Monthly Archives: February 2008

TV Title Sequence: The Fantastic Journey

Today’s title sequence is something of a departure in that I don’t actually remember this one. I remember the show — this is the one I mentioned the other day that I used to think I might have imagined — and there are some familiar elements in the video clip, but the sequence as a whole is a total blank spot. See if it rings a bell for you:


What That Oscar Will Really Get You…

People tend to think that winning an Oscar is evidence that an actor is, in the words of Jon Lovitz, a Master Thespian, i.e., an immense talent who appears only in serious cinema that stretches the minds of all who see it, superior to all those journeyman types who eke out a living doing mere movies. Um, no. The truth is that most Oscar winners get lucky. That’s not to say that they’re not talented — although you can always quibble about some — but rather that they had the good sense or the good fortune to choose the right project at the right time. Acting, like careers in every other industry you can think of, depends as much on factors that the individual cannot control as those he or she can, and most of the time, achieving the pinnacle of an Oscar win is followed by an inevitable decline into “paying the mortgage” roles.

All of which is a rather long and pretentious way of introducing the following amusing video, ganked from AMC-TV‘s SciFi Scanner blog:

For the record, I don’t remember Ray Milland as the star of The Thing with Two Heads. No, in my mind, he will forever be the unscrupulous Sire Uri from the original Battlestar Galactica. He appeared only in the three-hour pilot film and was last seen cravenly running for his life from the attacking Cylon ground forces on Carillon (I like to think he took a laser blast in his smug, puffy face and the Ovions ate what was left over), but he’s always stood out in my mind as an embodiment of the petty evil that so often stems from personal wealth and an overblown sense of entitlement.


The Return of Este… and Maybe the Great Pizza Challenge, Too

Okay, how lame is this? I got the word from Chenopup yesterday afternoon that Este Pizza, the Salt Lake eatery that inspired the still-unfulfilled Great Simple Tricks Pizza Challenge, has finally reopened, many months after a fire shut the place down. Naturally, I planned to report this happy news here on the blog ASAP, but, as fate would have it, I got busy with other things and, well, I didn’t get around to it.

So what do I find this morning when I log into my feed aggregator? Greenberg has already blogged about the news! I got scooped on the reopening of a Salt Lake restaurant by a guy who lives in New Jersey! Doh. My head has been hanging in shame for hours now…

(Incidentally, Brian is still up for the Pizza Challenge and I know Cheno is, so hopefully we can finally get that going… also, a big congratulations to Dave, Este’s owner, on getting the place back in shape. Everyone reading this who might be in the Salt Lake area needs to drive on over there for lunch and welcome him back to business!)


Declining Linguistic Standards in the Modern Urban Setting

So, I work on a block of buildings that are roughly a century old, and one of them is currently undergoing extensive renovations. That means the nice, peaceful plaza where I like to sit on pleasantly warm days isn’t very inviting right now, what with the constant beep-beep-beep of delivery vehicle back-up alerts and the crash and boom of broken masonry, wood, and metal being dumped down a ten-story-high disposal chute into a giant dumpster below. I’m frankly eager for the whole thing to be over with.

That said, however, the situation does have its amusing aspects. Like the signs I noticed on the building’s front doors today, the ones that warn passersby of “Undry Paint.”

“Undry.” In my day, we used to call that “wet.” I guess times change.


More Streaming Classics

Chenopup already let the cat out of the bag in the comments to the previous entry, but in case you don’t read those, here’s a follow-up to the news about streaming classic television episodes: is doing the same thing with some its old shows, namely The A-Team, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, the original Battlestar Galactica, the disco-rific Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (mmmm, Erin Gray), Emergency!, Miami Vice, and Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. (You trivia hounds may remember that Steven Spielberg’s first job was directing Joan Crawford in an episode of Night Gallery…)


Classic Trek Now Streaming Online

A number of my regular blog-reads have already mentioned this, but in case you haven’t heard, is now offering all 79 episodes of the original Star Trek series as free streaming videos. They’re supposed to be full-length and uncut (although they do seem to have unskippable commercials inserted at the original act-breaks), and based on my random sampling of a few scenes, they’re clean transfers presented in fairly decent quality. Interestingly, they are the original un-“enhanced” episodes — no modern-day CGI intruding on all the “living color” 1960s yumminess. So apparently not everyone thinks the revised editions are now the only official version of Trek. How refreshing.

(On a somewhat-related tangent, Toshiba’s announcement last week that it was abandoning its HD-DVD technology has left the Star Trek: Remastered project — i.e., the CG’d version — in limbo. Toshiba was funding the update and counting on the series to be one of the prime movers of its HD-DVD format. Now the question is whether sales of the first season of Trek: Remastered have been sufficient to encourage anyone else to take up the reins and finish the final two seasons. This old-school, purist Trekkie would be perfectly happy to see the whole idea fade away…)

Star Trek is being presented as one of several “TV Classics” offered on the site, and I’m thrilled to see the unaltered version of the show getting some respect and some exposure. I will say, however, the has a curious definition of “classic.” In addition to Trek, they’re also offering the ’60s-vintage Twilight Zone, Hawaii Five-O, MacGyver, and… Melrose Place? Without getting into any debates over the merits of Melrose as a series, is it even old enough to be called any sort of classic?


Oscars 2008

I don’t know why I keep watching the Oscars year after year. It’s not like it was back in the old days when I worked at the theater. Back then, I saw pretty much every movie that came out within a week or two of its release, I had very strong opinions about them all, and I enjoyed the validation that the Oscars provided, either by honoring the movies I liked or by giving me the chance to feel superior to those jerks on the Academy when they honored the stuff I didn’t like.


I Need Me One of These

Han Solo in carbonite desk

Okay, sure, my birthday is still six months or so away, but that just gives one of my terribly generous friends out there time to save up the money to get me something really, really cool. Like, oh, I don’t know… maybe a Han-Solo-in-carbonite desk! (Although for my purposes, a coffee table would probably be better… I already have a nice roll-top desk.)

Seriously, though, this thing is really cool. It was custom-made by a company called Tom Spina Designs; if you like movie stuff at all, I recommend you go over there and have a look around. They’ve done a lot of other custom display pieces (some Star Wars-related, much that is not), and there’s a fascinating page showcasing some the restoration work they’ve done on original movie props and masks. Latex is not the most durable material and most movie companies make little effort to preserve costumes and props after shooting wraps, so the actual physical artifacts behind our favorite cinematic fantasies tend to degrade pretty quickly. This company has done some very impressive work on, among other things, puppets from The Dark Crystal and Gremlins, and a whole slew of Ughnaught masks from The Empire Strikes Back. Nice to know that somebody cares about saving this stuff… it’s all precious in my book. As Indy would say, “it belongs in a museum!”

Oh, and for the professional courtesy bit, this item was via Boing Boing. Of course.


The Joshua Tree, 20 Years On

For the record, I consider U2 to be one of the most overrated bands of the last two centuries.

That remark is based, of course, on the fact that the active phase of their career stretches across both sides of Y2K — there’s a term you haven’t thought about in a while, I’ll bet! — and not because I think U2 sucks hard enough to make them stand out against the vast catalog of recordings that 200 years would encompass, if there actually was 200 years worth of recorded music. Which there isn’t, because recording technology is only 131 years old. But that’s beside the point, because as I said, U2 doesn’t suck that hard. I actually do like a good bit of their music, at least enough of it to warrant buying the basic greatest hits package that was released a few years back.

However, I’ve never understood the intense, near-religious devotion so many of my acquaintances seem to feel for these guys. A couple of my co-workers speak of Bono as if the man can make the blind see and the lame walk simply through the awesomeness of his blue wraparound shades or something, and, well, I just don’t get it. In fact, I so don’t get it that I find it rather distasteful. C’mon, people! The band has a unique sound, but I don’t think their lyrics are profound so much as opaque (occasionally bordering on the tedious), and I also tend to distrust the sincerity of rock stars with causes. But maybe I’m just an old grump that way.

What I do get is, though, is the power of iconic imagery, and there’s no denying that U2’s biggest album, The Joshua Tree, was graced by some beautiful and unforgettable photography that remains instantly recognizable and evocative even 20 years later. And that’s why, despite my ambivalence about the band itself, I found this site so interesting. I love comparing “then and now” photos of changing landscapes, and when they’re familiar landscapes, as these are, my emotional reaction to the changes can sometimes be unexpectedly strong.

Which is my way of saying that I felt rather bad to learn that the Joshua tree has died and toppled over…