat? As it stands, it seems like the only thing Ms Valle had in mind was a political stunt that would embarrass Mr. Paul -- and last time I checked, that was not an act deserving of a citizen's arrest, much less a beating.

Ironically, I was just discussing the modern-day Tea party just a few weeks ago with my mother, a former Reagan Democrat who recently admitted to me that she did not care for either the Tea party or Sarah Palin. Of course, my mother's biggest concern back then was not seeing some protester get the stuffing knocked out of her but rather the potential for splitting the conservative vote in the 2012 elections. And indeed, if I were a more cynical person, I would be tempted to argue that the main reason Democratic politicos like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have not come down harder against the Tea party was their hopes for just such a split. After all, the more people who vote for Rand Paul or Sarah Palin as a way of getting back at Obama, the less people left to vote for whoever the GOP picks as their presidential candidate -- and the less likely a victory for anyone running against Obama.

So now the good people who support Rand Paul have given me yet another reason to vote against their party apart from family loyalty. Here's hoping that I do not get kicked in the head as well.

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Buscando Trabajo de Nuevo: Parte XXIII

I just started on a new job this past week and only time will tell whether it proves to be something long-term or just a brief hiatus from collecting unemployment checks.

I so miss the informal camraderie of your average workplace that I hope it's long-term even though it's not exactly a fun job. However, once again I must note that it's too early to tell.

I'll try to keep up with the regular blogging but I may end up concentrating more on the weekend features. If I'm lucky. After all, I first started this blog when I was working full-time so I shouldn't have any problems. But I don't wish to make any promises that it's not in my power to keep.

If nothing else, the past year or so of unemployment have made me realize more than ever how many people out there work long tedious hours of thankless labor just to pay the bills. Of course, having grown up among people who had worked a great variety of thankless jobs themselves, I kinda suspected this but this past year brought it to my attention in a way that I can't rightly ignore.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hey, I Remember This Show: Kolchak: The Night Stalker

This used to be one of my favorite TV shows back in the 1970s but you know, you live, you grow.

Seriously, I still have a soft spot for the series and while I will admit time has not been kind to its premise -- especially after young whippersnappers like Fox Mulder and Buffy Summers started stealing the title character's thunder -- it still holds up better than the recent remake effort. Plus, there is a part of me that still has a soft spot for the late Darren McGavin. Granted, he will never look as good in a short skirt as Sarah Michelle Gellar but then none of the male members of the Buffy cast could ever hope to look as good in that white suit.

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Hey, I Don't Remember This Show: Dracula: The Series (1990)

Wait a minute! We don't not only got a Dark Shadows revival in 1991 but we also got a series based on the most famous vampire of all? (Actually this show started in 1990 but the latter half of it aired in 1991.)

I guess Anne Rice had more influence in the early 1990s than I figured.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

R.I.P. Lisa Blount

Actress Lisa Blount, best known for her role as Debra Winger's cynical friend in the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman, found somewhere else to go this past Monday at age 53. She will be missed.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Movie Quote of the Week

Hello, Polly, this is May. Happy Halloween. I was thinking of popping by later to bring you your new blouse. Show you my costume. Give me a call if that’s cool. Miss you. Kisses. Call me, okay?
--Angela Bettis, May (2002)

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TV Quote of the Week

Midnight approaches. The witching hour. And as a sign of that hour, as a symbol of all that is evil, as the epitome and purveyor of this night of sin... I give you the Queen of Sin... Mrs. Peel!
--Peter Wyngarde, The Avengers, “A Touch of Brimstone”

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Juan Seguín!

Tejano hero Juan Seguín -- the obvious inspiration for my current icon -- was born on this day on 1806. I know few other Americans acknowledge his birthday or even know who he is but I prefer to be different.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pop and TV Song of the Week: “Dark Lady”

Hmmm. In this video originally made for the old Sonny and Cher Show, the brunette looks like Cher, the blonde looks like a young Teri Garr and the guy looks like a young Raul Julia. Coincidence? Or was there something going on at that time which the late Sonny Bono didn't know about?

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Fantasy Quote of the Week

Have you ever thought what a ghost of our times would look like, Miss Millick? Just picture it. A smoky composite face with the hungry anxiety of the unemployed, the neurotic restlessness of the person without purpose, the jerky tension of the high-pressure metropolitan worker, the uneasy resentment of the striker, the callous opportunism of the scab, the aggressive whine of the panhandler, the inhibited terror of the bombed civilian, and a thousand other twisted emotional patterns. Each one overlaying and yet blending with the other, like a pile of semitransparent masks?
--Mr. Wran in Fritz Leiber's “Smoke Ghost”

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Science Fiction Quote of the Week

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
--H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds

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That's Funny. She Doesn't Look Latina: Parte XI

Joanna Kerns (1953- ). American actress who is the daughter of a Mexican-American father and an Irish-American mother. Her original name was Joanne Crussie DeVarona. She is best known for playing Kirk Cameron's mother on the TV series Growing Pains. More recently, she appeared in the 2007 movie Knocked Up.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Movie Song of the Week: “Science Fiction-Double Feature”

Heh. This is probably the last clip from the actual 1975 movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show still available online. So unless you think the various amateur versions currently posted online are a vast improvement, please don't say anything.

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Song Quote of the Week

When you get to my door, tell them Boris sent you.
--Bobby "Boris" Pickett and Leonard L. Capizzi, “Monster Mash”

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Trailer of the Week: Horror of Dracula (1958)

This was not the first face-off between Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing -- that came in The Curse of Frankenstein, which I have not seen yet -- but it was definitely one of the most memorable. Peter Cushing may not be the definite Van Helsing to all you Edward Van Sloan fans out there but he is definitely much better than poor Hugh Jackman.

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Hey, I Remember This Show: Night Gallery

The last TV series on which the late Rod Serling worked and unfortunately, the one which gave him the most trouble. It says something about his dedication that it actually produced some good stories -- for example, the Emmy-winning “They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar.” Unfortunately, it also produced a lot of stories which were best not remembered.

I still have a fondness for most of the better stories -- if nothing else, the series introduced me to both author H.P. Lovecraft and actress Joanna Pettet -- but I wish for Mr. Serling's sake that the ratio of good stories to bad had been a lot more favorable. Then again some of those stories still haunt my dreams so they obviously had some effect even if it was not one Mr. Serling would have preferred.

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Hey, I Don't Remember This Show: Night Visions

A short-lived horror anthology which had the bad luck to debut in July 2001. Call me a cynic, but I'm guessing any horror anthology series would have found a tough audience after September 2001.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Favorite Halloween Videos from Years Past

1. “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)” -- Concrete Blonde.

A musical foray into Anne Rice territory.

2. “Dracula's Tango” -- Toto Coelo.

The one video from the 1980s few of my generation have ever heard of. And to think we make fun of Twilight movies.

3. “Hammer Horror” -- Kate Bush.

Not only can Kate sing but she really knows how to make an entrance as well.

4. “Swingin' at the Seance” -- The Moon Rays.

An obscure video which deserves more publicity than it got.

Plus as a special bonus:

5. “Monster Mash” -- The Monster Club Soundtrack.

“Maestro... Our song.”


Magazine Cover of the Week

This time I post the notorious Time magazine cover from 1975 that almost ended Bruce Springsteen's career. After all this time, it's kinda hard to see what all the fuss is about, especially since rock no longer seems to be a very fashionable music genre and anyway, it's not like a similar Time cover destroyed Linda Ronstadt's music career.

Yes, Springsteen is still around and making music but he no longer dominates the music scene the way he did back in the 1980s, which is a real shame because I always liked his music. Though I do remember feeling like a sucker when I first bought his “Born to Run” single back in the 1970s and no one else I knew seemed to know he even existed.

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Movie Posters of the Week

Some things are better said in Spanish.

Other things are not. (No pun intended.)

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween Song of the Week: “Thriller”

Hey, I meant to start posting Halloween videos earlier in the month. Honest.

I should be posting some more this weekend but in the meantime, there is this golden oldie. Now please don't let Michael Jackson talk you all into believing in the occult, okay?

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Mashup of the Week: Doctor Who Meets Buffy

Heh! Somehow I just knew someone on YouTube would find a way to combine two of my favorite TV shows. Given Doctor Who producer Russell T. Davies' love for Buffy, this just seemed especially inevitable. There are several more on YouTube with a similar format but this is my favorite thus far.

I hope you all enjoy it.

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Buscando Trabajo de Nuevo: Parte XXII

Hurray! I may have a job Monday. I know I've said that before but this time I'm keeping my fingers triple crossed.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Movie Quote of the Week

Think about it, Cooper. Up until today you believed there was a line between myth and reality. Maybe a very fine line sometimes but at least it was a line. Those things out there are real. If they’re real, what else is real? You know what lives in the shadows now. You may never get another night’s sleep as long as you live.
--Emma Cleasby, Dog Soldiers (2002)

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TV Quote of the Week

Why can’t the people’s candidate be like the rest of us -- timid, insecure and lazy?
--Darren McGavin, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, “The Devil’s Platform”

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Kim Kardashian!

I never realized how beautiful Ms. Kardashian was until after I saw this photograph. It doesn't hurt that she reminds me of a female acquaintance who, like me, is also a Latin half and half (in her case, half Mexican and half English).

Ms. Kardashian, for the record, is half English and half Armenian. It would be nice to claim her as a honorary Latina but no, that wouldn't be fair to the people who legitimately qualify. Besides, she is still beautiful, whatever her ancestry. I hope she has a great day.

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Betrayed by Winona Horowitz aka Kiss of the Ryder Woman

He always enjoyed watching Tim Burton's films -- they were eye candy, for one thing -- but they left him feeling vaguely pissed off. They all seemed to have an agenda of relentless normalcy hiding behind a thin veil of weirdness. He'd loved Beetlejuice until the last scene, which sent him storming from the theater and left him kicking things all day. The sight of Winona Ryder's character, formerly strange and beautiful in her ratted hairdo and smudged eyeliner, now combed out and squeaky clean, clad in a preppy skirt and knee socks and a big shit-eating sickeningly normal grin... it was entirely too much to bear.
--Poppy Z. Brite, Drawing Blood

I have always been fascinated by the above quote because it seems so different from my view of the movie. After all, the end of the movie had the Winona Ryder character floating in mid-air while dancing to an old calypso tune. Hardly a normal activity for a young girl of that period. Moreover, the end also had her relate more warmly to two ghosts than she ever did to her own living parents. Once again, hardly an endorsement of normality.

Granted, the character responsible for the above quote did not come from the same type of family background as myself and understandably had different issues to deal with than I had when I was growing up. Besides, normality is a deceptive phrase. I grew up in an environment where Spanish was frequently spoken and almost every other week saw a visit from a Spanish-speaking relative who may or may not have been dark-skinned. It took me the longest time to understand that I could lay out in the sun all day and never become as brown as my favorite female cousin. It took me even longer to realize how many of my relatives spoke with Mexican accents. (After all, when I was growing up, such accents were normal. It was the non-Hispanics I met at school who usually talked with what I considered to be accents.)

As a result, I grew up with a different idea of normality than most of my classmates. Thus it always seemed silly to me to rebel with tattoos and unconventional hair styles to “prove” I was an outsider when it seemed obvious to me every time I showed up in school that I was already an outsider. I just was not a fashionable outsider. This did not mean that I had anything against those who chose to rebel with dyed hair, mohawks or tattoos. I just found it a bit hard to understand.

Anyway, I always liked the 1988 fantasy Beetlejuice even though it was obvious to my young eyes the first time I saw it that parts of the script could have used some improvement. The contrast between the Maitlands (the ghostly couple played by Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) and the Deetzes (the living couple played by Jeffrey Jones and Catherine O’Hara) was funny but hardly original and the emphasis on the admittedly funny title character (played by Michael Keaton) often led to scenes that had no real business being in the movie save to showcase Keaton’s character.

Then again, it did have a truly memorable Danny Elfman score plus good performances by a cast that was at the top of its game. Adam Maitland (Baldwin’s character) seemed to actually love his wife Barbara and though the two of them often acted like overgrown kids, there was a maturity about their later actions that seems refreshing compared to the childish adult characters who have appeared in more recent movies.

One could truly believe Barbara Maitland would make a good “stepmother” for Lydia Deetz (played by Winona Ryder née Horowitz) and Ryder seemed convincing as a teen-age Goth wannabe who nevertheless yearned for the same affection from her parents as a conventional teenager -- an affection she eventually got from the Maitlands.

The first time I saw this movie with my youngest brother, he could not help observing that the Maitlands were better parents to Lydia than her real parents. They cared about her. They made time for her. They helped her with her homework and generally made it quite clear that they gave a damn about her. The Deetzes, on the other hand, did not really know how to deal with Lydia. The father looked as if he had always been more interested in making money than anything else and while he was never unfriendly to Lydia, he never seemed overly eager to have her around. The stepmother was far more interested in her art than Lydia, going so far as to spend more of her time pandering to her metrosexual friend Otho (played by the late Glenn Shadix) than tending to her stepdaughter.

In the end, the conflict between the Maitlands -- the couple who used to own the house into which the Deetzs had moved -- and the Deetzs -- the couple who currently owned the house -- seemed less important than the conflict between the Maitlands and the character they originally hired to scare the Deetzs out of their house -- Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice was easily the most memorable character in the movie and yet because his actions were so much more cartoonish than those of his co-stars, he seemed like a bit of a distraction.

Granted, the movie was named after him and not one of the other characters and he was rather funny the first few times he showed up on screen. Michael Keaton always had a way with a throwaway line and the screenwriters gave him quite a few.

But director Tim Burton had no real idea what to do with him. Was he a good ghost? Not necessarily. But he did not really come as being evil so much as amoral. If he wished to save you from falling, he would do so but only if he was in the mood. If he was not in the mood, he saw nothing wrong with dropping you down a flight of stairs. In short, he was not a very nice person -- and yet there are times when he seemed like the closest thing this movie has to a hero. For example, there is one point when he actually saved the Maitlands from a gruesome fate -- yet he accomplished this by distracting two other characters with a stunt which eventually led to either their injury or their death. (The movie never specified which.)

I suppose if I was more of a Poppy Z. Brite fan, I would turn against this movie and seek something better.

But naah!

Any movie which could have a sympathetic character say something like, “I myself am... strange and unusual” and have said character say such a line with the same type of pride most people normally devote to the earning of sports trophies and straight-A report cards has the right attitude toward normality as far as I am concerned, no matter how many makeovers said character eventually went in for.

If you still think Ms. Brite’s character is right and that Lydia Deetz becomes little more than a mealy-mouthed sell-out by the end of the movie, ask yourself this question: if a female friend were to walk up to you and confess to having done the same activities that Lydia Deetz performs in the last few minutes of this movie, what type of reaction would you have? Would you say, “Oh, how cool!”? Or would you say “Oh, how lame!”? Or would you just give her a long, steady look and then head for the nearest exit when you realized she was being totally serious?

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

R.I.P. Tom Bosley

Actor Tom Bosley, best known for his role as Howard Cunningham on the 1970s sitcom Happy Days, left to join June Cleaver yesterday at age 83. He will be missed.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pop Song of the Week: “Kiss Them for Me”

If October isn't the ideal month to post a Siouxsie and the Banshees video, then no month is.

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That's Funny. She Doesn't Look Latina: Parte X

Yvette Carmen Mimieux (1942- ). Daughter of a French father and a Mexican mother. She is best known for her role in 1960's The Time Machine, in which she played an Eloi. Admittedly I find it quite ironic that such a role was played by a person of Mexican descent since I had no idea that was so when I wrote this.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Movie Song of the Week: “Death Waltz”

From the soundtrack for the 1977 Dario Argento film Suspiria, it is yet another dance tune with the bright cheery title of “Death Waltz.” The group playing it is director Argento's favorite band Goblin.

I hope you all enjoy it -- if “enjoy” is the proper word.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Trailer of the Week: The Others (2001)

Well, it is close to Halloween.

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Hey, I Remember This Show: Leave It to Beaver

In honor of the late Barbara Billingley, it's the second season intro from the TV show for which she is most famous.

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Hey, I Don't Remember This Show: Dark Shadows (1991)

Apparently the TV powers that be liked Dark Shadows so much that they tried to bring it back in 1991 -- only to abandon it when it failed to produce the same audience as the original. I must confess that I'm a bit surprised to see the late Jean Simmons of Angel Face fame playing the Joan Bennett role this time out. I am even more surprised to see '60s horror goddess Barbara Steele playing the Grayson Hall part. I suppose she thought it a more dignified way to end her horror career than her part as a middle-aged psycho killer in 1980's Silent Scream.

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R.I.P. Barbara Billingsley

Actress Barbara Billingsley, best known for her role as June Cleaver on the classic TV series Leave It to Beaver, left to join her former co-star Hugh Beaumont yesterday at age 94. She will be missed.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Jean Arthur!

Actress Jean Arthur was born this day in 1900. She was a big star today but she rarely gets mentioned outside of old movie blogs nowadays. She will be missed.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Rita Hayworth!

She was born this day on 1918. She might not be as famous to today's generation as John Lennon but she's still important to some people. She will be missed.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Enter Sade Man

This movie was a mess. A literal mess.

As much as I would have liked to have liked the 1998 horror film Strangeland because my beloved Elizabeth Peña was in it, there was no denying the fact that not even she could save this movie for me. Indeed, I felt a bit sorry for her whenever I saw her onscreen during this film because her role as housewife Toni Gage wasn't one of her better-written parts.

I also felt sorry for actress Linda Cardellini, who played Ms. Gage's daughter Genevieve -- a girl who ended up becoming the victim of a serial torturer named Captain Howdy (played by former rock star Dee Snider) who lured victims to his residence via the Internet. If you thought the way Ms. Cardellini went from playing a great character on TV's Freaks and Geeks to playing Velma in the Scooby Doo movies was a tough break, just wait until you see her in this movie. On second thought, don't. This movie does not deserve more viewers.

The movie made some feeble attempt at social commentary by having the plot include an attempt to “reform” the villain via medication only to have him revert to type after he had been attacked and almost killed by a group of vigilantes. But in the end, it was just an excuse to have the villain do a lot of nasty things to people of varying degrees of guilt until he finally got a taste of his own medicine.

Unless you get off on seeing innocent people like Genevieve Gage hurt, there is just no way you are going to enjoy this movie.

However, I suspect the Marquis de Sade would have liked it quite well.

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Angel: “The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco”

I never really got into the show Angel while it was still on the air because it always seemed like a dumping ground for all the ideas that were not quite good enough for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the show from which it spun off. Nor did it help that Angel was never one of my favorite characters on BtVS. He was more a character I tolerated for the sake of the other characters.

I finally broke down and watched the DVD for the fifth season a while back and found myself quite pleased with the result. Not every episode in the fifth season was a classic and not every plot twist a welcome one (for example, I believe what they did with the Fred character later in the season was a mistake but I can see why they did it) but as a whole, the season was a lot better than I expected.

One of my favorite episodes is “The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco” which introduced a whole group of Mexican wrestlers into a show -- and genre -- that had been notably short of Hispanic characters. The wrestlers in question moonlighted as demon-fighters and had a history of battling both the natural and supernatural evils faced by the local Mexican-American population until all but one wrestler -- the “Numero Cinco”* of the title -- were killed. Fortunately, the wrestlers did not stay dead but came back for one last battle with their old comrade-in-arms Numero Cinco -- who, prior to this episode, had been working for Angel as a mail carrier. (Yes, it probably would have seemed unrealistic to see a former wrestler working as a paralegal or a file clerk. But a mail carrier? I guess we should all be happy that they did not make him a janitor.)

It would have been nice if the wrestlers had stayed around longer because I found the concept of Hispanic characters battling the supernatural quite intriguing. After all, it was not like you ever saw a whole lot of Hispanics on BtVS, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, etc., and apart from Numero Cinco, you rarely saw a Hispanic character on Angel as well. But it was not to be. They only lasted for a single episode -- after which they returned to the dead. And I suspect they were only introduced because the title character Angel was at a loss as to how to stop an ancient Aztec demon who was on the loose. (In short, some PC screenwriter figured it was not cool to portray Angel as the Great White Hope of Los Angeles by having him defeat an nonwhite demon so they brought in a group of token Mexicans to do his dirty work.)

Most of the show's fans criticized the wrestlers for being ethnic Mary Sues and indeed, I would have been nice to have seen more believable qualities displayed during their brief appearance. I do find it troublesome that a show set in Los Angeles (a city with one of the largest populations of Mexican descent on Earth) could not be bothered to find even one Hispanic character to show up on a regular basis prior to Numero Cinco's appearance at the beginning of the fifth season -- even if said character was a bothersome cop or a nosy journalist. Nor am I fond of the fact that when said characters did appear, the show's writers promptly wrote them off as soon as possible. (Okay, long-running character Cordelia Chase lasted about four seasons on this series despite being played by a Hispanic actress. But Cordelia does not really count as a Hispanic character.)

I realize that no one expects social realism from a show named Angel and that adding token ethnic characters to appease audience demographics would not necessarily have improved it. On the other hand, I get so tired of the notion that writers who put Hispanic characters on their shows are somehow doing us Hispanics a favor. That we have no stories to tell that are as interesting as the ones white non-Hispanics tell about themselves. That having a TV series whose characters never interact with Hispanics despite residing in a city with a large Latino population is somehow realistic because Latinos to the average screenwriter seem even more mythical than werewolves and vampires.

Oh, well. I suppose I could have more important issues to kvetch about than the characters on one TV show. And to tell the truth, I am not all that fond of the masked wrestler character in either American or Mexican culture.

But I did relish the chance to see a group of Mexican characters fight their own battles for a change -- and to actually save the day for the title character instead of waiting to be rescued like the Mexicans in Giant. And I'm kinda sorry that they never got the chance to have their own spin-off. At least it would have been interesting to see what the writers would do if they had to contend with a Hispanic character every week. And to see how such a show would compare with Angel.

* “Numero Cinco” is, of course, Spanish for “Number Five.”

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Friday, October 15, 2010

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Mi Hermano!

My middle brother's birthday is today. I hope he had a good day.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Movie Quote of the Week

Of course I’ve got enemies. I’m in show business.
--Fred Clark, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)

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TV Quote of the Week

Nobody remembers the good stuff.
--Danny Mora, Angel, “The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco”

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book of the Week

There is probably no way the stories in this book can be as cool as its title. But it would be fun to find out, right?

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pop Song of the Week: “Coin-Operated Boy”

Someone's been watching May a lot.

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That's Funny. She Doesn't Look Latina: Parte IX

Charisma Carpenter (1970- ). Apparently a mystery woman who is described on some sites as being of Mexican and Cherokee descent and on others as being Cherokee, Irish, Scottish and Spanish on her mother's side and French and German on her father's side. If that is not confusing enough, IMDB lists the latter description of her ethnic ancestry and then goes on to describe her as being of Mexican descent. She does admit to speaking a little Spanish, though -- and more importantly, she does not deny her Hispanic ancestry though she is usually cast in white non-Hispanic roles.

She is best known for her role as Cordelia Chase on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and she most recently appeared in the movie The Expendables. She is probably the closest thing BtVS ever had to a full-time Hispanic character and of course, she played the snobby girl who rarely got along with any of the more popular characters on the show.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Movie Song of the Week: “Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)”

From 1988's Beetlejuice, it's a young Winona Ryder dancing her heart out to an 1961 Harry Belafonte tune. Plus we also get a glimpse of a young Alec Baldwin, a young Geena Davis and a youngish Jeffrey Jones.

I hope you all enjoy it.

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Buscando Trabajo de Nuevo: Parte XXI

Well, the new job I was talking about last time was supposed to start on October 8 and it is now October 11 so I guess I didn't get it.

If that wasn't bad enough, I had some unexpected car repairs I had to undergo. Plus I learned the hard way to always make sure you have a car jack in your trunk. Though I must admit it was a bit amusing to find out how difficult it was to find a car jack nowadays without going to an auto parts store. Given all the stores out there which don't specialize in auto parts but which have auto parts sections, I would have thought it would be easy to buy one but apparently not. Perhaps that is because jacks aren't something you buy on a regular basis so stores looking to save room in their auto parts inventory inevitably choose to not carry them.

Anyway, I was fortunate enough to have enough cash on hand to take care of the car repairs without having to borrow from my family but I really should have been spending it on other stuff. Then again, there was nothing I'm going to get a regular job without reliable transportation unless I'm lucky enough to find one on a bus route. But those are even scarcer than jobs in general.

Anyway, I might have a better job opportunity lined up this week. We will see.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Trailer of the Week: A Night to Remember (1958)

Apparently this movie was made back when the late Roy Ward Baker was still called Roy Baker. Not that it matters. This still has a reputation for being one of his finest films.

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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Hey, I Remember This Show: Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)

Given the number of horror films the late Roy Ward Baker directed for Hammer and Amicus, one would think that he would have done at least one show with a Halloweenish theme. However, two episodes of this was the closest he ever came. Probably just as well. The poor man probably didn't want to be typecast.

Anyway, this show was released in the U.S. under the title My Partner the Ghost but I didn't catch up with it until about a year ago. There was a more recent version made about a decade ago but for some reason, I found this one more watchable. Of course, it doesn't hurt that this one has a more memorable theme.

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Hey, I Don't Remember This Show: The Baron

There's usually only one baron I think about this time of year and this isn't him. But then this show was a bit before my time, anyway. The first TV show I ever associated actor Steve Forrest with was the 1970s show SWAT. I wasn't even aware he was making TV shows like this one in the 1960s, much less associating with people like Doctor Who scribe Terry Nation and Hammer director Roy Ward Baker. But then I probably would have been too young to appreciate him back then.

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Book of the Week

Harry Dresden and Latin American pyramids? I am so there.

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Friday, October 08, 2010

R.I.P. Roy Ward Baker

Noted English director Roy Ward Baker, best known for the 1958 film A Night to Remember but who also worked on various films for Hammer and Amicus Studios such as 1967's Quatermass and the Pit and 1972's Asylum as well as such TV shows as The Avengers and The Baron, finished his last cup of tea Tuesday at age 93.

He will be missed.

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Movie Quote of the Week

Oh, no. It's great. This completely takes care of Halloween. But what about the other 364 days of the year?
--Tom Cruise, Vanilla Sky (2001)

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TV Quote of the Week

But Halloween’s not about some war you lost. It’s about fun.
--Scott Fults, She-Wolf of London, “The Juggler”

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Canción de la Semana: “Te Aviso, Te Anuncio (Tango)”

See how different a Spanish-language video can be?

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The Dwarfs of Wrath

Mommies don’t do that. Mommies don’t hurt their own children.
--Samantha Eggar, The Brood (1979)

It says a lot about the depressing number of news stories that argue otherwise that my first response to that line was “Bullshit!”

But enough of real life. What, you may ask, has all this to do with the 1979 movie The Brood?

Well, The Brood is one of director David Cronenberg’s first entries into mainstream horror. The running theme of the movie is maternal violence and it is supposedly based on a true story. Not everything that happens in this movie literally happened in real life but Cronenberg himself admits to having being inspired by his real-life experiences with his ex-wife while writing the screenplay of this movie.

The movie concerned a man named Frank Cavert (played by Art Hindle) whose wife Nola (played by Samantha Eggar) was undergoing treatment at a mysterious retreat run by Hal (played by Oliver Reed). One day Frank arrived at the retreat to pick up his daughter Candice only to discover when he got home that she had been beaten. When he asked Candice about it, he received no answer. When he tried to confront Nola about it, he got stonewalled by Hal who threatened to deny all visitation rights if Frank made an issue of this.

Later on, Hall talked to Nola and confronted her with Frank’s accusation. At first, Nola was in denial. What? Her? Hurt her own child? Surely Hal was joking.

Then Hal confronted Nola with the stories she herself had told about the abuse she suffered at her own mother’s hands. Stories that still had an active influence on Nola. So much so that she found herself expressing more and more anger at that parent.

Meanwhile, Art had a conversation with Nola’s mother, a doting grandmother who seemed awfully defensive about something. She accused Nola of making stuff up and yet seemed to drink quite a bit for someone who had nothing to feel guilty about.

For some odd reason, Frank left her alone with Candice. Candice and her grandmother were looking at an old family photo album when their quality time was interrupted by some mysterious noises in the kitchen. Grandmother excused herself to investigate and then...

Kids? What kids?
--Art Hindle, The Brood (1979)

The rest of the film involved a series of murders committed by homicidal dwarfs. Dwarfs small enough to pass for children from a distance yet far more cruel than even the worst playground bully. All of their victims were people with whom Nola was angry. Yet apart from strange dreams, Nola had no memories of the deeds the dwarfs committed. And yet the people they killed were still dead.

Frank accidentally came across one such killer while it was in the process of dying. Apparently once the dwarfs’ rage was dissipated, they began dying. Yet there were so many targets for their rage. Even imaginary ones... And according to the local coroner, they were physically incapable of seeing things in anything but black and white. No shades of gray were possible. They had no room for soft answers turning away wrath. In fact, it was tempting to wax political and compare the dwarfs to some real-life humans I could mention.

But all that was besides the point.

What’s been happening to me has been just too strange... too strange for me to share with anyone from my old life.
--Samantha Eggar, The Brood (1979)

The Brood was allegedly inspired by the real-life custody battle Cronenberg underwent for his daughter Cassandra, a bitter conflict in which he allegedly went so far as to kidnap Cassandra from his ex-wife. Although Cronenberg tried to give his characters shades of gray (for example, he had Frank at one point admit that his ex-wife’s mental issues may have rubbed off on him and had the not very likable Hal perform a very gutsy -- if not heroic -- deed), it still seemed obvious which character he most sympathized with (Frank) and which one he most disliked (Nola).

To make things more complicated, we never learned how much of Nola’s stories were true and how much were not. Her parents did act awfully guilty for people who considered themselves the victims of false accusations and yet Nola herself was not always truthful. Indeed, she was all too ready to condemn and execute someone who was herself innocent of the deeds Nola attributed to her. Granted, Nola never consciously order that such-and-such individual be killed. But the results of her “dreams” were such that she might as well have.

And what about Frank? Though Frank seemed like the closest thing the movie had to a conventional hero, he ultimately resolved the problem of Nola and her wrathful dwarfs in a way that was not exactly chivalrous. True, his deeds could be justified on the grounds that they were the only realistic way Frank could keep his daughter from getting killed. Yet his deed did not keep Candice from undergoing a horrific experience.

Indeed, it seemed quite evident at the end of the film that while Frank’s deed saved his daughter’s physical life, it might well have also set off the same genetic qualities that ultimately gave Nola her murderous powers. And so the cycle of violence moved from grandmother to mother to daughter. I guess it is a good thing that things like that rarely happen in real life, right?

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Pop Song of the Week: “Objection (Tango)”

Fists don't lie.

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That's Funny. She Doesn't Look Latina: Parte VIII

Lynda Carter (1951- ). American actress who is the daughter of a father of English and Irish descent and a mother of Mexican and Spanish ancestry. Her birth name was Linda Jean Córdova Carter but she was best known to TV viewers in the late 1970s as Diana Prince aka the title character in the TV series Wonder Woman.

I remember having a big crush on her back in the day, and as this picture indicates, said crush can't be entirely blamed on her Wonder Woman outfit.

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Monday, October 04, 2010

Movie Song of the Week: “I'm Goin' Shoppin' with You”

In honor of the late Gloria Stuart, a repost of my favorite Gloria Stuart number from Gold Diggers of 1935.

I hope you all enjoy it.

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Trailer of the Week: Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

In honor of the late Arthur Penn.

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Hey, I Remember This Show: Vega$

Believe it or not, the late Tony Curtis used to have a recurring role on this show. No, honest.

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Hey, I Don't Remember This Show: Stingray

Granted, I had a lot going on in 1986, what with my school and my full-time job and my having to fly out of state to attend one of my cousins' graduation ceremonies but I honestly do not remember this show being on TV that year -- or any other year for that matter. Apparently it proves that even the late Stephen J. Cannell did not always hit it big with his TV shows.

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Comic Book Image of the Week

Oh, my! This doesn't look good.

However, on the plus side, at least the vampires aren't sparkling.

By the way, this scene is from volume 25 of Marvel's The Tomb of Dracula in case you're curious how this scene turns out.

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Magazine Cover of the Week

I don't even want to think about what this implies about Bogie.

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Movie Poster of the Week

Remember the good old days when Hollywood released nice, cheerful movies instead of the dark, cynical stuff we get nowadays?

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Friday, October 01, 2010

R.I.P. Stephen J. Cannell

Writer and TV producer Stephen J. Cannell, creator of Jim Rockford and The Rockford Files, closed his last case yesterday at age 69. He will be missed.

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R.I.P. Tony Curtis

Actor Tony Curtis, father of Jamie Lee Curtis and former spouse of actress Janet Leigh, made his last exit Wednesday at age 85. He will be missed.

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