Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy 2009!

I posted today’s edition of Nest Heads only because the “father” they’re referring to bears a close resemblance to yours truly.

I did spend some time watching The Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel last night—I’m not entirely certain why, since I have the Definitive Collection sets—but it was a great deal of fun. They showed quite a few of my favorites: “The Masks,” an episode directed by Ida Lupino (Ida’s the only talent who both directed and starred in a Twilight Zone, “The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine”); “The Invaders,” with a tour-de-force performance from TDOY fave Agnes Moorehead; and fittingly to ring in the New Year’s, “The Midnight Sun,” the classic outing where Earth’s orbital pattern gets out of whack and begins moving closer and closer to the sun. “Sun” stars Lois Nettleton, and as I have commented to a few friends, I don’t know where I was when this great character actress died in 2008, but the first time I learned of her passing was watching the “TCM Remembers” montage that turns up on the cable channel now and then. (I also joked to my friend Maureen that if you looked at Nettleton’s credits over at the IMDb there would probably be a single statement that reads: “Every freakin’ TV series in the history of the tube.” A belated R.I.P. to Lois; her turn in “Midnight Sun” reminds me so much of why she’ll be missed.)

Speaking of TCM, I checked out the offerings on CharredHer’s “TCM on Demand” last night during one of my non-favorite TZs and they’re still putting those Elvis Mitchell: Under the Influence telecasts in the "Movies" category—something that really gets on my wick. But under “Shorts/Trailers,” TCM on Demand offered a pair of shorts that I amused myself by watching, starting off with Things We Can Do Without (1953), a Pete Smith specialty that features serial veteran/comedian Dave O’Brien in a one-reeler that consists essentially of him falling over furniture for nine minutes. (Not one of Smith’s finer hours.) But this was redeemed by the second short, Maid in Hollywood (1934), which stars Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly in one of their Hal Roach-produced vehicles; in this one Thel is undergoing a screen test at a movie studio and—of course—Patsy continues to muck things up in an effort to be helpful. I’ve seen funnier efforts from Todd and Kelly, but Maid is a breezy little romp that’s worth the twenty-minute time investment—and best of all, it contains a couple of scene-stealing performances from Roach veteran Don Barclay as a fruity sound man (you might remember Barclay from the Our Gang two-reeler Honky Donkey, in which he plays a fruity chauffeur) and Billy Gilbert as a delivery man who’s called upon to do his classic sneezing routine. TCM on Demand’s showcasing of these kinds of shorts is a breath of fresh air, and I really hope to see this continue in the near future.

This will probably be the last post today because I’ve been invited back over to the ‘rents (sister Kat is out of town) for New Year’s dinner; I spend the entire day with Mom and Dad yesterday beginning with blueberry pancakes for breakfast and winding up with a dinner that consisted of marinated strip steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, asparagus, salad and cheddar biscuits (which were not made by my mother—and believe me, I could tell—but given to her by someone at Red Lobster because they neglected to bring any out when my parents went there for lunch earlier this week). I’ve talked her into making some real biscuits for dinner this evening, and no doubt a few of them will make their way back to Castle Yesteryear at the end of the day’s festivities.

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