March 15, 2017
All Of MST3k
Here are reviews and a ranking of all 176 episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Here's the #1 episode:
1. Ep. 910, The Final Sacrifice, 1990
Movie pain meter: Low
Best riff: Troy, to grizzled old prospector: “You knew my father?” Servo: “KNOW him? He was delicious!”
We’re finally here: The #1 episode of MST3k of all time. If you’ve actually been reading this piece from start to finish, the quality of the light outside has almost certainly changed since you begun. Perhaps you started before lunch, and the sky is now purpling with a beautiful sunset: The kind of sunset that Zap Rowsdower would stare into pensively, while thinking “I wonder if there’s beer on the sun.” Yes, that’s the name of our Canadian hero: Zap Rowsdower. The dumbest, and thereby most unforgettable name in cinema history. He teams up with a young, snarling-faced kid named Troy to take on an evil cult that wants to revive an ancient, powerful Canadian lost civilization that “ruled this one acre for a week; nobody knew.” The dynamic between the Larry Csonka-worshiping, irritating Troy, who is searching for the cause of his father’s death, and the beer-swilling drifter Rowsdower is the stuff of MST3k legend. Every minute of screen time is packed to the gills with more memorable moments than you can possibly summarize, from eye-rolling “Canadian villain Garth Vader” to grizzled old prospector Mike Pipper, whose tortured voice is a source of constant riffing. It showcases the incredibly obscure, geeky sense of humor that is at the heart of this show, such as Servo’s comparison of Pipper to Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia. I mean honestly—what show has both the knowledge and the faith in its audience to make jokes about Ethiopian history? What show on TV, before or since, has had such depth and breadth to its sense of humor, and drawn on so many different influences? What other show can make you laugh so hard, but simultaneously teach you so much, and give you a greater appreciation for cinema itself?
That’s why MST3k is the greatest TV comedy of all time. And by extension, I suppose that makes The Final Sacrifice the greatest TV comedy episode of all time. Long may it reign.
February 19, 2017
OMG! OMG! OMG!
January 10, 2017
The television series Trackdown really did produce an episode featuring a "Trump" character who came to town claiming that only he could prevent the end of the world by building a wall (and also sold special force propelling umbrellas to deflect meteorites). The episode (S1, E30) aired on CBS in 1958 and was titled "The End of the World," featuring actor Lawrence Dobkin playing the role of "Walter Trump."
November 21, 2016
Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission
On Thursday morning last week I attended a 9 AM meeting of the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission in LA City Hall. They had two things on their agenda that morning: first was to consider designating the Bob and Dolores Hope Estate in Toluca Lake as a monument; second was to go visit and tour Hotel Cecil and the Catalina Swimwear Building. It was the second thing that I came for, but the Bob Hope house issue was very interesting.
Above is the Google Earth view of the estate.
Below is what the public could see from the street.
The place is owned by the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. First the staff made its presentation with a slide show and talk all about how ultra famous Bob Hope was. Under Los Angeles law there are two different bases that can justify declaring something a monument. One basis is the usual: great cultural, historical, architectural (etc.) significance. The second is that it was the home of a celebrity. The Bob Hope house was proposed (by a city council member) due solely to the celebrity status. Staff admits it has no cultural, historical, architectural (etc.) significance. In discussion the Commissioners said that in L.A. they obviously are not going to declare every residence of every celebrity a monument or they would consume a significant portion of the housing market. But they agreed that Bob Hope was just about the most famous person in the world.
After the staff report the Foundation got up to make their comments. They were daughter Linda Hope and a couple of other people, one of whom may have been an attorney. They told us quite a different story than staff told. Right off the bat, Linda Hope said they had the wrong address. The correct address is 10346 Moorpark Street. Staff had supplied the address as 10350 Moorpark Street. No points for staff there. Then she went on to explain that while staff had described the house as French Chateau style, only the original house was French Chateau and that Dolores Hope had almost continually added wings and additions so that now the house was some sort hodge-podge of no significance. She also disputed their description of the grounds which staff said included a "one-hole par 3 golf 'course'." Linda Hope said it was only a small decorative thing that could not really be used for golf.
Worse, she said, was that there was no way the Los Angeles public could access the house. In the '90s the Hopes had considered making it into a museum, but quickly learned that since it was in a quiet upscale residential area with narrow streets, there was no way it could be a museum open to the public. So the Hopes' final instructions were to use the estate to help fund the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. The intention of the trustees was to sell it. The place had been sitting on the market for ages but not long ago the first decent offer was submitted. That was when the city council member asked that the Cultural Heritage Commission consider the property. The decent offer was immediately withdrawn.
Linda Hope listed all of the memorials to Bob Hope that are scattered over the Los Angeles area. She said each and every one of those was more significant to the legacy of Bob and Dolores Hope than the estate. Later, Commissioners said they were surprised by the list, not realizing there were already so many memorials; so obviously staff didn't do that research either.
A couple of residents got up to also speak against the designation, but the essence of their arguments was that Toluca Lake is a beautiful, quiet community and any kind of monument there would bring traffic, noise and lower property values. The President of the Commission interrupted both of those commenters (!) to tell them that was of absolutely no concern to this Commission.
One Commissioner suggested giving monument status to only the hedge and gate in front of the house, because those were the only things the public would ever see. I was pretty sure that was a joke, but the President went ahead and explained how impractical that would be.
Finally, a Commissioner made the motion to deny monument status and that was approved 5-0. The decision now goes to city council, since it had originated there and city council could overrule this decision.
The meeting was adjourned and we headed out on our field trip.
December 21, 2015
60 Minutes Visits Apple
July 30, 2015
July 16, 2015
1950s Technology Used To Repair 21st Century HD TV
I recommend trying this on someone else's TV first, just for practice.
April 13, 2015
Professional Broadcast Link For GoPro Cameras
First, you might need to know whichever version you get, it's gonna cost you $7,500. It's called Herocast and will provide a professional quality to your GoPro cameras so that you can use them live - presumably in a sporting event, but public TV might like to put one on the end of a trombone in a symphony performance.
February 9, 2015
Cuba Gets Netflix
Yes, genuine, real streaming Netflix. Only $8/month, so the only challenge for a Cuban to overcome is finding eight U.S. dollars every month. Maybe this deal will serve mostly foreign diplomats and visitors to Cuba.
"[P]eople in Cuba with Internet connections and access to international payment methods will be able to subscribe to Netflix." Yeah. Just your average Cuban citizen.
December 27, 2014
Porky Piggin' It
November 19, 2014
Bryan Cranston/Aaron Paul/and that girl from "Seinfeld"
September 5, 2014
The word is that residents of Desert Hot Springs (eh, maybe the whole Coachella Valley) will want to watch Judge Judy (which originates on KMIR-6 locally) on Friday, September 12 at 4 PM, as Desert Hot Springs demonstrates once again that is the most entertaining city in the valley.
August 15, 2014
Watch Burning Man Live
The Man will burn on Saturday the 30th (15 days, 13 hours and 6 minutes from now, as I write) when it is nominally scheduled to start at 9 PM, but what actually starts at 9 PM I don't know because I don't wear a watch to the Burn. They've got to bring the flame out from near Center Camp and the firedancers have to dance, and I think all that happens after 9. They should keep the stream flowing until after the Temple burns on Sunday night the 31st. That's scheduled for 8 PM this year.
Maybe the best show for streaming (I'm just guessing because I don't watch the stream) would be the burning of the Circle Of Regional Effigies. That covers more acres than any other burn and will happen on Thursday night the 28th, probably starting at 9 PM, maybe earlier.
August 2, 2014
DJ Jesus Has A Time Getting To Burning Man
July 21, 2014
GoPro Returns To The Edge Of Space
June 20, 2014
A Score Of Complaints
Barry Petchesky obtained copies of every complaint filed with the FCC about Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend on ESPN. There were twenty of them, so the research must have tied him up for a whole couple of hours or so. Here's a PDF with scans of the complete complaint forms. There were a couple of especially bogus complaints. For example, a viewer in Chatham, Illinois, objected to the Miami Dolphins "excusing" Don Jones for re-education because he tweeted "'OMG' and 'Horrible'." The complainant said "This is tyranny like in Communist countries! In America, the 1st Amendment guarantees free speech EVEN WHEN THE THOUGHT POLICE & the PC crowd don't like it."
Many of the complaints mention children seeing the kiss, but none describe any signs of malaise in those children - no screaming, no crying, no seizures, no sudden redecorating.
April 27, 2014
Too tired, lazy or intoxicated to fire up the necessary brain cells to select something at Netflix to watch? Netflix Roulette to the rescue.
- Select movies, TV or both.
- Select a genre, or not.
- Select a range of ratings (1 - 5 stars), or not.
- Click "Spin."
- One title is displayed. If you want to watch it, click "Watch On Netflix."
- Otherwise, spin again or just go to bed.
Netflix Roulette doesn't ask for access to your account, which is good for privacy, but it means it may show you movies you've already seen. But what do you care? You're tired. It also doesn't let you filter on MPAA ratings, but that's critical only if you have kids in the house and kids don't need Netflix Roulette to pick a movie. "Let's watch ___________ again!"
April 12, 2014
Venice Marmol Radziner On The Market
The seller, a writer on The Simpsons, is asking just under $3 million which is not a lot more than the $2.3 million it changed hands for in 2005.
UPDATE: Don't write that check yet! You could save about $300,000 and buy a ranch with an outdoor spa that, uh, seats? handles? ensconces? 20 people. Why, it would be like owning your own hot spring spa in Desert Hot Springs, except you'd smell the chemicals in the water and you'd be in Malibu, which is a fact that might kill the deal for some people.
April 3, 2014
Prancing Elites Followup
Back in December we learned about the Prancing Elites who got to dance in a holiday parade in small town Alabama. Hilarity ensued.
Since then they have broadened their horizons, realizing there is a world outside of Alabama. And Tosh.O was there with a coming out party for them.