Homo homini rodentius est

Short Bites

Pleshette in The Birds

Alien + Predator + Cloverfield
A friend and I spent our day off doing a double-feature of Alien vs. Predator and Cloverfield. Fun. I’ve avoided the AVP franchise in the past because I loved the original Alien movies so much — I practically grew up with them and, by the early-nineties, facing the onslaught of AIDS, the [theme] of an alien invader and the heroic warrior who faced it down made the series almost sacred. The AVP movie is a decent B-movie thriller, happily repurposing the tried and true tropes of the earlier Alien and Predator films (warrior woman and little girl take on the now long-in-the-tooth monsters) and just goes to show that, in Hollywood, nothing is allowed to die until the last penny has been wrung from it. In the same derivative vein, Cloverfield is nowhere near original — Godzilla meets Blair Witch Project — but the execution is clever and the idea of an honest-to-gosh monster rampaging through the streets of Manhattan is kind of audacious in its simplicity. Some people are up in arms about the parallels to 9/11 — but it’s no different from Godzilla rising out of post-war Tokyo and probably serves the same purpose.

Pleshette in The Birds

Suzanne Pleshette (1937 – 2008)
Most people think of Suzanne Pleshette from her role in the 70’s Bob Newhart Show. I could never watch that show because, though I liked her and Newhart, the supporting cast made my skin crawl (Peter Bonerz… *shudder*). But I will always think of her as the only interesting character in The Birds. In a movie that was camp the second it hit the can, her portrayal of husky-voiced booze swilling Annie Hayworth provided an authenticity otherwise lacking in the film and made her co-star, the definitively inauthentic “Tippi” Hedren, look even more artificial than she was. Mo Rocca, channeling his inner girl, goes into more depth on this [here].

Monty Python organist

The Organist Entertains
For the life of me I don’t know why I don’t live in Britain. English culture seems still, after all this time, to be a culture not just tolerant of eccentricity but fully committed to it. A perfect example is the weekly BBC radio show [The Organist Entertains], where, according to the website, “Nigel Ogden presents a programme of popular organ recordings”. Not just organ recordings mind you… popular organ recordings. If you have a yen to hear the Wurlitzer put through its paces, this is the show for you. It has been broadcast without interruption for almost 40 years and — perhaps most eccentric of all — originally went on the air in 1969, amid the mod psychedelia of swinging 60’s London. God knows how I came across it, but I’ll sometimes put it on while I’m making dinner and it instantly dispels a bad day. It’s hilarious.

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