Monday, July 30, 2012

Unusual State Fair Souvenirs, Thanks To Team Coco

Look! Team Coco Cult is Working

Usually people who go to a state fair take home a stuffed animal from the carnival, a blue ribbon thanks to real know-how in raising cattle or baking a pie, or just some trinket from a souvenir stand or the local utility company.

Thanks to Team Coco, I got something different at the California State Fair in Sacramento: a photo button with my face superimposed on Conan's head, plus one of the most rare rubber ducks ever made...probably.

This is how the photo buttons were made...

An Innocent Photo Booth, or Is It?

This was located near the Cal Expo fountain, next to the Xfinity (Comcast) booth. People got a choice of three poses, the best gets chosen, and it's made into a button. The picture is also supposed to be e-mailed to you, but it wasn't in my case. Looking below, that may be just as well, but what's next to it is really unusual...

Unlikely State Fair Souvenirs

Remember when TBS aired promos for Conan in the fall of 2010, and one of the despondent fans had a rubber duck with Conan's bearded head? Here's a reminder...

Apparently, Celebriducks made 2000 of them for the first show, to give to the audience. I was in town then, but getting inside was out of the question. I still got into the second show, but lookng back they should have given ducks for everyone in the first week. Well, I don't know how many Conan ducks they had that day, but I'd say a dozen. Others gor shirts, like this one...

He's keeping cool, as his shirt says

Getting back to the duck, here's some other angles...

Conan Duckie, front side

Conan Duckie, from top

Proof this is a rare rubber duck?

Now, that either means it was made in January 2011, or it was the first of the 2011 model that they gave away to advertisers, family, friends or by accident.

I didn't know about the photo booth until they had ads on TV just before the final day of the fair. Actually, they should have had it for the whole run. Who wouldn't want to have weird photo buttons, then find out about how they can save on their cable bill. I was also told that Team Coco only had the photo booth at Cal Expo. I'm surprised it's not a traveling Team Coco photo booth. They can tour along with the massive Conan bobblehead around the country, then set up show across the street from the Tonight Show...and see the fireworks.

So, if I do snag a ticket for the Monday after the Emmys, I'll be wearing that photo button. Maybe I'll take along the case Conan lost his.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cinematic Titanic Gets Snakebit With "Rattlers"

It's been six months since Cinematic Titanic has released a new DVD of their live show, but the new one is another winner. This time, the crew takes on Rattlers, a story of a herpetologist battling psychotic rattlesnakes. The usual gang is here: Joel Hodgson, Trace Beauliew, J. Elvis Weinstein, Mary Jo Pehl and TV's Frank Coniff
You may notice the movie doesn't have credits aside from the title for the movie, Considering the fact the hero gets out-acted by the rattlesnakes and the rocks in the desert, that kind of makes sense. The movie and the riffing is a bit sluggish but, just like The Dark Knight Rises, it picks up in the final 15 minutes (as if the producers realize they have to end the movie because they have 15 minutes of film left).

Anyway, it starts with two boys wandering in the desert, looking for a "real live skeleton", and they jabber like crazy (Frank: "Jodie Foster was so cute when she was a little boy"). Instead of a skeleton, they find agressive rattlesnakes that bite them a jillion times.

Enter Tom Parkinson, herpetologist, and not unlike a "David Hartman action figure". Still, he's good at what he does. He even saves a fellow teacher from an escaped cobra with several waves of his hand. Tom soon heads to the Middle of Nowhere Sheriff's Department to investigate the death of those two kids.

While this is going on, other people die of snakebites in very embarassing ways. A teenage boy carrying a lantern inside a barn gets bitten, and he falls, setting the barn on fire. Meanwhile, his mom is surprised by several rattlenakes who thought they were there for a sleepover. There's also a housewife who gets bitten in the tub when several snakes break through the drain, and a plumber who finds out what's really clogging the pipes (Trace: "Get me, I'm a plumber's snake. I can write for Lopez").

Tom is soon joined by Ann, a liberated female photographer who spouts off about equal rights. He tells her that if he had his way her "liberated ass" would be at the Sheriff's Department. He apologizes later, but is also told about how her mom was worn down by working at a factory. Anyway, they soon figure out the snakes' attacks took place near an old Army base...with a deep, dark and stupid secret. It's called CT3, which Mary Jo says is Cinematic Titanic 3-D. Now that's a good idea, but which movie should have the honor?

Back to the movie: Tom and Ann later discover the big secret is actually hidden in a mine shaft, filled with snakes. They escape, and the experience drains all the feminism out of Ann. For no good reason, they escape to a romantic night in Las Vegas (Joel: "What doesn't happen in Vegas stays in this movie."). Why Miss Liberated Photographer would fall for Mr. Bland Snake Expert, we'll never know, and the movie is hoping you won't ask.
However, the mood is broken by an invasion of snakes, followed by an invasion of trigger-happy soldiers. Ann gets bit (J. Elvis: "Watch out for my pet turtle"), and Tom demands to find out what the Army base is hiding. Cut to a colonel burning incriminating records, and a medical officer looking like a drunk zombie. The ending is surprising, in a bad way, and also hints about, or rather threatens, a possible sequel.

The CT gang make jokes about John C. Reilly, Mel Gibson, David Carradine (again), a comment about teachers losing bargaining rights, Wikileaks, Squidbillies, and a callback to a classic MST3K riff. The movie also shows a lot of skin, and we don't mean the snakes. We mean a Playboy centerfold and a doomed housewife in a bathtub. That blimp that covered up nudity in Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks is nowhere to be seen.

The DVD includes trailers of other DVDs, plus a behind-the-scenes look at a recent show in Atlanta. It looks like the CT crew will stick to live shows, although I really miss the old premise where they were trapped somewhere, riffing on bad movies. I'm just nostalgic about the old days.
You can order DVDs and tickets to future events at The Rattlers DVD is sold out, but it's expected to be available again.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Did the Dark Knight Rise Enough..and Santa Cruz and the movies

It looks like in the Super Hero Movie Sweepstakes, it will be The Avengers with the Gold, Batman the Silver and Spider-Man the Bronze.

The third Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, collected nearly 161 million dollars in its first weekend, despite the horrid publicity it got from the tragic shooting at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. Before that, there were murmurs the movie didn't like up to the previous one, The Dark Knight. To be honest, what could? It was Heath Ledger that drove the success of that movie.
When you think about it, people who watch super hero movies, including Batman, watch it for the villain rather than the hero. Spider-Man had Doc Ock and the Green Globlin, X-Men had Magneto, and the Batman movies of the 1990's had the Joker the Penguin, and the Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman...then it kind of fell off the cliff with Mr. Freeze Terminator and the Riddler.

Does this mean TDKR failed because Bane was no Joker? To some, that may be the case.
Tom Hardy was still great as the evil masked man. He was brutal, but he also looked like a WWE wrestler. You could undertsnd him, but the accent didn't make him the definition of unbeatable evil. His size did, though.
Also, did anything think it was odd the bad guys already knew (Bane, for one) Batman was Bruce Wayne? No need for secret identities, no sir. Then again, since Bane was with the League of Shadows, and it sort of knew who Batman was, that made sense.

I also knew Harry Knowles was really upset about what Alfred did in this movie, when he had his doubts Batman could beat Wayne. Michael Caine really did a great job as the loyal butler. It was heartbraking to see Alfred beg Bruce to get back into the world and help Gotham as himself, not the Batman. Then there's Marion Cotillard, who played the Rachel role as the very rich and loyal Miranda Tate. It was her money and her love for Bruce, that kept Wayne Enterprises off the hands of Dagett...who recruited Bane to get what he wanted. Bane's no lackey, though. So, when we found out who Miranda really was, that was a disappointment because it turned out to be Chris Nolan's only way to make her more interesting. That included her true motivations connected with the bad guy from Batman Begins. At least Joss made Black Widow interesting from start to finish.

Now, let's all admit the obvious...Anne Hathaway stole this movie, and we should all line up to see her in Les Miserables on Christmas..then Django Unchained after that. This girl was a sharp cookie who justifies her crimes as taking from those who already have enough, I wish there were more backstory on why she chose this path, aside from the mug shots. Just notice how we see her: she starts as a maid, and then whe nshe gets caught, she turns her attitude on a dime. She starts as someone who believes in self-preservation, then realizes actually helping people out has its rewards, such as a clean slate. If there is any way Anne could be in Expendables 3, they should do it. Giving her a Best Supporting Actress nod come movie awards time makes a lot of sense.

Before we get to Batman and the cop, I want to say that when I saw this in Imax, I thought the story was a bit bloated. Too many speeches, for one, You coud have cut from the football stadium scene, Bane blowing up the prison, and Bruce's time in Bane's pit. I guess Nolam wanted to tie up the trilogy the best way he could. When I saw it again in Santa Cruz I saw that you needed Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the cop who was just as heroic as Batman. You needed that story of the child who escaped from the pit to inspire Bruce to get out the same way. Otherwise, it unravels. It may have been too much story, and it was all needed to bring the trilogy to a finish. As for this being a metaphor for the Occupy movement, it seems to be Bane thought he was the modern Robespierre, freeing the criminals who shouldn't be locked up, and taking from the rich just because you can. No wonder Catwoman thought this was a bad idea after all. What's the point of being a thief when no one chases after what you took...and that includes you Bruce (although you did recover what was taken..but not something else). You could still cut ten minutes from the movie.

So how about Batman? He was the bad-ass hero again, but this time he had to be reborn, to rise...but he did it as Bruce Wayne. The climb from the pit reminded me of climbing Mt. Midoriyama fro the REAL Ninja Warrior show. Christian Bale did a great job showing that struggle. His fight scenes with Bane were also basic and brutal.
Gordon-Levitt also served as a man of action and a conscience for Comissioner Gordon, when the truth about Harvey Dent's death is finally revealed. If Nolan wants to make a Robin movie, he's got the right man. Til then, bring on Looper.

The Dark Knight Rises is a good super hero movie, not quite like The Dark Knight but that's only because Heath Ledger's an impossible act to follow. It'll earn a ton of money, but it won't overcome The Avengers, which played it smart by making its heroes just as compelling as the villain, or maybe more. We should know more next weekend when we see if TDKR can retain a lot of its original take. If it falls suddenly as Amazing Spider-Man did, that will be a bad sign. After all, Batman now has to face some Bane-sized movies like Total Recall, Bourne Legacy and Expendables 2.

Now I have some pictures of the movie scene in Santa Cruz....

Del mart at Night 2

The movie house of the area, the Del Mar. The Regal 9 may be bigger, but it doesn't have the tradition this place has.

Not Quite Grauman's But Still Like The Movies

WHo says Grauman's Chinese is the only place where you can heave handrpints? This is outside the Nickleodeon. The actors are Waltr Reed, who had a long career befoe he moved to Santa Cruz, and western actor Rory Calhoun

My Santa Cruz Weekend

It's been three years since I saw my mom, but this past weekend I saw her again because she was about to turn 80. So, she, two of my brothers and I went to Vasona Park in Los Gatos, and spent some time. We talked about a lot of things, and it was also much better than Sacramento, which was well into 100 degrees. Only 90 in Los Gatos.

Family Reunion at Vasona Park

Andrew, who just turned 50, is in he far left. Mom in the middle, and my brother John next to her in black. If nothing else, we were surprised to see how many cousins we had.

Vasona is a really nice place. It has creeks, lots of room, and nice facilities. It also has a mini railroad. It's kind of puny compared to the railroad I live close to...the full-sized kind...but I think I got a nice picture here....

Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad

TGhere were also dozens of Canadian geese grazing on the meadow, and not too concerned about the people around them. That's how I got these shots....

Lonely Tree Surrounded By Geese

Canadian Geese Too Hot to Migrate

I spent the rest of the weekend in Santa Cruz. It's chancged a bit since the last time I was there. For one thing, KSBW, who's been the NBC affiliate since Noah sailed on the Ark, just added a second channel that's devoted to ABC. I've heard of lots of network channels creating a second channel for MyNetwork TV or the CW, but ABC? I guess there are some people who still hate KGO for forcing KNTV San Jose to drop its ABC affiliate status more than a decade ago. The Santa Cruz and Salinas areas always relied on KNTV for their ABC shows, and didn't like to go all the way to San Francisco to get them. So, that's why KSBW is a two-network channel again (it used to carry CBS and NBC shows in the 1960's), only with two digital channels.

Also, the Big Ass Coffee place was replaced by a pizza parlor, and I saw this vacant store.

This store shuld not be vacant

With a name like that, it shold be filled with something, right?

The biggest surprise was this...

Minor League Basketball In A Tent?

Santa Cruz gets a pro team?
This happened recently, but the Dakota Wizards of the NBA D-League will apparently move to Santa Cruz late this year. The city's auditorium is too small, so a 3500-seat tent will be installed. I guess maybe it will be close to the Boardwalk. They hope UC Santa Cruz can build a 5000 seat facility. I just wonder where, because that school is mostly in the foothills.

We have talked about getting together again, and I'd like that, maybe during the holidays. I realize I'm not very close to my family, mainly because of my interests and the fact I live way too far away. Now that my mom is close to Reno, and the rest of the brood is about 3 and a half hours away, I should make more of an effort.
I will take this chance while I still can. Mom is 80, and I'm 53. We ain't getting any younger.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Comic-Con Advertising In Review

One thing about Comic-Con is that movie studios and TV networks pull out all the stops to plug their new shows. Some are interesting, while others are not.

Let's start with the hotel-sized billboards, While they are impressive, it doesn't mean that they'll be successful. Remember when Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was pasted all over the place, or Cowboys vs. Aliens covering the Hilton? This year, we had this...

Look, the building is still on

NBC took over the Hilton with its new show, Revolution. The symbol even glowed at night.

This year's big Comic-Con billboard

Hopefully, SyFy can escape the Skyline curse with Defiance, a TV show that is also influenced by the video game that will be released at the same time. It'll be the first time you can watch and episode and maybe play it as a game.

Adventure Time!

To be honest, I preferred the Rainicorn Parade that was part of downtown last year for Adventure Time, but SuperFinn over a playground near the Marriott is pretty good, too.

No, that's not Dr. Manhattan or Dr. Bronx

OK, I didn't see Prometheus, so I didn't know this was an "Engineer" who supposedly had a hand in our creation, according to the movie.

Woof for Willard

These guys were at several street corners plugging Wilfred, along with some other guys dressed as dogs.

The pedicabs were often used as mobile billboards for lots of things at Comic-Con. This was my favorite from Once Upon a Time.

No, Stan Lee has not gone kawaii

I don't know if I can accept Stan Lee and an anime character, but it was an interesting way to plus his YouTube show.

Now that's a big shoe

Behold Shoebacca! I bet if Arnold Schwartzenegger would rather drive this beauty in Expendables 2 than the Smart Car he'll have to drive.

The 3112 Dodge Dart

I called this the 3112 Dodge Dart, as opposed to this year's Dart that was featured elsewhere at Comic-Con. This was part of Elysium, which is set far into the future.

Hey, who moved Aunt Marie's Grimmobile?

This should have been part of last year's Grimm panel at Comic-Con, but now that we know about Aunt Marie's Grimmobile, that brought in a lot of curious people.

The Hewlett-Packard Corral

This was the Hewlett-Packard Corral that plugged Django Unchained, mainly because it also included video games.

I would have snapped photos of other advertising, such as the Syfy Cafe Formerly Known As the Cafe Diem, but I spent a lot of time in line. This time, though, my patience paid off. I also got some interesting swag. More on that later.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Comic-Con: Batman Motors

Well, Comic-Con is officially underway after an active Preview Night that included an unusual relay for charity and a super-packed exhibit room on Wednesday. I nearly got a copy of the Comic-Con movie on DVD, but found out it's not the one with Joss Whedon figures on them. I might get it today anyway since I am talking to Morgan Spurlock today. I also hope to talk to Felicia Day, depending on whether her meet and greet draws plenty of attention, too. Judging from her recent Flogs, I would say it will.

Of course, advertising for major events, including movies and TV shows, were everywhere. I'll have something on that by the weekend once the "ads" are fully installed. I will say that someone took Marie Kessler's airstream for some reason, and the Curse of the Super Billboards may stick for another year for one TV show, but maybe not the other. Also, please pause for the end of the Carpe Diem Cafe, which has been taken over by the Syfy Defiance at the Hard Rock Hotel.

My favorite was Batman Motors, as in every Batmobile used on TV and the movies, located just off Hall H.

Hey, Leno! Your car Collection Can't Compete With Mine

Hi, I'm Batman. I don't need a damn dog named Spot!
For anyone who needs an explanation for that remark, ask your grandparents about how they used to sell cars 30 years ago.
Actually, it's a rare chance to compare all the wheels the Dark Knight used over the years.

Of course, you have the first, and some say, the best from the 1960's...

The first and maybe the best...

That won't work in the dark 80s, though, so it had to chance when Michael keaton took over the role. Nice set of wheels, if you forget what's up in the grill...

Keaton Batmobile

There's the Batman Forever model, with Val Kilmer...

Kilmer Batmobile

The cheesy Batman and Robin model, with optional Rifftrax commentary...

Clooney Batmobile

and the two Tumblers from the Christopher Nolan era. Not so pretty but stripped down and ready for action...

One of the Tumblin' Mobiles

Batman's Other Tumbler

It's quite an evolution of Batman and his cars. Imagine what he'll use t oget around when the Dark Knight Rises next week.