Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mike at the Shadowbox!

Michael J. Nelson, the Shadowbox Cabaret, Columbus, Ohio 8/31/05

     I write this just after getting home from Mike Nelson's sold out show at the Shadowbox Cabaret in Columbus, Ohio. I've never seen Mike, or anyone from MST3K, live, either at a convention or a book signing or a performance, so forgive me if I gush.

     Even though a popular venue here in Columbus, this was my first time at Shadowbox. It is set up with two stages. On your left is the house band, who plays awesome covers of classic rock & roll songs while the props and all are being set up on the right stage. So the evening was music, then skit, then music, then skit…intermission…repeat.

     It held perhaps a couple hundred people. Everyone who worked there not only did singing, playing music, and comedy, but they were also your waiters and waitresses, the door man, the ticket woman, the merchandise vendor, etc. It was pleasantly surreal in that everyone who worked there was good looking and vivacious. I almost changed tables just to get this adorable waiter to bring me my beer all night (oh the tip I was going to give him!), but that's another story.

     As mentioned, the performance was a series of skits, interspersed with cover songs from the house band. During the welcome/intro from the club, Mike came out with the emcee to participate in a little banter, foreplay, if you will, with a brief punk-flavored cover of the MST3K theme song, with Mike on tambourine.

     The first skit was written by Mr. Nelson, "The Focus Group."  He played the interviewer of three others who were the focus group, and he was trying to get their impression of a new soft drink. "Well, I detect a note of urine…"  The remainder of the skits were Shadowbox originals, with Mike joining in the fun. The uber-geek friends trying to get Mike through a first date was priceless. "Do you want to stay in your basement playing with puppets your whole life?!"

     At one point, they spoiled us by having him come out and do very brief riffing on segments from a few movies, such as "Taxi Driver" and "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." Mike responding to Travis Bickle, "Yeah, I'm talking to you! I just wanted to borrow a cup of sugar..."  Of course, this was sweet in more ways than one, but the excellent movie clips shown were just ironic icing on the proverbial cake.

     The last skit was a mock-up of a mystery radio program from, say, the 1930's or '40's. Mike was the hero in a flowing yellow cape, and it included a hunchback, puppets (huzzah!), and a stereotypical bubble-headed dame, who I'm sure every straight woman in the audience was envious of.

     The overall humor of the evening was ribald, to say the least, and frequent breast-grabbing (punctuated by horn-blows…kudos to the foley!) in the last skit elicited wolf whistles and catcalls galore. The performance ended with Mike joining the house band on a rousing rendition of "My Scifi Girl," dressed in a Star Trek jersey complete with big, geeky, emo glasses.

     After the show, we all lined up, event posters in hand, for autographs...

ME: Hi Mike, my name is Tina.
MIKE: Hello.
ME: I love you.
MIKE: Well, thank you. T-I-N-A? (signing the poster)
ME: Yes. For the last three days, I've had Crow's voice in my head saying "Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike...Mike...Mike."
MIKE: (laughing) Ah...well..yes...thank you for coming...

     If there is a God, Mike will never, ever remember that brief conversation. Likewise, I will never forget it. Even my friend who accompanied me had a great time, and she's never even seen a single MST3K episode. That is in the process of being rectified. So, if you ever get a chance to see Mikey doing stand-up and skits, don't miss it!  Likewise, if you're ever in Columbus, check out the Shadowbox Cabaret… the waiters are divine!

Tina Tompkins.

Turkey Volume Guessing Man: part 2

Variations on certain recurring riffs

He Died as he Lived...
* With his mouth wide open - Joel. Pod People
* ...Goofy! - Crow. Gamera vs Barugon
* With jelly all over his face - Servo. Earth vs the Spider
* Loving his work, he he - Crow. Mighty Jack
* They died as they lived. In each others arms" - Joel. Human Duplicators
* She died as she lived, failing algebra - Crow. Violent Years
* Not really having anything to do with this film - Crow. Danger Death Ray
* He died as he died, dead - Mike. Escape 2000
* A total load - Crow. Mole People
* White, Moist and Bloated - Servo. Terror from the year 5000
* Mud stained and splaying - Crow. Time Chasers

Said during a kiss: "You taste..."
* Like a fat drunk Russian - Crow. Rocket Attack USA
* Just like they! - Joel. Ring of Terror
* Like Joseph Goebbels - Servo. Wild Rebels
* Like wet leaves - Joel. Wild Rebels
* Like Bud Abbott! - Crow. Lost Continent
* Like chili peppers Hellcats
* Like salmon - Joel Master Ninja II
* Like Monte Markham - You taste like Ninja - Crow/Joel Master Ninja II
* Like Diogenes - Servo. Hercules Unchained
* Like Charles Boyer - Magic Sword
* You taste like Alan Steele - You taste like Yvonne DeCarlo. Hercules and the Captive Women
* Like Cherry Robitussin - Joel. Manos
* Like Annie Green Springs - Joel. Gunslinger
* Like Vince Edwards - Mike. The Brain That Wouldn't Die (Vince played Dr. Kildare on TV)
* Like Jane Kirkpatrick - Servo. Is This Love?
* Like Troy Donahue - You taste like Elinor Donahue - Crow/Servo. Is This Love?
* Like a Woolworth's Counter - Servo Atomic Brain
* Like goat cheese pizza - Mike Alien From L.A.
* Like Vinyl - Servo. Beginning of the End
* Like mint conditioner - Servo, Terror from the Year 5000
* Like Lik-em-aid - Crow. 811 Parts: The Clonus Horror
and variations...
* "Mmm, tastes like root beer barrels" - Crow Slime People
* "Mmm, your lips are like crisp, delicious bacon" - Servo. Bloodlust
* "Mmm, Juicy Fruit". Project Moonbase
* "Tastes like Juicy Fruit and pizza" - Crow (Untamed Youth)
* "Ew, you still taste like fatty. Don't you brush?" - Crow. Wild Rebels

Jim Henson's...
Slag Heap babies (316)
African Queen babies (316)
Iwo Jima babies (316)
Rae Dawn Chong babies (403)
Flying Leatherneck babies (403)
Barreta babies (404)
Baby babies (405) V
Cracker Babies (406)
Edgar Winter's babies (407)
Misfit babies (407)
Last Picture Show babies (407)
Birth of a Nation babies (409)
Exodus Babies (410)
Gandhi babies (412)
Witness babies (414)
Vertigo babies (414)
Jack Palance babies (420)
Chairman Mao babies (705) S

What's in a name?
New names the SOL gave to movie characters: Not a complete list, there are too many Steve's and Billy's and Joe's and WARD E at the Info Club lists ones for "Hellcats", "12 to the Moon" and "Space Mutiny". But here's a selection of a few odd or misheard names...

* Bill Schtinkwater. Crow: Final Sacrifice
* Bob Ovalhead. Crow: Girl in Gold Boots
* Otto Von Cheesebiscuit. Servo: ??
* Johnny Longtorso. Servo: #104 etc
* Rex Dart, Eskimo Spy. Zilla vs Megs
* Roxanne. Zilla vs Megs
* Gomez for Thong in "Cave Dwellers" F
* Itchy. Gamera vs Gaos
* Cornjob. Gamera vs Guiron
* Todd. Instead of Otar, Viking Women
* Pile-on-Pete Instead of Pilot Pete, The Painted Hills
* Big Stupid. Instead of Bix Dugan: Girl in Lovers' Lane
* My Cheesesteak. Colossus and the Heahunters
* Salty Ron, Peg-legged Dick, Blind Tom, Whistlin' Pete and Eyeball: The pirates of Bloodlust
* Johnny Pooper. Last of the Wild Horses
* Hardware Hank. Horror of Party Beach Y
* Bob Evil. Time Chasers
* Margret Rawhide Chew for Molly Strickland in "The Touch of Satan" F
* Johnny LONGBONE Instead of longBOW in "Moon Beast Y

Alien From L.A.: The Musical! There might be more contemporary music references in experiment #516, than in an other episode (Tho someone might want to challenge that statement by compiling one from the music heavy, "Escape 2000"). never-the-less, here's the list for L.A...
* Edgar Winter
* Vanity
* Ian Anderson (Of "Jethro Tull")
* Gunner Nelson (Of "Nelson")
* Exene (Of the 70's punk band "X")
* Paul Westerberg
* Devo
* Michael Sembello (Manaic from "Flashdance") V
* Janet Jackson V
* Aerosmith ("Love in an Elevator") V
* Blondie (Crow sings from "Heart of Glass" Once I had love and it was a gas...
* The Beatles (Crow sings from "A Day in the Life" Woke up, fell out of bed...)
* Tom Waits (A line from the song "Underground")
* Prince ("Is the water warm enough Wendy?" from the song "Computer Blue")
* Ted Nugent
* Ray Stevens (Gah, NO!)
* Boy George
* Murray Head (One Night In Bangkok)
* Billy Ray Cyrus (Mike sings "Achy Breaky Heart")
* Tina Turner
* Candy Slice (fictional)
* Lipps Inc. (Funkytown)
* Pink Floyd (The Wall)
* The Who ("It's the cover of "Tommy" - Crow. Plus Tom sings "Rough Boys")
* Jerry Garcia
* Rush
* Willie Nelson (the night life, it ain't no good life
but it's my life)
* Bette Midler (The Wind Beneath my Wings)
* Spinal Tap
* Kid Creole
* Adam Ant
* Eddie Van Halen
* Madonna (Papa Don't Preach)

In response to the above list, Wolf99x compiled this from Escape 2000, check it out...

-Ziggy Stardust
-Spinal Tap (Mike sings: "Working on a sex farm" from Sex Farm)
-David Sanborn
-Eddie Money
-Prince (Tom sings "purple rain")
-Frankie Goes to Hollywood
-Village People ("In the Navy")
-White Snake
-Rocky Horror Picture Show ("Ladder of Damocles"/"Sword of Damocles")
-Heart (Mike sings "Barracuda")
-Blondie (Tom sings "Once I had love and it was a gas")
-West Side Story
-"Oh you driven my life away" (at least, I think that's what the lyric line was)
-Steven Tyler
-Joni Mitchell
-Diana Ross
-The Kinks (Tom sings from You Really Got Me: "You got me so I can't sleep at night")
-Dead or Alive ("You spin me right round baby") -Peter Gabriel ("She's so popular")
-Pink Floyd (Tom sings "Dark Sarcasm in the classroom" from "Another Brick in the Wall")
-The "Great Escape" theme song
-Carole King
-Gerald Levert ("Baby hold onto me")
-Ringo Starr ("It's hard to find authentic Ringo caps nowadays.")
-Stevie Nicks
-Frank Sinatra
-Bob Dylan
-Michael Jackson
-Mickey Dolenz
-The Beatles ("c'mon, please please me!")
-B-52s (Tom sings from "Rock Lobster" "Motion in the ocean, his air hose broke, lots of bubbles, lots of troubles")
-Eddie Van Halen
-Covens "One Tin Soldier" (Mike sings "Go ahead and hate your neighbor, Go ahead and cheat a friend")
-Andy Griffith Show theme song
-Journey (Tom sings from "Separate Ways", "Someday Love will find you")

But Wolf wasn't done there. He watched Laserblast and noticed about 56 references there!
So we have a new champion.... for now!

Laserblast Music Reference List

- Charlie Daniels Band
- "Summer Wind" (Mike sings "The Keenan Wynn comes blowin in" to the tune of the song
- "Wind Beneath My Wings" (Tom sings "You are the Wynn beneath my Keenan" to the tune of the song)
- "Werewolves of London" ("I saw a Wolfman drinking a pina colada at Trader Vics" sung to the tune of the Warren Zevon hit)
- Grand Funk Railroad ("Is he an American Band? I hope he comes to our town and helps us party it down")
- Hawkwind
- Mike Oldfield
- McKendree Spring
- Rick Wakeman
- Jean-Michel Jarre
- Keith Emerson
- Gentle Giant
- Isao Tomita
- Kraftwerk
- Trent Reznor
- Robert Smith
- Gino Vanelli
- Dixie Dregs
- Edgar Winter Group
- Ram Dass
- Doobie Brothers (Tom sings "Old black Water, keep on rolling" from "Old Black Water")
- Hank Williams Jr. ("Are you ready for some football?!" and later, "my rowdy friends are comin' over later" from "My Rowdy friends are coming over tonight")
- The Doors (Mike sings "Show me the way to the next whiskey bar!" from "Alabama Song")
- Ollie Joe Prater
- Jerry Clower
- Stephen Stills
- Styx (Tom sings "Lady! When I'm with you I'm smiling" from "Lady")
- Kansas ("Dust in the wind"
- Theme to 2001: A space Odyssey
- Peter Frampton
- Ferrante & Teicher
- Captain and Tennille
- Merle Haggard
- Steppenwolf ("Get your motor running, head out on the highway." from "Born to be Wild")
- Tony Orlando
- David Soul
- Blue Oyster Cult ("Don't fear the Reaper")
- Englebert Humperdinck
- "The Streets of Cairo"
- Bo Donaldson and the Heywooods ("Billy, don't! 'Be a hero!'")
- Alan Parsons
- Bob Marley (A parody of "I shot the Sheriff" is sung)
- Eric Clapton ("After Midnight")
- Elvin Bishop
- Marshall Tucker
- David Bowie
- Sting ("Fortress around your heart")
- Ike and Tina Turner (Mike and Tom sing "Proud Mary")
- "Hogan's Heroes March"
- Coven ("One Tin Soldier")
- Stewart Copeland
- Don McLean (Tom Sings "Something touched me deep inside the day Eddie Deezen died" to the tune of "American Pie")
- the Grateful Dead
- Anthrax
- Poco
- Neil Diamond
- REO Speedwagon

Actually, there is one more... Check out my review of Laserblast and read the section on "Riffs Explained"

F = Forrest / V = Vlad89 / Y = Yousonuva / S = Skiptastic

Special thanks to Wolf99x, Don and MirkwoodLodge for their help as well.

Turkey Volume Guessing Man's Little Known Truths

Salutations citizens! I, Turkey Volume Guessing Man present to you these little known, yet highly useless bits of information from the world of MST3K. Enjoy!

1) Before they were mad scientists, Forrester and Erhardt used to have jobs as "Fruit Inspectors". Source: K16 City On Fire (we also learn that Erhardt once worked for the Pentagon - Thanks Chaotica for that info)

2) TV's Frank used to work at Arbys 323 Castle of Fu Manchu

3) What happened to Dr. Erhardt? He was eaten by a giant spider From a riff in 313 Earth Vs. The Spider

4) There is a Russian version of the show called "Very Incredible Movie Theater 4" k07 Gamera Vs. Zigra

5) Mistaken Identity: 
Joel calls Gypsy Gypsum (her old name) K08 Gamera Vs. Guiron
Joel calls Servo Josh K06 Gamera Vs. Gaos
Joel calls Servo Crow 103 Mad Monster
Joel call Servo Crow in The Crawling Hand - Thanks Forrest for this info
Joel calls Servo Crow Slime People

6) Crow won 2 Nanites at a county fair (They then multiplied into thousands). 801 "Revenge of the Creature"

7) The device the crew uses to see the Nanites was installed by Helmut. Who lived with Crow for 20 years while the rest where pure energy. 801 "Revenge of the Creature"

8) Dizzy Grizzlies, the Nabisco snack shaped like dancing bears, are effective in helping robots through trauma. 912 The Screaming Skull

9) Servo the Smoocher! Episodes where Tom gets or gives a kiss on screen...
* Joel in 2nd segment of K18 Su-Maru
* JC in Sidehackers? (Tom moves up and it sounds like he gives him a quick peck on the nose)
* Creepy Girl (a whole bunch of them!) in "Catalina Caper" - From Forrest
* Tommy Kirk (accidentally) "Catalina Caper"
* Tina Moss in "Catalina Caper (Shesh, what a busy bot!)
* Wormy guy in "Ring of Terror"
* Ross Hagen in Hellcats"
* Nora from "King Dinosaur"
* Reporter during "First Spaceship on Venus"
* Rex Dart and his pal in "Zilla vs Megalon" (Captain Chaotica)
* Daio and the thief in "Zilla vs the Sea Monster (Captain Chaotica)
* Karen, during Gamera vs Barugon
* Itchy in "Gamera vs Gaos"
* Jana in Daddy-O
* Ken (several times). "Fugitive Alien"
* Lee Van Cleef. "It Conquered the World"
* Col. Ubuki. "Mighty Jack"
* Mr. Atari. "Mighty Jack"
* Dr. Takibana. "Mighty Jack"
* Woman in red. "Mighty Jack"
* Zigra Girl (many, many smooches) during "Gamera vs Zigra"
* Grace in the "Unearthly"
* Santa Claus in "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians"
* Mariett Hartley (often) AND Gene Hackman in "Space Travelers"
* Ingrid in "Killer Shrews"
* Patient in General Hospital (Manhunt in Space)
* Jessie in General Hospital (The Beatniks) and he tries to smooch Mr. Baylis in the Beatniks but the scene changed.
* Hestia in Fire Maidens... it sounds like he tries to kiss another Maiden as well
* Dr. Bill in General Hospital (Crash of Moons)
* Joel in "Attack of the Eye Creatures"
* Luberia in "Magic Voyage of Sinbad"
* Jan in the Pan during "The Brain That Wouldn't Die"
* An Astronaut in helmet in "12 to the Moon"
* Mike in the "Creeping Terror"
* Gypsy in "Last of the Wild Horses"
* Crow in "Racket Girls"
* Bart Fargo in "Danger! Death Ray!"
* Henry Silva in "Escape 2000" (Right after Crow does it. In fact Crow does a lot of smooching in this episode)
* Diana in "The Undead"
* Andrea in the She Creature
* Nurse in "Terror From The Year 5000"
* Angie in "Strange Creatures" - From Vlad89
* Some old guy talking to William Sylvester during "Devil Doll"
* Mike (grandma kiss) in "Space Children"

10) No Humans allowed? There are 2 episodes where humans were missing from the theater: 816 Prince of Space had one segment when a wormhole brought us Mike as a Robot. In K17 Time of the Apes it was Tom and Crow through the whole show.

11) Gypsy has been voiced by men (Josh Weinstein, Jim Mallon & Patrick Brantseg) except for segment 2 in K13 SST Deathflight where she shows off a new voice provided by Faye Burkeholder. Other Faye highlights...
* She did hair and makeup from 88-92
* She co-wrote (lyrics) the "Godzilla Genealogy Bop" with Kevin Murphy
* She played the recording studio executive in a skit in show 303 Pod People

12) TV Frank's favorite TV show is either the "Dukes of Hazzard". 407 The Killer Shrews or the "First 100 Years" Master Ninja II

13) Servo has a race car he's named "Thunder Cloud". 407 The Killer Shrews

14) When did the scientists go mad? Dr. Larry went mad at a zoo. Dr. Forrester can't quite pin it down. It was either at the Ice Capades. Or Sun Valley, drooling over a picture of Dick Buttons. He became a scientist at Oslo, when he was drunk and woozy. 103 Mad Monster

15) Crow once carried Servo out of the theater (and it sounds like he dropped him too). K10 Cosmic Princess

16) There are roughly 516 Servo's on board the SOL. 1013 Diabolik

17) People who would not agree to let Pearl rule them: Todd Gunderson, Tom Servo, Carl (who received a better offer from the Travelers group) 910 The Final Sacrifice

18) Tom Servo is (or was) color blind and could only see red. 413 Manhunt In Space

19) From Time Chasers we learn that Mike once worked in a cheese factory, played in a band called "Sex Factory" and his brother is named Eddie.

20) Mike & Crow dated the same woman, Ginger. Terror From The Year 5000

21) Yam's are the food Dr. F loves the most on Thanksgiving Turkey Day Host Segments 1991

22) Joel's dream, once he returned to Earth was to challenge 10 time Star Search comedy champ, "Geechy Guy" It, Conquered the World"

23) What Joel actually did was work pyrotechnics for the band "Man or Astro Man" and ran a Hot Fish Stand. Soultaker

24) Tho you don't often see them, Gypsy does have feet Future War and hands Track of the Moonbeast

25) In the Beast of Yuca Flats, Crow is reading the DC comic book "Amethyst" (1983) Issue #3. This was a 12 issue mini-series about a young girl who's able to shift into gemworld, where she becomes a 20 year old princess embroiled in a battle with the evil, Dark Opal.

26) Dr. F was going to send M&TB the Bing Crosby flick, "Holiday Inn". But they got him mad and he sent them the Amazing Transparent Man instead.

27) Is Joel a closet Shatner fan? in "Hercules Unchained" we catch him reading and highlighting William's autobiography.

28) The song playing on the loaner Crow in Quest of the Delta Knights, is "Melissa" by the Allman Brothers.

29) Mike saved(?) the Hubble in the movie. And waaay back in "Women of the Prehistoric Planet", Joel brought in a satellite using what he called, The Exo-Pincers

30) Tom's favorite movie is "Little Fauss and Big Halsey", Crow's is "Kafka's The Castle" and Joel likes "Colossus: The Forbin Project". Master Ninja II

31) TV's Frank really liked "Wild Rebels" and gave it his highest rating, 5 skulls.

32) Crow's Walk-A-Thon sponser was "Walk-A-Thon". Better known as "Walkers At Large Kinetically Altruistic Through Hygiene Or Nowlege" (No K in Knowlege, because then it would be Walk-A-Thok)...

33) Tom's Walk-A-Thon sponser was..."Hi Everyone, Lets Pitch In N' Get Cracking Here In Louisiana Doing Right, Eh. Now Then, Hateful Rich Overbearing Ugly Guys Hurt Royally Everytime Someone Eats A Radish, Carrot, Hors D'ouever And Never Does Dishes, Eventually Victor Eats Lunch Over Peoria Mit Ein Neuesburger Tod" or, "Helping Children Through Research and Development". Both come from show #812 Incredibly Strange Creatures...

34) Once on Earth, Gypsy made a fortune with her company "ConGypsCo" (The boys missed out and didn't invest). Diaboik F

35) Tom was a fan of the TV show "Sisters". Alien From L.A.

36) It costs 150 thousand dollars in quarters for a new liver from the Vend-A-Gut. Frank got as far as 125 thousand, 448 dollars and 75 cents before Dr. Forrester made him lose count and he had to start again. Alien From L.A.

37) Despite Crow's ribbing, Tom can't help it, he just thinks strapless evening gowns are neat! Day the Earth Froze

38) Mike's girlfriends: Carla (Brute Man), Ginger (Terror from the Year 5000), Denise (Projected Man) and maybe Nuveena (12 to the Moon). Oh and he might have dated a guy named Steve who died, but we get movie sign before we can hear the whole story (Werewolf).

39) Crow writes a "Lifestyles" column titled "My 2 Cents". Horrors of Spider Island

40) Whenever Clay loses the Mad Scientist competition, he either blows up (twice) or burns down the convention center. 2 of his entries have included the "More Painful Mouse Trap" and the "Chalk Man". Robot vs Aztec Mummy

41) Crow is allergic to coconuts. He announced this during a riff in 306 Time of the Apes - Thanks Gamera for this info 

42) Root Beer gets Magic Voice drunk. 316 Gamera vs Zigra

43) Mike's grandmothers name is Katherine (who was voiced by Mary Jo) Teenage Strangler

44) Mike has a Darth Vader coffee cup Giant Spider Invasion

45) In the fast food skit in Deathstalker, the name tags read as such....
* Servo is Paul
* Crow's reads Mary Jo (very cute)
* And Mike's, well Mike's is hard to read so I asked for some help at the MST3K Discussion Board. It stars off with, "Ask me about our..." and that's where it gets garbled. Veepa provided the answer... "Potato Planks" which was confirmed by Miss Interoceter and gizmonicinstitute2
Thanks to those above as well as Bix Dugan, Hugo, Captain Hygiene and Father Mannix for your help in unraveling this great mystery. 

On page two you will find a listing of Mighty Jack's favorite running gags, that I, Turkey Volume Guessing Man, have compiled for your reading pleasure... ClickHere!

Monday, September 8, 2014

MST3K Article Series: #2

A Tale O' The Tape on the professional boxers who found their way onto MST3K

Charles Francis Moran (The Corpse Vanishes)
Nickname: The Pittsburgh Dentist
Career Record: Won 39 (KOs 31), Lost 22, Drawn 6, Total 67
Born: March 18th, 1887 in Pittsburgh, PA
Died: December 14th, 1967 (80)
Height: 6' 1
Reach: 77 1/2 inches
Division: Heavyweight
Championship Bouts: 0-3

Frank Moran received his alias because he studied dentistry at the University of Pittsburgh (where he also played football for three years). After a stint playing professional football for the Pittsburgh Lyceums, Frank turned to Boxing

The man had a wicked right hook he named "Mary Ann" and he twice fought for the Heavyweight championship of the world - going a bruising 20 rounds in a loss to the great Jack Johnson in 1914. And dropping a 10 round decision with Jess Willard in 1916. (Click to view poster of newspaper article)

After losing a fight for the French boxing championship, Frank retired and became an actor. MSTies know him as the addle minded, woman pawing "Angel", in the Corpse Vanishes. He was also a favorite of Preston Sturges and had bit parts in many of his films in the 40's.

Johnny Indrisano (The Human Duplicators)
Career Record: Won 37 (KOs 2), Lost 9, Draw or ND 3, Total 49
Born: November 1st, 1906 (or 05) in Boston, Massachusetts
Died: July 6th, (or 9th) 1968
Height: 5' 8
Reach: ?
Division: Welterweight
Championship Bouts: None

Born Johnny Andrews Andressano, John fought from 1923 to 1934 and despite a solid career which saw him defeat champions like Lou Brouillard, (twice) Tommy Freeman and Jackie Fields, Indrisano was never given a shot at a title fight.

After retiring Johnny refereed some matches and worked in Hollywood as a consultant and actor in many films, including "Some Like It Hot" and "Guys and Dolls." MSTies know him as Thor, the doorman in The Human Duplicators (Seen in a memorable stinger as well).

Tragically, he committed suicide by hanging in his home in the Mount Olympus section of Los Angeles (some sources say on July 6th, his daughter's birthday), after a long battle with depression.

Primo Carnera (Hercules Unchained)
Nickname: The Ambling Alp
Career Record: Won 88 (71 KOs), Lost 15, ND 1, Total 104
Born: October 26, 1906, Sequals, Italy
Died: June 29, 1967, Sequals, Italy
Height: 6' 6
Reach: 85 1/2 inches
Division: Heavyweight
Championship Bouts: 3-1

Gigantic Primo Carnera put together an impressive record. Though it is felt that most of his fights were fixed. His manager was a mobster named Owney Madden (who stole much of Carnera's money and left him almost broke). Though the man he won the Championship from, Jack Sharkey, swore that he did not take a dive and it seems Primo was not aware of the situation if true.

Knocked down 11 times when he lost the belt to Max Baer, Carnera continued fighting and wrestling; and acted in several films. Including the "Prize Fighter and the Lady" and the MSTed, "Hercules Unchained" - In which he plays Antaeus, the laughing behemoth who Herc eventually has to pick up and throw into the sea to defeat.

Willie Pastrano (Wild Rebels)
Nickname: Willie the Wisp, Sweet P
Career Record: Won 63 (14 Kos), Lost 13, Draw 8, Total 84
Born: November 27th, 1935. New Orleans, LA
Died: December 6th, 1997 (62)
Height: 6' 0
Reach: ?
Division: Light Heavyweight
Championship Bouts: 3-1

Born Wilfred Raleigh Pastrano, Willie "the Wisp" had some of the best footwork this side of Ali (Who he sparred with) - a great champion who never liked to train and was known as a notorious party animal. At the urging of his friend, Steve Alaimo, Pastrano did some acting and MSTies know him as the high strung Banjo in "The Wild Rebels". That Alaimo bested him in a fight in the movie is about as funny and far fetched as the time Burt Wards "Robin" battled Bruce Lee's "Kato" to a draw.

Sadly, struggles with drugs plagued Sweet P after his boxing career was over. In 1988 he was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

Joe Louis (Johnny at the Fair)
Nickname: The Bronx Bomber
Career Record: Won 69 (55 KOs), Lost 3, Draw 0, Total 72
Born: May 13th, 1914 in Lafayette, AL
Died: April 12th, 1981 (66)
Height: 6' 2
Reach: 76 inches
Division: Heavyweight
Championship Bouts: 25-1

Joseph Louis Barrow is one of boxings undisputed greats. A lightning fast, powerful puncher, Louis only lost 3 fights in his pro career - and 2 of those came to Ezzard Charles and Rocky Marciano after he unwisely came out of retirement.

Louis appeared in the MSTed short Johnny At The Fair in 1947, the same year he defended his title against "Jersey" Joe Walcott, in a hard fought 15 round decision. (Special thanks to "impr3ssion", for bringing this MST appearance to my attention)

Jack Palance (Outlaw, Angel's Revenge)
Boxing Name: Jack Brazzo
Career Record: Won 15 (12 KOs), Lost 1, Total 16
Born: February 18th, 1919 in Lattimer Mines, PA
Height: 6' 4
Reach: ?
Division: Heavyweight
Championship Bouts: None

Born Vladimir Palaniuk, Jack Palance not only has a boxers nose, but in fact was a professional fighter in the Late 1930's. Fighting under the name Jack Brazzo (not to be confused with the lightweight with the same name), Palance reportedly won 15 fights; though the only one I've been able to confirm was a 4th round losing decision to future heavyweight contender Joe Baksi on Dec. 17, 1940 in New York. Jack's career was cut short by the war and when he returned he turned to acting. In fact Palance won an Emmy in 1957 for playing a boxer in Rod Serlings classic, "Requiem For A Heavyweight".

Always a colorful tough guy, Palance can be seen as the evil wizard in Outlaw and the guy who worked for a drug kingpin in "Angel's Revenge".

Of Note: Reb Brown of "Space Mutiny" fame also did some boxing, But reports are conflicting on his record and whether he went pro or fought as an amateur.

MST3K Books

Amazing Colossal Episode Guide 
     An absolute "Must Have" for every Mystery Science Theater fan. Written by the cast and crew, you get a very funny look at the plot of the films, a list of host segments and some reflections for each episode from season 1 to 6. There is also a quick look at the KTMA era, a listing of favorite lines from the movies and a few explanations on the more obscure riffs. Despite the flaws, and there are a few: Brain farts (For example- Hi-Keeba is wrongly attributed to Wendell Corey. A stinger is listed for Wild Rebels) and I wish there was more info on the reflections (but that's just me being selfish). It's proven to be such an enjoyable addition to my MST collection that my copy is worn from use -pages are falling out, spine is torn... I wish they'd update it through the Sci-Fi era, but you can always go to the Info Club web site to read the rest of the story. Grade: A 

Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese 
     Mr. Nelsons first and most hysterical book to date. Mike does what he's done for years in a theater, skewers the film & television industry with precision and exposes the silly soft underbelly that is often hidden behind the glitz and pretense. With a wealth of wit Mike points out the absurd by writing absurdly, as in his brilliant essay on the movie "What Dreams May Come". Nelson's work comes off glib, goofy, sardonic and wise all within the span of 288 pages. Is there a negative? At times, the vitriol goes overboard. His attacks on Jim Carrey for example, are a bit much. For the most part tho, this is a lot of fun and one of the funniest books I've ever read. Grade: A+ 

Mike Nelson's Mind Over Matters
     Mike Nelson's second book of humor essays isn't quite as humorous. Veering away from movies, Mike tackles the mundane, those everyday questions & experiences which haunt our existence. Like "Magacheese", there are some big laughs. But, there are also stories which didn't spark much more than a chuckle. Perhaps this was due to personal experience, it's likely that I just couldn't relate to "Tea, You should be Leaving Now" because, well, I enjoy a glass of tea now and again. I have a hard time understanding why anyone would attack this innocuous and rather unfunny beverage. Coffee and all it's brethren, now that's a funny drink (witness the skit in show #801 if you're in need of proof). MoM is a wonderful book, not as sharp as the first collection of essays, but it will have you laughing out loud none-the-less. Grade B+ 

Mike Nelson's Death Rat
     Mikes first novel and I must tell you, when I first heard the premise - An aging failed writer, hires a younger man to sell his newest book, which is about a giant rat. Problems ensue when the book is sold as a work of Non Fiction! - I wasn't that thrilled. It just didn't sound very interesting. But Mike quickly allayed my fears and hooked me right in. If I may pay Mr. Nelson a great compliment, this reminds me of the early humorous novels of the brilliant Evelyn Waugh. We are offered eccentrics, biting satire on society and sometimes tragic but always funny situations which spiral out of the characters control. Like Waugh, Nelson's pen cuts like a knife. You'll recognize some of Minnesota's finest, from Prince to the Wrestling Governor. And he makes Garrison Keilor look like a complete buffoon. Tho I don't find the characters or situations as engaging as those in Waughs world, Nelson shows he has the chops to put out a well written novel and the ability to fill it with folks who come to life in all their humorous glory. Grade: B+

Happy Kitty Bunny Pony: A Saccharine Mouthful of Super Cute 
     Mike adds his hysterical comments in this book which is full of cutsie pop images from the Charles S. Anderson Design Co. It's a little light -Mike's riffs are only a sentence long- but very funny.

     It reminds me a bit of the work by James Lileks (a guy who quips on past adds, comics, art etc) and if you haven't read any of Lileks very funny commentary, check out Lileks.com. Click on "The Institute of Official Cheer" and read the section on "The Story of Bread", it's a riot! In the same way, "Happy Kitty Bunny Pony" provides lots of laughs and with lines that offer, "Looking for new wallpaper? How about a pattern featuring insane rabbits wearing bad wigs?" It's easy to give this an A grade.

Goth-Icky: A Macabre Menagerie of Morbid Monstrosities 
     Mike's follow ups to "Happy Kitty" are a little more twisted and just as funny! The first, Goth-Icky has very little to do with Goth and probably should have been titled "Halloweeners", as it covers the goblins, ghouls and monsters which populate that holiday.

     In Goth-Icky Mike offers up humorous slices of advice, such as... "If you ever see a gang of angry zombies coming at you, throw on a poncho and try to blend in with them. Growl, drool, and do your best to look dead. You might also have to eat someone". There's also a funny jab at puppets on page 44 that has added punch knowing Mike's most famous role on TV. Grade: B+ 

Love Sick" A Smoldering Look at Love, Lust and Marriage
     Love Sick is not for the kiddies. The images are mature, there is some nudity (albeit with the naught bits blacked out) and this can't help but effect Mike's work. He never gets flat out dirty but there are some jokes which are a bit more risque. For example, his hilarious personals section -  one page has an image of a pirate with the words... "One-eyed bandit with raised mast seeks a polly w/treasured chest and a big booty." That's suggestive but not overly raw.

     Both Goth and Sick are quick. light and enormously funny reads. Mike Nelson scores again!  Grade: A 

Fluffy Humpy Poopy Puppy: A Ruff, Dog-Eared Look At Man's Best Friend
     ”One of the greatest benefits of the many television shows about dogs is that they saved millions of children the drudgery of having to go outside and play with their own dogs”

     Mike's fourth Pop ink book goes to the dogs. It explores the many breeds, the history and personality quirks of our beloved mutts. From chewing up shoes to leaving “gifts” on the rug, a dog is a rich source of comedic material. Though not as full out funny as Fluffy Kitty and Love Sick, it falls slightly ahead of Goth-Icky in the laugh factor.

     Aside from the hilarious introduction, the success of Mike’s commentary derives from taking the pictures literally. That image of a girl striding a stuffed animal is skewed to represent a child riding an "real" dog to a state of unconsciousness. A pup is later shown pooping out an actual pair of shoes. Absurdity such as these is what makes the books a riot. Grade: B+

A Year At The Movies by Kevin Murphy 
         The gimmick: Kevin Murphy, MST's Servo and Bobo, went to see a film a day for a year. He tells us of his experiences in 57 chapters, covering each week of the year.

          On the one hand I was frustrated by the tone of this book. Murphy's a self described snob... and what's worse, he's a whiny snob. He hates Sundance and multiplexis and depressing movies and summer blockbuster's and previews and art film patrons and on and on and on he goes with this incessant moaning.  Also, he tends to generalize. Words like "pod people" and "mindless stock animals" are found within. As an individual, a human being, I'm not real fond of getting lumped (with other movie goers) in quick narrow categories.

          On the other hand: There are times when Murphy shows himself as one who has a deep love for the cinema. In those passages he is genuine, witty and charming. My favorite chapter is #31, the week he rode through Route 66 and toured the drive-in. There was a real warmth in the writing here, a softening of that sour-puss personality. I wish there were more of that, more of the celebration of film and the movie going experience.

          Unfortunately, the pouting persona returns when he visits Universal Studios and continues on through the week of the "Date Movie" and spoils it for me again. It doesn't have to be one or the other Kevin, a well rounded person can appreciate all types and styles of films and theaters. You should, well, really just relax! Grade: B- 

Here Come The Big People by Trace Beaulieu 
     After leaving MST, Event comics had Trace write a one shot sci-fi comedy titled, "Here Come The Big People". Big People tells the story of Austin Milcsop, millionaire genius inventor who has everything except what he really wants... the love and care of a mommy.

     This quickly told tale next shows one of Austins super computers, merging with some alien silly putty - and before you know it, suddenly there's an assembly line of giant pink mommies heading out to care for any and all. Of course, it's all too perfect and something has just gotta go wrong.

     Trace's story is a little rushed, there's no room for any real character development or serious exploration of motivation. It's comic book cotton candy. A fast, fun confection that doesn't reach Neil Gaiman levels of innovation, but still offers up more than a few sweet moments. The most cute and clever are scenes where businessmen hold a meeting in strollers; and a scientist in green lab coat shouting for someone named Frank?

     The art is by the talented couple Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti. Their work conveys the spirit of Traces story well, as it is bright, colorful and cartoony. Mr. Beaulieu was fortunate to have such a fine artist as Conner on board, as she always tells a story well. There are 3 covers. One by Conner, the other by Geof Darrow (look for a familiar figure in the crowd) and a third, a rare alternate by Joe Quesada. The first 2 are the ones that are easier to find and at this writing.  Grade: A- 

The Big Slam by Bill Corbett 
     I'd love to actually see and review a Bill Corbett play. But since there are no shows playing in my area (snicker) I have to make due with the script.

     Big Slam is a social satire. The main character, Orrin, is a less than assertive soul who allows himself to get caught up in his friend Russell's get rich quick, self help scheme. The other cog in the wheel is a ruthless lawyer named Stephanie. She's Russell's lover and someone Orrin moons over. lastly Gail. The sweet UPS driver who designs an ultra cute -Nummy Muffin Cocol Butter- type character that eventually leads to the downfall of everything.

     Corbett's characters, though interesting, seem to me to be more personality types than fully explored, real people. Russell -for example- is pretty one dimensional. He's handsome, silver tongued and self absorbed; there's no layers beyond this. That's okay, for these 'types' are colorful tools in Bill's acerbic poke at modern society, and how our search for spiritual, financial & sexual self empowerment - serves only to create the chaos, loss and self doubt we'd hoped to escape.

     It's a good story, full of humor and intelligence. Corbett's quite the wordsmith too, I really enjoyed the monologues, the clever structure of each sentence. And now more than ever, I wish I could hear and see these words brought to life on stage.   Grade: A    

I Lived With My Parents by Mary Jo Pehl
     Though CT, Mary Jo has proven to be a witty quipper with an infectious laugh. And she proves to be equally as sharp and funny on the printed page, where she writes with the confidence of someone born with a pen clutched in her hand.

     I Lived With My Parents excels when Pehl grounds her essays in reality. She slips up in a chapter about cheese (The Love That Could Never Be) -which mixes Mike Nelson randomness with Joel Hodgson surrealism- and comes off a bit like its trying too hard to be wild and wacky. But when she's real, when she telling us about her travels, her family and the many odd men she's dated (which often had me asking, "What were you thinking Mary Jo?" as I laughed during each paragraph), this is when the book shines.

     Mary also examines the big questions (Why are we here) and the small intimate ones (in a nice essay about mothers and daughters titled "Matryoshka Dolls"). She even explores those terrible days after 9/11. Keeping her humor intact tactfully (The stuff about Cows is hilarious), she is reflective but never maudlin. It's funny and painfully honest.

     Mary Jo is most definitely a talented and funny lady. And despite the book suffering from small-publisheritus (with typos and mistakes aplenty) it was an entertaining and enjoyable read.  Grade: A 

Employee of the Month and Other Big Deals by Mary Jo Pehl 
     “Employee of the Month” is – as Mary Jo explains in her introduction- a do-over of her ill fated "I Lived With My Parents". The memories of that typo riddled (and out of print) publication caused her much embarrassment, and Employee allows her a second chance to get it right.

     Despite its flaws, I liked the stories in "Parents", and knew I'd enjoy this version as well. Some of the old favorites make a return (retooled and given a fresh coat of paint), others are lost, replaced by new tales -- like the closing reflection on MST3K and its fans. And chapters centered on her husband (I especially enjoyed "I Thee Wed", with its creative use of a scanner gun).

     While I'll hold on to my copy of "Parents", in deference to Mary Jo I'll keep it secretly squirreled away. I will however proudly display "Employee" on my bookshelf. It's a treasure. Grade: A 

Mental Hygiene by Ken Smith 
     Do you love shorts? Sure, we all do. And even though this isn't an MST book, it's one many a MSTie will enjoy. Author Ken Smith takes an honest look at the classroom films from 1945 to 1970 and does so without tongue in cheek; which is a huge plus.

     Chapters detail the history of the people who made these movies and the subject matter they covered. All of which is fascinating on it own. But the real highlight, and what makes Smith's work such a joy to read, is the second half of the book- which offers a quick synopsis on the shorts themselves.

     Don't look for "Johnny at the Fair" or the ones made for businesses, these are classroom films exclusively and that's all right because their stories are a blast to explore. Sadly, so many of these short films are lost, gone forever. Thankfully, people like Smith and Rick Prelinger are keeping many of these treasures alive. Grade: A+ 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

MST3K Article Series: #1

Here's a look at the women who were not only riffed on MST3K, but posed for Playboy as Centerfolds. This list is excluded to centerfold models only.

Jean Moorehead (Violent Years) Miss October 1955
Jean was born in 1936 and was crowned Miss Hollywood in 1953. She appeared in her first movie at age 11; an uncredited role in the family film Banjo (1947). Her centerfold was photographed by Hal Adams in 1955 which lead to parts in several B-Movies and on television (Death Valley Days).

First seen by MSTies as the gal in the tub in the Amazing Colossal Man (1957), Jeans most notable 3k appearance was as Paula Parkens in Ed Woods Violent Years (1956). Her rich bad girl drew raves from the boys on the SOL, during a scene where she and her gang take a guy out into the woods to do... well, things that make him scream for some strange reason.

Sally Jo Todd (Unearthly) Miss February 1957
Sally was born on June 7th, 1934 in Tucson, Arizona. In 1952 she won the "Miss Tucson Beauty Contest" - the grand prize being a trip to Hollywood for a screen test with 20th Century-Fox. Her first role was as the dance hall hhostess in The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956), which was directed by the great Raoul Walsh. This nice start didn't materialize into work with other brilliant directors though, as she followed this up with The Unearthly and The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent in 1957. Sally had better luck on TV, guesting on top rated shows like Dragnet and Gunsmoke and was the highest paid model on TV in 1956. In 1958 she was injured in a Freeway accident, which culminated with her flying through the window of her sports car in Hollywood. Sally, who had dated both Jack Webb and Troy Donahue, married and retired from show biz in 1960. Today she runs an antique shop in Big Sur.

Dawn Richard (I Was a Teenage Werewolf) Miss May 1957
Born Margaret Dawn Richard on March 5th, 1936 in L.A. Her first movie role came in 1955, as one of the Pharaohs daughters in the "Ten Commandments". Her line... "What is it Bithla, what did you find?" A Month after posing for Playboy, the film "I Was A Teenage Werewolf" was released and she became the focus of movie stills - She's the gal in the gym who is attacked by Landon's Werewolf. On May 11th, 1958 Dawn married Producer David L. Wolper and retired from acting. She has since divorced Wolper and resides in Burbank.

Marlene Callahan (Magic Sword) Miss November 1957
Born on August 24th, 1937. Ventura, Ca. After posing in Playboy, Marlene acted for a short time in 1962. MSTies know her as Princess Grace, one of the fair maidens fed to Lodacs dragon. But her real claim to fame came under the name Marlene Wallace. Where she is known as one of the most renowned portrait photographers of her time. She has authored two books of her photography, and her work has been published in magazines and exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution. To see her photo's, visit her website... MarleneWallace.com

Mara Corday (Black Scorpion) Miss October 1958
(She shared the centerfold with Pat Sheehan) - Mara Corday (born Marilyn Watts on January 3, 1930 in Santa Monica, California) was a showgirl and had a long career in Hollywood. MSTies know her as the Tersa Alvarez in Black Scorpion. She also acted in the MSTable "Giant Claw" and "Tarantula", where she met and befriended Clint Eastwood. Though seen in many a B-Movie, Mara was considered a decent actress. Critic Leonard Maltin is quoted as saying that she had "more acting ability than she was permitted to exhibit."

She was married to Richard Long and after her husband's passing in 1974, Corday's friend Clint Eastwood gave her roles in several of his features, such as The Gauntlet (1977), Sudden Impact (1983), Pink Cadillac (1989) and The Rookie.

Marilyn Hanold (Brain That Wouldn't Die) Miss June 1959
Born in Jamaica, Long Island, NY on July 9th 1938 - was a showgirl and later a champion freestyle swimmer. After posing for Playboy, she married oil tycoon Rulon Keaton Neilson and the two had 3 daughters. Marilyn had a few notable roles in the 60's. As Doe on the Batman TV series, and before that, as Princess Marcuzan in the B-Movie classic, Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster (1965). MSTies know her for her small part as Peggy Howard, a beauty contestant in the movie The Brain That Wouldn't Die.

Today, Marilyn lives in Salt Lake City, where she is active in charities and promoting local performing arts.

Yvette Vickers (Giant Leeches) Miss July 1959
Born August 26, 1936 in Kansas City, Missouri, Yvette is the daughter of jazz musicians Charles and Maria Vedder. In fact, later in life she will record a Jazz album in tribute to her parents. 

Her first role was an uncredited bit in the classic Sunset Boulevard (1950) and in 1951, at the age of 16, she took writing classes UCLA but became involved with acting and changed her major to drama. In 1954 she made a Shampoo commercial (as the "White Rain" girl) and appeared in James Cagney's only directorial effort, Short Cut To Hell (1957). In 1959 she not only posed for Playboy (Photographed by Russ Meyer), but acts in the movie we MSTies all know and love her for, The Attack of the Giant Leeches. Yvette, who dated Cary Grant and had a long relationship with Jim Hutton, is still active today with her music

Marya Carter (Phantom Planet) Miss May 1962
Born Zella Maria Grajeda on 12 May 1942. In her Playboy profile she listed her goal as "Becoming a great actress" but throughout the 60's and 70's she appeared mostly in B-movies and guest roles on television. Marya worked under several names; among them... Sally Carter, Sally Carter Hunt, Sally Carter Ihnat and Sally Ihnat.

She married Steve Ihnat (He played Captain Garth of Izar in the Star Trek episode "Whom Gods Destroy"). They had two children. Ihnat died in 1972 of a heart attack. In 1977, Marya married Peter Marshall, the host of Hollywood Squares. They divorced in 1988.

Marya's MSTed moment is a brief one, she was one of the un-named jurors in Phantom Planet.

Merissa Mathes (Phantom Planet) Miss June 1962
Merissa also stated that she wanted to be a dramatic actress and with Marya, she also played a juror in Phantom Planet. Born Marrisa Mathes on January 26th 1940 in Moses Lake, Washington. Merissa left Washington and studied liberal arts and drama at Santa Monica City College and later pursued an acting career, appearing in B-movies and a few shows on television.

Donna Michelle (Agent For H.A.R.M.) Miss December 1963
The girl with the giant thumb in Agent For Harm - Donna Michelle (the adopted name of Donna M. Ronne) was born on December 8th, 1945 in Los Angeles, California. She was not only the Playmate of the Month, but was named the Playmate of the Year for 1964.

A former dancer who performed with the New York City Ballet. Donna went from modeling to a brief acting career (I Spy, Big Valley) before turning to photography. In 2003, Grenada honored Playboy magazine's 50th anniversary with a series of postage stamps. Donna's May 1964 cover photo graces one of those stamps

Sadly, Donna Michelle died on April 9th, 2004 in Ukiah, California. She suffered a heart attack while grocery shopping. She was only 58 years old.

Susan Kiger (Angels Revenge) Miss January 1977
Susan Lynn Kiger was born November 16, 1953 in Pasadena, California. Before she punished MSTies with one of the worst songs ever sung on film, Susan was one of Playboy's most popular models and appeared on its cover 3 times. She was once part of a musical act with other centerfolds. In the late 70's she appeared in a few movies and TV shows (CHIPS)

Rebecca Ferratti (Outlaw) Miss June 1986
Athletic Rebecca Michelle Ferratti was born on November 27th, 1964 in Helena, Montana. Health and fitness is her main career focus, though she has also had parts in over 20 movies (She's the gal who kissed Ned in "The Three Amigos"), several music videos and won in the celebrity edition of American Gladiators (1994). Rebecca claim to MST fame was as Talena, the woman who inexplicably is attracted to the man named Cabot in 1989's Outlaw of Gor (a sequel to 1989's Gor)

MST Hour

This is a list of the 30 episodes that appeared on the MST Hour, which aired November 11th 1993 to July 1994 and was hosted by Mike Nelson in his "Jack Perkins" persona. Reruns continued through December 1994, and it was syndicated to local stations from September 1995 to September 1996

Host segments are summarized at each episodes web page.

301 Cave Dwellers
302 Gamera
303 Pod People
306 Time of the Apes
307 Daddy-O
309 The Amazing Colossal Man
310 Fugitive Alien
311 It Conquered the World
312 Gamera vs Guiron
313 Earth vs the Spider
317 Viking Women and the Sea Serpent
319 War of the Colossal Beast
320 The Unearthly
321 Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
401 Space Travelers
402 The Giant Gila Monster
404 Teenagers from Outer Space
408 Hercules Unchained
410 Hercules Against the Moon Men
411 The Magic Sword
414 Tormented
415 The Beatniks
417 Crash of the Moons
418 Attack of the Eye Creatures
420 The Human Duplicators
422 The Day the Earth Froze
424 Manos: The Hands of Fate
504 Secret Agent Super Dragon
505 The Magic Voyage of Sinbad
507 I Accuse My Parents

MST3K Specials

THIS AND THAT: A look at a few of the MST3K Special episodes that were released over the years.

PSX Underground
The February 1998 issue of Sony Playstation Underground (Vol. 2, No 1) included a disk that had Mike, Tom and Crow riffing on Playstation games and videos. The source material isn't that great but the guys do a bang up job taking shots at it. In addition to the theater segments there's an opening skit and some interesting behind the scenes action at the end. The whole package lasts about 9 minutes and is pretty fun. Youtube used to have it, but it was pulled (Dang it!) so ask your local trader if they have a copy. Grade: B- 

This is MST3K 
A half hour look at the show, created during the Joel era. The best stuff is the interviews with cast and crew. The worst is the narration by Penn Jillette (put down the Milk Duds and shut up!!). Full of clips from the show and comments from media types, fans and Doogie Howser. Kind of light and makes you long for more. Note: Portions of this showed up as an extra on Volume 15 from Shout Factory. Grade: C+ 

The Making of MST3K
Made during the Sci-Fi era and provides a lot more insider info than "This is MST". We get the MST cam which offers us a look behind the scenes ( I love the writer room.Very cool) and more interviews with the cast. Lots of fun for those (like myself) who enjoy seeing how the production of this show comes about. Grade: A 

Poopie Parade of Values 
Mike, Kevin and Trace do a spot on send-up of TV infomercials. They imitate all the insipid questions and fake laughter (and accents) you see in these things as they shill 2 tapes the MST Info Club offered for sale (Poopie and the Scrapbook Tape). This special lasted about 17 minutes and was part of Turkey Day 1995. It aired before the final Deep 13 Turkey Day bumper and the premiere of Night of the Blood Beast. Grade: B+

Covering MSTs early years (up to season 6), this is the first of two videos which highlight the shows out-takes and flubs. It's not bad, though not every things a hoot. The show itself is so hysterical that the mistakes pale by comparison. Still there's many a cute moment (Pancakes!) which earn this video, available from Rhino. Grade: B- 

Poopie II
I haven't seen the full edition of this one, only the 15-minute edit on Rhino’s box set 10 (Teen-age Strangler disc). This one covers season 7 and 8 and it wasn't near as funny as the first Poopie release. They should have waited and included seasons 9 & 10 so that they'd have had more material to chose from. I always thought it looked like Trace got clipped in the mouth in that Blood Beast skit, and the out-takes show this to be true. Only, it isn't funny to see Trace bleeding like that. Also, while they worked together for years and I'm sure they got along fine, in these clips there didn't seem to be any onscreen chemistry between Trace and Mary Jo in these out takes. I dunno, Trace came off kind of uncomfortable. Grade: D 

Little Gold Statue Oscar Special 
Tom and Crow make their picks for the Oscars! They don't sit in the theater, just show clips and let fly with some comments on each. This hurts the special a bit but there are still a few good laughs. I enjoyed the Elton John segment and the Bots really luving the dreamy Robert Redford. Okay, but not one I'll revisit a lot. Grade: C+ 

1st Annual MST3K Summer Blockbuster Review 
Hysterical look at the summers blockbusters. Starts off hilariously as Tom and Crow tackle the "5th Element" (complete with funny behind the scenes commentary) and then they are joined by Mike for "Lost World" (and some staring). It drops off a hair when Bobo, Brain Guy and Pearl join in. Though they aren't bad - Bobo asking dumb questions during "Men in Black", and Crow teasing Pearl and her George Clooney obsession are funny moments. So all in all It equals out to a rock solid... Grade: A- 

2nd Annual MST3K Summer Blockbuster Review 
Crow informs us that it is our duty to watch the movies offered in this special. There's no Pearl, Bobo & Observer this time, but it also doesn't have the strong start of the first one either. Films like Armageddon (with funny digs at Ben Affleck), X-Files, Deep Impact The Truman Show, Small Soldiers, Saving Private Ryan and a special presentation of "Goshzilla" are presented. Solid riffing all the way through and it's a gas when Mike gets a title wrong (Halloween Water?) Grade: B+ 

1998 Academy of Robots' Choice Awards Special 
The crew targets the Oscar once again (this time by command of Vice President Gore!), and this version is much better because M&TB make their comments in the theater. Clips from "L.A. Confidential", "Good Will Hunting" (the running gag about Mike's irritation with this title, gets old fast), "Titanic" and others, receive the msting treatment. Some of the funniest bits for me came with the riffing on the very serious flicks, "Amistad" and "Mrs. Brown". It ends with Al relaying some bad riffs to Mike during the credits. Grade: B+ 

MST Scrapbook Tape
There's no narrator, just clips. Great big beautiful wonderful clips. Clean shiny excerpts from KTMA open the tape and they brought a huge smile to my face. There are clips from the pilot (with Beeper), the KTMA "Sales" tape, MST Live from 1989, the "Pitch" tape to Comedy Central, footage of the gang building the sets, the Turkey Day bumpers from '91, scenes from the conventions. If you're an MST geek like I am, this is an absolute must have. The only negative would be that I wanted more (how about ALL the host segments from KTMA's lost episodes?) but that doesn't tarnish the joy I felt watching this tape. Note: Bits and pieces of this showed up as an extra on volume 15 from Shout Factory.  Grade: A+ 

Last Dance Raw 
This tape covers the making of the final episode, which would have made a neat documentary. But that's NOT what this is, the operative word in the title is, "Raw"! What you get are clips of the host segments as they aired. Then we watch take after take after take as they film that segment. It's very tedious and the crew doesn't really say or do anything very interesting or funny. There's no sentimental reflection or tearful goodbye, it's like watching something your Uncle Carl made with his camcorder. Highlights? Well, we watch Murphy get made up as Bobo, but even that grows dull after a while. So, aside from getting to see the always cheerful prop diva, Beez McKeever, there's not much to recommend here. For obsessed MSTies only. Grade: C- 

Assignment Venezuela 
A 25 minute short which was shown at the 1996 Conventio-Con but never broadcast on TV. Told mostly through letters, where our nerdy lead often describes everything as "Narrow". This shorts about an American Oil Man who moves his family to Venezuela. A.V. still has a distracting time code and the sound quality is bad (at times you can hardly hear the riffs, then suddenly the voices boom out!) but the jokes are a delight. Coupled with "Century 21 Calling" and "A Case of Spring Fever". Well worth adding to the collection. Grade: A

The Cheap Seats 
In March of 2005, Mike, Servo and Crow returned to the theater for one brief beautiful moment and riffed on the hosts of ESPNs Cheap Seats.  CS, if you haven't seen it, is an MST type show where comedian/twin brothers Randy and Jason Sklar, make comments while watching wild sporting events, games and contests.

The Sklars have put together a decent show that's chock full O' genuine laughs. They are nowhere near the level of the masters. Their delivery is sometimes flat; plus (being siblings) they are very similar in voice and timing which doesn't allow for the joyous variety in style and character that we receive on the SOL. I got a bit tired -for example- of the... "Did he/she/they just..."  lines which are delivered in the same nasal tone.
But while the Sklars are good - M&tB are great! They are shown in three short bits where they make fun of Jason & Randy and the show. Not every joke hits the mark, but the interplay between these 3 distinct personalities are what separates the men from the boys. I don't want to spoil the fun by revealing the riffs, But I will say that when they nail a joke, it's the funniest thing heard on the show. It was so nice to see and hear these guys again and I hope somehow, in some way, we get more of them in the future. B+ overall * A for M&TB 

My Favorite Shorts!

A short look at the MST3K shorts!
I always loved a short, who doesn't. They were like little golden rays of sunshine heaped on us. An extra surprise treat before the main course.

That the Sci-Fi era didn't offer more of these delights was a shame (I wish they would have ditched the long "story" segments and given us more of these mini-movies).

The following is a list of shorts, ordered from my favorites on down. It's not iron clad - the shorts are so great it's impossible to make an exact science out of grading them. But I did my best, so, without further ado, I bring you... SHORTS!

Grade: A+ 
Available on: #701 Night of the Blood Beast (Shout vol 16) - Shorts Volume 3 (Rhino special DVD release w/Essentials) 
Wild, weird and musical. All the components for the 'fun slice of strange' I enjoy. The riffing explores the frustrations of a couple kept from their Honeymoon and the fey angel sent to help them. Nice host segment (not seen on the shorts discs) where Gypsy gets everything she sings about.

Available on: #515 Wild World of Batwoman (Rhino) - Shorts Volume 1 (Rhino DVD, Box set 2).
This dark little story, tells of the downfall of a kid who once had it all and lost it. The quips are really sharp and serve to compound our fallen hero's suffering -"Mother Theresa called... She hates you - Crow

Available on: #609 Skydivers (Rhino) - Shorts Volume 1 (Rhino DVD, Box set 2). 
Why? This short will tell you why, in painful detail. Riviting and erotic, the gang was in a silly mood for this one... "I can't get this thing back in my pants, Earl" - Crow

Available on #320 The Unearthly (Rhino) 
Tommy learns to pitch in around the house. Includes one of my all time favorite riffs... "Tommy's the lathe of Heaven" - Joel... and overall, this is a blast from beginning to end.

Available on : #623 Amazing Transparent Man - Shorts Volume 2 (Rhino DVD, Box set 3) 
Bad things happen to several people. Very sad but Mike and the Bots make it very funny! Still, If you're the hyper sensitive type, the dark nature of the subject matter might prove to be too much to handle.

Available on: #616 Racket Girls (Shout vol 15) - Mr. B's Lost Shorts (BBI VHS. Rhino DVD, Box set 6) 
Well? Are you! Rubber bands become a rich source of comedy because of this short, as a couple seeks advice on whether they should marry. "Never make light of Boing, son" - Mike. There was also a hillarious skit involving the Mads and rubber bands that followed (again, it's not included on the shorts disc)

Available on : #520 Radar Secret Service - Shorts Volume 2 (Rhino DVD, Box set 3).
"Why don't they look?" A depressing cop warns of the dangers of driving into trains. Again, the subject is dark but the humor is a ray of light.

Available on: #602 Invasion USA - Shorts Volume 1 (Rhino DVD, Box set 2).
Eating dinner is more complicated than I ever imagined. This is the best part of "show #602 as the riffs tap into the truths hidden behind the families polite veneer.

9] HIRED! Parts 1 & 2 
Available on: #423 Bride of the Monster (Shout vol 19) & #424 Manos (Rhino & Shout) - Mr. B's Lost Shorts (Part 1. BBI VHS. Rhino DVD, Box set 6) 
This short was split over two episodes and inspired a funny skit too. It's all about a door to door car salesmen and an old guy who see's invisible elves. Brilliant!

Available on: #319 War of the Colossal Beast - Mr B's lost Shorts (BBI VHS. Rhino DVD, Box set 6).
Quite possibly the most frightening short of all. A music sprite visits a nerd and transforms him into a hep cat with a horn! Weirdly fun and the jokes mostly concern the trauma Joel and the Bots are experiencing while watching it.

Available on: #419 The Rebel Set (Rhino vol 12) - Mr. B's Lost Shorts (BBI VHS. Rhino DVD, Box set 6). 
A little boy ditches his parents and has all types of adventures. The guys were on riff-fire from start to finish. Nice observational humor.

Available on: #422 The Day the Earth Froze (Shout vol 28)
The horror of clowns is well riffed. Though I did I grow a little weary of Joel's constant admonishments on the bots dark quips. I like dark quips, they're funny!

Available on: #317 Viking Women and the Sea Serpent - Shorts Volume 1 (Rhino box set 2).
Four girls explore their career options in this long short that's large with laughs. Sadly, the Rhino version cuts out a riff (when the teacher shows the students some mucus)

Available on: #514 Teenage Strangler (Rhino set #10) - Shorts Volume 3 (Rhino special DVD release w/Essentials). 
Impulsive teens fall in love and ruin everyone's lives. The gang have a lot of fun with the characters in this flick. Which features an actual Romulan!

Available on:#210 King Dinosaur (Shout vol 23) - Mr. B's Lost Shorts (BBI VHS. Rhino DVD, Box set 6). 
Joe Dokes stands trial in traffic court... in Heaven! The very first informational short opens up show #210 very well and was the beginning of something great. I especially liked that guardian angel.

Available on: #608 Code Name: Diamond Head. Rhino shorts Vol 2 (Collected set #3) 
The gang seemed to really like shorts set at fairs because they riff them so well. This one focuses on farm animals and corn.

Available on: #610 The Violent Years (Shout vol 22)
Squishy gal falls for a guy obsessed with kitchen electronics. There are some missed opportunities I thought, but when they hit with a joke, they hit it out of the park. A great example of humorous 1990's sensibilities colliding against 1950's innocence.

Grade: A-
Available on: #906 Space Children and Assignment: Venezuela (BBI VHS & Rhino DVD extra in box set 7). 
Two teens run all around Seattle's World fair, grinnng like fools and pointing at everything they see. This is my favorite Sci-Fi era short as Mike and the Bots have a lot of fun with these kids and all the fair exibits - "Come on, Let's go grope that Eskimo!" - Servo

Available on: #313 Earth vs Spider - Shorts Volume 3 (Rhino special DVD release w/Essentials). 
Wire racks and plenty of lip and tongue action are the highlights here. The crew has a lot of fun with the shorts host, Professor Buehler. This is one of Herk Hervy's (Carnival of Souls) efforts.

Available on: #320 The Unearthly (Rhino) 
Let the battle for the 'Burger King' crown commence! The best part of show #320, was the shorts (see also "Appreciating Our Parents"). This one's about 4 kids who are working to better their posture.

Available on: #912 The Screaming Skull (Shout vol 31)
Runaway Robots terrorize the Gumby clan. This is a very short, short. But Mike and the Bots pack in a bunch of top notched riffs. This is the one sci-fi short that wasn't included on "Assignment Venezuela" and one has to assume there were rights issues. Obviously, since cleared up.

Available from the BBI video of the same name and as an extra on Rhino's DVD, Box set 7. 
A man takes a dream job and writes his family about all the neat, narrow stuff to be seen in Venezuela. There's a distracting time code on the screen, but this is still one funny (and long) short.

Available on: #518 The Atomic Brain (Rhino disc & Shout Select). 
Teen ditches his gang (after they rough up his dad) and becomes a righteous dude. The humor style is short, sweet and to the point - "I say lets put them all to the spanking machine!" - Servo

Available on: #613 The Sinister Urge (Rhino set #9) & Shorts Volume 2 (Rhino Box set 3).
Strict rules on cleanliness, requires a full days work. The humors a wee dark, just the way I like it -"Never go to bed with wet hair" - "Or a first date" - Narrator/Crow

Grade: B+
Available on: #510 The Painted Hills (Shout vol 31) - Shorts Volume 1 (Rhino Box set 2).
According to this short, you'll find love and be happy for the rest of your days as long as you remember to bathe. The opening bits are the best part of this one, and it inspired a great debate between Crow and Servo during a Host Segment.

Available on: #607 Bloodlust (Rhino DVD). 
A couple of city kids spend the summer with Uncle Jim and learn to milk cows and climb ropes and... Not as steady as the above shorts but still very funny.

Available on: #315 Teenage Caveman - Shorts Volume 2 (Rhino DVD Box set 3). 
Animal hunter 'Ross' is glorified in this upsetting short. Joel gets 'em good in a Host Segment though.

Available on: #621 Best of Yucca Flats (Shout vol 18) 
A kid with no cash receives a visit from Ben Franklin's shadow. It's his darkest vision ever (LMAO!) and I love that giant Malomar riff.

Available on: #702 Brute Man - Shorts Volume 1 (Rhino Box set 2) 
Everything you ever wanted to know about chickens, but were afraid to ask. This one gets funnier every time I see it, so It could jump in the ratings

Available on: #621 Beast of Yucca Flats (Shout vol 18)
Makes a nice double header with "Money Talks" - the other short that opens Yucca. Rock solid riffing on a film that demands that you go to Puerto Ricco!

Available on: #503 Swamp Diamonds (Rhino set #10) - Shorts Volume 2 (Rhino Box set 3). 
Geeky Teen tries to figure out how to entertain a girl -"Would Kay like a wienie roast?"- The gags are a little spotty, it's not a relentless laugh machine but solid.

Available on: #524 12 to the Moon - Shorts Volume 3 (Rhino special DVD release w/Essentials) and Mr. B's Lost Shorts (Box st 6). 
Music and dance is used to sell us futuristic cars and modern Kitchen devices. Riffing's okay, but I love the short anyway because it's so imaginative and strange. Plus, I just dig that spooky chick.

Available on: #407 Killer Shrews (Rhino DVD box set 7) - Shorts Volume 1 (Rhino DVD, box set 2). 
Delightful look at the suffering of kids and their farm animals. Old Billy Slater is the man as he lasso's some kids and forces them to hold a rodeo!

Available on: #311 It Conquered The World. 
All the thrilling things that can happen when it snows is exhaulted here; Yipee! Word play is used effectively for this short, from "sheep Thrills" to "skit".

Available on: #421 Monster A-Go-Go (Rhino box set 8) 
Skaters act out scenes of violence against a fawn and a dragon. The riffing is hit and miss, but Tom sings a great little song about the color "pink" - and a joke that hits on how wholesale slaughter is offered as entertainment, is dead on hillarious

Available on: 618 High School Big Shot. Shorts Vol. 3 (Rhino special DVD release w/Essentials).
Heaven and Hell vie for the soul of a bread salesman. Not bad, but with this goofy premise I was expecting better.

Grade: B- 
Available on: #1012 Squirm (Shout vol 31) - Assignment Venezuela (BBI VHS & Rhino DVD box set 7). 
Coily hassles a poor shlub who just wants to go golfing. It slows down when the shlub does his long speech thing, but the scenes with Coily are fun.

Available on: #315 Teenage Caveman - Shorts Volume 3 (Rhino special DVD release w/Essentials).
A demonstration of all the neat stuff you can do on the water. Chad Slab-Body was memorable.

Available on: #307 Daddy-O. 
The guys tackle this kid friendly short from A to Z. Cute, but not devistatingly funny.

Available on: #507 I Accuse My Parents (Rhino DVD). 
A couple of nice riffs here and there. But a mostly fair effort on a short about the food processing and packing industry.

Grade: C+ 
Available on: #619 Red Zone Cuba (Rhino DVD). 
Sparse riffing mars this helpful guide for standing tall and straight while speaking. Includes an odd exersize that everyone should try.

Available on: #603 The Dead Talk Back (Rhino set #8). Shorts Vol. 3 (Rhino special DVD release w/Essentials).
Pretty dry, especially when the narrator drones on about the mechanics of refrigeration. At least it gives us the pizza dominatrix.

On Season 4 eps, and collected on a special offer DVD from SHOUT
On Season 4 eps, and collected on a special offer DVD from SHOUT
For some strange reason, during season 4, the crew returned to doing series shorts. Neither of these are horrible, there are a few nice jabs in each. But I'd have preferred they ditched these and did "Soapy the Germ Fighter" or "Lunchroom Manners" or that one about the kids in Monkey masks who suffer through all kinds of horrible accidents!

Grade: C
On Season 1 eps, and collected on a special offer DVD from SHOUT
On Season 2 eps, and collected on a special offer DVD from SHOUT
There were a few good riffs, but the problem with these serials is that they are very repetitive. There's not a lot of different things the gang can do after 1 or 2 shows. These two are my least favorite. I do like the first "Phantom Creeps" but by #3 they were out of gas.

The Rhino & Shout Collections
Of Note: All of these were made available on Tape, from BBI or Rhino. Rhino as since stopped production on VHS and the only new copies to be had will be through DVD.

Shorts Volume 1
Available on the Collected Set. Volume 2
Includes: The Home Economics Story, Junior Rodeo Daredevils, Body Care and Grooming, Cheating, A Date with Your Family, Why Study Industrial Arts? Chicken of Tomorrow
Hosted by Tom Servo, this is the first and best of the shorts discs. Each short is a blast and makes for a great way to introduce newbies to the show. The one negative is in the edits. In the Home Economics Story, a riff is cut off (This is phlegm, this is mucus). The quip was said just before cutting to comercial and someone (BBI? Rhino?) cut away too quick. Dumb, dumb, dumb... Yet despite this faux pas volume one deserves its A+

Shorts Volume 2
Available on the Collected Set. Volume 3
Includes: Catching Trouble, What To Do On A Date, Last Clear Chance, A Day At The Fair, Keeping Neat and Clean, The Days of Our Years
Call this the "Dark Set" due to the gloomy subjects in 3 of the selections. They still are as funny as all get out. Sadly, gone is the host (Servo did one, why not Crow?) and would it have been any trouble to include the skit with "Catching Trouble" (Catching Ross). You really need to see them both as the host segment proves to be very healing.
Grade: A+

Shorts Volume 3
Was only available in a special offer with "Essentials"
Includes: Speech: Using Your Voice, Aquatic Wizards, Is This Love?, Design For Dreaming, The Selling Wizard, Out of This World, and Once Upon a Honeymoon
Despite the inclusion of the razor sharp "Honeymoon" and "Is This Love?", this is the weakest of the short sets. "Selling Wizards" is arguably the worst of the informational shorts. Replacing it and "Aquatic Wizards", with "Appreciating Our Parents" and "Here Comes the Circus", would have transformed this into a classic.
Grade: B+

Mr. B's Lost Short
Includes: Mr. B Natural, X Marks The Spot, Hired, Part 1, Design For Dreaming, Johnny at the Fair, Are You Ready for Marriage?
This was previously only available direct fom BBI on tape, but Rhino has now released it on disc with the Collected Set Volume 6. This is an outstanding collection but I wish they ditched "Design For Dreaming" (which is on Volume 3) and included both parts of "Hired". And paired it with the host segment it inspired. Also the "Marriage" short had a hysterical skit based on it as well. Aside from that complaint, this is a great disc.
Grade: A

Assigment Venezuela
Available from the BBI on tape and as an extra on Rhino DVD, Box set 7
Includes: Assignment Venezuela, Centruy 21 Calling..., A Case of Spring Fever
I've reviewed this is the "Specials Etc" section.
3 very funny shorts, makes for a nice extra on set 7
Grade: A

Orders of Volume XXV from Shout Factory's website include an extra disc with all MST3K Radar Men from the Moon segments with an introduction by J. Elvis Weinstein.

Order of volume XXVII from Shout Factory's website include an extra disc with all MST3K General Hospital, The Phantom Creeps, and Undersea Kingdom segments.