Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sh*t my dad doesn’t say

I’m juggling projects in the air like anvils of late, so apologies for the sporadic activity on the blog save for the birthday shout-outs. I’m trying like the dickens to get some stuff pulled together but my arch nemesis, Dr. Time Mismanagement, seems determined to have me bend to his will.

The slackitude continued last night when, rather than sweat out some breathtakingly beautiful hackwork, I moseyed on over to the Double K Ranch to watch the West Virginia University Mountaineers take on Marshall University’s Thundering Herd, accompanied by two of my oldest and dearest friends, pizza and beer. Normally, my enthusiasm for football ranks right around the level of excitement generated by a Margaret O’Brien marathon on Turner Classic Movies…but this is the big rivalry in the Mountain State, and after seeing the Mounties play sort of lackluster last week against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (who play Georgia Southern on their schedule, to give you an idea of the kind of gridiron powerhouse we’re talking about—by the way, my mother believes that if you’re going to have a mascot, you should be able to pronounce it properly) I was convinced that this was a game to watch. The Mountaineers squeaked out a win in overtime, 24-21…and while I had no dog in this fight—I attended Marshall from 1981-83, and lived in Morgantown (home of WVU) from 1992 to 2000 while working for the WVU hospital/medical system—I was sort of rooting for Marshall, who did play one hell of a game. However—had Marshall emerged triumphant, the Mountain State would never have been the same again.

Proving once again the serendipity of the Internets, I got an e-mail yesterday morning from my colorful Western sidekick pal, Robert “Fuzzy” Brooks, who wanted to make certain I knew about this upcoming October 6th commemoration of The Official Georgia Day of the Cowboy, an event that actor “Cowboy Bill” Holden was able to get recognized by the state legislature here in the Peach State. If you like cowboys, cowgirls, Indians, horses and riders, gunfights, train robberies—plus western, country, bluegrass and gospel music Bill, Bob and the rest of the “Los Pistoleros” urge you to stop by the Rock Ranch for what promises to be a great day of fun and excitement. (It’s especially nice to see the Georgia legislature boys sign on to this one—as a person who often thinks that august body could use some chlorination in its gene pool, it’s encouraging that they could get together on at least something.) Oh, the serendipity factor is due to the fact that yesterday was the 117th natal anniversary of Bob’s namesake, Al “Fuzzy” St. John.

“Fuzzy” also has a weblog (I know, who doesn’t…with the exception of my parents) well worth checking out—in fact, I’ve added quite a few notable online diaries to the blogroll of late…folks who are fearlessly willing to bear the social stigma of listing TDOY among their links. Bob Sassone was generous to write me a glowing fan letter and you can check out both his blogs (his personal and Professor Barnhardt’s Journal) at the big honkin’ blogroll to your right. Others that have been added include Watching Shadows on the Wall, Neudecker News and Views, Pussy Goes Grrr, Scare Sarah, Saturday Morning Archives (a great remembrance of those cold-cereal-and-footy-pajamas days by the one and only hobbyfan of The Land of Whatever fame), Diversions of the Groovy Kind, Cinema Viewfinder (one of its authors, Tony Dayoub, lives but a stone’s throw from me and we’re going to try to get a pow-wow going at the next Bobby Osbo Classic Film Festival in Athens next year), My Floating Red Couch and Mind of a Suspicious Kind.

I also received an e-mail from “the Kitschy Collector” herownself, C. Dianne Zweig, editor of I Antique Online and author of several books including Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s and 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. (These shouldn't be confused with my father's best-selling tome, Cold Collectibles That are Currently Cluttering Up My Storage Space.) Dianne had many words of praise for what I do here at TDOY, and was kind enough to include me in a Top Ten tally of Nostalgia Blogs. Her own blog is Kitsch ‘n Stuff, and is most certainly worth a stop-by on your way to other pursuits.

One of my close high school chums—whom we’ll call “Valerie,” because that is indeed her first name—previously owned and operated a weblog entitled Practical ¢ents, but has abandoned it to the blogosphere wolves and set up shop with a new one entitled Woman Off the Beaten Path, a courageous chronicle chock-a-block with terrifying tales of online dating. I decided that it would be kind of tidy to include her two blogs as well as two others by some friends from “The Old Neighborhood” in its very own section of the blogroll…and because I'm not quite as clever as I'd like to be, “The Old Neighborhood” just seemed to be the right title to use as a description.

I first read about the weblog A Thriller a Day… at The Rap Sheet, but Bill “Guess which hand I have the alligator in, kids?” Crider jogged my memory about it yesterday. Peter Enfantino and John Scoleri of The Scream Factory fame each made the financial commitment to purchase the Thriller: The Complete Series DVD collection and have vowed to review each episode (sixty-seven in all) in what must be the most insane proposition since that one whackjob decided to watch all of the Mayberry R.F.D. episodes week-by-week. All seriousness aside, this weblog is outstanding reading and a most welcome addition to the blogosphere…plus it will just whet my appetite all the more to get that Thriller box set by hook or by crook.

While I’m on the subject, Barnes and Noble is currently offering the best price on the Thriller collection—$89.99 (as of this post), but I’m hoping to do better. The real deal of the week is that DVD Pacific is taking pre-orders for that Timeless Media Video release of Johnny Staccato: The Complete Series for $17.31 (as of this post) …which is almost half-off what Amazon wants for it. But don’t dismiss Amazon completely—they have the best price available on Timeless’ Checkmate: The Complete Series at $36.99 (as of this post) which is about three dollars less than what I would have paid at DVD Pacific had those bozos not cancelled my order (I still haven’t figured that one out). The Checkmate collection is currently en route here to Rancho Yesteryear (I made an impassioned plea to mi madre to spring for one as a late birthday trinket) and will hopefully arrive in time for the series’ fiftieth anniversary, which is this September 17th.

In other TV-on-DVD news, has announced that Shout! Factory will release Leave it to Beaver: Season 5 to disc December 14th—and as someone who already purchased the first two seasons when they were released by Universal and did not want have to double-dip when the Factory put out Leave it to Beaver: The Complete Series in June this is most gratifying to hear. (I’ve already obtained Season 3, and am just hunting around for the best price on Season 4.) There’s an additional Factory announcement at TSOD that Dragnet: Season 3 will be released on December 7—Amazon’s pre-order price is $25.99 (though it was $24.49 yesterday…I should have ordered a copy while I had the chance).

From the Warner Archive comes news of a handful of first-rate crime drama releases that I may have to check out as soon as the lottery check clears. Coming to MOD DVD is The Underworld Story (1950), a crackerjack little movie directed by Cy Endfield (Try and Get Me!) starring TDOY idol Dan Duryea as a corrupt journalist for a big-city newspaper who gets tossed out on his ear by the rag…and then reforms himself when he goes to work for a small-town weekly and dedicates himself to clearing a woman (Mary Anderson) falsely accused of murder. It’s an interesting social document that’s highly critical of the House Un-American Activities Committee (and director Endfield, screenwriter Henry Blankfort and actor Howard Da Silva would later feel the sting of the blacklist) disguised as a pulpy thriller, with first-rate cinematography from Stanley Cortez and a supporting cast that includes Gale Storm, Herbert Marshall, Michael O’Shea, Gar Moore, Melville Cooper, Frieda Inescort, Art Baker, Alan Hale (Jr.) and Roland Winters. I have this film on VHS somewhere in the storage shed annex of the dusty Thrilling Days of Yesteryear archives—it was also released to VHS by Fox Home Entertainment in 1991.

The other titles coming to the Archive MOD are The System (1953), This Side of the Law (1950), Betrayed (1944), Hot News (1953), The Gangster (1947), High Wall (1947) and Bunco Squad (1950). I’ve seen Betrayed (originally released as When Strangers Marry), a great little B-flick that was responsible for making Big Bad Bob Mitchum a household name to the theater going publicm; Wall, a good psychological suspenser featuring a better-than-usual performance from Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings fave Robert Taylor (with TDOY goddess Audrey Totter, too); and Gangster, with Barry Sullivan at his wankerish best. I recorded Squad off TCM sometime back but haven’t had a chance to look at it yet.

Carol Vertz with Liberal Arts Colleges also sent me an e-mail containing heady praise, and because nothing motivates me more than shameless flattery I thought I would point out to the vast TDOY audience an interesting list of “The Top 15 Movies for Medieval History Buffs.” I was sort of amazed to learn that I’ve actually seen more of these than I would have guessed: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), A Man for All Seasons (1966), The Seventh Seal (1957) and Richard III (1955) are just a few of the movies that made the tally.

Finally, Facebook compadre Sean Dougherty asked me to pass along this press release for the upcoming 35th Annual Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention, which will be held October 21-24 at the Ramada Plaza hotel in beautiful downtown Newark, NJ:

The four day event features live recreations of classic old time radio programs with all-star casts as well as memorabilia, music, panel discussions, autographs and historical presentations. The convention is a great way to meet and show appreciation for the veterans who made old time radio great as well as get to know some of the younger actors who are working to keep the tradition alive.

The invited guest list looks great so far. I know everyone will enjoy seeing the great Simon Jones (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) again. Shirley Mitchell (Lelia Ransom on The Great Gildersleeve), New York area television host Chuck McCann, WXYZ veteran Elaine Hyman (The Lone Ranger), ABC announcer Bill Owen and Gloria McMillan (Harriet Conklin on Our Miss Brooks) are also back for more. Local New York talk show legend Joe “Nostalgia King” Franklin will recreate his show live on stage, bringing his own surprises guests along. Another great returning guest is Ivan Curry, star of Bobby Benson and the B-Bar B Riders on old time radio. The guest list changes frequently, so keep checking the website for updates.

Thursday - Sunday programs include an afternoon program that consists of a recreation, panel discussions and dealer rooms. The evening program features a buffet dinner in which there is at least one special guest at each table and all-star recreations. It's a great way to socialize with the stars as well as see them perform. On Sunday, there is a buffet breakfast and panel with remaining guests.

Shows scheduled for recreation this year include The Great Gildersleeve, The Adventures of Sam Spade, The First Nighter, Fibber McGee & Molly, Columbia Workshop, Screen Guild Theater and The Adventures of Superman.

Full information on the convention including room rates (historically low right now at $75/AAA) and registration information for the convention itself is available at

Please contact Sean Dougherty, publicity coordinator, at 201-739-2541 or or @doughertysean on Twitter, or The Friends of Old Time Radio Convention on Facebook for more information.

About this recent Consumer Reports article on the tastiest you honestly expect me to believe that Krystal makes a better burger than the last-place finisher, McDonald's? In my experience, you'd go to Krystal only if a) you didn't have any money, or b) you were struck down by a case of the munchies after a night of drinking and carousing...since they were the only place open at 3am.

Since I couldn’t think of any other way to close out this post, I decided to post a photo of my niece Rachel (aka “Peanut”) playing soccer. Best to you!

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Cappy said...

Leave it to Beaver?
Gee, Wally...

Peter Enfantino said...

Thanks for your positive comments on our Thriller blog. Indeed, as you say, it's not a job for amateurs or those who have a life. It's a long, grueling process that hopefully will bear strange fruit. Next up: The Complete Checkmate!

My God! What a fabulous blog you have! Where do you find the time and energy for these marathon entries?