Shatner Claus


Okay, this is way early for Christmas, but William Shatner is releasing a record with Christmas music on it.  Check out his enthusiastic rendition of Jingle BellsCheck out his enthusiastic rendition of Jingle Bells.

Most of the fan commenting where this was posted thought it was awful.  But, you know, he’s having fun, and actually Christmas hasn’t been fun for a long time.  So many of the traditional songs have been abandoned in favor of “safe” ones that don’t offend that it’s watered down the wonder of the holiday.  It’s supposed to be a magical time where everyone gets along together and when snow falls, it’s delicate and pretty and just what’s needed.

It is awful, and I enjoyed it.

Trusting that the Good Guys Will Win


With television shows so dark and gritty, one of the things I miss are shows where we know the good guy is going to win in spite of the odds–and getting there is fun.

That’s Airwolf.  It was a show from the 1980s, probably originated because of a popular film called Blue Thunder, about a high tech cop helicopter.  Blue Thunder was also made into a series, but it didn’t last very long.

Airwolf was produced by Donald P. Bellisario.  If that name doesn’t familiar, it’s the same guy who does NCIS.  The stories were top notch.  Not just stunts, but characters you wanted to watch.

It starred Jan Michael Vincent as a former Vietnam War pilot named Stringfellow Hawke, and Ernest Borgnine as his fellow pilot.  Alex Cord rounded it up as a spy.

The flying scenes were stunning.   Okay, we knew Hawke was going to blow up the bad guys at the end, but the battle in the air…that was plain fun.

One of my favorite episodes was when six missiles were launched at Washington, DC.  Of course, Airwolf took off after the missiles launched, so they really had a head start.  Hawke and Santini push Airwolf to the limit–the helicopter’s going so fast that it might come apart.  Hawke nails the missiles one at a time, getting four–but the last two are getting out of range.  And then he misses!  Of course, he shoots down the last ones just in the nick of time.

It’s immensely satisfying when the good guys win.

Below is a video of some of the flight scenes to the Airwolf theme.

Patrick Stewart: Cowboy Singer


Something to bring a smile for Friday. This was sent to me by Robin Bangerter, who is from my Fort Lewis days, and it’s hilarious!

Patrick Stewart Casting News


Patrick Stewart is going to play Bosley in the next Charlie’s Angels reboot.

I have to really think about that.  A long time.  I like Patrick Stewart…but Charlie’s Angels…

I saw the show in the original run.  I think everybody did because it was pretty popular.  Aaron Spelling produced, so David Hedison showed up twice on the show (first season and one of the later seasons).  It was new and different–remember this was the era when women were just getting into West Point.

The original angels were Farrah Fawcett-Majors (who passed away a few years back), Jaclyn Smith (doing a K-Mart brand of clothes), and Kate Jackson (seen her show up on TV in a few places).  David Doyle played Bosley, who gave them their cases and did other legwork (he passed away relatively young).  John Forsythe rounded up the group by being the mysterious Charlie that no one had ever seen (he was doing double duty on Dynasty).   While the costuming is tame by today’s standards, Spelling put the ladies in skimpy clothing that led to the media using the term “jiggle shows.”

And Charlie’s Angels does its own nod to the Airport movies.  Given Aaron Spelling produced, they also crossed shows with The Love Boat.  That was a weird combination, and much later in the series when they were going through Angels.

Charlie’s Angels showed up on MeTV, so I tuned in.  The original show has not aged well.  The stories are surprisingly not well-written, and the thing that drew audiences too it then are standard for films and  TV now.

I’m not sure if Patrick Stewart’s presence can improve the show.  Without the era and changes going on at the time, it’s a very standard private eye movie.  Doesn’t have anything special to it.

Crusing Nostalgia Con


Last Thursday, I drove to Maryland and went to Nostalgia Con.  That’s a convention for movie and TV buffs.  Major guest stars were Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers.  Ricou Browning was also there.

It’s been quite a few years since I went to a media con, and things have changed and stayed the same.  I would have liked to do a drive by and get photos of Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers (who looks awesome at her age.  Very trim and fit).  But the layout of the tables only allowed people to stand in line to get an autograph.   Photos from those two stars were $40, and if you wanted a shot with them, $60.  I might have stood in line for $20-$25, but $40 was out of my price range.

So a few of the celebrities I did get:

First up is me and the Green Guy.

Me with a mannequin of Frankenstein in the background

Ed Begley Jr…

Ed Begley Jr. signing autographs

This is Ricou Browning.  He’s the guy seated at the table.  If you don’t recognize the face, that’s probably not surprising.  He’s the man who was in the creature suit for the underwater sequences in The Creature from the Black Lagoon.  He did those shots holding his breath for four minutes!

He also was on Sea Hunt, Flipper, and did an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.0

Ricou Browing seated at autograph table as fans line up.

And the creature himself.  The post-it is the price.  It was $$$$.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon stand up display

The closest I got to Barbara Eden.  She was supposed to make an appearance, but cancelled (along with Loni Anderson) due to the hurricane.  We just got clouds and some rain.

Dealer's table with I Dream of Jean doll

I stayed only for the day.  In that past, I would have cruised the dealer’s room and gotten autographs and photos from as many stars as I could.  This time I went to the seminars on films.  One that was really good was on The Andy Griffith Show.  The presenter  was very knowledgeable–they were down to trying to identify two people who were in the background.  None of the stars remembered who they were, and they apparently didn’t do anything more than be background players.

Trivia: The Mayberry set was used twice for Star Trek, once in Miri and once in City on the Edge of Forever.  Floyd’s Barbershop can be clearly seen in one of the scenes.

Because of what I saw here, I’m starting to watch the Andy Griffith Show again.

And one final picture.  This was out in front of the hotel.

Three horses made from plants and metal frames. Two are grazing and the third is looking up.

Battlestar Galactica at 40


Most of the science fiction shows I look at today are serialized, and often pretty dark.  Gritty is the trend, but gritty has no hope, no wonder.

The original Battlestar Galactica celebrates it’s 40th anniversary this week.  I watched it in its original run and really enjoyed the show.  It was controversial at the time because it was right on the heels of Star Wars.  I believe there was a lawsuit.  But if you look at the past history of TV shows, any time there was a popular movie that came out, some element showed up in a TV series:

  • Airport – Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, and Airwolf
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey – The Bionic Woman
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century – Star Wars (and then the network ruined it by trying to make it Star Trek)

BG wasn’t perfect, but no show is.  It launched without a lot of time to prepare so they pantsed the heck out of the world building.

King Tut’s treasures had recently made the rounds in the U.S. (I got to see them as part of a school trip), so it was likely an influence for the Egyptian aspect of the show.   That was something I didn’t think of until I was writing this, but it’s amazing to look back and see what influences landed in the story.  Egypt was mystical and mysterious–and BG wouldn’t be the only one to have an alien influence on Egypt (Stargate, Stargate SG1).

But it also had the classic good guy/bad guy, right out of the Westerns.  The bad guys were the Cylons, and the good guys always destroyed the current threat.  There was an overall threat, but it was a time where we trusted that the good guys would always win.   It also kept the entertainment part in full view and never lost sight it.

My favorite episode was the gunslinger one, The Lost Warrior.  Apollo crashes on a planet where a town is being terrorized by a damaged Cylon and a mob boss-type bad guy.  Apollo doesn’t want to fight, but ends up having to confront the Cylon in an old-style gunfight in the street…with lasers.

A picture of the actor who played Apollo, Richard Hatch.  I took this at DragonCon in 1997.

Actor seated in chair, a stuffed bear in one arm and a stuffed koala in the other

 

 

Photo: John Crawford and Cat


John Crawford sits on sofa and plays with his cat.

Another blast from the past.  This was taken in the 1980s.  This is John Crawford, who was in both Star Trek and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

This photo was taken at his house in Studio City, California.  Some fans of “The Big Four” (all four of Irwin Allen’s TV shows) came to L.A. and were visiting the actors.  They were getting interviews for fan magazines about their rules.

We all sat down to chat in his living room.  This was the first time I had been in an actor’s house (and actually the only time), so I was terrified I was going to screw up and say something stupid.  The cat jumped up on the sofa and climbed all over him.  Clearly a case of “Pay attention to me!  These other humans aren’t important!”).

No veteran experience that I could find online, but he was at the right age to be a World War II vet.  He passed away in 2010.

Photo: Eddie Albert and 2 Military Connections


Eddie Albert smiles and shakes hands with the crowds

This photo is of actor Eddie Albert.  He’s well-known for his starring role in the TV series Green Acres.  But he was also in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea pilot episode “Eleven Days to Zero.”  His character described Captain Crane (David Hedison) as being “unimaginative,” which the other character found quite insulting.

But Eddie Albert was also in the Navy and was in World War II.  He had a harrowing experience in the Battle of Tarawa.  Military History of the Upper Lakes gives a detailed description of what went on, so drop on over for a bit of military history.

So that was how the second military connection shows up.  This photo was taken at the Naval Museum in Washington, DC.  Somewhere between 1996 and 1998, the Navy built a fountain out front (I tried to look up when, but I couldn’t find it).  It was likely on an important Navy anniversary because the military had a holiday for it that year.

The fountain was being turned off for the first time.  The Navy brought it water from all the seven seas.  Eddie Albert poured it into the fountain as it came on.

After that, he went around and shook everyone’s hands, including mine.  I exchanged a brief conversation with him and I remember that he did not seem to be all there.  He passed away in 2005 and had Alzheimer’s then, so I may have seen that.

I’m glad I had the chance to meet him!

Photo: Grace Lee Whitney from Star Trek


Medium Shot of Grace Lee Whitney

My novel Crying Planet is coming out in Story Bundle tomorrow. The story is everything I liked about Star Trek–space, adventures, aliens, and maybe a little bit to think about.  Plus military thrown in well, because.  So I thought it would be fun to put up photos I took of actors from shows like Star Trek.

This one is of Grace Lee Whitney.  It’s not dated, but I probably would have taken it in the 1990s at one of those cons.  I was going to quite a few then and getting a lot of photos.

She was on the original Star Trek, of course.  Not in that many episodes,  but she was pretty memorable to all the fans.  She passed away in 2015.

Pintrest has some nice shots of her. Mostly from Star Trek, but there’s a few bathing suit shots and some photos from her other roles.  Someone even Photoshopped one of her in a mirror universe uniform!

Losing Track and Finding it Again


It’s hard to believe that when I grew up, I typed a novel on my mother’s manual typewriter.  It was one of those Royal typewriters that you see commonly associated with writers.  I went from that to an electric, to a Heathkit H-89 to a Commodore 64.

This week I’ve been tackling a big project: the paper copies of the stories and non-fiction I wrote.

It’s part of that black hole of my closet that I’m cleaning up.  They’ve been long stuffed into plastic boxes, out of sight in the box, but the box itself always in view.  So it’s a form of clutter.

I pulled everything out and started going through it.  What did I already have in digital form…yeah, somehow I had printed versions of the stories and digital versions.  In some cases, I had multiple copies of revisions printed and stored.  And for some stories, they were either before Microsoft Word or, for whatever, reason, I only have the paper version.

It was just easy to lose track of what I had because it was in a file folder.   There’s a long history of everyone struggling with forms of the data, for as long as we’ve had data.

My grandmother was in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.  The film was shot out where she lived in Northern California.  Assuming her memory is correct for the title, this is likely the film.  She would have been two at the time.  She tried to find the film in later years, but it no longer exists.  A lot of those films were done on nitrate, and then put into storage once the studio went onto the next release.  By the time places like UCLA got in there to transfer to safety film, the reels had disintegrated.  Or caught fire, since nitrate film was pretty flammable.

Then there’s Motown.  When I was doing temp work in Los Angeles—my Google-fu tells me it was probably 1983 or 1984—I got a job documenting inventory for Motown. They were being sold, so we had to inventory all their music.  They gave us stacks of music reels, which were about the size of pizzas.  We would open the boxes up see what was written on the reels, and then type that on the inventory.  Massive inventory, and they had no idea what they had.

But what I’m doing now is kind of fun and nostalgic to look it.  It’s my life at the time, and where I was at as writer.  It’s also some of the things I liked. There’s an article I write—might post it here if anyone is interested—on meeting William Windom in 1997.  It was for an anthology call that never happened.  But I enjoyed writing it, and I enjoyed meeting him.  I have photos, but those are in another box I haven’t cracked open yet.

It was at Starcon, which was the big gathering of actors at that time. I believe it was over 100.  Most notably, it was the only gathering of most of the actors from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (Allan Hunt, Del Monroe, and Terry Becker.  Bob Dowdell turned it down, and David Hedison was unavailable.  Richard Basehart had passed away).

It was early in the day, and I was just roaming the aisles to see who was there.  He flagged me over, and guess what we chatted about?

We were both veterans!

Very cool.