However you may have arrived here, this is the old Not Not Silly Newsroom.

It's a long story -- hardly worth going into here -- but after this place was declared a Brownfield Site, we abandoned it for the NEW! IMPROVED!! Not Now Silly Newsroom.

Feel free to stay and read what you came here to read, but when it's time to leave go to the new place by clicking HERE.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Flintstones ► Saturday Morning Cartoons

Strictly speaking the modern stone-age family was not a Saturday morning cartoon.

The Flintstones has the distiction of being the very first cartoon to run in prime time. It last 6 years. It moved to Saturday mornings thereafter in constant syndication and reruns. Yet, The Flintstones was never intended for children, as the WikiWackyWoo reveals:  
Despite the animation and fantasy setting, the series was initially aimed at adult audiences, which was reflected in the comedy writing, which, as noted, resembled the average primetime sitcoms of the era, with the usual family issues resolved with a laugh at the end of each episode, as well as the inclusion of a laugh track. Hanna and Barbera hired many writers from the world of live action, including two of Jackie Gleason's writers, Herbert Finn and Sydney Zelinka, as well as relative newcomer Joanna Lee while still using traditional animation story men such as Warren Foster and Michael Maltese.
Here's a Theme Song Sing-A-Long:

It's interesting the show used some of Jackie Gleason's writers. Again, I'm going to let the Wiki tell you all about it:
The show imitated and spoofed The Honeymooners, although the early voice characterization for Barney was that of Lou Costello.[22] William Hanna admitted that "At that time, The Honeymooners was the most popular show on the air, and for my bill, it was the funniest show on the air. The characters, I thought, were terrific. Now, that influenced greatly what we did with The Flintstones ... The Honeymooners was there, and we used that as a kind of basis for the concept."[citation needed] However, Joseph Barbera disavowed these claims in a separate interview, stating that, "I don't remember mentioning The Honeymooners when I sold the show. But if people want to compare The Flintstones to The Honeymooners, then great. It's a total compliment. The Honeymooners was one of the greatest shows ever written."[23] Jackie Gleason, creator of The Honeymooners, considered suing Hanna-Barbera Productions, but decided that he did not want to be known as "the guy who yanked Fred Flintstone off the air".[24][25]
However, at 8 years old, none of that mattered to me. I just loved all the rock jokes and anachronisms, even if I didn't know what that word meant back then.

Here's another Sing-A-Long:

One surprise I had in adulthood was the cigarette commercials embedded in the shows. I hadn't noticed them when I was a kid. It would be another 10 years (the beginning of 1971) before cigarette commercials were banned on television altogether.

The following edit includes the original theme song (which I also don't remember) used for the first 2 seasons but changed to the familiar one above because it was the same tune as the Bugs Bunny "Overture, hit the lights" theme song.

Something else I didn't learn until I was old enough for it to matter: The famed Mel Blanc voiced Barney Rubble. He also voiced (according to the Wiki): Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, the Tasmanian Devil, and many of the other characters from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies theatrical cartoons during the golden age of American animation. He was, in fact, the voice for all of the major male Warner Bros. cartoon characters except for Elmer Fudd, whose voice was provided by radio actor Arthur Q. Bryan (although Blanc later voiced Fudd, as well, after Bryan's death).[1]

Playing Trixie to his Norton was Bea Benadaret, as his wife Betty. These days you can see Bea Benaderet early Saturday (and Sunday) mornings on Antenna TV on the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. However, I first became aware of her, and fell in love with her, as Kate Bradley, the owner of the Shady Rest Hotel in both Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. She also played Cousin Pearl Bodine on The Beverly Hillbillies, giving her the Corn Pone Hat Trick.

Enough analysis. Let's just go to the game films:

Thursday, November 3, 2016

10 Movies You Should Have Seen ► Throwback Thursday

The innertubes are full of movie lists. Here's another one.

What makes this list different is that no understanding of the Not Now Silly Newsroom is complete without studying the following flicks.

The idea of this column came to me on Halloween when I was dial-flipping. On one channel was The Big Valley, a Western series that went on 4 seasons too long past the pilot episode. This wooden pot-boiler starred Barbara Stanwyk, trying to prove she was no longer past her prime after a very successful movie career; Lee Majors, years before he was worth 6 million dollars; Linda Evans before she became a 10 to John Dereck, who dumped her for Bo Derick; Peter Breck, an actor as boring as his name; and Richard Long, who would never, ever, ever bill himself as Dick Long.

Then I flipped to another channel. I went from watching Richard Long in a Western to watching him in a Horror flick and my love of that flick came rushing back to me:

10. House on Haunted Hill (1959)

This is the first Horror flick I can remember. I was 7 years old and, for the life of me, can't remember who thought it was a good idea to take me to see this one. However, it scared the crap out of me and turned me into a Horror fan. Horror is a separate genre from Monster movies. But a subset of Horror might be Suspense, which naturally led to a love of Alfred Hitchcock.

NB: Stay away from the  1999 remake.

9. The Ladykillers (1955)

Likewise this classic was remade, but the 2004 flick directed by the Coen brothers starring Tom Hanks, is awful, a misfire for all involved. Ignore it, but seek out the original Ealing Studios version. It starred a pre-Obi-Wan Kenobi Alec Guiness; a pre-Inspecter Clousseau Peter Sellers; and a pre-Inspecter Clousseau nemesis Herbert Lom, among others.

It's a dark comedy that must be enjoyed.

8. The President's Analyst (1967)

This is a movie that should be watched not as a a satire on the Cold War, but as a realistic Documentary that predicted the Putin hacking scandal.

7. The 7 Face of Dr. Lao (1964)

Another Documentary -- err -- Fantasy along the lines of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, but much better. Tony Randall, long before The Odd Couple, stars as the titular Dr. Lao, but also the other 6 faces referenced in the title: The Abominable Snowman, Merlin the Magician, Appollonius of Tyana, Pan, The Giant Serpent, and Medusa.

It sounds complicated but it's as simple as this: A traveling circus, run by the mysterious Dr. Lao, arrives in a small western town in the late 1800s, and nothing was ever the same again.

These days the movie is criticized for its cultural appropriation and the fact that Randall plays an Asian character with a sing-song accent. However, if you can get past that, a delight is waiting for you.

[It's a sheer coincidence this ended up as #7 on this list.]

6.  Vinyl (2000)

This is the only actual Documentary on this list.It's not on the list because I know the filmmaker and went to the movie's premier. It's on the list because the movie spoke to me deeply. I saw it very soon after I had liquidated my entire collection of vinyl.

I had a eclectic collections of rare, out of print, and/or highly collectible LPs and singles. Selling them one by one on eBay turned out to be: 1). A monumental task; 2). Highly lucrative.

One record, that I bought for 25 cents Canadian at a lawn sale, went for $585 US. What was it? It was Tennessee Williams reading Tennessee Williams, with a cover by illustrator Andy Warhol before he became the famous Pop Artist Andy Warhol.

At any rate I was still mourning the loss of my record collection when I saw Alan Zwieg's terrific doc. I identified with the obsessive record collectors Zweig interviewed, while he also dug deep within himself to understand why he is just like them.

I have since seen several of his other documentaries and each one explores a dimension of my personality I never realized was there before. You'll have to see them to understand.

[This is not to be confused with the terrible tee vee series which debuted and was cancelled earlier this year.]

5. The Bed Sitting Room (1969)

This is another dark British comedy, which was directed by Richard Lester, who also directed The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, a favourite of The Beatles, which is why they approved his hiring to direct their first feature film A Hard Day's Night.

As we learn from the WikiWackyWoo:
The Bed-Sitting Room is a 1969 British comedy film directed by Richard Lester, starring an ensemble cast of British comic actors, and based on the play of the same name. It was entered into the 19th Berlin International Film Festival.[1] The film is an absurdist, post-apocalyptic, satirical black comedy.

It also starred a Who's Who of British comedy. How can you possible go wrong?

4. Zachariah (1971)

Here's all you need to know: A Rock and Roll Western, written by The Firesign Theatre, based on Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, with Country Joe and the Fish, Elvin Bishop, The James Gang, The New York Rock Ensemble, and Don Johnson before he moved to Miami and became Vice.

3. Elvis Meets Nixon (1997)

This movie is a fictional look at a real event. Elvis Presley really did show up at the White House without an appointment demanding to see President Nixon so that the POTUS could give the drug-addled King of Rock and Roll a law enforecement badge so he could help fight drugs.

No. That really happened. But, this movie plays it up for comedy and invents some things, like this piece of dialogue, flagged by the IMDB:
Richard M. Nixon: By the way, Elvis, did you ever, ah, mess around with Marilyn Monroe?
Elvis Presley: No, sir.
Richard M. Nixon: Well, the Kennedys did, you know. Hoover played me the tape.
Elvis Presley: Well, gee, Mr. President, I kinda wish I had a tape of this meetin', so I could play it for muh wife and muh little daughter.
Richard M. Nixon: Tape-record meetings.
[suddenly intrigued]
Richard M. Nixon: Hmm... 
Making Elvis responsible for Watergate.

For bonus points this movie has among its cast Curtis Armstrong, the world's foremost authority on Harry Nilsson.

2. The Boy Friend (1971)

The Boy Friend started as a 1954 musical written by Sandy Wilson. It ran in London for over 2,000 performances and became Julie Andrew's debut on Broadway, or any 'Merkin stage for that matter. When it was finally made into a movie it was directed by the King of Excess, Ken Russell (not to be confused with the current Miami District 2 Commissioner).

Russell re-imagined the story as a play within a play. The movie follows the backstage shenanigans and love affairs of the cast of a down and out theatrical troupe about to mount that old chestnut The Boy Friend in a seedy theater somewhere in the south of England. Into the mix comes A Big Deal Hollywood director, scouting the production for his next cinematic extravaganza.

As backstage assistant manager Polly, played by Twiggy in one of her few movie roles, falls in love with the male lead Tommy, played by Tommy Tune, she suddenly has to step into the lead role when Rita falls down and breaks her leg.

What makes this such a spectacular movie is that members of that ragtag cast imagine themselves in a all singing, all dancing, all talking extravaganza. It's during these reveries is where Russell shines. The dream sequences are directed in his patented excess, capturing perfectly the musicals of the '30s and '40s by directors like Busby Berkely.

Russell went on to direct Tommy and Listomania.

1. Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? (1969)

Another musical, which someone on the IMDB can tell you about:
Hieronymus Merkin has recently turned 40, and is in the midst of preparing a film that details his life's history and development. Portraying himself as a marionette being controlled by an unseen puppet master, young Merkin is led away from the innocence of youth and into the waiting arms of one woman after another by Goodtime Eddie Filth. With Filth's guidance, Merkin steadily transforms into a self-centered womanizer, save only for the longing he feels for his one lost love, Mercy Humppe. As the producers of his life story scream for him to come up with an ending, Merkin must look back and decide what, if anything, he's learned from his experiences. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

This was one of the first movies I ever saw that made me think about the process of making movies, something I eventually went to college to do. And, in a great wallop of synchronicity, Alan Zweig also went to Sheridan College a few years after me, to learn his craft.

While it's easy to find some of the songs from the soundtrack LP, I've been unable to find my favourite tune "On The Boards," sung by Bruce Forsyth as Uncle Limelight. Here it is recreated by singer Anthony Newley, who not only wrote all the songs in the movie, but directed it as well.

Take it from me. You'll be a better person once you've watched all of these movies.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Good Mourning G.O.P. ► An Aunty Em Editorial

The worst thing to have happened this election cycle is not the ascendancy of Demagogue Donald Trump, but the premature death of the G.O.P. We should all be concerned.

Let's be clear: The destruction of the Grand Old Party of Lincoln didn't start with Trump. As a cancer on the nation's body politic, The Child Named The Donald delivered the coup de grâce. However, the Republican Party has been sick for a long time; weakened enough that Trump could put it on life-support.

The Not Now Silly Newsroom has identified Patient Zero. The original infection, the moment this debilitating disease began, was the day John McCain brought Sarah Palin out of the deep freeze of the Alaskan tundra to be his vice presidential pick. For the same reasons that hospitals like to keep it really cold, the chill up there kept her from infecting too many. Once she arrived in the hot house of national politics, she was able to use incomprehensible word salads to infect multitudes of people already weak with fright that the 'Merka they knew was changing.

Remember when Sarah Palin placed
cross hairs on Democratic targets?

Remember when one was shot in the head?
The McCain-Palin ticket lost spectacularly, but by then Palin had won, invading the host in a way no one noticed at the time.

Like any new disease just being discovered, it needed a name. It finally got one the following year -- February 19, 2009, to be exact. Microbiologist Rick Santelli, who was slumming as a commentator on CNBC from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, looked into his electron microscope and then gave his best diagnosis of the problem that ailed the country. Watch:

Remember what caused that rant?

Newly-inaugurated President Obama had the audacity to suggest the country should bail out Main Street (homeowners in foreclosure), as opposed to Wall Street and Wall Street went bonkers. Oddly enough, so did a lot of other people who thought that they were getting a raw deal because they struggled with their mortgages and no one ever bailed them out for making all the right decisions. Better to give the money to the Too Big To Fail banks. Right?

So the disease coursing through the nations veins was named the Tea Party, which already had a 'Merkin Mascot: A mouth-shootin', gun-totin', Obama-hatin', G droppin' know-nothing to rally 'round. After Pain quit her day job as the duly elected governor of Alaska, the Tea Party had their whack job.

TO BE FAIR: To McCain's credit, he did try and shut down the more extreme voices at his rallies, but he's the last republican to do so. The die was cast, to mix metaphors.

Soon Tea Party Loyalists -- wearing tri-cornered hats with tea bags hanging from them, fer fuck's sake -- started interrupting Democratic Town Halls. Republicans either condoned it, or never said a word against it. Then whacked-out Tea Party candidates started running fpr office and the Republicans either played nice with them, or just tried to ignore them, until some of those crazy MoFos got elected.

The Tea Party ran on platforms that were simply unrealistic. They were based upon Manichean ideals, which could never survive a democracy like the 3 branches of government the Founding Fathers had the foresight to create, anticipating this exact scenario. Another way the Founding Fathers made it hard for ideologues to gain control was requiting reelection every 2 years for Congress and 6 years for the Senate.

So, every 2 years for the entire President Obama administration Tea Party candidates made more and more outlandish promises. And, these crazy MoFos kept getting elected, or reelected, to the point that were challenging the natural order of the party under whose banner they had run. [See: Boehner, John]

And then came Donald Trump. He fed into this entire disaffected group of people, whether they had considered themselves Tea Party Stalwarts, or just pert of the working poor. He spoke to their fears. He fanned the flames. He ran for President. He won the Republican nomination.

The Republican leadership allowed Donald Trump to happen.

Almost none spoke against the racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and bullying of Trump. Many of them ended up supporting him, even among those he bullied. Donald Trump will now, and forever, be the face of the Republican Party.

And, that's the biggest reason that the GOP must die. It would take -- at the very least -- a generation to wash off the Trump stink. Better to euthanize the party and be done with it. Start anew.

However, and this is the most important part of my Aunty Em Editorial (or rant, take your pick): It is Seriously Bad Mojo that the Republican Party is, effectively, dead. Death by suicide, but dead all the same.

While the Founding Fathers were against political parties, it didn't take long for partisan politics to form. I'll let the Wiki fill in the blanks:
The United States Constitution has never formally addressed the issue of political parties. The Founding Fathers did not originally intend for American politics to be partisan. In Federalist Papers No. 9 and No. 10, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, respectively, wrote specifically about the dangers of domestic political factions. In addition, the first President of the United States, George Washington, was not a member of any political party at the time of his election or throughout his tenure as president. Furthermore, he hoped that political parties would not be formed, fearing conflict and stagnation, as outlined in his Farewell Address.[6] Nevertheless, the beginnings of the American two-party system emerged from his immediate circle of advisers. Hamilton and Madison, who wrote the aforementioned Federalist Papers against political factions, ended up being the core leaders in this emerging party system. It was the split camps of Federalists, given rise with Hamilton as a leader, and Democratic-Republicans, with Madison and Thomas Jefferson helming this political faction, that created the environment in which partisanship, once distasteful, came to being.[7][8]
And, that's how it's been ever since. The 2 party system eventually stabilized into Democrats and Republicans, battling it out of the direction of the nation. The two part system (with occasional, feeble challenges by 3rd or 4th party candidates) is far healthier for 'Merka than a one party system. [See: Russia, Cuba] That's what could happen after the GOP does its post-election postmortem.

The best results of the 2016 election could be the formation of several parties from the various factions running this election cycle. Of course there's the Libertarian and Green Parties, which never really seem to get enough support during the primaries to even make it to the debates. However, this year you also have the Bernie Democrats, who could be looking for a new home after this election. The Anybody But Hillary Democrats might come home. Or, they could start something new as things shake out over the next 4 years of a Clinton presidency.

On the other side of the aisle: The Anybody But Trump faction could stick with the bones o the GOP, which needs rebranding to have any viability. Then there are Conservatives, who are voting Trump because it's all they've got, but may want to establish their own party that sticks to Conservative principles.

Then you have the Trump supporters, which are not small in numbers. Once the finger-pointing begins, they'll be at each other's throats. There will be a great splintering into several different groups, just as Fox "News" is facing the same divisions in its audience.

I predict that things will eventually settle into the Rage Party, or the Breitbart/alt-right racialists who now feel a freedom to voice their Inner Ugly in ways they have not since the '50s.

Another faction will be the disaffected poor, who liked some of Trump's message, if not the ugly rhetoric. Then comes the evangelicals who will eventually realize that they backed a conman, especially as court judgements against him start to pile up.

Then, finally, there is The Tea Party, which has been marginalized this election as one Tea Party darling after another was vanquished by Cheetos Jesus. If they play their cards right, they may be able to pick up some of these groups, but I don't think they'll ever have the same influence as they once had. [See: Cruz, Ted]

A political system with several political parties is how it often works -- or doesn't -- in countries that have parliaments. If no party has a clear majority in the House, they are forced to find was to form a coalition to get anything passed. This requires hard bargaining and compromise, the exact thing that's been missing during the Obama Administration.

Bring on more political parties, but please don't celebrate the demise of the Grand Old Party. It's been a sad thing to witness.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Monster Mash ► Monday Musical Appreciation

On this day in 1962, Monster Mash was #1 on the Hit Parade, the first and last time a Halloween tune made the top of the charts.

The song was written by Lenny Capizzi and Robert George Pickett, who was known as Bobby "Boris" Pickett ever after. They were members of a Doo Wop band called the Cordials. One night lead singer, and aspiring actor, Bobby performed the tune "Little Darlin'" in the voice of Boris Karloff and the audience went wild.

Lightening struck, animating the song like Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory animated the Monster. The Monster Mash was written in May and shopped around to, and rejected by, several record companies until Gary S. Paxton agreed to produce and release the single on his GarPax label. GarPax had success with the previous novelty tune "Alley Oop," by the Hollywood Argyles, of which Paxton was a member.

The tune was credited to Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers who get name-checked in the tune as the Crypt-Kickers Five. One of those 5 Crypt-Kickers was a young, 20-year old Leon Russell, already considered one of the hottest studio session piano players in L.A.

Over the years Pickett mined the Spooky theme for song after song, but none ever achieved the status of The Monster Mash, although when I had the LP in the '60s I much preferred The Blood Bank Blues.