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!

Caving for Star Trek

When I returned home to California in 1997, my father said, “Do you want to see the Batcave?”

Batcave?  He was referring to the cave used in the opening credits of the Batman TV series.

Dog in hand (she wanted the ride), we drove up to the cave, which is called Bronson Cave.  It’s located in Griffith Park.  When we arrived, some construction was going on.  A big wooden frame was being built around the cave, and there was a man inside, pumping some water out.

So we walked over and asked.  They told us it was for the coming Star Trek film.  Pretty cool just walking around and finding a Star Trek set.

I had to look it up again–couldn’t remember the name–for my book Golden Lies.  This is an article on it (he says in the video it’s the 4th film; it’s actually the 6th film).

Space Shuttle Enterprise Anniversary

Thirty-six years ago this week, the first space shuttle came out.  It originally had a different name, Constitution.  But Star Trek’s popularity was starting to snowball at that point.  Just a few years later, we would have Star Wars out in theaters to long lines, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (which I wish they had done better).

Fans did a letter writing campaign, and NASA changed the name to Enterprise.  The Star Trek cast came out for the roll-out ceremony.  Nichelle Nichols went on to recruit women and minorities for NASA.

The space shuttle itself would take off like a rocket and land like an airplane.  Needed a huge landing runway, though.

It was really a hopeful time with the launch of the Enterprise.  We thought we were going to go out into space like Star Trek.

Then NASA retired the shuttle program, and it felt like they said, “We give up.”

Yes, we still have the space stations, and the rover is on Mars.  But part of who we are is getting out and exploring.  Man has always done that, from venturing out of the village to see what else was beyond, to traveling the seas to see where they went.

We need the hope back.

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



Flash Fiction Challenge #4

One of the challenges for me is that I’m in a job where they say “Make do with less.”  Which is just an excuse businesses use.  It means they can heap more work on people and not make changes they may need to make.  So I spent a lot of time looking time management books and sites.

A lot of the gurus seem to think that it’s possible to jam as much in the day as possible, doing their system, or using the right tools.  I recently ran across an article that says we’re turning fun into not fun.  People don’t go out on walks to see nature; they do 10,000 steps.  They don’t eat and enjoy food; they track it on an app.  I think there’s waaaaay too many tools to track everything, and that’s how this store was born.  It was a lot of fun to write!

Challenge Stories

  • Story #1: Mystery, set in Hollywood 1940s, called Lost Starlet.
  • Story #2: Fantasy, set after a war, called Robinwood
  • Story #3: Science fiction, set on February 25, 1942, called Time Drop
  • Story #4: Science fiction, set in the near future, called The Schedule

Flash Fiction Challenge #3

My car is in the shop today, overnight with an expensive repair.  The catalytic converter needs to be replaced.  So I sat in the dealer’s room for about two hours while they checked the car and worked on Story #3, then came home and redrafted it.  The dealership was really noisy, so it was hard to get myself focused.

The story uses a cool piece of historical fact that I picked up researching the 1940s.  There was an event called the Battle of Los Angeles.  Pearl Harbor had just happened, so everyone was seeing Japanese submarines everywhere, even when they weren’t there.  My grandmother, who lived in San Francisco at the time, reported that citizens did submarine watches on the shores.  So a lot of fear.  That night, someone spotted…something, and the military overreacted.  Afterwards, they thought it was a weather balloon, but no one is really sure.

Challenge Stories:

  • Story #1: Mystery, set in Hollywood 1940s, called Lost Starlet.
  • Story #2: Fantasy, set after a war, called Robinwood
  • Story #3: Science fiction, set on February 25, 1942, called Time Drop