Fast Road to Nowhere
Afternoon watch, 4 bells (2:19 pm)

Last night around 9pm I got on the I-90 freeway to make my short way home. Unfortunately, it wasn't as short as it should have been. Just after the last exit (too late to get off the freeway), I rounded a turn and saw backed up cars as far as there was freeway to see. After coming to a complete stop, I began the slow creep forward. It was so slow going I had to adjust the way I think of freeway speed. I was doing almost 11 minutes per mile. It took me 32 minutes to travel 3 miles.

About 3/4 of a mile from the next exit sat a sign that said Left land closed 2 miles ahead. Whoever placed that sign has no idea of distance, because the lane ended at the exit, less than a mile away. In fact, had the sign actually been 2 miles back the traffic may have been a little better. Only thanks to the trucker heroes that block lanes, though. I saw several jackasses drive through the rest stop and out the other side to get ahead of a bunch of cars, and one car that did this and continued up along the shoulder as long as he could. He cut off the car right in front of me, too. At no point did I ever see any police or traffic directors.

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Wheel of Fortune
Posted in General
First dog watch, 1 bell (4:54 pm)

Yes, we went to try out. No, we didn't get on stage. Here's to hoping they'll pick our names randomly now.

Actually, they pick all the names randomly. It seems to be quite difficult to get on.

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Space Travelers
Posted in Reviews
First watch, 1 bell (8:51 pm)

Yes, I know I skipped a couple of episodes. They are DAP Central editions and for some reason they don't burn well on DVD+Rs. I'm going to reburn on DVD-R and was told that solves several problems. I don't know why, but it's worked once, so I'm willing to go with it.

Despite starring Gregory Peck and Gene Hackman, MST3K somehow still got hold of this dud. Perhaps that's why they got hold of it. This movie was about a team of three astronauts living in space for five months, to aid research for man's extended-living in microgravity. When they're about to come home, something goes wrong with their reentry burners and they become stranded in orbit with limited oxygen.

A rescue is planned, an untested rocket shot quickly into space to save the slowly suffocating astronauts. Gene Hackman breaks down and goes crazy, one of the other astronauts decides he can fix the engine on an EVA, and the other one keeps a level head. EVA astronaut cuts his suit on a sharp bit of metal fin and dies, solving part of the oxygen problem. The rescue ship gets there just as the astronauts are running out of air (of course).

I give this movie one empty seat, for not including Ernest Borgnine in this Poseidon Adventure in space.

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The Castle of Fu Manchu
Posted in Reviews
Forenoon watch, 3 bells (9:43 am)

I just finished watching The Castle of Fu Manchu, starring Christopher Lee as Fu Manchu. This was back when they used white actors instead of Chinese people to play Chinese people (remember the old Charlie Chan movies?)

Anyway, this movie was so noxious I'm surprised I didn't smell it before I put it in my DVD player. Fu has a secret weapon that can turn water into ice. He uses it one time in the movie, at the beginning, to sink a cruise ship. He tries to hold the world hostage, but doesn't make any concrete demands. Scotland yard sends some detective over to do something, and Fu kidnaps a doctor to perform a heart transplant on another guy for some reason. Seriously, this was a bad film!

I give this movie five empty seats because it stinks! (insert "ok" finger sign here)

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Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Posted in Reviews
Morning watch, 7 bells (7:40 am)

Oh boy, where do I start? I watched this movie last night in my continuing adventure to watch all of Mystery Science Theater 3000 from the beginning.

This steaming pile of holiday drivel was a terrible idea—unless you're a Martian I guess. Let me explain. The movie starts out on Mars, with little Martian children watching Earth-broadcast TV about the holidays and Santa Claus. Their parents, upset about them watching Earth TV but also upset because the children never laugh or play or have fun (never mind the fact that they have no toys!), decide to kidnap Santa and bring him to Mars to make the Martian children happy.

So they pop over in their rocket, and begin looking for Santa. When the find Santas all over the world, they kidnap two children and ask them about it. They reply that the real Santa lives at the North Pole, so the Martians take the children there. A goofy Martian servant, Droppo, provides the comedy relief when he hides in the "radar box" that houses the mechanism that protects the rocket from Earth radar.

The children escape the rocket, and are attacked by a super cheesy man in a polar bear suit. As Servo points out, you can even see the head piece overlapping the body. After their escape, the children run to Santa's workshop to warn him of the Martians. It doesn't work, and they all get taken by the Martians back to their own planet, where they treat Santa like royalty and provide a giant machine that makes toys by pushing buttons. Now, why they didn't use this for their children in the first place is beyond me.

One of the Martians, upset by all this holiday cheer, kidnaps Santa, but doesn't realize that it's Droppo in a Santa suit—the whole time he has him! When he returns to demand the rest of the Martians send Santa and the children back to Earth they pummel him with toys and he is knocked silly. Droppo escapes by switching two light bulbs around on a control panel (you think I'm kidding?) and everybody has a good laugh and Santa and the kids go back home.

I'm going to give this movie 0 empty seats—for the number of people that watch this every year as a Christmas tradition. Come on, there can't be anyone that does this…

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Utilikilts
Afternoon watch, 6 bells (3:28 pm)

I almost wet myself laughing at this video:

Ef et's no' a Utilikilt, et's CRAP!

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Northern European Cruise
Posted in General
First watch, 4 bells (10:13 pm)

For those of you that don't know, Lorien and I are leaving for our cruise on the 11th of July. We just got our packet of information from Carnival. Although we were registered early, we didn't get a free upgrade this time, so we're stuck with an ocean view cabin. Last time we lucked out and got a balcony upgrade.

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Young Dubliners
Posted in Reviews
Forenoon watch, 5 bells (10:42 am)

Last night the Dubs played the Knitting Factory (it used to be the Big Easy) Concert House. Let me share some observations about their "renovation." The chairs and tables are as rickety as they were about 4 years ago, the last time I was there. It's not a big venue. The balcony was closed, but they kept letting people up there until it was full.

But enough of that. Let's talk about Pedestrian, the opening band. Merriam-Webster defines pedestrian as follows:

1: commonplace, unimaginative
2 a: going or performed on foot b: of, relating to, or designed for walking

I'd like to add the following:

3: A band that opened for the Young Dubliners. For more information, see (1)

It makes you wonder whether they even knew of the other-than-walking definition of pedestrian. The sound engineer running the show had to be about 15 years old—he had no idea what he was doing, and just kept turning the volume up despite the awful warbling distortion that it caused.

Several times the band would break out into a 1970s five-minute guitar solo. I started to chuckle to myself at first, but after a short while it just made me sad. When his acoustic electric guitar stopped working he tossed it down on the stage. During the final jam session they called a song the keyboard got knocked over. Which reminds me, the keyboardist spent a lot of the concert on his hands and knees crawling around the stage mashing buttons with his hands to play background music tracks. But don't take my word for it. You can download free music from their site, just be warned that you get what you pay for.

The Young Dubliners played a much quieter show, but it sounded great. They also had Eric Rigler along with them, who was brilliant. Several songs were played from their new album, several from old albums, and even a couple of yet-to-be-released songs from their next album (due out in Spring 2009).

All in all, the opening band was way too loud, the venue was surely nothing fancy, but the Dubs put on a good show despite their lead singer obviously having a cold or sore throat. He was a trooper and still did a good job. The fiddler was amazing, and Eric Rigler was a star.

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Fortune’s Favour
Posted in Reviews
Forenoon watch, 2 bells (9:01 am)

Great Big Sea released their new CD today, called Fortune's Favour. Having pre-ordered it online, I received my copy with yesterday's mail. I got home late, though, and only started listening to it this morning. Having only heard six tracks so far, I must say it's quite a departure from what they used to do, although the last album or two has shown this trend less severely. I can't pass judgment until I've listened to the whole thing several times, and I hope I like it, but I haven't been able to just jump in and love it like the older ones.

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The Unearthly
Posted in Reviews
Forenoon watch, 8 bells (12:07 pm)

I watched The Unearthly yesterday, and really have a feeling of deja vu. I think I watched it a long time ago, before I decided to watch the entire series from the beginning.

Anyway, this movie had two great short films for kids, one about posture with inappropriate teacher-student contact, and one about appreciating your parents.

The Unearthly is about a doctor that is working on a miracle gland that will grant eternal life, but he just can't get the knack of installing it into people, they end up disfigured and crazy. His friend, another doctor, "refers" patients without any family to him to further the experiments. What this doctor friend got out of the deal was unclear. One of the guests figures things out and tries to help the others escape.

I have to give this movie five empty seats to represent Tor Johnson's classic (and stinger) line "Time for go to bed."

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War of the Colossal Beast
Posted in Reviews
Forenoon watch, 5 bells (10:41 am)

War of the Colossal Beast is the sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man, by virtue of using the same-named main character. They had a different actor portray the colossal man, who after his fall from the Hoover Dam in the last movie somehow survived though he became horribly disfigured in the process. He emigrates to Mexico where he raids trucks for food.

Glen (the main character) has a sister that believes he is still alive. She hears a rumor about a missing truck in Mexico and somehow connects this with her brother. She travels down there, locates him, but finds him crazy and rampaging through the countryside. With help from the local police and US Army, they bake bread with drugs in the loaves and trick Glen into eating it so they can capture him and return him to the US. He breaks free, is recaptured, and breaks free again to terrorize an observatory and a bus full of junior high school students. His sister finally breaks through his craziness and Glen chooses to electrocute himself on high tension power lines rather than continue his horrible existence.

I rate this movie two empty seats, one for the original actor that played Glen and one for his girlfriend, who apparently abandoned him and was not seen in this film.

Perhaps the most disturbing short film ever produced, Mr. B Natural, precedes this film. First off, "Mr" is definitely a "Mrs" and has an annoying habit of popping up in young boys' bedrooms. It's a total sales film for Conn, a musical instrument manufacturer, and the stinger for this episode was appropriately chosen from this short and not the actual movie.

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Viking Women and the Sea Serpent
Posted in Reviews
Afternoon watch, 4 bells (2:03 pm)

Yesterday I watched Viking Women and the Sea Serpent, another episode from MST3K season three. It's a movie about a bunch of beautiful viking women tired of waiting for their husbands to return from pillaging overseas, so they go out in search of them. While sailing, they encounter a sea serpent and it wrecks their boat, causing them to be stranded in barbarian country, where they find their missing husbands enslaved. They rescue them, are betrayed by one of their own who later repents and calls down Thor's wrath on the barbarians to let the vikings escape.

I rate this movie one empty seat, for the teenage male viking that stowed away on the ship full of women but never got anywhere with any of them.

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Gamera vs. Zigra
Posted in Reviews
Forenoon watch, 5 bells (10:32 am)

I just finished watching Gamera vs. Zigra, the final Gamera movie for MST3K.

This movie was a bit slow. Two children are kidnapped by a mysterious woman in a space ship. They escape, and the woman chases them because Zigra wants her to kill them. As far as I can tell, Zigra was the space ship, and then it shape-changed into a giant shark monster, except it can stand on its fins just like a real shark can't. It whoops up on Gamera a few times, but Gamera makes a comeback and takes out Zigra, saving the children and the Earth. Plus, there's a message at the end about protecting Earth's oceans.

I rate this movie three empty seats, one for Joel, Tom Servo, and Crow T. Robot since they won't ever get to see another Gamera movie.

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Teenage Caveman
Posted in Reviews
First watch, 7 bells (11:44 pm)

Yesterday I watched Teenage Caveman. This movie was prefaced by two short films, Aquatic Wizards about a training camp for synchronized water skiing that wasn't really funny, and Catching Trouble an absolutely hilarious short film about a guy that catches wildlife in the Florida Everglades.

In fact, watch it right now:

That was the highlight of my evening. Well, that and the skit they did directly after the short, about catching the great white hunter.

Anyway, back to the review. Teenage Caveman was not what I was expecting from the title. Yes, it was about cavemen, but the main character looked older. Searching around the Internet tells me he was 23 in the release year of the movie. He questions the laws and traditions the cavemen live by, and their fear of the unknown just on the other side of the river. He gets into a lot of trouble, and his father loses his status in their caveman society because of it. When he confronts the "beast that kills with a touch", he finds that the creature is actually a man in an old radiation suit. They find a book on him with pictures of what society used to be like. Apparently we have all destroyed ourselves and society went Neanderthal on us. At least those that survived.

I rate this movie 42 empty seats, one for each time the bad leader dude said something was evil. You can feel free to correct that number…if you dare!

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Mighty Jack
Posted in Reviews
First watch, 6 bells (11:25 pm)

The other day I watched Mighty Jack. I haven't reviewed it until now because it was so abysmally bad I hesitate to even admit watching it. This Japanese movie was made by splicing scenes from an older Japanese TV show together in a completely incoherent manner. I could barely follow the plot, and most of the time didn't know who was coming or going or even what side they were on.

The best part of this movie was after it was already over. Joel sang a song called Slow the Plot Down to the tune of Blow the Man Down, it elicited more laughs than the entire movie.

Saying this movie was haphazard would be too kind a compliment, and even Joel and the 'Bots had a tough time making itwatchable. I rate this movie 6+ billion empty seats, one for each person on this planet that shouldn't see this movie.

I still don't even know who Mighty Jack was…

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