I have a vow for this fall: WATCH MORE TV. I just don’t watch enough. I have a tendency to discover a show I like, then say “well, I’ll save that for the nights I really want to watch a good drama.” And then I write a bit too late into the night, there’s no time for an hour-long drama, so I watch an old Twilight Zone or a snippet of a stand-up special. Or one of those intensely specific documentaries that tells you about something you never knew. For example: “Apache” by the Incredible Bongo Band invented hip-hop, apparently. Or at least made it possible. Or was influential. Or was just sampled a lot, I don’t know. The documentary is fascinating, if you like watching old grizzled studio musicians talk about the early 70s, and I do.

Here’s the thing: before you get to that, you have to meet the producer, who was involved in the soundtrack for “The Thing with Two Heads,” a movie about a big black guy (Rosie Grier) who had a white bigot’s head grafted on his shoulders. So we see some clips of that, and hear Rosie reminisce. I’d forgotten about that movie, because it’s awful, and perhaps because part of me wanted to suppress what happened to Ray Milland. Yesterday we saw him at his peak. Before he did “Thing” he was in a movie called “Frogs.” It was not a merry musical about an Englishman swanning his way through Paris. It was a movie in which people were ribbeted to death. By frogs.

Once he was the highest-paid star at his studio. Maybe in some alternate dimension Bogart ended up doing gangster roles in Corman quickies, and George Raft did “Casablanca,” and Gene Kelly had such a great career as a heavy he played the Godfather for Coppola.

Speaking of which: “Zootopia” is on Netflix, and it’s worth a look. It has an underlying message that is undercut by the very message itself; it makes no sense when you examine it, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s amusing and rewarding.

Now to watch TV. The third season of a favorite show, “Ripper Street.” Sounds merry, eh? Yes: Whitechapel, the bad old days. But the characters are outstanding. Upright Cop, Tortured Boer-war vet sidekick (tortured in the sense that he’s not crazy about the fact that he can beat just about anyone to a lump of groans, although sometimes that’s what’s required), a smooth drug-using American doctor, his Whore-Madam girlfriend (who of course is STRONGER IN SPIRIT THAN ANY MAN) and various characters who pop up to provide anchronistic storylines that presage our modern problems.

What counts is that people are trying to do good, and be good. Aside from that, it’s keen fun for anyone who likes the period and the birth of modern policing. While I was writing this the Apple TV went into screen-saver mode, and its default is London at Sunset - great sweeping views of the city. I had no affinity for those pictures before, and now I wished I was there. It’s the only great metropolis in which I could imagine living.

Hah: googled for reviews of the third season opener, and discovered they made a fourth.

Oy: called up the wikipedia page, and learned it's been renewed for a fifth season.

Why am I not watching an Exciting Sci-Fi show Netflix recommended? Because I tried it. I started watching “Dark Matter,” because it was well-reviewed on the geek sites, and I love sci-fi. So.

A spaceship. It’s in trouble! The dark corridors are even darker because the limited light has turned to red, which tells everyone that there’s trouble, and makes it hard to see what’s going on. There are sparks coming out of the wall!

Guy wakes up in his stasis capsule, which is at the end of a hallway. He is confused but runs towards the bridge. A woman wakes up in her capsule, which is down another hallway, and she runs to the bridge. Seeing the guy trying to punch buttons, she uses KUNG FU! to kick him into submission because strong women are AWESOME, especially good-looking ones who are glowering all the time because they are serious persons. Someone else comes on the bridge and they realize no one can remember who they are.

That’s promising. That’s a good set-up. But the next few scenes are intent on introducing the other characters as soon as possible, in big dark blue-hued rooms. There is the Large African-American man who is beleaguered; the wiry frowning Asian man who is a ninja because of course; the Alec-Baldwin Jane-type guy who’s a selfish brute but has no charisma; a colored-hair young Tumblr user girl who is a technical genius of course but has Dark Secrets. Then we meet an emotionless android who kicks everyone’s ass in a sequence that would result in broken bones and ruptured organs but somehow does not; she is Seven-of-Nine DataSpock.

They are attacked because the second act needs some juice. They outrun some torpedoes and then go to light speed to go to a planet where people wearing burlap in a warehouse are waiting for the chance to engage in some world-building exposition. Meanwhile, the angry hot woman, who woke up angry and hot and now walks around like she’s captain because she has a taut stomach, is hot and angry.

NO ONE LEARNS ANYTHING. Not from “Alien,” not from “Aliens,” not from “Firefly,” not from Trek, not from anything.

UPDATE ha ha turns out the show I thought I wanted to watch was "The Expanse."

This was not that.

Oh, I mentioned Twilight Zone. Here's something fun, if you're so inclined. Fritz Weaver and a co-worker and their families have left the planet to avoid a nuclear war.

Look familiar?


Sound familiar?


It was only four years before. Nice to know they saw the value of the set and kept it around.







Unfunny wacky monster food this week. So:

"Many honest monsters." There's always this curious desire to create monster communities that are just liie us, except Oooky in a non-threatening "Addams Family" way that flatters the reader's sense of perceived distinctiveness but doesn't really violate social norms.


I mean, it's funny when the old witch is looking for powdered ladies' thumb in the pantry, but you don't really think of anyone sawing off the digit of a terrifed old woman in a nursing home. Let alone pulling out a young girl's heart.





These aren't from my magazine collection, but from a Library of Congress scan of an old movie magazine. It's wartime, but the final days. Things are going just jake now.

Meet Jean Lord and her Dreme-lovely hair:


She was a model, not a pianist. I mean, she might have played piano, but she was known as a model, and judging from some pages on the Internet, she had a long career. This ad is from the mid 40s, and some pictures say she was modeling in the 50s.

The scans are poor - the Library of Congress scanned everything too early at lousy resolutions - but you can make out the packaging for PDrene.

The ads also have some packaging for Charm-Kurl. The "K" is your guarantee of scientific quality! No, wait - isn't it used for humorous purposes? But Cold Waves can't be funny.


It's a rare day when we see some store packaging, and since that was originally the purpose of this feature.

A lot of work went into a permanent. And it wasn't.

Wartime restrictions still apply, so the only color is that particular familiar shade of red:


Gayla Hold-Bobs. Do any packages stil exist? Why yes; check eBay and you'll find dozens, because Mom threw a pack in the back of the cupboard and that's where they stayed until they had to clean out the place.

Her hair was smart for dad.


From the era when a cabbie was a certain cliche, and there no deviations.

Smart-aleck savvy types who've seen everything . . . but still not overly smart.

It's still made. Ingredients? Aspirin and Caffeine.

There's a surprise.

Finally, since it's Halloween season:

I didn't know ghosts courted.

Or had breath.

That will do. Another big entry! Surely it will all peter out by Friday as usual. Some sci-fi covers to enjoy; see you around.



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