Jun 29, 2016

Monster A Go-Go

Some movies are so bad they’re good, and some movies are just ... bad. My husband and I enjoy watching them both and I thought it would be fun to share the best of the worst. So without further ado, here’s my bad movie review of the week. I leave it up to you to decide whether the movie is bad, or just the review. ;-)

After last week’s movie I’d pretty much had it with movies so bad they were depressing. I wanted something so bad it was funny. Something utterly stupid. So I got out the list of bad/stupid movies the hubby had made out, and picked what was sure to be a lot of fun - Monster A Go-Go.

Boy was I wrong!

There were no go-go dancers in this movie, although there was one short, kind of random dancing scene. Research done afterwards touts it as one of the worst movies ever made, and I believe it. And I also believe that I need to start researching these movies before we watch them.

The budget for this 1965 movie was so low they couldn’t even afford to film in colour. It begins with a capsule being launched into space to check on “stuff” floating around out there. It lands/crashes back on Earth but whoever’s keeping track of it has a hard time finding it. A couple of guys in uniform - they seem to switch from being cops to being military guys - in an unmarked car go looking for it with a helicopter backing them up.

There’s a lot of talking on the radio between the chopper and the car, but despite cranking up the volume it was still hard to make out what they were saying. The guys in the car find the dinged up capsule, and also the helicopter. The chopper pilot is dead and there’s no sign of the guy that was in the itty bitty capsule.

It was a little confusing - I actually thought they were looking for two separate people because sometimes they said the name Frank, and sometimes Douglas. Turns out the guy in the capsule was Frank Douglas. The two cops/military guys are joined by Frank’s wife and another couple who just happen to be scientists.

Anyway, the helicopter pilot is shriveled up like a prune - their words, not mine, he didn’t look that bad to me - and there’s also a few burn spots on the ground, which are dismissed as kids playing a prank. Deciding there’s nothing more they can do at the crash site they go to the lab.

There they determine that the chopper pilot was literally cooked to death and that Frank couldn’t have survived, even though the chute on his capsule opened, because there’s no trace of him. And he’d be pretty radioactive because there’s an excessive amount of radiation in and around the capsule. Please note that the capsule was left where it landed and no precautions were taken to keep the public out of danger.

So then a bunch of military guys, presumably from the lab, arrive at the airport to meet a big air force jet with Dr. Chris Manning on board. Despite the fact he’s a civilian, they decided the case was important enough to send for him. They go to the lab to examine the pilot’s body.

Suddenly we cut to a random scene of some kids dancing - beehive hairdos, pencil skirts, boys in cardigans. I assume this is the “go-go” part of the movie. One of the guys gets mad that his girlfriend is having a little too much fun and pulls her off the dance floor. She must like being pushed around ‘cause she doesn’t protest and they drive off together. They don’t go too far before he’s pulling over so they can start necking.

He gets a little too touchy feely and she gets out of the car. Someone (we can’t really see who) goes up to the driver’s side window and she turns and screams. The three military guys appear out of nowhere and find the body of the boyfriend. Then they hear some moaning and find the girl. They take her to the lab.

Now we get some weird ass, nonsensical music as Dr. Logan goes back to the landing area. The narrator keeps giving away the action before it happens. So ... Dr. Logan’s looking around and finds a burnt stick, and then turns on this thing that looks like one of those guns the police use to clock speeders. He hears a noise like radar blips and a Lurch-like creature comes up behind him and strangles him.

The others get word there’s been another strange incident and toddle off to have a look see. First they find the speed gun, then they find Dr. Logan who looks worse than the other bodies they’ve found thus far. They look around, trying to figure out why he was out there.

A new doctor is flown in and once he’s in the lab he asks to be brought up to date. Dr. Kramer, the token woman in the lab, says that there was no blood in the body, it had turned to powder. It’s determined that Frank Douglas must have died in space and his place in the capsule taken by a 400 pound, ten foot tall, radio-active creature.

Dr. Kramer shows the new guy Dr. Logan’s notes. Apparently, Logan had been injecting himself with something that was supposed to keep him from being affected by radiation - obviously it didn’t work. Then we learn this was something the lab was working on.

There’s another scientist in the lab - didn’t catch his name and was unable to find a cast listing to check - after Dr. Kramer leaves he goes to drug up the creature they were talking about. Excuse me? Did I miss something? When did they catch this creature? I thought they just figured out it existed. Anyway, he’s late with the drug and goes back to the lab to find it trashed.

Now we’re at a park where girls in bikinis are sun bathing. The Lurch-monster comes out of the bushes and heads towards them. They see him and run away screaming. The military guys get a call that the monster’s been spotted. The science guys and the military guys have an argument and decide that the monster is actually Frank Douglas, changed by the radiation he was exposed to. They must catch him!

Lots of random shots of them searching. The military guys are getting something on their equipment - lots of flashing lights, more vehicles arrive. The scientist guys put on clunky suits - they think they have him trapped in the sewers. They blow a whistle like a train whistle - not sure why - and then they blow anti-radiation gas into the sewer. They check out the sewer and the monster is gone.

But wait! Everything is okay! They receive a telegram that Frank was found 8000 miles away in a lifeboat. He’s alive and well and normal size (their words, not mine). The monster was not mentioned again.

At this point the movie just kind of stopped, and hubby made the flippant comment that it was another movie where they ran out of money and just stopped filming. The most entertaining part for him was the fact that when I looked up the movie on the internet, that’s exactly what happened. At least according to Wikipedia:

Director Rebane ran out of money while making the film. Herschell Gordon Lewis, who needed a second film to show with his own feature, Moonshine Mountain, bought the film, added a few extra scenes and some dialogue, and then released it, creating an odd, disjointed film with little continuity. Rebane had abandoned the film in 1961; Lewis did not finish the film until 1965 and so was unable to gather all of the original cast, resulting in almost half the characters disappearing midway through the film to be replaced by other characters who fill most of the same roles.

Of all the movies we’ve seen so far, this is the worst. And not worst in a good way.

Jun 27, 2016

Manicism Monday

manicism ~ left-handedness

I used to be a list maker, and not all that long ago either. I like lists. They help me get/stay organized by showing at a glance what all I have to get done, and there’s nothing like the satisfaction of checking items off as they’re completed.

I’m not sure why I stopped using lists, but Friday night I found myself sitting down and making out list of what all I wanted to accomplish over the weekend. It was a pretty long list and I had no expectation of getting everything done, but at least it gave me an idea of what all I had to do.

Despite a plethora of other, probably more urgent things that needed to be done, I chose to start with cleaning out my craft closet.

Look at all those nicely labelled bins! And now my sewing stuff is a little easier to access, which is good because I’ve been in a sewing mood lately. This was followed by cleaning out the big chest freezer in the basement and the fridge freezer.

Now while these things were on my list, they were not the most important things. The more important things would have been cleaning the house and making salads in preparation for the in-laws coming to dinner on Sunday.

Because the closet cleaning was so time consuming, that and the freezers were pretty much all I had time for on Saturday. Which meant I had a whole crap load of stuff to get done on Sunday. However, much to my surprise, I got everything I needed to get done finished before my company arrived. Including making a plum pie. Sort of.

One of the grandbaby’s favourite books is Each Peach Pear Plum . It’s an “eye spy” book and at the very end all the characters share a plum pie. I didn’t even know you could use plums to make a pie, but I promised the grandbaby that as soon as plums were in season, I would bake her a plum pie.

Well, plums are in season now so last week I bought some to make her pie with. There will be no picture of this pie. I did not check for a recipe until after I bought the plums. The recipe called for four cups of sliced plums - I had about two and a half. This was around 3 p.m. on Sunday - my company was due to arrive around 4 p.m. Not time to go to the store. But then I remembered the packages of fruit I’d found in the freezer (not sure why I bought them) and thawed out the “Mango Medley” - mango, peach, and strawberry - and mixed them in with the plums.

It was not the prettiest pie I ever made, but it wasn’t too gross looking. It might have been better with ice cream, but I didn’t think of getting any. Much to my surprise it had a nice fruity taste, although I found one of the fruits - the mangos maybe - was a little on the bitter side. But the important thing is, Grammy kept her promise.

I had a great deal of satisfaction crossing item after item from my list and I’ve decided I’m going to keep it up. I just need to learn how to prioritize. And while it perhaps wasn’t a very relaxing weekend, at least it was a productive one. ;-)

Jun 22, 2016

Phantom From Space

Some movies are so bad they’re good, and some movies are just ... bad. My husband and I enjoy watching them both and I thought it would be fun to share the best of the worst. So without further ado, here’s my bad movie review of the week. I leave it up to you to decide whether the movie is bad, or just the review. ;-)

This black and white movie was made in 1953, with a budget so low I couldn’t find any information about it. It was directed by W. Lee Wilder, who is also responsible for such gems as Killers From Space, Manfish, and Man Without a Body.

It’s never a good sign when a narrator has to set the action up right from the beginning. He tells us that an unidentified flying object has been spotted over Alaska and for good measure we get the stats on its trajectory, speed, height, etc. The air force goes on alert and interceptors become air-born to the tune of a high pitched warning hum. The narrator goes through several such warnings, each accompanied by the vital statistics. With each successive colour coded warning, the annoying hum gets louder and rises in pitch.

The UFO disappears over Santa Monica and I guess it must not have been that big a threat because the red warning and hum also vanish. It’s up to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to try and figure out what’s causing the massive communications interference. No one seems to connect it to the UFO. Mobile One and Mobile Seven are dispatched to find the source of the problem. They’re driving cars with old-style television antennas on top.

Mobile One, with FCC agent Hazen, is cruising around when a woman comes running down the road and flags them down. She says that her husband and their friend Pete were attacked by a strange man who was wearing a suit like a diver. When Hazen can’t get his radio to work, he goes to try and help. Her husband has been killed, but their friend is just hurt. Because it’s now a murder, they all traipse down to the police station for questioning.

Police Lieutenant Bowers thinks they’re making the story up to cover up their plot to kill the woman’s husband, especially when Pete insists there was no head in the diving suit helmet. Just then, Bowers receives a phone call telling him there’s been another murder, and a fire, near the Huntington Oil Fields (same area). The night watchman also confirms the presence of a guy in the diving suit.

Meanwhile, Mobile One and Mobile Seven meet up at the oil field (that’s still burning) and after talking it over, figure the media interruption is being caused by a saboteur wandering around carrying something. Back at the station, someone draws a very cartoonish looking figure in a deep sea diving suit and the witnesses confirm that this is what the man looked like, and that there was no head in the space suit.

The FCC guys contact Washington and agree to keep the press out of it until they find this guy. They’re told to contact Air Force Major Andrews and Doctor Wyatt at the Griffith Institute and Observatory. Bowers, Hazen, Andrews, and Wyatt toss around ideas of what’s really going on and Andrews admits to the UFO sighting earlier. What a coincidence! That just happens to be when the interference started.

The FCC redoubles their efforts to find the signal and close in on the oil field again. It’s too bad they don’t think of looking up - the spaceman is up on the roof watching them. While the mobile units are setting up some equipment and wandering around with Geiger counters, the spaceman is bopping around like the Samurai Chef from Saturday Night Live.

Finally, they trap him in a shed, but the cunning spaceman takes off his suit which renders him invisible. So the good guys find the suit and surmise that he took it off to avoid detection. Gee, ya think? They wave a Geiger counter over it and the thing goes crazy, so they use tongs (and bare hands) to put this incredibly radioactive suit into a lead lined box. Never mind the fact that if it was that radioactive they’d all be dead by now. Or at least have one foot in the grave.

They put the box in the back of the car and the invisible spaceman sneaks into the back seat to hitch a ride with them to the Griffith Observatory. Here we’re introduced to the token female of the movie, Barbara, who works with Dr. Wyatt. They run a whole bunch of tests on the suit, trying to cut it up, burn it, drip acid on it - but nothing seems to damage it. They’re very puzzled.

Barbara tests the gas in the helmet’s tank and discovers - da da da! It’s mostly unknown with some methane thrown in. They realize the spaceman’s probably not going to last long without his breathing apparatus. They get a call that there’s an insistent reporter wanting to talk to them, so the men all leave and Barbara stays to run more tests. You can see what’s about to happen, right?

The door to the lab opens and closes, Barbara conveniently spills some power on the floor and a footprint appears. Then the key turns in the lock and starts to float around. Barbara’s husband Bill arrives to escort her home and she tells him she’s not alone. He runs to get Bowers, Hazen, Andrews, and Wyatt, and when they get back to the lab the door is open but there’s no sign of Barbara. We have no idea why the spaceman chose her over his suit, but we see her floating around (unconscious) the observatory - obviously the spaceman is carrying her. The other guys are busy running up and down hallways and Barbara comes to sitting in a chair in the lab.

We get a lot of blurry vision from Barbara’s point of view. She sees the door close and the lock turn, and when the spaceman puts his helmet on it freaks her out. He uses scissors to tap out a code on the table. Barbara starts writing down the code but then uses an ultraviolet light on him and sees his very human looking hand. They both kind of freak out. He escapes through a window.

Back in the lab the guys are having a lengthy discussions of the spaceman’s origins and how his cellular structure must somehow react with the natural gasses of the Earth to make him invisible. Meanwhile the suit is disintegrating and again, for something that’s supposed to be so incredibly radioactive, they don’t seem to have enough sense to stand back and not breath in the noxious fumes it releases.

Dr. Wyatt uses the UV light to show the remains of the suit. The helmet is still okay and they assume the spaceman carried his own atmosphere with him. Now they’re all sympathetic with him because he was probably shipwrecked and didn’t mean to kill those people and blew up the oil tank to try and make more gas to breathe. They figure he’ll be back for his helmet and really want to capture him - for his own good, of course.

They make sure the path is clear to his helmet and wait in the laboratory for him. Sure enough, he eventually appears - we see staggering footprints appear on the pavement. For a bunch of people who don’t want to scare him away, they sure are in a rush to “get ‘em!” Now we have a lot more running through the hallways of the observatory. Barbara goes back to the lab and there’s the floating helmet again. She stays calm and tries to communicate with him, and simultaneously uses the PA system to tell everyone where he is. They come in quietly and try to communicate with him, but no luck. Then a reporter snaps a picture and the flash freaks the spaceman out. He drops the helmet, breaking it, and then escapes again, this time smacking the reporter on his way out the door.

More chasing through the endless halls, and they finally corner him as he climbs to the scaffold surrounding the telescope. They just happen to have UV lights with them and spotlight him, showing him to be pasty white, hairless, and human in appearance. He’s trying to speak but there’s no sound - he’s suffocating. His glow is almost gone and he falls. His body evaporates just like the suit did and they watch with long faces. Dr. Wyatt opens the dome so they can see the stars. The end.

I can’t even really call this a bad movie, it was more like a meh movie. Hubby says: “It’s not the worst thing we’ve ever seen. I was a little disappointed it wasn’t so bad it was entertaining.”

Hard to be entertained when it was so boring.

Jun 20, 2016

Monandry Monday

monandry ~ marriage to only one man at a time

Last week the daughter had a course she needed to take for work which required her to be in Ottawa, so once again Grammy pulled extra babysitting time. The first day we played outside - blowing bubbles, me dragging her around in her Flintstones-like car, picking flowers ... Day two we went shopping, always a fun time, and though I was sorely tempted to buy us junk food I honoured her mother’s request that I not.

Here’s the little darling trying to show the cat how he’s supposed to use his toy.

Then came day three, the day I had figured on taking her to a drop in play group. But first thing in the morning the grandbaby really wanted to go outside. So we chased the dog around the back yard and found him a stick and ... being blind, he didn’t realize the grandbaby was directly in front of him and steam-rolled her, biffing her in the head with the stick.

She ended up flat on her back and I think that, more than the blow to her head, is what upset her. It was nothing hugs from Grammy couldn’t fix. Well, all except for the goose-egg on her forehead. Which is why we didn’t go to the play group with its finger pointing mamas. We went to the dollar store and made cupcakes instead. ;-)

Like last month I had a couple of extra days off as my reward for full time babysitting. And while this time I didn’t end up with a mega-death cold, I don’t know that I was a lot more productive with my extra time. What can I say? It’s summer time and Mother Nature has finally acknowledged it with some super hot weather.

Among the things I did get done was finally catching up on my Goodreads reviews and a lot of relaxing on the deck. And I planted more petunias in the front garden. And despite the fact my roses have only been uncovered for a few weeks, one of them even decided to bloom.

Ahh, summer. Nice to see you!

Jun 15, 2016

The Terror of Tiny Town

Some movies are so bad they’re good, and some movies are just ... bad. My husband and I enjoy watching them both and I thought it would be fun to share the best of the worst. So without further ado, here’s my bad movie review of the week. I leave it up to you to decide whether the movie is bad, or just the review. ;-)

I’m pretty sure there aren’t too many people who haven’t at least heard of this week’s movie. We actually lucked(?) into it. I just happened to see it listed on one of the new channels we’re getting with our current cable package and I recorded it with our TiVo.

This western was made in 1938 for an estimated budget of $100,000.00 and features Jed Buell’s Midgets - I kid you not. It’s right there in the opening credits. It was listed on our on-screen guide as being 90 minutes in length, but actually it was only 62. All I can say is, thank God!

Okay, first of all, it’s kind of hard to take the “terror” part seriously when we’ve got an all midget cast riding Shetland ponies and there in the opening credits is someone listed as “the vampire”. The vampire! Seriously? And just so you know, my review is based on the notes I took while watching, so it’s more like a running commentary. :-)

It begins with a man on a stage (the only regular sized person in the whole film) who tells us this film is the first of its kind and tells us not to take it too seriously. In comes Buck Larson, the hero, who says this is a serious film and he’s destined to become a great star. Then, of course, Bat Haines, the villain, puts in an appearance claiming he’s going to be the biggest star. They start fighting and the emcee tries to keep them apart and then the film starts.

And they start ... with singing. OMG, the humanity! A bunch of townsfolk, including our hero Buck, are gathered around a blacksmith who’s shoeing a regular sized horse, and everyone is singing. Make it stop!

Okay, finally we get to the nitty gritty. Pop Larson, Buck’s father, wants him to check things out on the north range, they’ve got cattle going missing. Off he goes. The action cuts to Bat Haines, who’s tending a fire while his gang chases down a calf (they can’t go after the cows because they’re bigger than the Shetland ponies they’re riding). Buck spots the smoke and draws his gun. The bad guys see him coming and ride off, leaving their branding iron behind.

Oh my. They speed up the film when they’re riding. I can’t believe we’re still watching this!

Buck takes the branding iron Bat left behind to the sheriff. The iron is from the ranch belonging to Tex Preston and it looks like he’s the one that’s been rustling the cattle. Meanwhile, Bat goes to Preston and tells him he found one of his cows that had been shot and there was a calf hanging around with Pop Larson’s brand on it. Then all of a sudden we get some comic relief in the form of Preston’s cook who’s trying to coax a duck close enough that he can kill it for supper - I don’t know if someone taught the duck to walk backwards or they just ran the film backwards - it’s just really bizarre.

Preston and his men go to town - his niece is due to arrive on the stagecoach. The sheriff comes over and warns him not to cause any trouble in town. Then we cut to Pop Larson and Buck (and their men). Larson tells Buck to keep looking for rustlers while he goes to town.

I’m pretty sure they deliberately set the swinging saloon doors up a little higher than normal because some of these guys can walk right under them. More singing. I’m dying here - the midget saloon girl sounds like Shirley Temple.

Bat takes the sheriff aside and warns him to stay out of what’s going on (the fact that he’s stealing cows from both ranches and getting them to blame each other). Then he asks him about some money that’s coming in on the stage - the sheriff reluctantly confirms this.

Preston goes to the barbershop for a shave in honour of his niece coming. Just when you think it can’t get any worse ... there’s a barbershop quartet singing in the barbershop. Oh, but it gets better. While the camera is panning from singer to singer, we see that there’s also a penguin in the barbershop. Say what? The song finishes up and Larson comes in. He and Preston trade insults.

The stage is coming. Bat and his gang are in place and start shooting at the stage. Buck and his men just happen to be in the neighbourhood and ride in to save the day. There’s a lot of shooting (sounds like cap guns) and both of the guys driving the stage end up getting shot. The bad guys see the good guys coming and run away. Buck sends his men after them while he goes after the runaway stage. He manages to stop it and then he and Nancy, Preston’s niece, ride on top back to town. Oops! Looks like he forgot about the horse he’d been riding.

So then we see Bat and his gang at their hideout and Bat is understandably angry with Buck, but hey, they’ve got dynamite - no idea what they’re planning to do with it, but I guess that’s beside the point.

One of Preston’s men comes to him and tells him their cattle are disappearing, so Preston decides to round up some gun slingers. Nancy decides to go for a ride and takes with her a huge picnic lunch. She meets up with Buck who just happened to have his guitar with him. I think there’s a bit of a Romeo and Juliette thing going on here - what with the trouble between their families and all.

Oh, no! More singing. There’s entirely too much singing in this travesty of a movie! Gene Autry he ain’t! And now she’s singing back to him - she sounds like Betty Boop. Buck doesn’t want to settle down until the feud between their families is resolved. And then they’re caught by Buck’s daddy. The two men argue and Nancy rides off. Buck follows her - she doesn’t want to come between father and son.

That low down pole cat Bat was spying on them from the bushes and witnessed the whole thing. Looks like he has an idea. He goes straight to Preston to rat them out. Preston rides off and catches up to the love birds on their way to town. He sends Nancy home, but then he and Buck talk and they realize there must be a third person involved with the cattle rustling. Preston agrees to meet with Buck’s father in town to settle this, and as they go their separate ways, Bat shoots Preston.

Bat then rides to the Preston ranch to tell everyone that Buck shot Tex. And of course they all believe him, although Nancy’s kind of unsure. Bat puts the moves on Nancy but she shoots him down, almost as badly as the Preston hands shoot at Buck when he rides up to talk. Run away, run away!

Meanwhile, at the saloon ... Oh good lord! It takes two to play the bass fiddle - one on a chair to do the fingering, and one stretching up to do the bowing. MORE singing! In comes Bat, who gives his saloon girl girlfriend the cold shoulder and tells the sheriff to arrest Buck for murder even though he confesses to being the culprit.

Buck goes to see Nancy, who holds a gun on him. She tells him that Bat Haines told her about her uncle’s murder and he realizes Bat must have done it - only two people knew Tex had been murdered, him and the murderer. Buck goes to the saloon and is promptly arrested.

Now we’re back at the Preston ranch again and Bat is trying to put the moves on Nancy again. Again she rebuffs him, so he retaliates by telling her that Tex owed him a lot of money. He leaves in a huff and goes back to the saloon where his girlfriend is ready to give him another chance, but he gives her the cold shoulder again. She’s not a happy camper.

Bat buys drinks for everyone at the bar to get them all liquored up. He convinces them (doesn’t take much) they shouldn’t wait for the judge but should string Buck up now. Nancy rides off to get Pop Larson. Bat’s ex-girlfriend threatens to tell the townsfolk what she knows and he slugs her.

Uh, oh! They’re going to lynch Buck. The sheriff’s had enough and tells everyone that Bat is the real murderer. Bat shoots him and escapes out the window. Pop Larson arrives and lets Buck out, who immediately goes after Bat. The sheriff lives long enough to tell them where Bat’s hideout is.

Riding, riding, riding.

The ex-girlfriend beats Bat to his hideout and lights a stick of dynamite, hiding it under the floorboards, then leaves through a window. Buck and Bat have a fist fight inside the hideout, the fuse is still burning, Nancy yells for Buck, he manages to knock Bat out and runs outside, Bat is about to shoot him in the back, and the hideout blows up. Buck and Nancy finally get to share that kiss.

This movie was totally deserving of a golden turkey - the story itself wasn’t bad, it was just the whole concept that was bad. As the hubby said, “I cannot believe we sat through the whole thing.”

I can’t believe he thought this was worthy of a review and not Robot Shark. ;-)

Oh, and the vampire? I had to look it up. It wasn’t a literal vampire, it’s just the name they gave to Bat’s saloon girl girlfriend.

Jun 13, 2016

Micrurgy Monday

micrurgy ~ dissection under magnification or under a microscope

Another somewhat uneventful week, although not quite so uneventful that I need to stoop to using one of the blog topic generators to get this post done.

The weather is starting to get me down. Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to look out and see all the green this time of year, but it might be nice to actually get out into it once in a while.

Last week pretty much alternated between sun and cloud, mostly cloudy, with a spat of rain thrown in. Actually, come to think of it, there was a lot of rain. Enough so that I didn’t have to water my wild flower seeds and they’ve started to sprout.

But there were two things that remained consistent throughout the week, and that was the wind and the cold. Being right on the edge of Lake Ontario, it’s not unusual for it to be windy, but we’re talking excessive wind here. Can’t keep the plastic adirondack chairs upright kind of wind.

And cold! Saturday was one of the nicer days - the sun was out at least - and when I went out on the deck to sit before supper, I was wearing jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, and socks and shoes. Not what one would expect from almost mid-June.

One of the things all this excessive wind did last week was take out our cable for five hours one night. It kind of freaked me out at the time - we recently bundled our services so I had no internet, no television, and no phone. No way of contacting the outside world if something had happened. And it was a dark and stormy night.

But the up side to it was that it was incentive to learn how to us the TiVo we have. Apparently, you don’t need your cable to be working to access shows you’ve recorded on your TiVo - too bad I only had two one hour shows and one movie on there during the outage.

However, once our cable was restored I started checking our channel grid and almost immediately found four movies to record, one of which was one we’ve been dying to see for ages now, and I’ll be reviewing it on Wednesday. The TiVo is a nifty little device.

Honestly, I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg as far as the TiVo goes. I can record a single show, or set it to record all of the episodes in a series. AND I discovered that you can record up to five shows/movies at the same time! How cool is that?

Okay. Yes, I know people have been recording off their TVs since the invention of the VCR, and most homes today have at least one PVR or access to Netflix or whatever. But we’d been using the same cable box for the last 10 or 20 years. It was so old we couldn’t even access On Demand. So I might be forgiven for waxing so poetic about my new best friend TiVo.

I have no idea how many hours of “stuff” I can store on the TiVo, but you can bet I’ll be ready for the next cable blackout!

Jun 8, 2016

Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet

Some movies are so bad they’re good, and some movies are just ... bad. My husband and I enjoy watching them both and I thought it would be fun to share the best of the worst. So without further ado, here’s my bad movie review of the week. I leave it up to you to decide whether the movie is bad, or just the review. ;-)

This week’s movie started with a debate between the hubby and I regarding what kind of bad movies I should be reviewing. This was brought on by my suggestion we watch Robot Shark on Saturday. Hubby claimed it was too “new” of a movie - it didn’t count unless it was an older movie with cheesy effects. The debate continues ...

Made 1965, this movie was a Soviet film originally called Planeta Bur. The part with Basil Rathbone as the lead scientist on the moon base was tacked on to the American version. The year is 2020. There’s already a colony on the moon and now mankind is preparing to colonize Venus. To that end, three ships are launched from Lunar Station 7 - the Vega, the Sirius, and the Capella.

The action kind of flits around from ship to ship to station in the beginning, so it’s a little hard to figure out what’s going on at first. And despite the fact we have this movie on DVD, it was pretty poor quality. We had to keep jacking up the volume. Anyway, the three ships almost make it to Venus when a meteorite crashes into the Capella, destroying it. Isn’t that always the way? So the two crewmen from the Vega, the lead ship, and a cool looking robot named John, go down to Venus, leaving token woman Marsha (who’s sporting a space beehive hairdo) behind to man the fort.

Venus is pretty much covered in clouds so they can’t really see what’s down there. Nobody likes the look of those pesky clouds so they turn control of the landing ship over to robot John. And then they promptly lose contact with Marsha so everyone naturally assumes they crashed. Marsha’s pretty upset and thinks it’s her fault for encouraging them to go down there. But there’s no time for this petty emotionalism, the Sirius is ready to make their attempt. The Sirius keeps trying to make contact with the first group when they land, but they don’t have much luck either.

They shine flashlights out the windows to see what’s out there: fog out one window, strange rock formations out the other. The commander suggests they turn on the “outside sound pickup” and hear a bunch of strange sounds. They check the oxygen level out there - 4.7, whatever that means - and put on their space suits. Up to this point they were dressed in street clothes. There’s no airlock, they just step out of the ship to have a look around.

One of them is carrying a poking stick. He has a rope tied around him, tethering him to the ship, which is a good thing because the next thing you know this plant with tentacles grabs him and starts to drag him away. The others have quite the struggle to get him free, but when one of them tries to take a picture of the plant it closes right up. Maybe they should have tried that first. They figure out where the smaller ship must have landed, so they decide to go there taking an overland route.

Meanwhile, we see that the other crew is okay, but I guess their ship isn’t because they’re on foot and they’re having to put the robot back together. They’re attacked by little man-sized Godzillas who kind of bounce around (they’re actually kind of cute). After driving off the Godzillas they finish putting John’s head back on and then start off to meet up with the other crew (one assumes).

Back to the crew of the Sirius. Their car looks like a cross between an AMC Pacer and the car the Jetson’s drove only it’s kind of a hovercraft. They pause in their trip to take a picture of what looks to be a brontosaurus. They hear that weird music like noise again and one of them swears it sounds like a girl.

The two with the robot are getting a little woozy because their suits were damaged. I’m thinking it must have been during the fight with the mini godzillas. They find a picturesque waterfall and the robot is forced to extend his claws to keep from slipping. Then he whines about how too much water will damage his systems. One of these guys is really struggling so they take shelter in a cave behind a waterfall.

One of the guys from the second crew gets the bright idea to try contacting the robot instead of the ship, and they succeed (they’re on some kind of lake at this point). The first crew is unconscious now and they tell the robot to, one at a time, open the crewmen’s helmets, give them a tablet, pour water over their face, and quickly close the helmet again. He does this and they revive.

Meanwhile, a flying reptile hits the top of the hover-car. Fortunately it’s equipped with a gun turret and they’re able to drive it away. At least temporarily. There’s a plug in the bottom of the car which they remove to sink the car so they can continue their journey on the bottom of the lake.

Marsha’s kind of freaking out because now she’s lost contact with everyone. She stares out the window, trying to figure out what to do. It’ll take an hour before she can switch on the propellers, but she feels she has to go to them.

Meanwhile, the guys with the car are on the bottom of the lake. It looks like it was filmed through an aquarium. They’ve actually stopped the car to do a bit of exploring. An adorable little squid creature pokes at one of them, another finds a cave that looks manmade, and one of them finds a statue of the flying creature with a ruby for its eye.

The two in the cave appear to be fully recovered. They decide to keep walking. The robot is tethered to a tree and starts to spin the upper half of his body to wind the rope up, causing the tree to fall to make a bridge.

The others are dragging the car to the shore of the lake. I guess maybe it wasn’t meant to be underwater after all? They build a fire to dry things out. Yes, that’s right. There’s not enough oxygen for them to breathe, but there’s enough to build a fire. They figure there could be a whole race of people out there and speculate on what they could look like. They hear the music again and one of them is positive it’s a beautiful girl singing. Oh, well. Maybe another time. The car’s finished drying out so off they go.

The other two see a volcano leaking lava. One wants to leave and the other wants to keep watching. Then there’s an explosion and the lava pushes forward. They need to get to higher ground. They end up having to get John to carry them across the lava. Halfway across John decides he needs to rid himself of the deadweight and tries to toss them off.

Fortunately, the guys in the car arrive in the nick of time. They have to leave the robot behind and it falls face first into the lava. At this point they decide to have a coffee break and the one guy is still wondering what the singer looks like. Another climbs some rock near a vent of gas and sees some dinosaurs. They head back to the ship where they find a message from Marsha telling them she’s decided to try landing the big ship by herself.

It starts to rain and a big sink hole opens up near the ship. They prepare for emergency blast off which appears to include off-loading a bunch of their supplies. Then they realize Marsha’s still up there - she was ordered to wait, but her orbit’s decaying. They hurriedly set up a weather station and the rock one of them uses for a hammer breaks open to reveal the image of a woman’s face. He seems a little obsessed with her as he returns to the ship. Just in the nick of time - the landing spot erodes just as the ship takes off.

The rain stops and we see the reflection of the woman in a pool of water. The rocket is speeding away and the narrator explains that the exploration for intelligent life will continue.

Not if they keep coming up with movies like this. ;-)

Jun 6, 2016

Matutinal Monday

matutinal ~ of, like or pertaining to the morning; happening early in the day

Last week was pretty uneventful - didn’t really go anywhere or do anything unusual, no holidays or side trips... All in all it was pretty mundane. Which makes for a really boring blog post.

So I sat here Sunday night, trying to think of something interesting to talk about and ... nothing.

Stared at the blank document file I had open on my laptop and ... nothing.

Watched some television for inspiration and ... still nothing.

I was starting to see a pattern.

So then I started surfing the net and ended up playing a few rounds of Bubble Mouse, then solitaire, then Word Garden ...

I got a little more writing in that normal last week, including an blogging award meme that I was sent a few weeks ago. You can read the post about that HERE

One of the things I worked on was a new short story. It’s been so long since I’ve worked on something entirely new that I was beginning to think I’d lost the knack for it. But I made a good start and if I keep at it there’s a chance I might even get the first draft of it finished this week.

The story is pure science fiction, which takes me back to my roots. When I first started writing, way back in the stone age when I was in high school, I had visions of being a writer of short stories. Specifically, science fiction short stories. I wanted to be published in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine.

Of course that never happened, but it didn’t stop me from trying. Later I entered a few stories in the Writers of the Future contest and one of them actually got an honorable mention.

I never even considered writing a novel back then - I was a writer of short stories! Even when my ideas turned out to be too long for a short story I’d stick to my guns. I’d abandon those stories and move on to something else. I still have folders full of them.

I honestly don’t know when I wandered away from short stories and into the realm of novels, but when I first started writing longer stuff I gave up on the short story completely. Eventually, a few shorter pieces did start creeping back but it was mostly flash fiction, and more often fantasy or contemporary, not science fiction. So like I said, this new story is kind of like getting back to my roots.

There’s something to be said for the short story, it’s like a quick glimpse into another world whereas the novel is more a long stare. I know there are authors out there who stick to either novels or short stories exclusively, but I think they’re doing themselves a disservice. The short story teaches you to write with brevity, you only have a few words to get your point across, while the novel allows you to stretch your wings and fully develop your ideas. Both help you hone your craft.

Like most things, it’s all about finding your balance.

Jun 1, 2016

The Twilight People

Some movies are so bad they’re good, and some movies are just ... bad. My husband and I enjoy watching them both and I thought it would be fun to share the best of the worst. So without further ado, here’s my bad movie review of the week. I leave it up to you to decide whether the movie is bad, or just the review. ;-)

This “gem” was made in 1972 with a budget of $150,000.00. The opening credits are shown over top some underwater footage with a really cheesy 70s soundtrack. Eventually we see a diver being attacked by two others and he’s hoisted up to a boat by his feet. Here we’re introduced to creepy hunter guy and hot scientist chick.

He’s taken to a remote island that has a bunch of armed guards (I think they’re Mexican) wandering around. The man is driven to a Spanish looking mansion in the middle of the jungle and we learn his name is Max Farrell. He meets Dr. Gordon who tells him he was chosen for his physical and mental abilities to participate in some kind of mad scientist plan to create a super race.

Farrell’s given a room to stay in and while he’s out on his balcony enjoying the view, he meets the fellow prisoner from the next room who advises him to make the best of it. Then we cut to creepy hunter guy who’s heading up a group chasing after one of the doctor’s “patients” who looks like a cross between a man and a boar. Creepy hunter guy shoots him between the eyes and the doctor is not happy with him.

After picking the lock on his door, Farrell wanders through the house instead of heading for the front door. He rifles through the doctor’s files and discovers he’s a Nobel Laureate. After hiding under the desk when he hears someone coming, he makes his way to the basement to the accompaniment of what we assume to be suspenseful music. There’s lots of scientific equipment - test tubes, incubators, a head in a jar...

Cut to a different lab that’s full of hybrid creatures.

Suddenly it’s the next day and he’s wandering around outside. Creepy hunter guy tries to get him to try and escape so he can hunt him.

Umm, now we cut to a yet another lab where the doctor is working, and hot scientist chick (his daughter, whose name is Neva) asks about him working late. They talk about using Farrell for the “Class Gs”. She doesn’t seem as enthusiastic as dear old dad.

Suddenly it’s evening again she visits Farrell in his room to examine his eyes. (Seems like a pretext to me). He gets a little touchy feely with her - kisses her and she leaves - he follows and sees her enter a secret passage that leads to where they’re keeping the creatures her father has created. He saves her when she’s about to be attacked and asks if this is what’s going to happen to him.

Jump to her and her father talking in his lab/office. She wants him to let Farrell go. He gives an impassioned speech about his super beings. Meanwhile, Farrell is wandering around again and looks to have found some kind of medical section where they’re going to do something to the guy he met on the next balcony - guy is immersed in bubbling water and they screw a plastic sheet over the top of his (bald) head. Farrell can’t see what they’re doing, but they remove the top of his friend’s head and Neva is sprayed with blood and runs away. Farrell follows her to her room where she’s about to swallow a bunch of pills - he stops her, they end up on the floor, he promises to help her and they start kissing. They’re caught by doctor and hunter guy. Doctor gives daughter an angry look, she kind of smirks in return.

Farrell’s taken to the cave with the creatures and locked in a cell. Hunter guy leaves him there and goes to look at his gun collection that he has on a lit wall. He pours himself a glass of milk (milk? really?) and Neva comes out of hiding with a rifle. They struggle and of course he overpowers her. There’s a lot of name calling but then he slumps to the bed - she drugged his milk.

Neva releases Farrell and tells him she knows a secret way out of the caves, but she insists on taking the rest of the creatures too - and a more motley bunch of creatures you’ve never seen. Such bad costume/make up! Farrell convinces her to take the creatures and go on without him, they’ll meet up later. He sneaks into doc’s room and takes him prisoner. I don’t know if it’s really night there or if the movie’s just really, really dark - it’s kind of hard to see any details.

This is where the movie gets really choppy and hard to follow:
- hunter guy wakes up
- creatures are moving through the jungle
- doc and Farrell reach the river they’re going to follow to the coast
- hunter guy sees the creatures on the ridge, sends a trio of men after them
- doc and Farrell are now headed off into the jungle
- (hubby thinks it’s called Twilight People because they can’t seem to make up their mind about the lighting)
- Neva is having problems with all the animals. Two of them (goat boy and dog girl) go off in the jungle and share some food. Panther girl is rolling around on the ground purring. Monkey boy is shaking a tree - bat boy is hanging upside down from a branch of said tree
- trio of native guards are taking a break
- panther girl attacks the trio
- Neva and others rest. Batboy is climbing a tree - monkey boy seems to really like Neva, I mean really likes her. He attacks her and goat boy and dog girl chase him off. Bat boy tries to fly - oops, I don’t think those wings were attached properly - looked like they were duct taped on - hunter catches up to the trio (who’re now just a duo)
- Farrell and doc watch from the next ridge over
- Okay, now it looks like the two who lost their companion are off on their own again
- Farrel realizes they’re being watched and ties the doctor to a tree so he can go see what's going on. It’s really too dark - a voice tells him not to move or they’ll see him
- Neva sends goat boy after panther girl - dog girl isn’t happy
- hubby makes the comment that this is sort of like the Monty Python Sketch called Elephantoplasty, where they start sewing random things onto people
- bunch of fighting - too dark to see, think panther girl got another guard
- someone’s shooting at Farrell
- someone’s crawling on the ground and manages to send off a flare
- hunter guy tells his men to fan out
- goat boy was shot - oops! Panther girl is attacking him - dog girl comes to his rescue - no match for panther girl - goat boy uses his rifle butt to kill panther girl
- hunter and his men are climbing up the small mountain, Farrell is trailing them
- Neva decides the creatures should split up
- hunter has his men spread out again - looks around suspiciously
- Farrell’s hiding close by
- batboy is up in a tree as the hunters pass by
- monkey boy gets shot and the guards take Neva back to hunter
- goat boy starts shooting from his hiding place. Everyone kind of scatters but Neva is still a prisoner
- monkey boy isn’t quite dead
- dog girl takes out one of the guards
- all’s quiet
- okay, despite the flimsy wings (that you can totally see the wires attached to) bat boy’s flying away (pretty good considering he fell out of the tree on his first attempt)
- goat boy and dog girl get killed
- hunter’s been wounded - I think the rest of the guards are all dead because he’s hotfooting it outta there
- Farrell follows the trail of blood to where hunter’s lying in wait. He reaches the river - they stare at each other
- doctor has reached his house (no idea how he got loose)
- batboy comes flying in
- doctor gathers all his research and escapes into the creature cave
- batboy merrily goes about killing the rest of the guards
- doctor is confronted by a tree creature who turns out to be his former wife
- okay, stupid, it’s not a good idea to bad mouth the woman you turned into a tree when she’s holding a knife
- suddenly, Neva and Farrell are there at the house where she cradles her dead father in her arms
- how did he get out of the tunnel? what happened to hunter? and the mother?
- ends with a really, really bad image of batboy flying off towards the mountains

Words alone cannot express how insanely bad this movie was.

I swear, I honestly don’t pick these movies because there’s a YouTube video available for them! It’s just a happy co-incidence. But I gotta tell you, the YouTube video is much better quality than the video we watched. ;-)